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Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

June 2015

June 2015 Newsletter

And many more… Pala International celebrates its 46th birthday on June 26. We're truly grateful to each and every one of our customers. You keep us inspired!

And many more… Pala International celebrates its 46th birthday on June 26. We're truly grateful to each and every one of our customers. You keep us inspired!

Table of Contents

Mineral & Gem à Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines:
June 25–28, 2015

We've added some new information since our last newsletter…

The 52nd Sainte-Marie show will be held June 25–28, with the first two days limited to trade only. This year, Bill and Will Larson will attend the show along with spouses Jeanne and Rika Larson. Friend and fellow gem dealer Mark Kaufman also will be in the party. They will be meeting up with Patrick and Pia Dreher. (See this Ganoksin.com blog entry by Robyn Hawk regarding Patrick Dreher's recent appearance at GIA.)

The 112-year-old swimming pool building is the site of a display of rare minerals and fossils by ten renown collectors and dealers. Lectures also take place there. We're delighted to see our old friend Eloïse Gaillou, who has relocated to Paris, and who will speak on her subjects of expertise.

A symposium in English will be held in the Mine d'Argent (200 meters from the Gem Zone) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The themes:

  • Eloïse Gaillou, associate curator of the Musée Mines ParisTech (School of Mines): On the Importance of Mineralogy Museums: Display and Collections
  • Jolyon Ralph, Mindat.org: Mineral Collection Cataloguing in the 21st Century
  • Victor Tuzlukov, lapidary: What Good Gem Cutting Is and Why It's Worse Than Exclusive
  • The Amber of Kaliningrad: presented by the Musée de l'Ambre de Kaliningrad (in conjunction with the exhibition Baltic Stone of the Sun)

Lectures also will include the following (note that only the first lecture will be delivered in English as well as French).

  • Victor Tuzlukov, lapidary: Philosopher's Stone – When Wisdom Sparkles in the Precious Stone (in conjunction with his curation of Lapis Philosophorum)
  • Yellow Amber: presented by the Musée de l'Ambre de Kaliningrad (in conjunction with the exhibition Baltic Stone of the Sun)
  • Michel Boudard, gemologist: A Look at Gemology, specifically the intersection between stones of greater carat weight and the treatments that may lurk within; an aid to the prospective buyer
  • Jean-Jacques Chevallier, lecturer: Geological History of the Earth ("The study of the infinitely small explains the infinitely large)
  • Eloïse Gaillou, associate curator of the Musée Mines ParisTech (School of Mines):Treatment and the Synthesis of Diamond
  • Jean-Christian Goujou, lecturer: The Minerals of Metamorphism
  • Alain Carion, lecturer: Meteorites and Their Impacts

In addition to the above-referenced exhibitions, the following also will be presented.

  • Exhibition of the INETPhoto Contest: an international competition for photographs and graphic art about Mineralogy and Micro-mineralogy
  • Minerals and Paintings: an exhibition curated by Jörg Thomas and Andrée Roth
  • Jewelry – Silver Arsenic: Remarkably, this exhibition will take place in situ—along the vein of the Gabe Gottes silver mine, 6 km away from the Sainte-Marie show's Mineral Zone
  • The Staurolites of Russia: an exhibition of "cross-stones" curated by Jean-Claude Leydet

New in 2015: The Sainte-Marie show continues to cater to the colored gemstone lover this year with Le Pôle Aalberg, an addition to the show's Gem Zone, featuring the full range of creation, luxury and fashion.

  • Le Swanky Areabijouterie et joaillerie and designers both traditional and contemporary
  • Le Trendy Corner: fantasy designs and fashion accessories
  • Le Gem Fashion Show: a scripted jewelry presentation offering "unusual perspectives in response to hidden desires." Ooh la la!

Finally, our good friend and mineral dealer Alain Martaud curates The Prestige Exhibition. Entitled simply, Alpes, the display will pay homage to the mineralogical bounty of the 1000-km arc of mountains that stretches from north of Corsica to Austria and Slovenia. Among the Alpine varieties coveted by collectors: epidot, garnet, fluorite, emerald, quartz and gold. Specimens to be displayed will be loaned from local and national museums, as well as collectors both prominent and obscure. Pala International has a magnificent old classic double quartz from Switzerland in the display.

Alain Martaud, curator of this year's L'Exposition Prestige, also is the author of the trilingual volume, The Minerals of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. The book is available from the show's online store.

Alain Martaud, curator of this year's L'Exposition Prestige, also is the author of the trilingual volume, The Minerals of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. The book is available from the show's online store.


Pala at JA New York Summer Show
July 26–28, 2015

Pala International heads to the East Coast later this summer for the trade-only JA New York Summer Show. Stop by to see one of America's largest selections of fine colored gems.

See this list of seminars to be held at the show.

When: July 26–July 28, 2015
Where: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center 
Hours: AGTA Gemstone Section
   Sunday, July 26: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
   Monday, July 27: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
   Tuesday, July 28: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Pala International is in booth 2573. See the JANY website for more information. Visit the Pala International Show Schedule for future events.


Capture the Magic

The pyrite veins so often found in lapis lazuli could inspire the artist's and craftsman's palette, as demonstrated above. Artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman had a special affinity for the color blue; it was the title of his final film, the text for which was adapted from his meditation on the hue in Chroma: A Book of Color (1994). "Blue and gold are eternally united," he wrote.

The pyrite veins so often found in lapis lazuli could inspire the artist's and craftsman's palette, as demonstrated above. Artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman had a special affinity for the color blue; it was the title of his final film, the text for which was adapted from his meditation on the hue in Chroma: A Book of Color (1994). "Blue and gold are eternally united," he wrote.

Summer in Florence, Italy is charming. Sure, the city is crowded with tourists, but the medieval-walled city center is a pedestrian paradise, with plazas for lounging in the heat, fountains, gelaterias and caffès to refresh the spirit, and a landmark around every corner.

Take, for instance, the Ponte Vecchio, that spans the Arno River. More than a bridge, it is home to the shops of jewelers and art dealers. Likely having a Roman origin that is lost to history, the Ponte was wiped out by floods in the 12th and 14th centuries, being rebuilt in 1345 perhaps by Taddeo Gaddi, a contemporary of Giotto. The latter artist designed thecampanile, or bell tower, next to Il Duomo, the city's cathedral (the dome of which is a celebrated architectural feat). This was the Italian Renaissance after all, and Florence was its culla, or cradle.

Two centuries later, the Medici monarch, Cosimo I, second Duke of Florence, commissioned construction of an elevated passageway above the Ponte Vecchio that would connect his domicile (Palazzo Pitti) with the city's town hall (Palazzo Vecchio). Considerably more elaborate than the Pope-mobile, it served the same purpose: to protect the ruler from the public. On its way from palace to palace, the passageway, known as the Vasari Corridor after its designer, virtually passes through the Church of Saint Felicity, handily allowing the Medici family to attend services—again, without being seen.

On the Arno's north side, the Corridor enters the famous Uffizi Gallery, the building of which was initiated for Cosimo by Giorgio Vasari in 1560, four years before Vasari created the Corridor. But the Uffizi is not the only art venue in the passageway's network. Cosimo's residence, the Palazzo Pitti, now houses the largest complex of museums in the city. Among these is the Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum), also known as the Medici Treasury.

The Palazzo Pitti's Summer Apartments, now the Silver Museum, were decorated beginning in 1635 by Medici monarch Cosimo I's descendant Ferdinando II. Frescoes include those commissioned to artist Giovanni da San Giovanni. It's the perfect setting for a royal display of lapis lazuli. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

The Palazzo Pitti's Summer Apartments, now the Silver Museum, were decorated beginning in 1635 by Medici monarch Cosimo I's descendant Ferdinando II. Frescoes include those commissioned to artist Giovanni da San Giovanni. It's the perfect setting for a royal display of lapis lazuli. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

Visitors to the Treasury this summer will have the opportunity to take in an exhibition originated by Pala International's good friend Gian Carlo Parodi, of the Muséum national d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. With "Lapislazzuli. Magia del blu" (Lapis Lazuli. Magic Blue) Parodi brings his expertise as a mineralogist to a diverse display—from archaeological finds of the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia and Egypt (7000 to 1500 BCE) all the way to the stone's 20th century simulacrum—artist Yves Klein's own International Klein Blue pigment, which he employed in both paintings and his Anthropométrieswhereby naked models became living paintbrushes.

Clothed. Sorry to disappoint, but this is not one of Yves Klein's naked paintbrushes. Victoire de Samothrace (1962 IKB pigment and resin on plaster, edition of 175) is Klein's homage to the famous Hellenistic original that stands on a landing of the Louvre's Daru staircase. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

Clothed. Sorry to disappoint, but this is not one of Yves Klein's naked paintbrushes. Victoire de Samothrace (1962 IKB pigment and resin on plaster, edition of 175) is Klein's homage to the famous Hellenistic original that stands on a landing of the Louvre's Daru staircase. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

The allure of azure was especially acute in Florence, and the Medici amassed their own collection of lapis lazuli. From the exhibition website:

In the Renaissance, the preciousness of the material was particularly popular in Florence. The Medici court assembled one of the most spectacular collections of objects in lapis lazuli of Europe; not only goblets, vases and amphorae, but also inlaid furniture, table tops and products made in the workshops founded by Francis I in the Casino di San Marco and laboratories established by Ferdinand I in the Uffizi complex, until the decline of the dynasty.

These objects are beautifully represented in this exhibition, including a chessboard of alternating solid- and mottled-blue squares. But the above description is a bit modest. The lapis collection, initiated by Cosimo I in the mid 16th century, is the only one of its kind in the world.

Not dishwasher safe. In the foreground is a two-handled amphora thought to have been crafted in the grand ducal workshops of the Medici during the third quarter of the 16th century. The ewer (1577–1578) that stands to the right is attributed to Hans Domes, from those same workshops. These are from the collection of the Silver Mseum. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

Not dishwasher safe. In the foreground is a two-handled amphora thought to have been crafted in the grand ducal workshops of the Medici during the third quarter of the 16th century. The ewer (1577–1578) that stands to the right is attributed to Hans Domes, from those same workshops. These are from the collection of the Silver Mseum. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

Examples of lapis's use in painting are included in a section of "Magia del blu." Pulverized lapis lazuli was used as pigment from ancient times, and was known as ultramarine—"beyond the sea"—due to its importation into Italy from its source in Afghanistan. An artist without properly crafted pigments was a singer without a song, and so, back in the day, the artist's apprentice would begin his training with the preparation of paint. In the case of ultramarine, according to Wikipedia, inferior lapis when crushed would yield only a "pale grayish blue." It was artist Cennino Cennini (a student of Agnolo Gaddi, son of Ponte Vecchio's disputed architect), who literally wrote the book on the subject, Il Libro dell'Arte. In it he describes the method of turning lackluster lapis into brilliant ultramarine, a process using wax, resins, oils and lye. Crafting homemade limoncello might have been more simple….

Blues Brother? Portrait of Monsignor Ottaviano Prati by Giovan Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1609–1685), although we must say it looks a lot like Gian Carlo Parodi, below… Sassoferrato is perhaps best known for his The Virgin in Prayer. Prati's apparently reversible vestment, above, if it indeed was employed for liturgical purposes, makes good use of a single garment. But, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, since the time of Pope Pius V (1504–1566) blue was used only in Spain. Nonetheless, Sassoferrato's red, white and blue recall the colors of the above-referenced Virgin; both paintings are said to have been completed in about 1650. That's an awful lot of lapis lazuli. (Portrait: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Rome; Photo: S. Tavernier)

Blues Brother? Portrait of Monsignor Ottaviano Prati by Giovan Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1609–1685), although we must say it looks a lot like Gian Carlo Parodi, below… Sassoferrato is perhaps best known for his The Virgin in Prayer. Prati's apparently reversible vestment, above, if it indeed was employed for liturgical purposes, makes good use of a single garment. But, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, since the time of Pope Pius V (1504–1566) blue was used only in Spain. Nonetheless, Sassoferrato's red, white and blue recall the colors of the above-referenced Virgin; both paintings are said to have been completed in about 1650. That's an awful lot of lapis lazuli. (Portrait: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Rome; Photo: S. Tavernier)

Gian Carlo Parodi, above, is credited with the ideazione (ideation) and synopsis of the exhibition as well as its co-curation. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

Gian Carlo Parodi, above, is credited with the ideazione (ideation) and synopsis of the exhibition as well as its co-curation. (Photo: S. Tavernier)

The exhibition opened last week on June 9 and runs through October 11, 2015. Cattura la magia!

Pala International News

Our featured stones for this month hail from the Kladovka Mine in the Ural Mountains of Russia. These stunning demantoids were mined in 2004 but only recently cut by master Marty Key. The 2.57-carat round is the finest green of this material's production.

Russian quintette. From back left, 1.56-ct trillion, 2.57-ct round, 1.72-ct cushion, 0.76-ct pear shape, and in front a 1.63-ct round. Click image to enlarge. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

The thinkers. Mining demantoid is back-breaking work—at least for some. These miners are working the Kladovka Mine in the mid 2004. (Photo: Bill Larson)

The thinkers. Mining demantoid is back-breaking work—at least for some. These miners are working the Kladovka Mine in the mid 2004. (Photo: Bill Larson)

Finders keepers? Will Larson, left, in 1997 at the Karkodino Mine. He was finding demantoid garnets alongside Russian miners. (Photo: Bill Larson)

Finders keepers? Will Larson, left, in 1997 at the Karkodino Mine. He was finding demantoid garnets alongside Russian miners. (Photo: Bill Larson)

Peek-a-boo. A green demantoid emerges from its matrix. From the Kladovka Mine, 2004. (Photo: Bill Larson)

Peek-a-boo. A green demantoid emerges from its matrix. From the Kladovka Mine, 2004. (Photo: Bill Larson)

For more on demantoid garnet, see "Reds Turn to Green: Russia's Stunning Demantoid Discovery" on Palagems.com.

Interested? Contact us! 


Big in Japan

Japanese television caught up with Pala International's Bill Larson at the recently concluded AGTA GemFair in Las Vegas. Bill shared with the audience how in the summer of 2002 he was on the cutting edge of demantoid mining in Russia's Ural Mountains.

Pala goes international. Bill Larson displays demantoid garnet for the camera ofUruwashi no Houseki Monogatari (Beautiful Story of Gemstones). (Photo: Rika Larson)

Pala goes international. Bill Larson displays demantoid garnet for the camera ofUruwashi no Houseki Monogatari (Beautiful Story of Gemstones). (Photo: Rika Larson)

Gems and Gemology News

Natural Pearls

It's been a while since Pala International got wind of a fresh academic take on a nearly forgotten question: Why do nearly all mollusks make pearls naturally, and how? A first paper on the subject currently is in press at Key Engineering Materials, part of a hefty proceedings volume concluding a four-year EU research program, Biomineralix. But we have the abstract, which we're happy to share.

Natural Pearls

Ana Vasiliu, 2015, Key Engineering Materials (KEM), in press

Abstract. A literature less traveled—peaking between 1900–1920—draws on pre-classical concepts of crystal growth and a trove of field biology, to understand ectopic shell production, the natural source of pearls. By 1907, grafts from the calcifying mantle epithelium on gonads induced nacre mineralization in Pinctada margaritifera, suggesting that displaced, readily specialized cells are at least sufficient cause of natural pearls. Otherwise, the epithelial sacks wrapping natural nacreous pearls must specialize for nacre production independently from the shell producing mantle. At the time, chasing epithelial cell migration was technically unfeasible, signaling was news, stemness was fiction. Boldly, Jameson & Rubbel [1902–1912] marshaled natural pearl nuclei and shell repairs as mineral records of cells specializing de novo into the shell's secretory regimes. Much of this paper reenacts the historic debate on the origin of pearls: thence bold ideas connect smoothly with new work on bone or shell. I revisit Jameson's choice of samples and proposal to search for an "agency [other than the] shell-secreting mechanism" acting on "replacement cells," as the origin of pearls. Much has changed: both migrating specialized cells and undifferentiated ones are reported possibilities. Replicating Jameson's choice of samples, I describe structural changes in pearls associated with two instances of cell specialization: in the event of natural pearl nucleation, or switching shell materials in later pearl growth. Clusters of cells producing novel mineralization—nacre over fibrous-prismatic aragonite—were singled out next to natural pearls by Jameson. Natural pearl nucleation as a cellular event has never been explored.

With a note from the author: Please never mind the lingo—it gets worse in the paper! It is a bit of a pity that a great story of some decades worth of old school debate is still buried in rarely read academic sources—well worth a book. There was all the furor of a gold rush toward a practical procedure for pearl culture that birthed the current industry. Yet, many spectacularly more successful ideas in the life sciences were welcome on this exotic subject of natural pearls, earlier than anywhere else. The feel of tough, vastly open academic wilderness remains.

Inasmuch, more work is underway; I am calling for samples of natural pearls barely emerging like these:

A Californian blue mussel bearing thousands of new natural pearl nuclei. (Photo courtesy of David LeBlanc, Lagoon Island Pearls)

A Californian blue mussel bearing thousands of new natural pearl nuclei. (Photo courtesy of David LeBlanc, Lagoon Island Pearls)

It is a matter of debate what are the odds that any of such flurries of minute new pearls will ever grow into a great one. My best bet for the time being: virtually none. (Photo courtesy of David LeBlanc, Lagoon Island Pearls)

It is a matter of debate what are the odds that any of such flurries of minute new pearls will ever grow into a great one. My best bet for the time being: virtually none. (Photo courtesy of David LeBlanc, Lagoon Island Pearls)

A call for interesting samples remains perpetually open. 

Interested parties can contact Pala International. 

Industry News

Hatton Garden Thieves Nabbed

Last Easter, thieves took their time in relieving a London vault of millions of pounds (sterling) of jewels, as we noted in April. On May 19, the Guardian and other media outlets reported that Scotland Yard had deployed more than 200 officers to arrest nine suspects in the case. All are British citizens. Quite a bit of the loot appears to have been recovered.

This image was chosen by the Guardian to illustrate the video of a press conference announcing the apprehension of the Hatton Garden thieves. It shows the thickness of the vault's walls, through which the thieves bored.

This image was chosen by the Guardian to illustrate the video of a press conference announcing the apprehension of the Hatton Garden thieves. It shows the thickness of the vault's walls, through which the thieves bored.


Burma Bits

Jade Jitters

A two-year slump in jade prices continues, according to a May 26 story by Myanmar Times. A reporter talked with traders in Mandalay's Maha Aung Myay jade market. Some traders are holding back stock to prevent a loss. Two events that usually boost sales—Chinese New Year and Thingyan (Burma's New Year Water Festival)—have failed to do so. When a sale is made, it's 25 percent down from previous years.

This contrasts with prices in Hpakant, the jade-producing area of Kachin State. Prices for fine jade there are high, the article said. But at the same time, a Parliament member from Kachin is calling for an overhaul of mining in Hpakant, according to The Irrawaddy, May 20. In order to prevent environmental damage, the MP, Hkyet Hting Nan, said that a government takeover of the mines may be in order. Restrictions, he said, were avoided before, since it's only been two months since mining resumed. Soil from mining and even from road wear exacerbates swollen rivers, causing flooding.

Heavy rain caused a landslide in Mogok's rubyland on June 2, killing four people, as reported by The Irrawaddy June 4.

Kachin also has had an armed conflict to deal with. For the fourth anniversary of the present conflict this month, The Irrawaddy published a timeline that begins in 1947. Drug use also has plagued the area, and The Irrawaddy profiled a "tough love" faith-based rehab clinic at which addicts must stop their use cold turkey.

Bite-Sized Bits

Lots of kyats. A successful auction had taken place during Pala International's Bill Larson's 2013 visit to Burma. Note the automated money counter (next to masked man). The bid was 700 million kyats in a country where the largest bills are 10 thousand. That’s at least 7,000 bills to count! ~950 kyat = $1.00. This image illustrates why some people would prefer trade in dollars. (Photo: Bill Larson)

Lots of kyats. A successful auction had taken place during Pala International's Bill Larson's 2013 visit to Burma. Note the automated money counter (next to masked man). The bid was 700 million kyats in a country where the largest bills are 10 thousand. That’s at least 7,000 bills to count! ~950 kyat = $1.00. This image illustrates why some people would prefer trade in dollars. (Photo: Bill Larson)

Pala Presents

With Pala Presents, we offer selections from the library of Pala International’s Bill Larson, who shares with us some of the wealth of information in the realm of gems and gemology.

On the Corundum Stone from Asia

A portrait of Charles Greville by George Romney

A portrait of Charles Greville by George Romney

Charles Francis Greville (1749–1809) was, amongst other pursuits, a collector of minerals and precious stones. His collection eventually was purchased for the British Museum. As a fellow of the Royal Society, it was he who sponsored his friend James Smithson for membership. He was Lord of the Treasury as well as Treasurer and Vice-Chamberlain of the Household for George III. Inhabitants of Milford Haven in South Wales will recall Greville as having developed their seaport after it was established by his maternal uncle, Sir William Hamilton. He had a penchant for plants, especially of the rare and tropical sort.

In 1798, Greville wrote "On the Corundum Stone from Asia." In this detailed, 47-page treatise, Greville recounts how the engraver William Berry had been given a box of crystals by way of a Dr. Anderson of Madras, India. The idea was that the engraver might find them useful, but the intricacy of his work required diamond, so the box was set aside. A Dr. Black recognized the crystals as adamantine spar. The material was further IDed, by Greville's friend Colonel Cathcart, as Indian corundum. Cathcart sent more samples from Anderson to Greville, who in turn distributed them to others for analysis.

In his own study, Greville consulted the existing literature, finding it "unsatisfactory," and from there his treatise goes on. And on. And on. Once again, those with attention deficiency will approach with some trepidation a 166-word sentence like the following, which actually can be read as a joke.

Having mentioned the varieties of crystallized and amorphous Corundum, and the miscellaneous facts relative to my collection of that substance from India and China, it might be sufficient to give an icon of the crystal, and close a paper already prolix; but, having with satisfaction observed, within the last years, the science of mineralogy gaining ground in Great Britain, from the knowledge acquired by several gentlemen who have examined the mines, and formed personal acquaintance with the most experienced and learned men on the Continent, and also from ingenious foreigners, who have communicated their observations on English fossils, and connected them with the most approved systems, it may perhaps be accepted as a sufficient apology for what follows, that I consider it as adesideratum to English mineralogists, to be invited to a preference of permanent characters, which the study of crystallization has collected, and which promises to be a certain method of ascertaining the laws by which elective attraction arranges and combines molecules of matter.

Yes, it might be sufficient, but humor the Right Honorable Mr. Greville, and read on.

Figures of crystal models from Charles Greville's treatise on corundum.

Figures of crystal models from Charles Greville's treatise on corundum.

Recycle Bin

The following article appeared this month in our sibling e-publication, Pala Mineralis.

Whetting the Appetite for Color of a Subtle Sort

The current edition of Rocks & Minerals (90:3 [May/June 2015]) includes an article of interest to both mineral and gemstone enthusiasts. "Gem Apatite Localities" is contributed by photographer Mark Mauthner and curator Terri Ottaway. Both know their way around the subject; Mauthner is a former curator at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA); Ottaway is the current curator of the GIA Museum in Carlsbad, California.

Their survey of gem apatite localities is taken from existing gemological literature. It also relies on locality data from the GIA Museum's collection, which now includes the Edward J. Gübelin collection, which we pointed to last month. Reading the article, you can compare data on some of the individual faceted apatites from the Gübelin collection—those included in the article as well as others—at the GIA Gem Project.

Yum. Apatite is nicely priced for stones in bigger sizes. Above, a natural blue rhomboid cushion from Madagascar, 3.06 ct, Inv. #20428. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Yum. Apatite is nicely priced for stones in bigger sizes. Above, a natural blue rhomboid cushion from Madagascar, 3.06 ct, Inv. #20428. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

At first glance, one is struck by the range of hues in this material, often of a nuanced sort. For example, a 10.51-carat oval from Zimbabwe (you'll have to access the article to get the locality!) with shades of fir and sand. There are golden cat's-eyes from Sri Lanka and India, a blue one from Burma. Burma also has produced vivid, paraiba-like blue-green stones.

Mauthner has paired several of the cut stones with rough samples, like Kenyan yellow fluorapatites, and green and neon-blue fluorapatites from Madagascar (see our example at right). In a fun demonstration of polarized light at two settings, Mauthner plays tricks with two lovely, limpid Russian fluorapatites. In the first, the 2.24-carat emerald cut stone is lightly brushed with a wistful mint while its 1.6-cm-tall crystal partner is boldly blue; in the second image they have traded tints. (The phenomenon is due to the material's strong pleochroism, revealed by the polarizing filter.) Closer to home, there's a rosy crystal nearly as tall as the Russian—from San Diego County's Himalaya Mine—paired with a 6.33-carat cut stone from that same mine that would fit nicely, though somewhat subtly, into the collection of the Dowager Empress. The authors note that burgundy-red material from the Himalaya fades to pink with exposure to sunlight.

Fluorapatite on calcite with a dusting of pyrite. From Portugal, Inv. #21482. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Fluorapatite on calcite with a dusting of pyrite. From Portugal, Inv. #21482. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

The material described and displayed by Mauthner and Ottaway demonstrates both its breadth and its boundaries. Depending on the individual, apatite may whet, without satisfying fully. But for those who enjoy a fusion of subtlety and complexity, there is plenty here with which to be sated.

— End June Newsletter • Published 6/15/15 —


Note: Palagems.com selects much of its material in the interest of fostering a stimulating discourse on the topics of gems, gemology, and the gemstone industry. Therefore the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those held by the proprietors of Palagems.com. We welcome your feedback.