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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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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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Rare Jade Artifact Up for Auction – the Jade Seal of Emperor Qianlong

Emperor- Qianlong

It’s not often in Geology that you have an opportunity to personally link an item to a historical figure but thanks to Freeman’s auction house we can tie a beautiful piece of jade to one of the later Qing Dynasty emperors. Little did the Qianlong Emperor (born Aisin Gioro Hongli) and sixth emperor of the last Chinese imperial dynasty suspect one of his personal items would appear in an internet auction catalogue, but life is stranger than fiction. The item for sale is a gorgeous pale and luminous high relief carved jade seal in a celadon white tone. The carving depicts three qilong (unicorns) which are symbols of good luck among carved scrolling clouds which likely refers to the Chinese saying “Canlong jiaozi”, which may be translated as “The Eastern [blue] dragon teaching his son[s]”, probably referring to the personal situation of the emperor.

Jade is a traditional carving material in China. In ancient days in China jade was symbolized the inner beauty within humans. This certainly isn’t the first jade imperial seal. The first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang, created the first Imperial seal, in 221 B.C., also of Jade. By the time of the Ming dynasty (starting in 1368) the first imperial seal was lost. Until the Ming dynasty seals were typically reserved for Imperial use. A Chinese seal (印章 yìnzhāng) is a device used to mark important documents, pieces of art, contracts, or any other item that requires a signature – in effect similar to a signet ring or in modern times an ink signature stamp. These seals were usually carven stone, but sometimes were made of wood, bamboo, bone, or ceramic. They would be dipped in either red ink or cinnabar paste.

View a video of the seal below or visit the Freeman auction site to learn more about the seal.

Top image

We may not have any imperial seals, but we have plenty of jade for sale. Check out our selection of Jade. If you don’t see something that tickles your fancy, contact us as we only post only a portion of our inventory online.

The Qianlong Emperor in court dress. Top image by Giuseppe Castiglione – Palace Museum, Beijing, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15172620

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Gorgeous Yellow Brucite Crystal

Yellow brucite (4.0 × 3.0 × 2.5 cm) from Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan.

Brucite is the mineral form of magnesium hydroxide named in 1824 by François Sulpice Beudant for its discoverer, American minerologist and chemist Archibald Bruce. Colors vary and may include light blue, milky white, or lemon yellow. It crystals typically have a fibrous body what could be described as a chalky or pearly luster. The structure of the mineral is maintained only weakly, making the it fragile. It is also know for shearing into perfectly flat sheets due to its crystal cleavages laying parallel to their plates.

Brucite is common, but excellent examples are hard to come by. Notable finds include in Wood’s Chrome Mine in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as well as in Baluchistan, Pakistan. Recently there was a major discovery of brucite yielding beautiful and rare yellow and lemon-yellow specimens, some of which are startlingly and gorgeously transparent. Because the mineral is so fragile it is usually mined by hand

Besides collecting it is used as a source of magnesium and in some flame retardantion applications.

View our collection of brucite available for purchase

Image Credit: Yellow brucite (4.0 × 3.0 × 2.5 cm) from Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan. By Ivar Leidus – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98529310

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Beautiful Green Dioptase / Schöne grüne Dioptase / 美しい緑の翠銅鉱

Dioptase Locality: Tsumeb Mine (Tsumcorp Mine), Tsumeb, Otjikoto (Oshikoto) Region, Namibia. Pristine and perfect all around. Erik Louw was a miner on the dioptase stope who traded extensively and accumulated one of the finest Tsumeb miniatures collections, purchased in entirety by the Sussmans in the late 1990's. 4 x 4 x 1 cm

Beautiful Green Dioptase

Dioptase is an unusual mineral that is highly desired for its intense Emerald green color.  It is a copper cyclosilicate mineral that varies from transparent to translucent.  Very popular with mineral collectors he can be cut into small gems are also ground up and used as a pigment for painting.  Dioptase typically forms as a secondary mineral and copper deposits created through the weathering and oxidation of the primary minerals in either limestone or calcite formations.  It may be associated with other cupric minerals like malachite, chryscolla, and azurite.  It is a trigonal mineral which forms six-sided crystals that termine in rhombohedra.

Dioptase is uncommon and usually found in desert regions . Within the United States, deposits are mostly restricted to the state of Arizona. Globally Kazakhstan and in particular the Tsumeb mine in Namibia produce some of the best examples of this mineral.  Dioptase is also found in Congo and then Argentina in South America.  Better examples of this mineral can be quite costly.

Dioptase with calcite and minrecordite - Tsumeb Mine (Tsumcorp Mine), Tsumeb, Otjikoto (Oshikoto) Region, Namibia (5.5x4cm)
Dioptase with calcite and minrecordite – Tsumeb Mine (Tsumcorp Mine), Tsumeb, Otjikoto (Oshikoto) Region, Namibia (5.5x4cm)Dioptase mit Calcit und Minrecordit – Tsumeb-Mine (Tsumcorp-Mine), Tsumeb, Region Otjikoto (Oshikoto), Namibia (5,5 x 4 cm)方解石とミンレコーダイトを含む翠銅鉱-ツメブ鉱山(ツメブ鉱山)、ツメブ、オシコト(オシコト)地域、ナミビア(5.5x4cm)By Didier Descouens – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8876953

In modern times dioptase was discovered at the end of the 18th century in the Central Asian steppes in Kazakhstan. The Russian mineralogist’s who discovered it confused it four form of emerald.  Despite having a similar color to emeralds dioptase actually has different optical and physical properties which differ enough the gemologists can easily distinguish one from the other.  Dioptase has been discovered to have been used to decorate plaster statues dating back to before 7000 BC.

Dioptase dust is toxic due to its copper content an accidental ingestion can lead to serious problems. Jewelers and fasteners should wear protective masks and ideally use a glove box to avoid inhaling or ingesting particles during the cutting polishing and cleaning processes. Finish pieces however typically pose no hazard.  Because of the cleavage pattern impossible fractures dioptase is should usually be cleaned with a mild detergent warm water and a soft brush.  Dioptase in general tends to be very fragile and specimens should be handled with great care.

Dioptase, Baryte, Plancheite Locality: Kaokoveld Plateau, Kunene Region, Namibia Size: 3.8 x 3.1 x 1.4 cm. A little orange barite perched atop! The central dioptase is 1.3 cm and pristine. The one on the edge is larger, but incomplete at its edge.
Dioptase, Baryte, Plancheite Locality: Kaokoveld Plateau, Kunene Region, Namibia Size: 3.8 x 3.1 x 1.4 cm. A little orange barite perched atop! The central dioptase is 1.3 cm and pristine. The one on the edge is larger, but incomplete at its edge.Dioptase, Baryt, Plancheite Lokalität: Kaokoveld-Plateau, Kunene-Region, Namibia Größe: 3,8 x 3,1 x 1,4 cm. Ein kleiner orangefarbener Baryt thront oben drauf! Die zentrale Dioptase ist 1,3 cm groß und makellos. Der am Rand ist größer, aber am Rand unvollständig.翠銅鉱、重晶石、プランヘ石産地:ナミビア、クネネ地方、カオコベルド高原サイズ:3.8 x 3.1 x1.4cm。 小さなオレンジ色の重晶石が上に腰掛けています! 中央の翠銅鉱は1.3cmで手付かずの状態です。 端にあるものは大きいですが、端が不完全です。By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10175913

Learn more about the physical characteristics and crystallography of dioptase at mindat.

We carry a selection of fine specimens of Tsumeb dioptase for sale. Click hear fpr more information.

Auf Deutsch – Schöne grüne Dioptase

Dioptase ist ein ungewöhnliches Mineral, das wegen seiner intensiven smaragdgrünen Farbe sehr begehrt ist. Es ist ein Kupfercyclosilikatmineral, das von transparent bis durchscheinend variiert. Sehr beliebt bei Mineraliensammlern kann er in kleine Edelsteine ​​geschnitten werden, die ebenfalls gemahlen und als Pigment zum Malen verwendet werden. Dioptase bildet sich typischerweise als sekundäres Mineral und Kupferablagerungen, die durch Verwitterung und Oxidation der primären Mineralien in Kalkstein- oder Calcitformationen entstehen. Es kann mit anderen Kupfermineralien wie Malachit, Chrysokoll und Azurit assoziiert sein. Es ist ein trigonales Mineral, das sechsseitige Kristalle bildet, die in Rhomboedern enden.

Dioptase ist ungewöhnlich und kommt normalerweise in Wüstenregionen vor. In den Vereinigten Staaten sind die Einlagen meist auf den Bundesstaat Arizona beschränkt. Weltweit produzieren Kasachstan und insbesondere die Tsumeb-Mine in Namibia einige der besten Beispiele für dieses Mineral. Dioptase kommt auch im Kongo und dann in Argentinien in Südamerika vor. Bessere Beispiele für dieses Mineral können sehr kostspielig sein.

In der Neuzeit wurde Dioptase Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts in den zentralasiatischen Steppen in Kasachstan entdeckt. Die russischen Mineralogisten, die es entdeckten, verwirrten es mit vier Formen von Smaragd. Obwohl Dioptase eine ähnliche Farbe wie Smaragde aufweist, weist sie tatsächlich unterschiedliche optische und physikalische Eigenschaften auf, die sich so stark unterscheiden, dass die Gemmologen sie leicht voneinander unterscheiden können. Es wurde entdeckt, dass Dioptase zur Dekoration von Gipsstatuen aus der Zeit vor 7000 v. Chr. Verwendet wurde.

Dioptasestaub ist aufgrund seines Kupfergehalts giftig. Eine versehentliche Einnahme kann zu ernsthaften Problemen führen. Juweliere und Befestiger sollten Schutzmasken tragen und idealerweise ein Handschuhfach verwenden, um das Einatmen oder Einnehmen von Partikeln während des Polier- und Reinigungsprozesses zu vermeiden. Endstücke stellen jedoch normalerweise keine Gefahr dar. Aufgrund des Spaltmusters sollten unmögliche Frakturen der Dioptase normalerweise mit einem milden Reinigungsmittel, warmem Wasser und einer weichen Bürste gereinigt werden. Dioptase neigt im Allgemeinen dazu, sehr zerbrechlich zu sein, und Proben sollten mit großer Sorgfalt behandelt werden.

Erfahren Sie mehr über die physikalischen Eigenschaften und die Kristallographie der Dioptase bei mindat.

Wir führen eine Auswahl feiner Exemplare der Tsumeb-Dioptase zum Verkauf. Klicken Sie hier für weitere Informationen..

日本語で -美しい緑の翠銅鉱

翠銅鉱は、その強烈なエメラルドグリーンの色のために非常に望まれている珍しい鉱物です。これは、透明から半透明まで変化する銅シクロシリケート鉱物です。鉱物収集家に非常に人気があり、小さな宝石にカットすることもできます。粉砕して、絵画の顔料として使用します。翠銅鉱は通常、石灰岩または方解石層のいずれかで一次鉱物の風化と酸化によって生成される二次鉱物と銅の堆積物として形成されます。マラカイト、クリスコラ、アズライトなどの他の第二銅鉱物と関連している可能性があります。菱面体で終端する6面結晶を形成する三方晶系鉱物です。

翠銅鉱はまれであり、通常は砂漠地帯で見られます。米国内では、預金は主にアリゾナ州に制限されています。世界的にカザフスタン、特にナミビアのツメブ鉱山は、この鉱物の最良の例のいくつかを生産しています。翠銅鉱は、南米のコンゴ、次にアルゼンチンでも見られます。この鉱物のより良い例はかなり費用がかかる可能性があります。

現代では、18世紀の終わりにカザフスタンの中央アジアの草原で翠銅鉱が発見されました。それを発見したロシアの鉱物学者は、それを4つの形のエメラルドと混同しました。エメラルドに似た色をしているにもかかわらず、翠銅鉱は実際には異なる光学的および物理的特性を持っており、宝石学者は簡単に区別することができます。翠銅鉱は、紀元前7000年以前にさかのぼる石膏像を飾るために使用されていたことが発見されました。

翠銅鉱の粉塵は銅含有量が原因で有毒であり、誤って摂取すると深刻な問題を引き起こす可能性があります。宝石商と留め具は保護マスクを着用し、理想的にはグローブボックスを使用して、切削研磨および洗浄プロセス中に粒子を吸い込んだり摂取したりしないようにする必要があります。ただし、仕上げ部品は通常、危険をもたらしません。劈開パターンが不可能なため、翠銅鉱は通常、中性洗剤の温水と柔らかいブラシで洗浄する必要があります。一般に翠銅鉱は非常に壊れやすい傾向があり、検体は細心の注意を払って取り扱う必要があります。

mindatで翠銅鉱の物理的特性と結晶学についてもっと学びましょう。

ツメブ翠銅鉱の厳選された標本を販売しています。 詳細については、ここをクリックしてください。

Top Image Credit: Dioptase Locality: Tsumeb Mine (Tsumcorp Mine), Tsumeb, Otjikoto (Oshikoto) Region, Namibia A startlingly sculptural specimen! Pristine and perfect all around. Erik Louw was a miner on the dioptase stope who traded extensively and accumulated one of the finest Tsumeb miniatures collections, purchased in entirety by the Sussmans in the late 1990’s. 4 x 4 x 1 cm Dioptase-Lokalität: Tsumeb-Mine (Tsumcorp-Mine), Tsumeb, Region Otjikoto (Oshikoto), Namibia Ein erstaunlich skulpturales Exemplar! Rundum makellos und perfekt. Erik Louw war ein Bergmann auf der Dioptase-Station, der ausgiebig handelte und eine der besten Tsumeb-Miniaturensammlungen sammelte, die Ende der 90er Jahre vollständig von den Sussmans gekauft wurden. 4 x 4 x 1 cm 翠銅鉱産地:ナミビア、ツメブ鉱山(ツメブ鉱山)、オシコト地方、ツメブ驚くべき彫刻標本! 手付かずで完璧です。 Erik Louwは、1990年代後半にサスマンによって完全に購入された、ツメブの最高のミニチュアコレクションの1つを幅広く取引し、蓄積した翠銅鉱の鉱夫でした。 4 x 4 x 1 cm By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10109320

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Beautiful Bejeweled Amethyst’s History as an Art Medium

Amethyst intaglio portrait of Julius Caesar, Roman, 50-40 B.C.E.

The February birthstone is amethyst. A form of non-fluorescing hard stone quartz whose typically purple shading comes from irradiation of iron or transition element impurities, amethyst was once considered one of the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones. Occasionally exhibiting secondary shades of blue or red, the beautiful stone is highly popular among mineral collectors, crystal healers, art lovers, lapidaries. While not considered as valuable as it once was due to recent discoveries of large deposits of the mineral, amethyst often produces stunning jewelry.

Traditionally most carved gemstones in the west are a form of quartz, the carving techniques adopted for quartz also apply to amethyst. Amethyst deposits have been found on almost every continent and it’s availability was a key factor in it’s popularity as a carving medium of artisans in antiquity. Deposits have been found in Brazil, Uruguay, Austria, Russia, Zambia, and Korea, as well the eastern and southern areas of the United States, including Texas, North Carolina, and the Lake Superior Region.

Amethysts was carved and treasured by cultures such as those of Japan, Iran, Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Anglo-Saxons and others. Different cultures each put their own spin on the importance, meaning and value of the stone. It was highly treasured by Russian Empress Catherine who sent thousands of miners into the Ural mountains seeking the gemstone. In ancient Rome, the purple color of the gem was associated with the purple color reserved for the elite and the emperor. The medieval Catholic church’s bishops prized amethyst’s color. The ancient Egyptians worked the material into amulets for protection against harm. Moses the prophet is said to have described amethyst as representing the spirit of god. The ancient Greeks believed the stone offered protection from drunkenness. The Tibetans created rosaries from the stone and considered it sacred to Buddha. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst quickened intelligence and dissipated evil thoughts. The Anglo-Saxons fashioned beads, while was used for intaglio.

In this article we present a visual tour of the different ways amethyst has been used in art, both ancient, antique, and modern.

Amethyst intaglio portrait of Julius Caesar, Roman, 50-40 B.C.E.

Amethyst intaglio portrait of Julius Caesar, Roman, 50-40 B.C.E.

Byzantine Jeweled Bracelet of gold, silver, pearls, amethyst, sapphire, glass, quartz

Byzantine Jeweled Bracelet of gold, silver, pearls, amethyst, sapphire, glass, quartz, 500-700 C.E.

1st Century Greek or Roman Amethyst Oval

1st Century Greek or Roman Amethyst Oval

Amethyst, Copper, Gold and Silver Frankish Disk Brooch, 550-650 C.E.

Frankish Disk Brooch, c. 550-650 B.C.E. with Amethyst Jewel

American Brooch by Theodore B. Starr, 1900, Amethyst, Gold, Garnet, Enamel

Amethyst, Garnet, Gold and Enamel Brooch by Theodore B. Starr, American, 1900

Egyptian Amethyst Scarab, Middle Kingdom, 1981-1950 B.C.E.

Egyptian Amethyst Scarab, Middle Kingdom, ca. 1981–1950 B.C. The scarab beetle was a potent symbol of creation and regeneration among the ancient Egyptians.

Chinese Amethyst Qing Dynasty Seal, Late 19th-early 20th Century

Chinese Qing Dynasty Amethyst , Late 19th – Early 20th Century

Chinese Qing Dynasty Snuff Bottle of White, Green, and Brown Jadeite with Amethyst Quartz Stopper 1736-95

Chinese Qing Dynasty Snuff Bottle of White, Green and Brown Jadeite with Amethyst Stopper, Qianlong Period (1736-1795)

Spanish Clip Earrings, mid-19ths Century, Gold, Metal and Amethyst

Mid-19th Century Avant-Garde Spanish Clip Earrings, Amethyst, Silver, Metal

We may not have antique carvings, but you can check out our lovely collection of amethyst for sale.

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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/[email protected]/28361163809/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66225173

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This Week’s Mineral Spotlight: Gorgeous Green Malachite

Malachite from Zaire

If the mineral is green and gorgeous there is a good chance it’s malachite. Like its copper cousins Turquoise, Azurite, and Chrysocolla, Malachite is found in copper deposits. It first became useful to humans as an ore used by the ancients to produce copper metal. Today, its primary use is decorative: bracelets, necklaces, pendants, as a gemstone and cabochon, and other types of jewelry. It’s also popular as a tumbled stone and as a standout display specimen for rock and mineral collections.

North American deposits include Mexican deposits in Milpillas; American deposits in Bisbee, Morenci, Bingham Canyon and others; African deposits in Namibia, Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, and The Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). Russia was at a one a major source of Malachite, particularly gem quality stones, however most of these deposits have been mined out and eclipsed by the quantity and quality of the African deposits. African mines product spectacular massive malachite specimens as well as gem quality malachite, and plancheite, cuprite and carrollite are also present in these deposits.

Malachite from a Smelter's Crucible

Malachite from a Smelter’s Crucible, Egyptian, Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, ca. 1479–1458 B.C., 18th Dynasty

Copper deposit don’t typically yield huge amounts of malachite. Previously, Russia was the only significant source of a large volume of gem-grade malachite, but as the Russian mines have declined and the African mines became available the African finds have far exceeded Russian production. African banded layers malachite is sometimes over a foot thick with very tightly packed submicroscopic needle crystals. Since the opening of the African mines, the mineral market has great cutting-grade malachite with bands of very light green to almost black- green.

Malachite was well known to the ancients.  It’s Latin name, “Molchitis” derives from the Greek “molochites lithos” whose meaning is “mallow green stone” due to the mineral’s resemblance to the mallow plant’s leaves.  Some evidence exists o Malachite mining in Britain at the Great Orme Mines perhaps as far back as the 3rd and 4th millenia B.C. There is also archaeological evidence of Malachite mining and smelting to produce copper 3,000 years ago in the Timna Valley, associated with King Solomon’s Mines in modern day Israel, where it is still mined to today to produce copper. 

Lapidary, work with malachite requires a facemask. The copper carbonate dust from Malachite is poisonous. Most lapidaries use water to cut down on the dust in the air. Undercutting is often a problem during polishing, since each malachite band has a slightly different Mohs hardness, however experienced lapidaries shouldn’t have a problem. Banded malachite is always beautiful no matter how it is used.

Qing Chinese Malachite Carving, Late 18th – Early 19th Century. Seated Luohan With Servant

Above is an outstanding example of carved malachite. A Qing era Chinese art work originating in the late 19th through early 20th century, it depicts a seated luohan, or one who has achieved enlightenment. This particular luohan is identified as Nakula who sits in meditation with a rosary; a boy-servant attends at his feet. From his long eyebrows and position beneath a tree. Carved writing in the upper right corner is a poem of praise for Nakula in the upper right was authored by the Jiaqing emperor (r. 1796–1820) and inscribed in the hand of his elder brother Yongxing (1752–1823).

Malachite Monumental Vase

French Monumental Malachite Vase. Lapidary Work Early 19th Century, Pedestal And Mounts By Pierre Phillippe Thomire

The monumental vase above is crafted from Russian malachite, bronze, gilt bronze and a filling material. Malachite grows in layers of tiny crystals its colors correlating with different crystal sizes, creating the pattern. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most malachite came from Russian mines by the noble Demidov family. The family exploited hardstone quarries and metal deposits located on their estates in the remote Ural Mountains. In the 1820s on of the great discoveries in the history of semiprecious stones happened when an enormous malachite boulder around five hundred tons was unearthed there. Malachite is extremely brittle, so only small display objects can be cut from single blocks of the material. Large objects require a core structure, to which the malachite can be attached in thin pieces, effectively a veneer. Russian craftsmen developed a method to use the stone’s natural pattern and a precision cutting technique to form a continuing or “endless” ornamentation. This type of veneering appears nearly seemless and is called “Russian mosaic”.

The Demidov family used the flashy appearance of malachite to improve their social status, filling their palaces with the material and even decorating an entire room with the green stone, which inspired Czar Nicolas I to commission the famous Malachite Room in the Czar’s Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.

The monumental vase above is modeled on an ancient Roman bell-shaped krater, the most famous example of which is the first-century Medici Vase, now in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. This shape was quite much admired through the early nineteenth century. Count Nikolai Demidov commissioned this particular malachite vase for his villa at San Donato, near Florence. Unlike with the Russian mosaic technique, large areas of this vase’s surface is composed of small malachite particles mixed with filling substance in the same way as modern terrazzo. This raw malachite was probably transported from one of his mines to Florence to be shaped and finished by local artists not trained in the specialized Russian technique. The vase would then have been sent onwards to Paris to be fitted with its mounts and pedestal.

The gilded bronze winged female figures on the body of the vase represent Fame. Their trumpets are shaped like handles, although the vase is too heavy to be lifted like a loving cup. A gilded bronze laurel garland of laurel (Laurus nobilis) runs under the lip mount. The laurel had been adopted by Lorenzo de’ Medici (who was also a lavish patron of the arts) as an emblem of his house with the motto “Ita ut virtus,” or “Thus is virtue”— that is to say, virtue is evergreen. It’s use here implies that the Demidov’s hoped that their fortune would also be evergreen.

The mounts and bronze pedestal were made by Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751–1843), known throughout Europe for his bronze decorations and ornamental sculpture. He established a reputation before the French Revolution with beautiful mounts for Sèvres porcelain vases. In 1804 he founded a workshop that produced furniture as well as luxury bronzes.

Malachite and Azurite

Malachite with Azurite

Malachite Thumbnail

PropertyDescription of Malachite
Chemical Composition:Cu2(CO3)(OH)2
Mohs Hardness:3.5 to 4.0
Specific Gravity:3.6 to 4.0
Crystal System:Monclinic
Cleavage:Perfect in one direction, fair in a second direction
Diaphaneity:Most examples are opaque while crystals are translucent
Luster:Polishes to a very bright luster. Large specimens tend to be dull and earthy. Silky luster in fibrous examples. Unusual crystals trend from vitreous to adamantine.

Even though chyrsocolla and azurite are both copper based minerals, malachite is a better indicator of the presence of significant copper deposits. The Copper Queen mine in Brisbee was created on the basis of malachite deposits.

Malachite Copper Crescent Zaire Congo

Malachite Copper Crescent from Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Malachite Under a Stereoscopic Microscope

Image of Malachite Taken Under a Stereoscopic Microscope

Malachite has a number of different cultural meanings and associations. For the Chinese, Malachite is a lucky stone for those born in the Year of the Rabbit or Year of the Tiger. For the ancient Egyptians, the color green was associated with death and the power of resurrection – as well as new life and fertility. They believed that the afterlife contained the “Field of Malachite”, an eternal paradise resembling their lives but with no pain or suffering. They also used the material in powder form for cosmetics, particularly to try to resemble Horus, the falcon headed god Those who believe in crystal healing, crystal spirituality believe the stone has any number of healing, or metaphysical properties on the body, spirit or chakra.

View our collection of beautiful malachite specimens for sale, perfect as display piece on your table or mantle, for your collection, or for use in spiritual or crystal healing.

Learn more about Malachite at Mindat.

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

Fifth image by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10148274.

Sixth image by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10130475.dex.php?curid=10148274.

Seventh image by Karolina Fok – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84931097.rg/w/index.php?curid=10148274.

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This Week’s Mineral Spotlight: Beautiful Blue Sodalite

sodalite mineral specimen

Description of Sodalite

A gorgeous blue mineral occurring in silica poor igneous rocks which contain other silica poor minerals and no quartz. , Sodalite’s distinctive color ranges from royal blue to light blue and white. It is often confused with lazurite, lazulite and azurite. Less common forms varieties include Hackmanite (found in Afghanistan) which is a tenebrescent violet-pink. Other forms include transparent Sodalite, which is very rare, and grayer and paler samples which sometimes fluorescent. Sodalite-bearing rocks include: nepheline syenite, trachyte, and phonolite and deposits are found in Namibia, Greenland, Russia, Brazil, Italy, and Canada (Ontario and British Columbia).  Small colorless crystals are found at Monte Somma, Vesuvius and at Vico Lake, near Viterbo in Italy. Sodalite deposits in the United States are found in Arkansas and Maine.

Hackmanite, a Variety of Sodalite, from Afghanistan

A Remarkable, Sharp, Isolated Hackmanite (Sodalite) Crystal from Koksha Valley, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan

Origin of the Name Sodalite

The name Sodalite is derived from the sodium content of the mineral and was by a Glasgow chemist, Professor Thomas Thomson. The mineral was first described after being discovered in  the Ilimaussaq Alkaline Complex, Narsaq, Greenland. Technically the name refers to a group of minerals with a similar isometric structure and related chemistry, and named after the most common of these minerals, also named sodalite. The Sodalite group is a member of the feldspathoid minerals. Other members of this mineral group include: Nosean, Hayne, and Lazurite.

Azul Bahia Granite - sodalite metasyenite from the Precambrian of Brazil.

Azul Bahia Granite – Sodalite Metasyenite from the Precambrian of Brazil.

Other Neat Facts!

Primarily used for decorative purposes particularly as cabochons for jewelry, beads and tumbled stones. Sodalite is one of the few blue rocks used for that purpose that is still reasonably priced.

Crystal sodalite tends to be rare, but large granular masses have been found near Bancroft, Ontario. Nearly 130 tons was of the material was mined from the Bancroft deposit and shipped to the U.K to decorate Marlborough House mansion in London – the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations and at one time the residence of the Princess of Wales.

sodalite mineral specimen

Close Up View of Sodalite


View our collection of beautiful sodalite specimens, perfect as display piece on your table or mantle, for your collection, or for use in spiritual or crystal healing.

Other names for sodalite include alomite, bluestone and canadian lapis.

Learn more about sodalite at Mindat.

First image by Philippe Giabbanelli licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Bottom image: By The original uploader was Tillman at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9433359.

Second image by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10451113.

Third image by James St. John – Azul Bahia Granite (sodalite metasyenite, Itabuna Syenite Complex, Neoproterozoic, ~676 Ma; Fazenda Hiassu, Bahia State, Brazil) 12, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58087558

Fourth image by Philippe Giabbanelli licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Bottom image: By The original uploader was Tillman at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9433359.