I picked up some beautiful red Rubellite tourmaline at the 2011 Bancroft Gemboree yesterday. This fellow had 2 grades, the lesser grade he was selling at $40/carat and by weight the specimen that I picked out amounted to $64. Admittedly the color was not quite on a par with the higher grade, but there was less in the way of inclusion and the cut was of good symetry and deep so no light was spilling out a window.
I initially decided to go hardball and said that if he wanted to go $40 for the specimen it was sold, but he did not so I went away for a few hours, thought about it and came back and gave him his price. I suppose the value was what I was willing to pay for it and I really love red tourmaline.
You can see the gem that I bought on the tray to the left of the picture.
All in all, some of my favorite vendors were missing from this year’s venue – in particular Alpine gems and a couple of the cut stone dealers that I have so enjoyed in the past, also the better gem vendors seemed more evenly distributed between the upper and lower venues with what seemed a bigger focus on fossils than in the past. I was pleased to see the CGA presence and I had a discussion with my former tutor who advised me that the likelyhood of finding a natural alexanderite of the size that I mention was very slim indeed (with reference to a specimen that I had recently viewed but was unable to clearly see inside because I was in a rush and was yet to clean it).
If I was asked to pick one gem as my favorite, it would definitely be tourmaline. Look at these colors. These cabs are in a tray that was displayed by a merchant at the Bancroft Gemboree.
Red tourmalines are known as “rubellite”, one of the better known deposits being some 30 kilometers south east of Mogok in Burma where the gem is found in an alluvial bed of decomposing gneiss. Chinese miners generally worked this deposit as red tourmaline was needed for the buttons of mandarin’s gowns.
This is Ralph holding a slab of “tourmaline in quartz” at the Coe Hill gold mine. There is an intrusion or pocket at the top oif a hill on that property that consists almost exclusively of quartz impregnated tourmaline. One interesting thing about tthe tourmaline is that the spines are all bent as though they were being washed around in water – like a current moving sea fans. I suspect it has something to do with the cooling process.
You might notice the new header up at the top of the blog – that is courtesy of my “brother-in-law Nige”, he is a computer whiz and the guy who got me blogging in the first place. The picture has been derived from larger photo of the wheels of abandoned mine trolleys in Cobalt. I am off to Cobalt tomorrow so you can expect more pictures like that soon.
Reason for visiting Cobalt – to get more high Resolution picturesd for my upcoming book “Rockhounding: An Experience of the North” I dont want to give to much away at this time, but as you might surmise it will be of interest to mineral collectors – and inadvertantly – cavers as well as there are a few sidebars about Ontario caves – yet to be published material. I have a publisher who has shown interest in the idea – with some modification from the original format.
If you want to help me – link to my site – it will increase my ability to reach the world. Oh, and thanks Nige. You have some scotch coming your way.
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)