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What Kind Of Minerals and Crystals Can Be Found In Ohio?

Ohio Fluorite
Calcite celestite Pugh Quarry, Custar, Ohio

Calcite and celestite crystals from Ohio

If you live in Ohio and want to get rich finding Emeralds then forget it. Your best bet for that is to move to the Asheville, NC. Our state just doesn’t have the Geology necessary for that sort of gemstone to be present. It’s true people do find gold and diamonds (six of those have been found in Ohio, not including those found in jewelry stores) in Ohio, but those are travelers that arrived courtesy of glaciers and deposited in glacial sedimentary deposits.

But just because you can’t fill a jewelry shop from our geology doesn’t mean that Ohio isn’t rich in crystal treasure. Our state is blessed with minerals that are used industrially and helped turn the state into an Industrial powerhouse. It also is a source of beautiful minerals perfect for a collection or as a display piece (Celestite, I am looking at you!) And don’t get me started talking about fossils! Cincinnati is famous for its rich troves of Ordovician era fossils on the Cincinnati Arch. You know where to go if you want a Trilobite.

Since most locals aren’t aware of our state’s Geology, let alone that we have a geology, or if we have one, where somebody may have misplaced it, how much it’s worth and whether you can trade it to rent Top Gun: Maverick on Amazon, we are presenting a curated list of the crystals and minerals found in the Buckeye state.

Photo credit for image above: Photo By James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/47445767@N05/33229612163/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96284794

Calcite

Calcite crystals Gibraltar Island Lake Erie Ohio

Sunlit Silurian calcite from Put-in-Bay in Ohio on Lake Erie.

Photo By James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/47445767@N05/50588186197/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96284996

Calcite is found throughout Ohio in different forms as granular aggregates in black shale in eastern and central Ohio, and as crystal and granular aggregates in Western Ohio.

The name calcite comes from a Greek word meaning lime. This comes from its chemical component, Calcium Carbonate, which sometimes is mistakenly known as “lime.” Calcite is known in more than 300 forms of crystals. The scalenohedral crystals of Calcite, one of its most common varieties, ordinarily are known as “dogtooth spar” or “dogtooth calcite” because of their resemblance to a dog’s canine tooth. Another variety, transparent rhombohedral calcite, is used in optical equipment. Although they are not specific varieties of calcite, stalactites, stalagmites and other formations found in caverns are made of calcite.

Calcite is one of the most common minerals, making up about 4% by weight of the Earth’s crust. Calcite is common as vein fillings in many rocks in western and central Ohio. Silurian dolomites in northwestern Ohio yield clusters of large crystals ranging from clear to dark brown. Many have a golden color.

Crystals and granular aggregates in cavities and fractures of dolostones and limestones in western Ohio; granular aggregates commonly form veins in dolostone concretions and less commonly in ironstone concretions from black shales in central and eastern Ohio; more rare as an efflorescence.

Calcite (CaCO3) is a soft carbonate mineral that occurs in various colors, including white, yellow, brown, gray, black, and pink, and also can be colorless. Calcite is a common mineral that occurs primarily in limestone and dolostone, occasionally in concretions and rarely as an efflorescence.

The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic ash to create a pozzolanic reaction. If this was mixed with volcanic tuff and placed under seawater, the seawater hydrated the lime in an exothermic reaction that solidified the mixture.

Aragonite

vug with aragonite east central ohio

Vug with aragonite crystals in arenaceous, ferruginous, fossiliferous limestone from Ohio

Photo By James St. John – Vug with aragonite crystals in arenaceous, ferruginous, fossiliferous limestone (Vinton Member, Logan Formation, Lower Mississippian; Mt. Calvary Cemetery Outcrop – Rt. 13 roadcut, Heath, east-central Ohio, USA) 3, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82971990

With a name that sounds like a heroic character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but originates from the territory of Aragon in Spain, aragonite is one of the three most common forms of calcium carbonate. Its crystal lattice differs from calcite, one of the other common forms of calcium carbonate. It has a host of industrial uses. Aragonite has been found in Coshocton County.

Celestite

Celestite Crystals inside Crystal Cave on South Bass Island

Crystal Cave is a small cave in Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie in Ohio touted as the world’s largest geode. An abundance of large, well-formed crystals of celestite cover the walls. The cave was originally mined for its strontium content, but enough nice crystals still remain to keep the site open as a show cave.

Photo by James St. John – Celestite (Crystal Cave, South Bass Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, USA) 16, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82969277

A soft sulfate mineral ore of strontium, in fact being the most common mineral that contains strontium. Celestite derived strontium is used industrially in fireworks, ceramic magnets, and toothpaste

Ohio is famous for having some of the best celestite deposits in the world. The mineral is found in 11 counties. The northwestern regions of Ohio amid the Findlay Arch produce celestite ranging in color from white to pale blue. The area of Serpent Mound southwestern Ohio also produces some celestite due to an unusual geological occurrence. South Bass Island is a huge vug filled with very large celestite crystals.

Quartz

Geode with sphalerite barite dolomite and quartz Monroe County Ohio

Close-up of a Monroe County, Ohio geode with sphalerite, barite, dolomite and quartz.

Photo by James St. John – Geode with sphalerite, barite, dolomite, and quartz (Monroe County, Ohio, USA) 2, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84692026

What can’t you not say about quartz? It is a hard silicate in the form of silicon dioxide. It’s useful in glassmaking, watchmaking, ceramics, metal casting, electronics, and the petroleum industry. But the enduring love it receives is because of it’s beauty and variety: rose quartz, lavender quartz, blue quartz, rutilated quartz, citrine, amethyst, enhydro quartz, prasiolite, ametrine and a variety of shapes including points, needles, and clusters.

In Ohio, quartz is found in flint beds in Coshocton, Licking, and Muskingum Counties; in Adams and Highland Counties; in septarian limestone concretions in the central portion of the state; and loose in streambeds and creeks in the Southeast.

Fluorite

Ohio Fluorite

An example of Ohio Fluorite from Stoneco Auglaize quarry (Maumee Stone County quarry), Junction, Paulding County, Ohio.

A 1.2 cm colorless cube with well-centered, distinct, rich purple color “phantom” inside. The crystal has very sharp faces and excellent gemminess. It sits upon a small amount of Dolostone matrix

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10148353

Fluorite is a another name for calcium fluoride, a halide ore mineral of fluorine. It’s has several industrials uses including as a flux for removing impurities in the manufacture of steel and in the production of fluorine gas which itself is used in the refining of uranium.

While fluorite is found across the world, the quality and largest quantities are mined out of Europe and North America. In Ohio fluorite is found in 19 counties. Typically cubic crystals found in dolostones in northwestern Ohio particularly along the edges of the Findlay Arch and occasionally in the Serpent Mound area.

Some fluorite is UV reactive, fluorescing under exposure. Because of this property, it and it’s compounds are used to manufacture synthetic crystals with applications in laser and special UV and infrared optics.

Dolomite

Put-in-Bay Dolomite South Bass Island, Lake Erie,Ohio

Ohio Dolostone. In the past Dolomite was used to refer to both the mineral and the rock. Dolomite is now used to refer to the mineral and dolostone refers to sedimentary rock whose primary content is dolomite.

Photo By James St. John – Put-in-Bay Dolomite over Tymochtee Dolomite (Upper Silurian; South Bass Island, Lake Erie, Ohio, USA) 6, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82969360

What relationship does Ohio have with a nineteenth century french geologist? The answer in one word is Dolomite! Named after Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, Dolomite is found in over 19 Ohio counties. Dolomite differs from limestone in that it contains both calcium and magnesium.

More well known as an Indiana mineral, especially the Corydon area, this calcium magnesium carbonate occurs in small crystals in western Ohio and along the Huron river among other areas.

Dolomite has industrial uses including as a source of magnesium salts like magnesia and by builders as structural and ornamental stone.

The term dolomite used to refer both to the mineral dolomite and dolostone (a sedimentary rock of which is made primarily of dolomite).

Barite

Fluorite and barite (quarry in Marblehead Peninsula, far-northern Ohio

Fluorite and barite from Marblehead Peninsula Ohio

Photo By James St. John – Fluorite and barite (quarry in Marblehead Peninsula, far-northern Ohio, USA), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40022633

Found in over 26 counties in Ohio, this Barium Sulfate mineral often associated with calcite and other minerals is often white or colorless but can also have light blues, greys, yellows or browns. In the central and eastern Ohio black shale formations barite is found in concretions such as limestone, ironstone and pyrite. In the northwestern and southwestern Ohio crystalline or granular barite can be found in fractures and cavitiesof dolostones (dolomite sedimentary rock).

Barite is the primary ore for barium, and has varied industrial uses including paper, paint and glass manufacture as well medical radiology (as a dye) and in oil drilling.

Barites crystals found in Ohio can sometimes be massive in size.

Malachite

Malachite,Zaire

Malachite – sadly from Zaire and not Ohio

Photo By JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7515677

Typically found in botryoidal, stalagmitic, or fibrous masses, beautiful green malachite is collectible, and displayable.

It was a little hard to believe that malachite is found in Ohio, but according to the state it actually is present. Since it’s a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral it obviously needs copper to be present to form, and I did find a reference to a copper mine in Cuyahoga county.

Pyrite

Pyrite snake concretion Ohio Shale Upper Devonian creek cut in Ross County, southern Ohio, USA

Pyrite

Photo By James St. John – Pyrite snake concretion (Ohio Shale, Upper Devonian; creek cut in Ross County, southern Ohio, USA) 8, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84692435

Iron Pyrite, commonly known as “fool’s gold”, is metallic iron sulfide mineral found in over 88 Ohio counties, typically in Devonian or Pennsylvanian shales. Pyrite has been used as an ore for sulfur and a source of iron.

The most common sulfide mineral, pyrite can form form in extremely well-crystallized examples of cubes, pyritohedrons, and octahedrons.

Sphalerite

Sphalerite on dolostone Millersville Quarry, Sandusky County, Ohio

Sphalerite crystals atop sucrosic dolostone from Sandusky County, Ohio

Photo by James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/31282767801/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101721070

Sphalerite is a sulfide mineral that is an ore of zinc, cadmium, gallium, germanium, and indium. It has a wide variety of colors including light/dark brown, red-brown, yellow, red, green, light blue, black, and colorless. It occurs in the Findlay Arch area, near Serpent Mound, and in Eastern Ohio.

Smithsonite

example of smithsonite

Illustrative example of smithsonite – sadly, not from Ohio. This example is from the Kelley Mine in Soccorro County, New Mexico.

Photo by Bureau of Mines – http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/show_picture.cgi?ID=ID.%20BOM%20Mineral%20Specimens%20016, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1825549

Smithsonite is named after English geologist and chemist James Smithson. Also known as zinc spar, this form of mineral zinc carbonate is a variably colored trigonal mineral.

Special Mention: Fossils

While not minerals, it would be unforgivable to not mention Ohio’s rich treasure trove of minerals. The greater Cincinnati area (which includes parts of northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana) sits atop what is known as the Cincinnati Arch, the eroded remains of a mountain range from Michigan to Alabama that was thrust up by collision of two ancient continents. The arch sank beneath a series of shallow inland seas filled with marine life ending up as deposits of fossils in what is known to geologists as the Cincinnatian Epoch.

The region is famous for a wide variety of marine fossils, but particularly Trilobites, a now extinct member of the arthropod family.

Phacops rana,Silica,Ohio

Example of Ohio Eldredgeops rana fossil

Photo by Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83993913

Graftonoceras – limonite-stained external mold of nautiloid in dolostone

Photo By James St. John – Graftonoceras fossil nautiloid (Lockport Dolomite, Middle Silurian; Coldwater, southern Mercer County, western Ohio, USA), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36833417

Graftonoceras fossil nautiloid (Lockport Dolomite, Middle Silurian;Coldwater,southern Mercer County).
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Ever Popular Ever Beautiful Rose Quartz

Of all the variety of minerals and crystals, perhaps the most beloved and widely collected is quartz. Named from the old Saxon word querklufterz meaning ‘cross vein ore’, it is popular with collectors, healers, artists, craftsmen, and people just looking for beautiful jewelry or items to display in their home. Quartz has something for everyone: a startling variety of colors; beautiful geometrically precise crystals; crystals ranging in size from druzy to monumental; strange and fantastical interior minerals such as hematite. Quartz is also the most abundant mineral on our planet.

Pure quartz is a colorless form of silicon dioxide, but there is a wide variety of both colored quartz and minerals that are not commonly understood to be a variety of quartz, such as amethyst, citrine, praseolite, chalcedony, and herkimer diamonds. Many of these varieties derive their color from impurities. Amethyst, for example owes its purple color to a combination of iron impurities trapped in the crystal along with holes in its structure from missing elections. Gray quartz similarly has missing electrons, but instead of iron impurities, it has aluminum impurities. Aside from color, quartz is usually grouped based on the size of the size of individual crystals or grains. If the individual crystal is too small to see using the naked eye, then the crystal is referred to as being cryptocrystalline quartz. If you can use your unaided eye to see the crystal, then it is classified as macrocrystalline quartz.

Rose quartz is a popular macrocrystalline form of quartz best know for its solid masses, beautiful glassy luster and translucent, even, milky pink color. The source of the color is still not well understood. One theory argues that it is due minor impurities such as titanium, manganese or even colloidal gold. The other theory argues that color comes from microscopic mineral fibers of dumortierite inside the rose quartz. Some examples exhibit asterism – a star effect when looking at the mineral from a particular angle when light is shone upon it. In general, rose quartz does not form crystals like you see with other forms of quartz.

Its delicate color has inspired art in other mediums including this glass vase on at the Chrysler Museum, and has its own color listing in the Pantone color library. Man has worked with the material back into antiquity. Beads made of the material have been discovered in the near east. The Chinese, particularly during the Qing dynasty, used the material for carvings. It was crafted in Latin America, and India as well.

Rose Quartz Vase

18th Century, Chinese, Qing Dynasty

Rose Quartz and Gold Double Bird Pendant
8th–12th century Coclé (Macaracas)

From Panama

Dagger (Jambiya)
18th century
Indian, Mughal

Steel, ivory (walrus), silver, ruby, rose quartz

Rose quartz was believed by the Romans, Egyptians and Greeks to be a useful talisman, and the Romans carved it into ownership seals. It was known during medieval times as the love stone, and the Chinese valued it’s properties in the practice of Feng Shui. Given the strong and ancient beliefs that the stone had special properties , it is no surprise that a strong literature has arisen around the material in modern times discussing metaphysical, healing, Reiki, or other spiritual properties of the material.

Ring, filigree with rose quartz

Greek or Roman, from Cyprus

Rose Quartz continues to inspire people, even in modern times. It’s a name given to a character in the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. In the show, Steven is half-human and half “gem”, a type of ageless alien warrior that project human like forms from the gemstones in their core. Steven inherits his half “gem” lineage from his full-gem mother, Rose Quartz.

Rose Quartz (right), Steven Universe’s mother from the Cartoon Network show “Steven Universe”

By Hilary Florido, Katie Mitroff and Rebecca Sugar (authors); Cartoon Network / Time Warner (copyright owners) – Own screenshot, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50775788

Rose quartz is found today in southern Africa (Madagascar, South Africa, and Namibia) as well as Brazil (Bahia and Minas Gerais) and interestingly, South Dakota.

There is a second variety of quartz sometimes grouped under the name rose quartz, but also referred to as pink crystalline quartz or crystalline rose quartz or even just pink quartz. This variety is much rarer, forms beautiful crystals and the best examples hail from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil.

For your own rose crystal display piece or healing stone check out Georarities’ selection of rose quartz crystals for sale.

Flower holder with pomegranate

18th Century, Chinese, Qing Dynasty

Snuff Bottle with Floral Design
late 18th century
China, Qing Dynasty

Aquamarine with Rose Quartz Topper

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The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona

In northeastern Arizona lies a region named El Desierto Pintado or The Painted Desert by Spanish explorers. In its midst is a 346 square region that is the Petrified Forest National Park. Part of the late Triassic Chinle Formation (which is formed of mudstone, siltstone, sandstone, and conglomerate deposited into channels and floodplains of a large river system) the park is part of a broader area famous for petrified fallen trees from forests that date to the Late Triassic Epoch, about 225 million years ago. Pushed upwards starting around 60 million years ago the upper layers were eroded away by wind and rain exposing fossils. A humans in the area only began about 8000 years ago, when migrants entered the region eventually growing corn, and building pit houses and pueblos. Changing climate conditions eventually drove the descendants of these settlers out of the area and into the Hopi and Navajo regions.

Arizona Petrified Wood Forest

Early Tourist Guide for the Petrified National Forest

Ever since the early 20th century, scientists have been unearthing and examining the rich fossils deposit in the Painted Forest. Giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and others have been discovered here, but the most famous fossils are those of plants of the Late Triassic Mesozoic period including ferns, lycophytes, cycads, gingkoes and others. At the time these plants and creatures lived, the park was part of the super-continent Pangaea, and located much further south, near the equator in fact, and the climate of the region was humid and sub-tropical, far different from the barren and arid deserts of today.

A view at Petrified Forest National Park, a site managed by the National Park Service in Arizona.


A view at Petrified Forest National Park, a site managed by the National Park Service in Arizona.

By AndrewKPepper – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83635779

The most famous of plant fossils and the namesake of the park is petrified wood. These fossils were created when downed trees accumulated in river channels flooded by tropical rainstorms became buried by sediment containing volcanic ash from nearby volcanic that erupted periodically. The quick burial of these plants in an ash mineral rich, low oxygen environment proved ideal for fossilization as low oxygen inhibits the decay of organic matter and deters the presence of many hungry critters (from bacteria on up). Over time silica (silicon dioxide) from the ash dissolved into the water began to form quartz crystals (also a form of silicon dioxide) on edge of the logs eventually replacing the organic matter as it slowly decayed. Iron oxide and other substances in the ash created different colors in quartz minerals creating over a very long period of time beautiful, (sometime brilliantly) colorful plant fossils. There are rare specimens of green petrified wood fossils that also stand out, the green coming from chromium. These tree fossils are sometimes monumental in size, feet in diameter and sometimes the length of (broken) tree logs.

Detail inside petrified wood, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA


Detail of colorful petrified woodPetrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA

By Brian W. Schaller – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29628344

Green Petrified Wood from Holbrook, Navajo County, Arizona, USA Size: 3.8 x 2.1 x 1.6 cm. The bark on both sides is very well preserved. This is a polished slice from petrified tree limb

By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10175980

Green Petrified Wood from Holbrook, Navajo County, Arizona

Green Petrified Wood fromSize: 4.0 x 2.0 x 1.5 cm. The bark on both sides is very well preserved. You can see the distinct knots, where smaller limbs were once attached and the corrugated nature of the bark.

By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10176074

This fossilization process typically preserves details of the external shape and structure of the woody material including sometimes the bark, but in a small number of specimens the fossilization process penetrated into and preserved the cellular structure of the plant or animal bone. Paleologists and Paleobotanists can sometimes study these special fossils under a microscope to understand their cellular structure and this has brought a wealth of knowledge about species with no known relatives alive on the surface of the earth today.

At least nine species of extinct tree have been identified among the park’s fossils some growing up to 9 feet in diameter and up to 200 feet high. Perhaps the most famous of all is a conifer tree named Araucarioxylon arizonicum that grew from the Early Permian period through the Late Triassic. It’s closest living relatives are the Monkey Puzzle Tree and the the Norfolk Island Pine tree both of which only live in the southern hemisphere.

Artistic reconstruction of the plant Araucarioxylon arizonicum according to the descriptions given for the species from its Triassic fossil remains. The maximum height estimated for the species is 60 meters and its diameter is 60 centimeters. The columnar trunk with monopodic branching is observed and the lateral branches grow at an angle of 90º with respect to the axis and present negative geotropism. The structure of the leaves is unknown.


Artistic reconstruction of the plant Araucarioxylon arizonicum according to the descriptions given for the species from its Triassic fossil remains. The maximum height estimated for the species is 60 meters and its diameter is 60 centimeters. The columnar trunk with monopodic branching is observed and the lateral branches grow at an angle of 90º with respect to the axis and present negative geotropism. The structure of the leaves is unknown.

By Falconaumanni – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37304138

Fossil Araucarioxylon arizonicum (petrified wood) outside the National Museum of Natural History, USA, in Washington, DC, USA.


Fossil Araucarioxylon arizonicum (petrified wood) outside the National Museum of Natural History, USA, in Washington, DC, USA.

By Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27276482

There are other fossils as well, preserved through what is known as compression fossilization, which been preserved by being flattened by the weight of sediment accumulated above it until only a thin film of fossil remains. These types of fossils have preserved leaves, seeds, pine-cone, spore, fish, insects, pollen grains and sometimes animal remains.

Recently scientists in the park retrieved a quarter mile deep core sample to understand the history of the earth better. One of the questions they trying to answer is whether three the impact of at least three mountain sized asteroids created a tectonic movement leading to the eruption of chains of volcanoes could have been the key cataclysmic event that ripped apart Pangaea – the earth’s single supercontinent at the time. It turns out the core provides evidence of two different potential story arcs: the change in the fossil record at the time could be connected to powerful asteroid impact in Canada which left behind a 62 mile wide impact crater, or that no single catastrophic event was responsible for the.

Incidentally, Petrified wood is not limited to Arizona. It occurs anywhere the conditions are right. For example, we’ve previously written about the petrified forest in the protected national monument on the Greek Island of Nesbos. Namibia too, has an exceptional petrified forest national park. Discovered by a pair of farmers in the 1950s, the enormous fossilized tree trunks in this case did not originate in the area where they were found, but instead were washed downstream of a river by a great flood. These trees date back to about 280 million years ago.


Typical Veld Landscape near Petrified forest in Namibia



Typical Veld Landscape near Petrified forest in Namibia

By Olga Ernst – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72029500

Petrified wood in Namibia.


Petrified Wood in Namibia

By t_y_l – P9133880, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76429571

Petrified Wood in Namibia


Petrified Wood in Namibia

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1274653

Closeup view of Namibian Petrified Wood



Closeup view of Namibian Petrified Wood

By Lidine Mia – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99649068

Petrified wood is found all around the region in Arizona including outside the Petrified Wood National Park, but don’t forget when visiting the park itself that it is both illegal and unethical to take fossils from public land! Do the right thing and enjoy the fossils in their natural place in the park and go home with beautiful memories and photographs.


Originally built with agatized wood blocks and mud mortar, Agate House likely housed a single family sometime between 1050 and 1300, during the Late Pueblo II – Pueblo III Periods. The scarcity of artifacts suggests a relatively brief occupation. Due to its relatively large size, Agate House may have served as a central gathering place. Indeed, Agate House was a part of a much larger community. When first recorded by archeologists in the 1930s, the petrified wood construction of Agate House was thought to be unique. Since then, hundreds of similar petrified wood structure sites have been found in the park, indicating a history of humanity as colorful and diverse as the building blocks of Agate House. Agate House @ Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

By daveynin – https://www.flickr.com/photos/44124370018@N01/49518910517/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88114729

We have our own petrified forest of sorts at Georarities! Visit our Petrified Wood category to find samples of Arizona, Indonesian, green chromium petrified wood, and other varieties that you can buy for your collection!

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What Do Bastille Day and Crystallography Have in Common?

The Storming of the Bastille

July 14, celebrated every year in France as Bastille Day, commemorates the storming and seizure of the notorious medieval armory, fortress, and political prison known as the Bastille. It was a major event during the French Revolution, and it’s celebration in Paris includes one of the oldest and largest military parades in Europe. The actual storming of the Bastille has an unlikely connection to crystallography.

Why the Bastille was stormed is rather complicated, but the immediate cause was dismissal from the French Royal Government of one Jacques Necker, a Swiss born Genevan banker who to serve as finance minister for French King Louis XVI, the French monarch who was to famously lose his head by guillotine, along with his wife Marie Antoinette. Necker became a very popular figure among the people of France, not least of for his public release of state budget, the first time this had happened in France. At the time, France was staggering unders a complex series of misfortunes, poor policy, and bad financial decisions. Having lost a series of wars against the United Kingdom during the preceding century, in revenge France chose to back the American Revolution, both financially and with direct military aid and forces but the cost of this victory was crushing. Overpopulation, drought, and incompetant advisors brought the state’s finances to the brink. Necker, a rising star well known for financial competance was brought in to stabilize the situation. His relationship to the monarch and his other ministers was turbulent and Necker moved in and out of government positions repeatedly, finally as finance minister. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to salvage the situation. His firing in 1798 triggered crowds to storm the Bastille releasing the few prisoners being held there.

Necker navigated the turbulence of the subsequent Revolution and the Napoleonic era in his native Switzerland. His nephew, also named Jacques married a Albertine Necker de Saussure. a prominent biologist and the two cared for his uncle in his later years. The couple had a son named Louis Albert Necker de Saussure. Louis studied Geology in Geneva, and later Chemistry at Edinburgh University in Scotland. He studied the geology of Scotland and produced the first geological map of Scotland. Ill health compelled Necker to give up mineral collecting. He settled permanently in Scotland become something of a recluse on the Island of Skye.

Necker’s collection of fossils and minerals was donated to the Musée Académique between 1842 and 1845, following his mother’s death and his retreat to Skye. The collection is housed in two departments, the fossils in the Department of Geology and Paleontology and the minerals in the Department of Mineralogy and Petrography. His 650 fossils are kept as a separate collection. Nearly all are from around Geneva and probably collected by Necker or his students. About 400 mineral samples are identifiable as Necker’s in the MHNG mineralogy collection database.

Necker is best know for the Necker Cube, an optical illusion showing a 2D view of a 3D wire wire framed cube. Necker observed that the ambiguous cubic shape could spontaneously switch perspective, writing “The object I have now to call your attention to, is an observation… which has often occurred to me while examining figures and engraved plates of crystalline forms: I mean a sudden and involuntary change in apparent position of a crystal or solid represented in an engraved figure”.

Necker cube on the left, impossible cube on the right.
By Gauravjuvekar – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17057834

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A Bridge to Washington made of Mineral and Perseverence

The Roebling Suspension Bridge Connecting Cincinnati, Ohio with Covington, Kentucky

The river is just about a mile wide at this point. Mud colored waves roll along gently, interrupted occasionally by pleasure craft or a mock riverboat filled with sightseers. I am far above the river looking into a blue sky interrupted by light blue steel girders and rock towers. I am standing on the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge with the Ohio River below, Covington, Kentucky behind me and the tall steel and concrete skyscrapers of Cincinnati reaching into the sky along the near horizon ahead. This bridge was completed in 1867 and in its time was considered the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057 feet in length.

Photo taken from west side of bridge, with demonstrators marching on bridge.

Girders and Towers of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, with Cincinnati, Ohio in the Background

by Cdv1014 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, hBy White-acre – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62604393

This bridge is named after, well, John Roebling, and it has an unusual connection to Geology. John Roebling was a Prussian born engineer. After his university studies (where he attended lectures by the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, among others) he emigrated to the United States in 1831 with a group of like minded Germans who believed in the possibility of creating a technical based utopia. Quickly finding work, which had been scarce back in the German states, he was gainfully employed up until the American Civil War. The war had many impacts one of which was disruption, slowing or halting of infrastructure projects as money and resources were diverted to the war effort. The bridge over the Ohio was one of the projects affected. It was begun in 1856, but halted with the onset of the war, resuming again in 1863 and eventually completed in 1867. That same year John Roebling started work on an even more ambitious suspension span, this time to cross the East River in New York. This new project would eventually be known as the Brooklyn Bridge and also stand as a marvel of engineering in its day, but Roebling would not live to see its completed. He died of tetanus as a result of an accident, before the plans for the Brooklyn span had been fully drawn up. It was left to his son, Washington Augustus Roebling, thirty-two years old at the the time, to complete the task that his father had begun.

Plaque on the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, Cincinnati, Ohio

by Cdv1014 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51857635

Colonel Washington Roebling was a civil engineer, like his father. His title was not honorary – he enlisted in the Union Army upon the outbreak of the Civil War and served until his resignation in 1865 to help his father with Ohio bridge. The colonel’s favorite hobby happened to be collecting rocks and minerals, a hobby he acquired while studying at the Rensselaer Polytechnic institute in Troy, NY. Later in life he would revisit his hobby when, while personally supervising the building of the Brooklyn span, he spent so many hours under high atmospheric pressure while working on sinking the caissons for the foundation of the bridge that he developed a case of the bends. It was so bad that it permanently injured his health, forcing him direct the work on the bridge from a convalescent bed. Casting about for something with which to relax from the stress of the bridge project he turned his attention back to his hobby. Wealthy, but unable to travel while convalescing, he collected specimens by correspondence.

Over the years Col. Roebling dealt with nearly every dealer and collector of importance in his time. He set his sights on the goal of a representative collection – one with a sample of every known mineral in his day, no matter how interesting or insignificant. Over his lifetime he accumulated over 16,000 specimens of unusually high quality. In the end, his came close to achieving his goal: at the time of his death, of the 1,500 established known mineral species at the time, his collection lacked less than 15. Among the many outstanding examples of his collection were: Brazilian and Siberian topaz, California and Madagascar tourmaline, phenacite, paramelaconite, roeblingite, peridot, opal, Russian malachite (“Brought from Russia about 1874 by the Grand Duke Alexis and given by him to Henry A. Ward, of Rochester, for a mounted buffalo head”), kunzite, Brazilian euclase, Arkansas diamond, chrysoberyl, Brazilian beryl, zoisite, afghanite, pyromorphite, apatite, and a beautiful example of carved quartz (variant chrysoprase).

Photograph of a group of fluorites from the National Gem Collection showing a range of colors, Namaqualand, Western Cape, South Africa, Africa, Washington A. Roebling Collection

Photograph of a group of fluorites from the National Gem Collection showing a range of colors, Namaqualand, Western Cape, South Africa, Africa, Washington A. Roebling Collection

Afghanite, Koksha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Asia, Washington A. Roebling Collection

Afghanite, Koksha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Asia, Washington A. Roebling Collection

Roebling was quite generous, freely letting his specimens be used for scientific purposes, thereby contributing directly to the publication of important papers, although he himself was not inclined to research. He never catalogued the collection, but he did label every specimen personally. Roebling developed a friendly relationship with the National Museum in Washington, D.C. an institution that would eventually become the Smithsonian, and this no doubt played a role in the decision of his son to donate the collection, as well as $150,000 for its maintenance, to the Smithsonian upon Roebling’s death on July 21, 1926.

Opal, Querétaro, Mexico, North America, Washington A. Roebling Collection

Forsterite (var. peridot),
Zabargad Island, Egypt, Africa, Washington A. Roebling Collection

Colonel Roebling had deep contacts in the mineral collecting community, so much so that the mineral roeblingite was named after him in 1927 by Samuel Lewis Penfield and Harry Ward Foote. He was also a charter member of the Mineralogical Society of America which was founded in 1919. He served as Vice President in 1924, and made a $45,000 gift to the Society not long before his death. The Society named the Roebling Medal in his honor. Among the many recipients of the medal are two Nobel Laureates Linus Pauling (laureate in chemistry “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.”) and Lawrence Bragg (laureate in physics “For their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays“). 

Perhaps no finer tribute to Roebling’s passion for minerals can be made than that of Alexander H. Phillips 1927 memorial to Roebling in the pages of American Mineralogist:

He would always ask a visitor what mineral he was interested in, or what mineral he wished to see, with that quiet touch of pride which is a pardonable companion of a conscious knowledge of completeness. However rare the mineral, the Colonel could go directly to the proper drawer and produce a specimen. He has often remarked that he had a specimen of every known mineral and variety; then he would always add “with few exceptions.” The Roebling collection was never catalogued, nor was a specimen ever numbered to connect it with its label. For this reason he seemed to be very particular in the handling of his specimens, as he had the constant fear of getting the labels misplaced. Very often the history of a specimen would be found neatly folded in the tray, with the opinion of noted mineralogists in regard to it, together with notes by the Colonel, often written in a humorous strain, in that fine and perfect script. The Colonel’s quiet humor was always the delight of his friends, and this is reflected all through the collection. Here and there a tray will be empty, with a note “This specimen has been loaned now for two years. Time it was returned.” These remarks were not always complimentary, but he would record a joke on himself with equal fairness. He loved each specimen, as his collection in his later years was his enjoyment, his pleasure, his complete interest, his life. Near the end, when his sight was failing, he remarked: “My life is over, as I can no longer see my minerals.” He was always willing to sacrifice specimens for research or analysis; and many were the calls for rare minerals or type specimens, and it was indeed seldom that he failed to deliver the material.

Washington Roebling.

Washington Roebling

By RPI Library Collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15725762

Top photo by Derek Jensen (Tysto) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=122754

We are located in Cincinnati, Ohio not far from the banks of Ohio River. Visit our rock, mineral, and crystal shop in person, or browse our selection of crystals, minerals, rocks, meteorites and fossils online by clicking here.

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Roman Era Emerald Mine in the Egyptian Desert

Roman Era Egyptian Emerald Necklace

Fifteen miles or so from the Egyptian coastline of the sparkling Red Sea stand a series of crumbling structures. Standing upon an area known in antiquity as “Mons Smaragdus”, these ruins in the Egyptian Eastern Desert are all that remains of Sikait, the Roman Empire’s only emerald mine. Archaeological work conducted in 2020 and 2021 by the University of Barcelona suggests that as the Empire’s grip on the area loosened and eventually receded, some of the buildings were occupied or possibly even built by a nomadic tribe, the Blemmyes, which gained influence in the area.

The Blemmyes appear in written records starting from the 7th century B.C. and disappear sometime around the 8th century A.D. they are mentioned in Strabo’s Geographica in the 1st century A.D. as essentially non-bellicose nomadic raiders. Their cultural and military power increased to the point they formed a kingdom on the flank or Roman Egypt requiring repeated intervention of the Imperial army to keep them from causing trouble.

The researchers believe that the Blemmyes took over not just the site but also the mining activities at the site, possibly also making improvements to building some of the structures on the site.

Remarkable among the finds of the researchers are ancient inscriptions including at least one by a members of a Roman Legion. This inscription would be the first evidence that the Roman army was involved in exploitation of Egypt’s emerald mines, not just to defend them but also probably to help construct them. It was not uncommon in the empire for the legions to be used for civilian construction projects. Not only would this kind of work keep the troops in good physical shape between campaigns, it would keep them busy and productive. It was a Roman belief that a busy army was less likely to mutiny. The legions were involved in the construction of town walls, roads, aqueducts and mining related buildings and equipment such as water mills, stamp mills and dewatering machines.

Roman Era Egyptian Emerald Necklace

Roman necklace originating in Egypt made of gold, blue stone and emerald, A.D. 2nd century

Roman beryl intaglio portrait of Julia Domna

Beryl intaglio with portrait of Julia Domna A.D. 200-210.

Julia Domna was wife of Emperor Septimus Severus and mother of Emperor Caracalla. The Egyptian mine at Sikait is the only source of Emerald, a form of Beryl, within the Empire, and thus the likely source of the material for this object if it was not imported.

Roman gold and emerald necklace 1st – 2nd century A.D.

Ruins near Egyptian Emerald Mine

Ruins at Sikait, Egypt

In the mountains along the Red Sea coast of Egypt, across from Sinai, lie the remains of Sikait, location of the only emerald mine in the Roman Empire. This photo shows the ruins of the most impressive building complex at the site, known as Tripartite Building.

By Roland Unger – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71533171

We may not have any Egyptian emeralds, but do check out our selection of gemstones.

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The Uncertain Future of Afghanistan’s Mineral Wealth

Corundum

Poor Afghanistan. It is the country that never seems to catch a break. Remote, poor, land-locked, and yet highly strategic because of its position as the gateway to India and its position athwart the ancient silk road trade route to China, it has seen armies pass through from Alexander the Great to the Moghuls (think the creators of the Taj Mahal), to the British and Russians, and finally the Soviet and Americans.

Map of Mineral Resources of Afghanistan

Afghanistan Mineral Resources

Photo By This file was contributed to Wikimedia Commons by National Archives at College Park – Cartographic as part of a cooperation project. The donation was facilitated by the Digital Public Library of America, via its partner National Archives and Records Administration.National Archives Identifier: 159081989Source record: http://catalog.archives.gov/id/159081989DPLA identifier: a982bb69e64e77d42e7d7f8e0a1c5f33, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96782925

One ever-constant bright spot for the nation has been the enormous mineral wealth it sits above. A massive upheaval about 40 million years ago between the Indo-European, the African, and Asian plates created the towering mountains upon which the nation sprawls. This also created a wide variety and enormous quantity of mineral wealth, particularly in the north and northeast of the country All told there are over 1,400 mineral fields encompassing barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semi-precious stones, salt, sulfur, lithium, talc, and zinc, rare earth minerals, and high-quality emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet, tourmaline, turquoise and ruby just to name a few examples. This enormous wealth has been well know for over a century from surveys conducted by the British and Russians. During their occupation the Soviets conducted their own survey. Most recently, a United States Geological Survey estimate prepared after the overthrow of the Taliban that there was perhaps a trillion dollars worth of mineral wealth in Afghanistan.

Industrial Minerals

Madan Turquoise Mines

An early turquoise mine in the Madan village of Khorasan

Photo by Major Henri De Bouillane de Lacoste (tr. by J. G. Anderson) – “Around Afghanistan” as digitised by the Internet Archive’s text collection., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3850890

The mineral wealth can be divided into industrially useful and specimens & gemstones. Just in Baghlan Province one finds important deposits of clay, bauxite, gypsum, limestone, and coal. Clay in particular has been used since ancient times. Other industrially useful minerals include chromium, mercury, copper, gold, silver, iron ore, lead, tungsten, zinc, lithium, beryllium, cobalt, marble, sulfur, tin and talc. Perhaps the world’s largest copper lode exists in Aynak.

Doost marble Factory

An Afghan Marble Factory

Photo by USAID Afghanistan – 100525 Hirat Marble Conference 133, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15375462

Green Ceramic Tile

Green Tile with Star Design, 12th–13th century, Earthenware; molded decoration, monochrome glazed, Attributed to Afghanistan

Gem Producing Regions

Afghanistan is particularly noted for it’s rich gemstone wealth. Lapis Lazuli, Kunzite, Morganite, Emerald, Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Beryl, Spinel, Sapphire, Topaz, Fluorite, Garnet, Corundum (Ruby), and Green Serpentine are all present. Indeed, the Black Prince’s Ruby and the “Timur ruby” in the British Crown Jewels (both actually Spinel and not Ruby) are both believed to have originated in or near Afghanistan. Most recently, and perhaps controversially Hiddenite (or “Hiddenite-like”) has been discovered.

There are four main gem-producing regions: the Panjshir Valley for emeralds, the Jegdalek area for rubies and a range of fancy colored and blue sapphires, Badakhshan for lapis lazuli, and Nuristan for a wide variety of semi-precious gems including as tourmaline, kunzite, aquamarine, spodumene and beryl.

The Panjshir emerald deposit may refer to the ‘smaragdus (green stones) from Bactria’ in Pliny’s in his ‘Natural History’, written in the first century AD. The emeralds occur at altitudes of between 3000 and 4000 meters. The clarity of these emeralds rivals that of the world-famous Colombian emeralds. The remote and inaccessible Panjshir valley, is also the home of the Northern Alliance – the main Afghan resistance to both the Soviets and the Taliban in the 1970 – 2000s. The same inaccessible terrain makes extracting the emeralds a challenge.

Beryl

Beryl (Var.: Emerald) Locality: Panjsher (Panjshir) Valley, Hessa-e-Say District, Panjshir (Panjsheer) Province, Afghanistan

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10135249

Jegdalek Gandamak rubies are mined in Kabul Province from Proterozoic calcite-dolomite marble bed between 500 and 2000 m thick in a regionally metamorphosed marble cut by Oligocene granitic intrusions. This mine was worked to provide marble for the Taj Mahal – but it is uncertain whether rubies were actively mined at that time. Jegdalek rubies range from nearly colorless to deep red and purplish red with strong UV fluorescence. True rubies form about 15 % of production, along with pink sapphires (75 %) and blue sapphire (5 %), and 5 % mixed blue and red-to-pink corundum.
Clean faceting quality rubies from this mine are said to match the very best in the world.

Corundum

Corundum Locality: Jegdalek (Jagdalek; Jagdalak; Jagdalik) Ruby Mine, Sorobi District, Kabol (Kabul) Province, Afghanistan 

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10448845

Afghanistan is world famous for its lapis lazuli, a rock composed of the feldspathoid minerals lazurite, hauyne, nosean and sodalite, with other minerals including calcite and pyrite and lesser amounts of diopside, amphibole, feldspar, mica and other silicates. Lapis from Badakhshan in the north of the country is still regarded as the world’s premier source in terms of quantity and quality. The name derives from a mixture of Latin and Persian: the Latin ‘lapis’, meaning ‘stone’ and the Persian ‘lazhward’ meaning ‘blue’. Then material is used to make beads, boxes and other decorative articles, often carved into figurines and is popular for men’s jewelry.

Lapis is mined on the right bank of the Kokcha River in Badakhshan in an area known as the ‘Blue Mountain’ in skarn lenses 1–4 m thick in marble. At one time there were as many as seven lapis mines there is only one, the Sary-Sang deposit at an elevation of around 3500 m where, on because of low winter temperatures, mining occurs only between
June and September.

Lapis Lazuli

The highest quality lapis lazuli in the world is from northeastern Afghanistan (northern Kuran Wa Munjan District, southern Badakhshan Province)

Photo by James St. John – Lapis lazuli (lazuritic gneiss) (Sar-e-Sang Deposit, Sakhi Formation, Precambrian, 2.4-2.7 Ga (?); Sar-e-Sang Mining District, Hindu-Kush Mountains, Afghanistan) 1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83302689

Lazurite

Lazurite, Pyrite, marble Locality: Sar-e-Sang District, Koksha Valley (Kokscha; Kokcha), Badakhshan (Badakshan; Badahsan) Province, Afghanistan. A well-formed euhedral crystal of lazurite (lapis lazuli) – not to be confused with lazulite

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10175015

Afghanite

Afghanite on Calcite, Koksha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Asia

The fourth major gemstone region is Nuristan on the eastern side of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan, an area dotted with high mountains cut by numerous steep-sided valleys. The region is notable for its pegmatite fields, a late-stage crystallisation from molten rock, hosting a wide variety of minerals and gems commonly of unusual size and quality. Gem-quality tourmalines in a wide range of colors from pink though pale blue, indigo blue (indicolite), green, and emerald green. In addition, rare two-colored stones of green-pink and blue-green are much sought after. The crystals are beautifully formed, elongate with a distinctive ‘rounded triangular’ cross-section.

Elbaite

Elbaite Locality: Paroon Mine, Darra-i-Pech (Pech; Peech; Darra-e-Pech) Pegmatite Field, Nangarhar (Ningarhar) Province, Afghanistan

Photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10448930

History

Some of the world’s oldest mines are believed to be in Afghanistan. Production in antiquity focused on precious stone production as well gold and silver extraction. Lapis lazuli was produced in the region of Badakhshan as early as 8000 B.C. Lapis was traded to the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Akkadians, Babylonians to be made into amulets, seals and other objects. The Aynak copper mine has been in use for at least two thousand years based on the coins and tools found on the site. Afghan ruby and spinel is mentioned in writing of many travelers from the Muslim world from the mid-900s onward. Rich iron, metal, gold, copper and silver deposits are indicated by a strong metal working tradition, and the deposits of lapis, marble, alabaster and other materials led to a strong stone carving tradition.

Gold and Turquoise Shoe Buckle

Shoe Buckle in the Shape of a Recumbent Ram, Bactria, 1st century B.C.–1st century A.D. Gold inlaid with turqoise.

Khyber Knife

Khyber Knife, made of steel and iron, Afghanistan, 18th – 19th centuries. Afghanistan has significant iron deposits.

Seated Alabaster Figure

Bronze Age Seated female, ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium B.C., Steatite or chlorite, alabaster, Bactria-Margiana

Today’s Challenges

Capitalizing on its sovereign mineral wealth has always been challenging for Afghanistan. Corruption, civil war, occupation, have meant problems extracting, and transport minerals, and great difficulty in the wealth being used to improve the well-being of the population. Mineral extraction, particularly in the high mountain mines remains exploitative and dangerous. These challenges are compounded now by the renewed takeover of the country by the Taliban. Traditionally, whichever party ruled the nation tried to exert control over the mineral wealth, and the Taliban are no exception. There is discussion of the government imposing new taxes on the mineral extractors, transporters, and exporters. Will any of the taxes make their way into the common good? Will those who labor at the bottom the industry benefit? Will the money simply support the Taliban? Will the endemic corruption inhibit or expedite the mineral extraction? All of these questions remain to be answered.

In addition to all these factors, Afghanistan is now the subject of new geo-strategic maneuvering. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal and the collapse of the Republic of Afghanistan, new players are angling for power and influence to exploit the mineral wealth. Players like Iran, and Russia are making moves to strengthen their hand with the Taliban, and the discovery of vast deposits of rare earth mineral (in reality not terribly rare, but that’s another discussion entirely) and the newly recognized importance of the lithium deposits for use in electric car batteries has led to keen interest and competition by the Chinese in and Afghanistan. How this all plays out remains to be seen, but unfortunately it is most likely that little will change for the common laborer working in the mines of Afghanistan.

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Organic Looking Moss Agate Use in Art

Moss Agate Opal

Moss agate is an un-banded (and therefore not a true) agate. It is a chalcedony with dendritic inclusions of other, typically green, minerals forming filaments and patterns that are suggestive of moss. Occasionally brown coloration or red spots due to iron oxide will also be found in moss agate.

A cabochon of moss agate from Australia with black dendritic manganese oxides embedded in milky-white chalcedony (quartz). Moss agate is a semi-precious gemstone. It is a variety of mineral quartz.

Photo By Tiit Hunt – Estonian Museum of Natural History, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81096800

Australian Moss Agate

A cabochon of moss agate from Australia with black dendritic manganese oxides embedded in Australian Moss Agate cabochon

Photo By zygzee from Coarsegold, US – Australian Moss Agate Opus01, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84652497

Moss agate can be found in India, Brazil, Uruguay, central European countries, and the United States (mostly Montana), although some of the best examples are found in India. It is often tumbled and sold as beads or cabochons for jewelry. The city of Mocha in Yemen was once a source for the this stone, lending the alternate name ‘Mocha Stone’.

Those who believe in crystal healing and that stones and minerals have spiritual properties believe it has the properties of stability, persistence, grounding.

Moss agate has been used for art and jewelry since ancient times. Several examples are below.

Moss Agate Ring Stone

A moss agate ring stone portrait bust of a bearded man facing a larger portrait bust of a woman. Roman, 2nd century A.D. Most interesting about this piece is that the woman’s coiffure can be used to date the item, pointing to the time of the Younger Faustina, the wife of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Moss Agate Stone Ring

A moss agate ring stone of a man riding a tortoise. Roman, 1st century B.C. – 3rd century A.D.

Moss Agate Chatelaine

A chatelaine made of gold and moss agate stones. A chatelaine hung from the waist and was designed to hold sewing, writing, or toilet implements. British 1750-1760.

Moss Agate Cup

A beautiful stem cup made of enamel, silver and gorgeous moss agate. South German, probably Augsburg

Moss Agate Necessaire

A nécessaire containing moss agate panels mounted in gold and set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. The moss agate in this piece very strongly resembles moss or ferns. These examples of the stone likely came from Central Europe. A nécessaire usually contained various toilet implements, but this one, made by watchmaker James Cox, also contains a watch and automaton on the inside.

Check out our selection of moss agates for sale.

Top image is Moss Agate Opals, photo by Aisha Brown – https://www.flickr.com/photos/142868562@N08/28361163809/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66225173

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New Miocene Fossil Find in Australia

Fossil Fern

A spectacular new fossil trove has been reported in New South Wales, Australia. Located in the Central Tablelands regions, about 25 miles from the 19th century gold rush town of Gulgong, and named McGraths Flat after the person who discovered the fossil cache, the site is a window into the wetter and forest dominated past of Australia.

The fossil cache includes thousands of beautifully preserved specimens of flowering plants, ferns, spiders, insects and fish dating to the Miocene (23.03 to 5.33 million years ago) era. Climactic upheaval during the Miocene dried the rainforests that once covered Australia. At the time of the fossil cache’s formation the rainforest that had once covered the site had changed into temperate forest around a small lake. A fine goethite (an iron hydroxide mineral) matrix acted to help preserve plants and insects in the water. A diverse array of flowers, ferns, arachnids, insects and other soft bodied animals have been found in the fossil cache.

Image is illustrative of fossilized fern Dennstaedtia americana. Image by James St. John – https://www.flickr.com/photos/47445767@N05/39373225554/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97215903

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Simply Brilliant – An Exceptional Collection of Fine Jewelry with Outstanding Stones and Crystals

Cincinnati Art Museum Modern Jewelry Exhibit 1960s-1970s

The Cincinnati Art Museum has a new exhibit running through February 6th titled “Simply Brilliant: Artist-Jewelers of the 1960s and 1970s”. This exhibition of approximately 120 explores the international renaissance in fine jewelry in the 1960s and 1970s and features  the work of independent jewelers such as Andrew Grima, Gilbert Albert, Arthur King, Jean Vendome and Barbara Anton along with work created for Bulgari, Cartier, Boucheron and other major houses drawn from one of the most important private collections in the world, assembled by Cincinnatian Kimberly Klosterman.

Andrew Grima (British, b. Italy, 1921–2007), Brooch, 1969, gold, watermelon tourmaline, diamonds, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh
Andrew Grima (British, b. Italy, 1921–2007), Brooch, 1969, gold, watermelon tourmaline, diamonds, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh

The exhibition is accompanied by a full color illustrated catalogue and includes essays by some of the most important scholars in the field. Biographies of each designer/house represented are paired with full color images, extended text for a select number of highlighted pieces and an appendix of maker’s marks.

Jean Vendome (French, 1930–2017), Collier Veracruz (Veracruz Necklace), 1972, white gold, platinum, amethyst, diamonds, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh

The individual makers represented in the exhibition referred to themselves as artists first, jewelers second, approaching their work as a modern art form. Largely utilizing yellow gold and incorporating both precious and semi-precious gems, and inspired by nature they focused on organic forms, favored abstract shapes and concepts related to space-age trends. Using unconventional materials such as coral, shell, geodes and moldavite bringing unrivaled texture to their jewelry. Theirs was a style that was appreciated by individuals who were looking for something different in an era when different was best.

Chopard (Swiss, est. 1860), Alexandra Watch, circa 1971, gold, diamonds, lapis lazuli, Courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Collection of Kimberly Klosterman, Photography by Tony Walsh

The exhibition is free and located in the Vance Waddell and Mayerson Galleries (Galleries 124 & 125), and is absolutely outstanding. We recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to see these pieces while you can.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is open 11am – 5 pm Tuesday – Sunday except for 11 am – 8 pm on Thursdays. Click here to for more information about the exhibit and the Cincinnati Art Museum.