Pala International’s Featured Stones – 2013
Featured in Pala’s Gem News. See previous:
June 17, 2013: Burmese Star Sapphire
This month we feature an epic star sapphire from Burma. This massive chunk of corundum has found its way to Pala after being oriented and cut down to a shallow cabochon, leaving a large face-up appearance. It is polished to reveal a sharp and well formed star with an intense blue body color we associate with fine Burmese sapphires. This rare and unique combination of a fine star and pure blue color is a treat for the eye and and fun for the imagination. All the dynamic optics and chemistry are coming together in one stone to produce a fine world class specimen.
|, 29.51 carats, 18.15 x 16.62 x 8.71 mm, Inventory #21218. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
May 16, 2013: Spessartite from Nigeria
This month we feature a gargantuan spessartite garnet from Nigeria. Weighing in at 58.44 carats, this oversized jewel came to us through an estate collection recently. It probably was obtained between 2004 and 2005, when the Nigerian deposit was in full swing. The mining area in western Nigeria, Oyo State, produced by far the largest quantity of spessartites the world has seen. This massive deposit was known for quality as well, recovering many 10-carat-plus, near flawless mandarin colors, and a plethora of fine smaller sizes. Colors ranged from burnt reddish orange to the pure orange hues.
|#20641. (Photo: Mia Dixon), 58.44 ct, 28.00 x 22.43 x 13.82 mm, Inventory|
Pala International bought into one of the large parcels of rough back in 2004, and we are still supplying fine pieces in the 1 to 6-carat range. But since this epic find, which only lasted a few years, the mines have been exhausted and nothing has compared, causing the prices for fine orange spessartite to see a steady rise over the years. Our featured stone really shows the beauty of the material: deep orange hue and a unique modified trillion cut. Perfect for a museum or collector of the oversized gems.
Ruby or Spinel?
April 17, 2013: Ruby and Spinel
Can you pick out the ruby and spinel?
Throughout history ruby and spinel have gone from being considered the same gem, to ruby’s great rise as a precious stone and spinel’s fall in association with synthetics, on through to ruby’s continued ascent as one of the earth’s rarest and spinel’s attempt to find itself amongst the elite gemstones.
Ruby, of course, was one of the original gem varietals recognized by the first collectors of jewels, even categorizing spinel as a ruby simply because of its red hue. The foundation and provenance of ruby is ingrained into modern adornment, while spinel has waited patiently for its rise. Spinel has exploded onto the gem radar over the last few years as one of the next great collectable gems. One dealer described this rise as the pricing/value gap shrinking between ruby and spinel, by means of spinel gaining ground on ruby’s dominance.
|#19506. On the right, Inventory #20644. (Photo: Mia Dixon)On the left, Inventory|
Both have seen immense increases in value for larger, finer, completely natural varieties. In some cases it’s harder to source large red spinels than it is to find large rubies. The relationship between ruby and spinel runs deep and they continue to evolve together and separately in unique fashion.
Colors for ruby and spinel can overlap with a myriad of secondary hues, which give each stone a unique look. Fine ruby and spinel average in the range of 70–80% red and the remaining percentages can be filled in with pink, purple, orange or a mixer. Ruby still holds the most pure red the eye can perceive, in the “pigeon’s blood” realm, but in some cases spinel isn’t too far behind.
March 19, 2013: Tsavorite Garnet & Diamond Crystals
This month we feature some new purchases from the Tucson show.
The first feature is a tsavorite from Eastern Africa. This tsavorite is a step above the average, with an ideal medium tone and super saturation. So often tsavorite is overly dark in tone when you get into larger sizes. This one really is the Goldilocks of tsavorites…just the right color coming to us just at the right time as tsavorite has seen an uptick in demand. Tsavorites have a short history as a gem variety, only dating back to 1967 when the late Campbell Bridges discovered them in northern Tanzania. He later found them in southern Kenya in 1970, near Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, and coined the name tsavorite in 1974 along with Henry Platt of Tiffany & Co.
|10.94 x 7.36 x 5.69 mm, weighing 4.52 carats. Price available upon request. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
This month’s second feature isn’t technically a faceted gem, but it certainly is a gem. We have seen rough diamond crystals popping up more and more in designer jewelry. These three unique gems would inspire design as well as entice the collector.
The first one is a 9.04-carat octahedron from The Democratic Republic of Congo. It displays perfect octahedral form with etched faces full of trigons and terraces. This crystal is a grayish white with no damage and good translucency. The second diamond is an unusual 7.8-carat double yellow macle from Russia, with an unusual Christmas tree-like formation from two penetrating macles. The top faces are like windows, looking into a fairly clean core with some internal crystals. This diamond is a light yellow, with no damage and very lustrous. The third is an extremely rare 3.44-carat white macle from Canada. It features perfect macle form with etched faces. The crystal is colorless and nearly flawless, showing great transparency. No damage; just a pristine jewel.
|See above for descriptions. Prices available upon request. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
Interested? Call or email us to inquire.
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February 18, 2013: Red Beryl from the Ruby Violet Claims
This month’s featured stone, without a doubt, has to be red beryl. With the gemstone portion of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show just having been completed, we found that red beryl was the most sought-after and asked-for stone of our show.
With only one recognized gem-producing locality—in the Wah Wah region of Utah—this bixbite variety of beryl is highly valued as a rare acquisition to gemstone collectors all over the world.
|Click to enlarge. (Photo: Mia Dixon)Red beryl from Wah Wah Mountains, Utah, 2.74 ct, 9.0 x 7.0 mm. Note that this particular stone has been sold.|
In 1904, red beryl first was discovered at Topaz Cove, Juab County, Utah; the material mostly was not gemmy. Maynard Bixby was the head of this early mining project and in honor of Mr. Bixby, red beryl’s mineral name “bixbite” was conferred (not to be confused with bixbyite, also named for Bixby). This discovery was the beginning of what would prove to be one of the most important finds in U.S. gem mining history.
In 1958, gem-quality crystals were found 100 miles south of Juab County. It was in the Wah Wah Mountains of Beaver County that Lamar Hodges staked his claim. As a matter of fact, he had twelve claims that, throughout his mining career, were worked by him, various other family members and other sub-lease groups. These claims were known as the “Ruby Violet Claims.”
Although Hodges’s original desire was to prospect for uranium, he eventually deserted that plan, putting the Ruby Violet Claims project in its place. The discovery of gem-quality red beryl would launch this still relatively unknown variety of beryl on the road to legitimacy. This “red beryl” would forever stand in the “rare” category of “collection quality” gems and mineral specimens.
In 1967, the Rex Harris family would purchase the mining rights. The paltry amount of $8,000 seemed like a lot of money then. The mining started slowly, then mechanization eventually had to be established. Eventually the mine would be functioning at full capacity, producing upwards of 1,500 tons of material per year.
Rex’s daughter, Tina Nielson, states that the Harris family is in control of the only access and production available, and at present there is no material being commercially excavated for sale to the market due to negotiations in the works for the possible sale to a particular unnamed party.
At the Tucson show this year, it was lovely revisiting red beryl with our established clients and other enthusiastic trade members. It was fun to see how many visitors wanted to view the beautiful samples of ruby-like material, with selected pieces resembling lovely Burmese ruby with its pink secondary.
All of us at Pala love the rare and delicious, and take constant joy in sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm with all of you. Thank you for visiting us at Tucson and on the Web. With fond regards,
Gabrièl Mattice, G.G.
Fine Stone Acquisitions and Sales
January 16, 2013: Amazonite Feldspar
This month we feature a gem usually found on the mineral side of the business. Amazonite feldspar is found in many pegmatites around the globe, ideally showing beautiful prismatic bluish-green crystals. These amazonite crystals are almost always milky and opaque, but occasionally you find clean enough sections to facet. Amazonite is a gemological term that can apply to green and bluish-green feldspars. As a gemological term amazonite has been applied to green feldspars (both microcline and orthoclase) recognized since the early 1900s (Bauer: Precious stones..., 1904, L. J. Spencer translation).
|above, 12.19-carat pear shape, 18 x 14 x 10 mm; below, left to right, 2.79-carat cushion, 0.97-carat round, 2.17-carat pear shape, 2.22-carat cushion. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
Pala acquired a rough parcel of some of these exceptional amazonites, and had them tested by Prof. George Rossman up at Caltech to make sure they were 100% natural. These gems were cut from a parcel that can be traced back to a gem pocket in Luc Yen, Vietnam. This pocket was uncovered in 1997 and contained many high quality tourmaline crystals along with some of these gemmy amazonite feldspars. The color is reminiscent of neon-green paraiba tourmaline, showing fluorescent-like properties in daylight. This is fairly common mineral transformed into extremely rare and beautiful faceted gems.
December 17, 2012: Sapphire Extravaganza
Blue and yellow and orange—Oh my! This month we feature a melange of sapphires. Sapphires are found in all colors of the rainbow and many mixtures in between.
|Click to enlarge. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
From the common ruby-red and sapphire-blue, to the more unusual purple color-change and blended orange and pink, sapphires fill the color wheel with endless possibilities. Clockwise from top: 5.66-carat natural pear-shape orange-red from Malawi (Inv. #20451), 25.51-carat fancy canary-yellow in a brilliant cushion cut (#20615), 10.08-carat violet-purple oval with lots of life (#20452). 4.03-carat purply pink one from Madagascar (#14626), 4.77-carat fine natural Sri Lankan blue (#20081), unusual 10.09-carat pumpkin orange (#20356), 11.5-carat pastel violet-blue (#19503). Center: 21.36-carat icy-blue oval brilliant-cut from Sri Lanka (#20453).
November 15, 2012: Imperial Topaz from Brazil
This month we feature an exceptional imperial topaz from Ouro Preto, Brazil. We normally focus just on the loose gem, but this exquisite piece of jewelry just fell in our lap out of an estate collection. We couldn’t help but present the piece in all its glory, from the finely crafted platinum mounting to the fine white diamonds, all accentuating the sherry-colored jewel that is the centerpiece. This imperial not only has the golden hues but spills over into the the sherry and cherry spectrum, which defines it as one of the most sought-after colors. Since these unusual colors only really come from a small area in Brazil, production is limited and demand has always been strong, making it difficult for us to fill our clients’ needs. This is a great opportunity to pick up one of Brazil’s little treasures.
|Topaz 17.54 carats, 19.08 x 12.88 x 8.99 mm, GIA certified. Diamonds 2.20 carats, VS clarity, F color. Platinum mounting. Price on request. (Photo: Orassa Weldon)|
October 16, 2012: Spinels from Abroad
The spinel family continues its campaign into the world as its color cornucopia and exquisite properties continue to impress. As the rarity and beauty of the spinel varietals disseminate, the collectors seem to be acquiring a taste for this rising phoenix. We in the trade have always had a love for spinels, but now it seems the secret is out. We can’t seem to keep up with the requests for fine reds and blues. So we are constantly scouring old collections and keeping an eye on material coming out of the major spinel-producing regions, mainly southeast Asia and eastern Africa.
|#20439), 12.37-ct lavender Burma cushion (#20436), 7.11-ct pinkish red Tanzania oval (#20468), 1.8-ct flame red Burma cushion, 1.26-ct cobalt blue Vietnam pear shape (#20502), 3.73-ct cobalt blue Burma oval (#20467), 6.14-ct purply pink Tajikistan cushion (#17979). Center, 5.90-ct violet blue Vietnam pear shape (#20437).Clockwise from top left, 8.07-ct orangey red Burma oval (Inv.|
We had the great fortune recently to buy a large gem collection filled with a variety of spinels, in an array of colors and sizes. Bill Larson also is just back from another buying trip to Bangkok and Burma. Above, we offer just a few highlights from these purchases…. Enjoy!
Interested? Select the inventory numbers above, call or email us to inquire.
September 19, 2012: Purple Scapolite from Tanzania
This month we feature a purple scapolite from Tanzania.
This scapolite has a phenomenal purple hue, reminiscent of the finest amethyst, one of the most saturated and pure colors we have seen here at Pala. This scapolite is virtually flawless and has an exquisite trilliant cut with a very symmetrical brilliant-style faceting. Most scapolite you see from Tanzania is more often in the yellow color spectrum, but every once in a while an intense purple, like the one seen below, is produced. This gem is from an older collection Pala bought recently, so it’s hard to pinpoint a specific locality, but it’s probably from the Morogoro region in Tanzania. Other fine purple scapolites have been coming out of China and Afghanistan more recently.
|15.26 carats, about 17.3 mm. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
August 17, 2012: Azurite-Malachite
This month we feature some colorful free-form cabochons with a mix of azurite and malachite. This material was mined pre-1960s from Bisbee, Arizona, and purchased years ago by Pala International as specimens, then cut more recently by Bud Standley. Similar specimens have been mined in Morenci, AZ, and more recently at the Milpillas Mine in Sonora, Mexico.
|#16149. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)Various shapes and sizes. For reference the bullet shaped stone at lower right is 11 ct, 18.66 x 14 x 5.11 mm, Inventory|
The material features intricate flow and growth patterns, bands of alternating dark and light blues and greens. And brilliant cornflower to cobalt-blue azurite showing some bullseye patterns left after botriyoidal formations have been cross-cut and polished. Then, as if bubbling right out of the blue, radiating bands of malachite create an exquisite contrast. Two copper minerals are blended together to make a truly unique and beautiful gem.
Pala International has an extensive selection of azurite and malachite in specimens, rough, cabochons and free-form.
July 16, 2012: Brazilian Tourmaline!
This month we feature a couple of complimentary tourmalines in the teal spectrum. Tourmalines have been a jewel of interest for at least half a millennium, being mined all around the globe in every color imaginable. The range of colors, big sizes and clean nature has made tourmaline a staple of gem and jewelry connoisseurs worldwide.
|#15993. (Photo Mia Dixon)24.05-ct blue-green emerald cut, 20 x 12.1 x 10.5 mm, Inv. #20351; 15.49-ct indicolite emerald cut, 14.23 x 12.95 x 10.5 8mm, Inv.|
These two emerald-cut beauties seem to mix well with the teal green and teal blue hues exhibiting aquatic tones. The green one was a recent purchase from Brazil and the indicolite has been in inventory for a few years, most likely from Brazil as well.
June 14, 2012: Sri Lankan Purple Star Sapphire & Chrome Tourmaline from Tanzania
As the months roll on here at Pala International, it becomes increasingly harder to come up with a suitable featured stone. We have logged about 100 featured items so far on Palagems.com. Sure, there are thousands of gem varieties and a plethora of colors bubbling out from our planet. However, to find a truly exceptional crystal created by Mother Earth, found by Man, and cut into a rare and beautiful gem worthy of display and intrigue... is an exercise in patience.
|6.32 carats, 9.42 x 8.02 x 7.52 mm, Inventory #20268. (Photo Mia Dixon)|
This month we feature two new gems we purchased while at the Las Vegas show. First, a unique purple star sapphire from Sri Lanka. It’s an exceptionally fine star with sharp, full rays centered perfectly over the stone. The unique property is the grape-juice purple color that give the gem a candy-like feel.
|5.75 carats, 12.33 x 9.7 x 7.08 mm, Inventory #20267. (Photo Mia Dixon)|
Another exceptional find in Vegas was this intense chrome tourmaline from Tanzania. It features a highly saturated evergreen hue with a pleasant medium-dark tone, brighter than most chrome tourmalines we normally see, since they can tend to be overly dark.
Interested? Call or email us to inquire.
|at this year’s Las Vegas show. From left, Carl Larson, Bill Larson, Gabrièl Mattice, Jason Stephenson, Rika Nakamura, Will Larson, Josh Hall. (Photo: Rebecca Boyajian)|
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May 17, 2012: Tanzanian Sunstone & Tanzanite
Tanzania has been a hot spot for many gem varieties lately. Ruby from Winza, spinel from Mahenge, prase opal from Mt. Iyobo, sunstone from Masai Boma, and of course tanzanite from Merelani. Along with Bill and Will Larson’s trip to the Arusha International Gem, Jewelry & Minerals Fair they were able to buy a few select things. This month we feature a wild sunstone and unusual tanzanite to be plucked from the Tanzanian soil recently.
|4.36 carats, 11.3 x 6.8 x 5.8 mm. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
Merelani has continued to produce the world’s only source of gem quality tanzanite. Many millions of carats have found their way into the markets around the world since the late 1970s, but it seems the deposit has taken a turn and has been producing some more unusual jewels. We definitely have seen finer crystals and specimens being preserved as well as a variety of colors produced. We featured an amazing purple-pink faceted tanzanite a couple months back and now we have an intense steely blue-green emerald-cut that demands a second look. In a group of tanzanite, this unusual color stood out and earned a place in the Pala inventory.
|19.53 carats, 27.50 x 13.47 x 10.27 mm. Inventory #20200. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
The sunstone being produced out of Tanzania is very sporadic, with maybe a few kilos being unearthed occasionally. Most of the material seems to be heavily included and fractured. But every once in a while a large, fine stone like this one makes it out. This 19-carat marquise-cut beauty has a metallic copper sheen at first glance. Then, as you narrow in on the inclusions and start to rotate… the gem comes alive, throwing a full spectrum of colors from within.
See our previous featured Tanzanian sunstone here.
April 16, 2012: Burmese Spinel & Sri Lankan Sinhalite
This month we feature a couple of new jewels Bill was able to buy on a recent trip to Thailand and Burma. Other highlights included natural rubies from Mozambique, natural blue sapphires from Sri Lanka and Madagascar, blue zircon from Cambodia, and many other rare ones like hackmanite and amber from Burma.
|#20075. (Photo: Mia Dixon)3.23 ct, 9.78 x 7.66 x 5.92 mm. Ask for Inventory|
Red spinel has been in high demand recently, while the supply is slow to fill the increasing interest. This intense orangey-red spinel exhibits the highly saturated reds that many collectors are looking for. The Pala team is always happy to welcome another spinel into our family even though they seem to move out fairly quickly. Enjoy this one while it lasts.
|#20073. (Photo: Mia Dixon)14.36 x 11.64 x 7.93 mm. Inventory|
Sinhalite was first identified as a new mineral species in 1952, previously thought to be a brown peridot because of its similar properties and color. Sinhalite is in the borate mineral group and is formed in metamorphic environments. This golden sinhalite is exceptional in size and color for this unusual species. Yet another exquisite gem to be plucked from the mineral-rich lands of Sri Lanka.
March 15, 2012: Ethiopian Opals
In recent times play-of-color opal has been discovered in Ethiopia’s Shewa Province (1994) and Wollo Province (2008). The Shewa material turned out to be very unstable and unsuitable for jewelry, while the Wollo opal was more stable and exhibited an unusual property know as hydrophane, i.e., the latter opals came out of the ground very porous, possessing the ability to absorb water. The rich rainbow of colors and transparency are a recipe for beautiful gems. The Wollo opal has the most similarities to the Mexican fire and water opals with play-of-color.
|#19278; 3.38 ct, Inv. #19407; 3.4 ct, Inv. #19274; 1.86 ct, Inv. #19284. (Photo: Mia Dixon)Wollo opals from Ethiopia show a bounty of colors: clockwise from top, 2.75 ct, Inv.|
February 15, 2012: Purple-Pink Zoisite from Tanzania
This month we feature a purple-pink zoisite from Tanzania. The Merelani mines have produced large amounts of blue-to-purple tanzanite since its original discovery in 1968. The mines also have produced gem quartz, diopside, prehnite and calcite. Occasionally pink and purple zoisite (often referred to in the trade as pink tanzanite) is unearthed in small, localized pockets, but production of these colors is very limited.
|4.28 carats, 12.18 x 8.89 x 5.61 mm, ask for Inventory #19821. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
When the team at Pala first saw the intensity and brilliance of this jewel we figured it was a spinel or kunzite. We were all shocked to hear it was in fact a natural zoisite, and the color was unlike any we had seen in the past. Apparently the small series of pockets that produced this purple-pink color only yielded a few pieces of facetable rough. Luckily we were able to score this 4.28-carat gem before the AGTA show began. Pala’s supplier was quite confident that this stone was perhaps the finest single gem produced from these pockets.
January 18, 2012: Brazilian Paraiba
This month we feature a set of tourmalines from the original mining area in Brazil. The pegmatite that produced these copper-bearing beauties spans the states of Paraîba and Rio Grande do Norte. Distinguishing which side of the border an individual stone was mined from has been trying, even for the most highly equipped laboratories around the world.
|Blue green center oval, 2.8 carats, 9.22 x 7.8 x 5.57 mm, and the green teardrop pair, 2.51 carats, 7.5 x 6.3 x 4 mm. (Photo: Mia Dixon)|
Whichever state these paraibas were actually mined from seems irrelevant as you take in the light and color that is unlike any other gem on the planet. Dazzling neon hues of blue and green in a perfect medium tone, with saturation tilting the scales of what’s possible for a natural gemstone.
Throughout the year Pala is fortunate enough to have a handful of true Brazilian paraibas pass through our doors even though the mines have been exhausted for several years now. We also have a good supply of the now depleted Mozambique deposit. Contact us or check our inventory to see what’s available.