Howard pointed out that one of my previous posts had popped up on the internet indicating that it contained a photo of raw silver – it appears that the photo had gone so .. here it is – the post again with the picture.
“This is a lump of high grade silver ore found on the mine dumps around Cobalt. The silver here is invariably mixed to a greater or lesser extent with the element cobalt. It is the paucity of this material that dictates the silver yield. The “low Grade” ore is rich in cobalt. It is dull and of an aluminum like lustre. As you can see by the attached photo, the “High Grade ore is pretty lusterous.
In combing through the mine dumps the rocks look pretty similar but a few hints can help you locate the greatly prized high-grade ore. The silver occurs in veins of varying thickness. At the silver sidewalk the exposure was a pure streak of silver over five feet wide. Usually the silver is found as flat sided slabs from thinner veins that are rich in calcite.
Andy Christe of the Princess Sodalite Mine (Bancroft) showed me how to feel for silver. By closing my eyes and dragging my finger tips over the rock I was immediately able to feel a rock that contains raw silver. It is as though my skin is catching on tiny barbs of tinfoil. Push to hard and they flatten out. The magic of the touch is lost”.
A friend and I recently visited this mine and in discussing syenite in the last post, (a silica poor rock) I thought it might be of benefit to show an example of the stuff. The mine tunnel initially cuts through the reddish syenite in the bottom of a high hill but further in it deviates away, following along the middle of a seam that can be traced along the roof of the tunnel.
Aristocracy oozes from his very pores, he is cool and non commital. I wonder if I am worthy to even barter. The table in front draws me closer. The salavitating rockhound within is fixated on the stones. Oh, oh, I must have a citrine! I cant help myself and he knows it.
I inquire as to where the stones come from and am told that everything passed through Jaipur. Apparently this guy lives six months in Montreal and six months in Deli. “Jaipur is only a three hour drive from Delhi, but that can vary quite considerably” he says with understatement. The roads in India are a nightmare. It appears that there is little in the way of rules, beyond “don’t hit the cows”. They are sacred animals and have every right to snooze undisturbed in a busy intersection. Trucks choose whatever side of the road they wish to travel on and the carnage of burned out smashed up auto shells litters the roadside.
I mention that I am writing a book on gems, “Oh but you cannot forget the Indians,” he asserts. “Jaipur is the major coloured stone cutting centre in the world”.
A massive wall and seven defensive gates surround the Old City, where the gem trade thrives. It is a place that breathes colour and is dyed with an ancient culture. People call it the “pink city though it is also the state capital of Rajasthan. “It was founded over four hundred years ago by the great prince, Maharaja Jai Sing ”. Brightly clad women, in silk saris, float through broad-street’d markets. A monkey with leathery and wizened features peers from a darkened alcove. At sunset the streetscape melts into a world of orange and pink pastel, a camel cart creaks by led by a wraith-like figure. He glides slowly along on stick-like feet. As the warm evening breeze ruffles his cotton shroud you might suspect that it were only a skeleton beneath.
“We Indians have the buying power that other regions do not,” the dealer tells me. You see my stones, none of them were found in India. They were however all cut in Jaipur. Of course there are other places”. “Bangkok”, he raises a knowing eyebrow. “Brazil” he shrugs. “China”, he sighs. “Its big and new and just entering the market”. A great beam breaks his saddened features, the very sun shining from his teeth, fanning his hands over his product he proclaims in a golden voice, “And then there is India”.
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)