Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Green Hydroxylherderite

Twenty years ago, my father came across a lot with 2 rough pieces of "Green Apatite". It was previously sold as Beryl, and the person who had bought it saw it was too soft when he was trying to cut it. The lot was promptly returned and the second known possibility was Apatite. My father always liked the unusual, collector's gems and they looked pretty darn good as Apatites. At that time, people cared mostly about Beryls, Topazes and Tourmalines.
The pieces came from an old man that had it stashed for a while. He said they came from Ouro Verde de Minas Gerais, a small municipality located in the northeast of Minas Gerais, neighboring Teofilo Otoni. There are not a lot of minerals that come specifically from Ouro Verde, but it is right in the middle of that pegmatite rich area in the Doce Valley. I love the fact the Ouro Verde means green gold in Portuguese.
The stones were analyzed first at the Federal University of Minas Gerais by X-ray and the result: Hydroxylherderite. So much better than Apatite. It was truly green gold! One of the pieces was quite large and we were able to cut a few large stones with around 50 to 90 carats. Smaller pieces were later sent to GIA for confirmation. Everyone was so amazed by the color, size and transparency of the pieces. One piece was featured on Gems and Gemology at the time. My father kept going back to the dealer's house to see if he could get more and one day, finally, he sold him one last piece. It had 5 kilos. Huge! Not all facetable, but from that piece, he cut a 160 carat pear shape:

It was amazing. The largest in the world probably and undoubtly the finest. From the same rough, many smaller pieces were cut. My father went back for years to see if he could get another piece, until the old man was no longer around. That was it. We sold some pieces to museums around the world, collectors, big and small. And we still treasure a few in our inventory and ocasionally put one up for sale. And the big one? It is in the Smithsonian since 2008.  (click the link and you will see it on their website)