Stories Stranger Than Fiction
History of Silver
Although it's specific gravity is almost one half that of gold and platinum and today it is considerably the least expensive of its counterparts, it is surprising that this metal at one time - many centuries ago - was considered much more valuable than gold. It was because of its extreme rarity in many ancient civilizations. This was the case for the Egyptians and Greeks, as well as others such as the Hittites, Babylonians and Sumerians. It was called "The White Gold" during these earlier Dynastic times because of its color and because it was considered, in their religious context, as being the moon metal relating to the moon god and goddess. Because of its hardness of 2.5-3 and its similar crystalline properties to gold and copper, it is in the "Gold Group" of metals classification. Silver has the highest conductivity of electricity and heat, is one of our earth's native metal elements and by its very nature is a highly chemical reactive metal. The silver that has been found in many of the ancient tombs was highly alloyed with gold and some copper to deter oxidation. Only on few occasions has silver ore ever been found and mined in its natural and pure form (called its primary form). When such finds occur they become world-renowned. The great mines of Kongsberg in Norway, Erzgebirge, Schneeberg and Annaberg in the eastern regions of Germany and the famous "Cerro de Potosi Mine" in Bolivia (that supplied the Spanish with silver to finance the building of the Spanish Armada in the mid 1500's) are examples of such primary deposits.
Because silver is not usually found in its pure form, it requires added mining techniques to separate it from the many minerals that are found with it, such as: silver chlorite, zeolite, nickel, cobalt, iron, bismuth, cassiterite (tin), lazulite and wolframite, etc.. Due to the fact that much of the silver at the times of the ancients was disguised in the surrounding rock minerals, unlike gold, it was very elusive to find and thus extremely rare and valuable. The ancient civilizations just did not have the expertise to identify and recognize the surrounding minerals (called silver's secondary form of deposits, the much more common form). In addition, it was difficult to spot due to the fact that it deeply tarnishes as it weathers. To the ancients, it just was not readily recognizable in its surrounding rock formations as gold and other metals that would stand out and be much more easily identified.
In America, in the 1800's, many boom and bust towns popped up. These were sometimes called "Chlorites" because they processed short, leaner ore deposits only to become "ghost towns." The largest silver secondary deposit in North America was found in 1903 near Cobalt, Ontario, Canada. A railroad construction worker who picked up a copper-red specimen along the rail bed discovered it. It was sent to a provincial geologist by the name of W. G. Miller. He identified it as niccolite and realized that it was sometimes historically found in association with silver. In just ten short years, 100 million dollars of silver was mined from that locale.
Emerald Mines of Cleopatra
The ancient world's most famous mines were those of Egypt in the eastern desert region.In addition to major gold deposits, the prized emeralds mines were located in the scorpion and snake invested desert region know as Sikeit and Zabara. Even today the ruins of the mining cities of Zabara and Sikeit are still evident as well as some of the old mine sites (mostly all caved in). After nearly 3500 years the mine dumps and adit areas are also still evident. Also evident are the remains of temples where the slaves would pray for safety and protection during the day's work. It was not unusual for temperatures to reach 140 degrees F in the summer afternoon heat and drop dramatically in the chilling night air. The working conditions were unbearable for the slaves of Egypt.
Since the mines were worked by hand, very few samples of these magnificent gems have been left for us. Even attempts of re-exploration have been fruitless. After ages of neglect M. Fredric Cailliaud unsuccessfully reworked the mines in 1822. He tried to get samples of the famous emerald crystals to show the modern world that the ancients did not have the technology and tools of modern civilization. He left in disgust and it was said that he warned later visitors to avoid the sites because ". . .they were the refuge of snakes, wolves, scorpions and other beasts of prey; the abode of demons, who would resent the intrusion." It is again proof in the mysteries that the ancient Egyptians had extreme understanding of mining techniques and were very thorough in following the dark mica and talc schist veins into the mountain walls. Many of the ancient civilizations that traded with Egypt held the emeralds in the highest of favor. Emeralds from the mines have been found in the buried roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The deep rich green emeralds of these mines have adorned the mummies of the nobles and Pharaohs of the Middle and New Kingdoms, such as Seti I, Rameses II and the most famous, the Boy King Tutankhamen. But it was Cleopatra that made the mines even more renowned. It was her favorite gem, and it was not unusual for her in greeting ambassadors from other countries, to be decked in lavished emerald jewelry. As legend holds, she would give these dignitaries a wonderful gem when they left Egypt, carved with her likeness upon it. She is said to have personally taken control over all the crystals from the mines, saying that these gems only befit the royalty of Egypt. Because of their great beauty and trading value to her kingdom, she had the mines named in her honor during her reign of 51 to 30 B.C.. When Egypt was conquered, it was gold and the emeralds from her mines that were the most prized of all the captured bounty. The quality, vivid color and intense brilliance of the few examples of these wonderful emerald crystals that are still in existence in museums, are truth of the lore of the "Ancient Mines of Cleopatra."
Richest Silver Mine
"Cerro De Potosi Mine" in Potosi, Bolivia
The world's richest native silver mine was discovered in Potosi, Bolivia in 1544. A gentleman by the name of Diego Hualca who was chasing a goat up the side of the Potosi Mountain -- known in the native language as "Cerro De Potosi" -- accidentally discovered it. As the story goes, he tried to pull himself up by grabbing hold of a bush, which under his grasp and weight gave way. Entangled in all of that bush's roots were thin strands of silver wires. After Diego (who was unhurt in the short fall) tumbled down the hill with the bush clutched in his hand, the ground was littered with pure shiny silver. The native Indians known as the Quechua, true descendants of the Incas, called the mine "Potojchi," which means "fountain of silver." The Spanish, on the other hand, called the silvery-white familiar material Plata. It was from this mine that the Spanish minted the "pieces of eight."
After minting these coins on site they were shipped back to Spain in the now famous Spanish Galleons to finance the building of the great fleet, "The Spanish Armada." The coins were minted for centuries directly from the mines on large, forge minting machines by the natives. In a short time the currency became world recognized because of its near pure silver content. A very dark mineral, also coming from the mine, continually caused problems for the smelting mills and the mint because of its high concentration of black metallic sludge. For centuries it was discarded into tailing piles only to be identified later as cassiterie, a very high tin ore. It also made the Potosi one of the richest tin mines in the world when the tailings were reprocessed to obtain this additionally abundant mineral. Although following the silvery veins nearly 600 meters in depth took many centuries, in time, as with all mines, the mine became less and less profitable. Today the mine is abandoned with only remnants of tailings, roads, and bridges. But the city itself is intact, almost as it was at the peak of the mine's greatness. Rich Spanish architecture adorns most of the buildings and the mint is now a museum showing examples of the long history of the world's most profitable and richest deposits of native silver ore.
Note: 1) The great Spanish Armada sailed for England to continue the Spanish conquest in the year 1588, but was handily defeated by the leaner and quicker English fleet, effectively ending Spain's total control over the world's seas. 2) As Spanish control over the mines decreased over the many centuries to a more local privatization or regional political control, not all mine laborers that came to Bolivia had reputable backgrounds. Many criminals and swindlers came also to test their luck in these areas of tremendous wealth and riches. Two such infamous outlaws from the United States in the 1880's came to continue to rob trains, stagecoaches, banks, and paywagons in Bolivia. They were Leroy Parker, alias "Butch Cassidy" and Harry Longabaugh, also known as "The Sundance Kid." Their lives came to abrupt end in a gunfight trap by Bolivian police in the town of San Vincent after they had robbed the payroll from the Cocaya Tin Mine.
We invite you to stop in and see such coins from the Spanish Galleon "Atocha" currently in stock at Ralph Miller Jewelers.
The Amber Room in the Palace of Tsarskoye Seloe, in St. Petersburg, Russia
The mystery of the missing room made of the deep yellow-orange Persian amber in the great palace of Tsarskoye Seloe is today still unsolved. It was a room of great mystic, remodeled in 1775 by Catherine the Great of Russia. She had the royal architect Rastrelli incorporate panels of mirrors and paintings among the original carved amber panels to fool the eyes (trompe l'oeil). The entire room took on a yellow gold atmosphere that was absolutely brilliant in illusion. The original room was a gift by Frederick the First of Prussia to Peter the Great in 1715 after Peter admired the small room that Frederick had designed and installed in his Montbijou.
Amber holds many unique images, reminiscent of the bugs and insects trapped within that became the basis for the modern day movies "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World." Its composition is fossilized resin formed from ancient prehistoric pine trees. Amber was the result of a living plant oozing its sap in jungle heat that hardened and entombed any living insect or small animal that may have come in contact with the sticky ooze.
But, let us continue the story of the missing Amber Room. The Nazis occupied St. Petersburg and its royal village, as well as the Palace of Tsarskoye Seloe for three years, using it as their headquarters during World War II. They were finally driven out in 1944, but while they were occupying the palace they were so intrigued by the Amber Room that they had it dismantled one piece at a time. It was secretly confiscated and shipped to parts unknown. It has been said that the room might have been shipped and stored in the basement of the Konigsburg Castle that was bombed flat by the Allies in 1945. But, wherever it went, to this day not a single trace of the wonderful Amber Room has been found and the mystery continues.
Currently, the Great Amber Room of Catherine the Great is slowly being recreated from old photographs, memories and descriptions. Today's Russian craftsmen are working in the same palace workshops where the original and remodeled rooms were fashioned. The carvings are being painstakingly recreated from nearby Baltic Sea Amber. No date for the completion has yet been set, but once the room is completed it will have been a real artistic and historical undertaking. Extreme care must be taken to avoid such things as temperature and moisture changes, exposure to light and other climatic conditions as the amber can fade in color or crack and craze. So, selection of matching pieces that are to be fitted in a design puzzle of 18th century origin is of utmost importance. The Russian craftsmen take extreme care in every detail to conform to the original design integrity. It is no wonder that no date has yet been set for completion.
Gold - The Noble Metal
AU - Gold - "The Noble Metal"
Since the time of the Egyptians and beyond, gold has been treasured as a metal of great worth. It was said to have been mined in the East Desert and Nubia by thousands of unfortunate slaves that would have worked in the intense heat with rationed water and food. They died by the thousands to extract the rich ore for the pharaohs, lords, nobles and priests. They were such good miners that the ancient mines of Egypt are completed mined out.
Mines today are still endured by tough and sturdy men and women willing to dig the ore from as deep as two miles below the earth's surface. It takes determined mine owners and workers to follow the veins of gold whereever they may lead.
Gold is an excellent metal for jewelry because it is very workable (malleable) and extremely resistant to oxidation and corrosion. (It is the only yellow metal resistant to nitric acid). It is called the "noble" metal because it does not react to any of the ordinary alkalines, acids or natural reagents that may be present nearby in its surrounding rock. It is very heavy and dense and does not usually wash away without extreme force. Even though mechanical weathering may occur on its surrounding rocks the gold usually stays intact. In time it can become a very rich alluvial deposit. It was believed that just such a deposit was found by the Egyptians in Nubia, where an extremely rich concentration of gold within a one hundred square mile area was mined to the depth of seven feet. It was from this deposit that the fabled priceless tomb gold of young Pharaoh, Tutankhamen was masterfully wrought. Just the inner coffin alone of solid gold weighted approximately 2420 pounds (worth 13,000,000 dollars). It is said that when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt he took home over $100,000,000 worth of gold as loot.
It is with pride that we explore some of the terms, stories and intrigue that the "metal of the ages" have given us.
There's Gold In Them Hills
THAR'S GOLD IN THEM THERE HILLS!
GOLD (AU) Silver (AG)
Gold is called the “Noble Metal” because of it's rich luster and the fact that it seldom oxidizes unless exposed to chemicals. It is an element with the symbol (Au) and an atomic number 79. It has historically been the leader of precious metals, as the sign of wealth and royalty since antiquity. It has been used as minted money by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and all ancient civilizations. It literally is: a store of value and wealth, used in jewelry and in sculptures, and for architectural ornamentation as gold leaf - since the beginning of recorded history.
Silver is another precious metal that has the chemical symbol (Ag) and an atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal.
Mining is the removal of valuable raw minerals from other geology materials of the earth. Materials recovered by mining include base metals of lead, nickel, zinc & magnesium, precious metals of platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, silver, copper, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil, gas, shale, marble, salt, (Sodium chloride) and potash, etc.. Many different mining techniques are used for specific situations (or in combinations) and are all based on the terrain and type required. One type is Placier Mining (this type was the same as mining in most parts of the world and the type first used in Storey County) which includes, all surface techniques that do not require drilling and dynamiting or other such heavy equipment required techniques. It is the type which we are most familiar when you think of mining. That is by washing the dirt, sand and gravel from around the small remaining flakes and nuggets called: alluvial methods such as: panning, dredging, damming, sluicing, crevicing, vacuuming and on dry earth by using picks, shovels and sledgehammers that then require a rocker or screener to separate the metals or gems from the gravel, sand or mud. Placier means "sand bank" in Spanish for this very reason. Another type is: Hydraulic Mining involves the use of high pressurized water that is sprayed directly on rock and gravel and the intense water cuts and breaks up the rock, dislodging ore and placer deposits which is then milled and refined. It speeds up erosion and is extremely environmentally damaging and is now pretty much outlawed everywhere. Open Pit & Stripe Mining, is used to mine diamonds even today plus coal, salt, limestone and gravel, etc. and is a type that strips away top earth and continues to excavate large amounts of ore and surrounding materials using large trucks and earth movers in ever increasing depths and widths. Hard Rock Mining where you follow veins, seams or crevices where ever the desired gems or metals takes you into hard rock. To do this, miners used picks and shovels, hydraulic rock drills, dynamite, TNT and more. Miners dug either shafts that went straight down to follow veins, seams and ore bodies, or tunnels which went somewhat horizontal into rock faces. Shafts usually had some sort of steel tower or head-frame standing over them to support the hoists and lifts. Shafts and tunnels were often supported with large timbers to prevent cave-ins and timber men became very short in supply in the Comstock. And like all deep Hard Rock Mining, most shaft or tunnel mines would eventually flood as they hit the water table and continued below. It this point, water would have to be continually pumped out at great expense to the point where costs verses profits would decide the continuation of the mine or the complete abandonment and closing. This became the case for all the mines of the Comstock Lobe and Storey County, Nevada. Reaching mine depths of 3,200 feet became such an obstacle that the last of the deep Comstock Mines were closed by 1922. The Comstock Lode was the richest deposit of mineralized ore in the world (Not the greatest silver mine or gold mine by themselves but together it was the top in a world as a mining region). But also is noted for the technological advances in mining that revolutionized the industry forever becaused it first used Hard Rock Mining to it's full potential.
Milling (Refining) Once the ore is extracted by many different mining techniques, it needs to be processed to get the desired gems and minerals from the surrounding rock. Many different processes can be used and some are very dangerous because of the chemicals used. The Comstock Lode was the most efficient in terms of extraction to refining by designing rail hauling as the means of transportation for the ore directly from the mines to the refiners and then to the minters and bankers. It also was one of the most hazardous for all residents, because of the chemical refining process that used mercury.
Credit the First to Discover
VIRGINIA CITY, “The Queen of The Comstock”
In 1859, an actual deposit of Comstock Gold was first found by Pat McLaughlin and Peter O'Reilly working a claim at the head of Six Mile Canyon, they were approached by another miner during their celebration who stating boldly that their new find was on his property. Believing him, both O'Reilly and McLaughlin gullibly made an immediate partnership with this prospector named Henry Comstock who's name will be forever etched in history for the discovery of the largest and richest gold and silver find in the world. “The Comstock Lode.”
Located: Only 23 Miles From Reno and 2 miles from Gold Hill as well as 40 Miles from Lake Tahoe, and just 15 Miles from Carson City the soon to be State Capital of Nevada. Virginia City was a loud, 24/7 high energy raucous city. The constant sounds of mining and machinery, blasting and the boisterous population of grubby miners, prospectors, gamblers prostitutes and other notables - made sleeping an obstacle and a bee hive of activity both above and below ground. As Samuel Clemens reported in 1864: "The flush times were in magnificent flower!" ". . .The 'city' of Virginia claimed a population 18,000, and all day long half of this little army swarmed the streets like bees, and the other half swarmed among the drifts and tunnels of the Comstock, hundreds of feet down in the earth directly under those same streets. Often we felt our chairs jar, and heard the faint boom of a blast down in the bowels of the earth under the office." Visitors to the boom town were shocked by the constant vibrations, the clanking of metal and equipment and the steam noises of machinery such as shrill whistles, warnings and mine blasting and the constant rhythm of all the hundreds of pumping engines running night and day. Yes Sir, Virginia City had it all: . There were modern hotels, visiting celebrities and performers, Shakespeare Plays and Operas at Pieper's Opera House, opium dens, newspapers, ten competing fire companies, fraternal organizations, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, fancy restaurants, and businesses as well as new steam powered modern mining equipment and technology below ground that created the great riches of Storey County. It helped make the entire area extremely industrial (the first in the world to do industrial mining using water, steam powered drilling equipment, mercury smelting, timber shoring, and heavy duty water pumping) and the smart development can be seen for one example, in the planning of transporting the raw ore via railroad (The Virginia & Truckee Railroad) to Gold Hill and onto sister city - Carson City for final smelting and refining there upon returning with car loads of supplies, equipment and lumber. The flow of money was unprecedented and the wealth made millionaires and billionaires out of dirty everyday common grubstakers. Those lucky enough to find it big, would be immediately enrolled as joining the Millionaires Club located on Main Street (“C” Street) called The Old Washoe Club, which was referred to as “The Billionaire Boys Club.” The Washoe Club, one of the oldest buildings still standing today was first opened in 1862. Being an actual “millionaire” wasn’t really a written requirement, but indeed memberships were at a very high price. These memberships included gambling, liquor, and access to the prostitutes that worked there. There were several “secret” entrances and exits for those gentlemen that preferred to be more discreet, and no first or second names (just initials) were ever used on sign in logs and membership lists. As one incredibly rich strike followed another, a rough outdoor stock market and financial community materialized. It grew right along “C” Street where the shares in the various mines zoomed from a dollar and a half to above $1,500 in not much more than a year's time and where the riches mines reached $4,000 per share. With all their new found wealth, they invested in mansions, bought fancy furniture and clothing fashions, etc. imported from all over the world. They invested in banks and other companies all over the USA and abroad. The money made in the Comstock Lode propelled infamous individuals such as William Ralston and Crocker who founded the Bank of California and thus helped fuel the building of San Francisco through ruthless lending and ruthless mining business control. Others like Moguls: George Hearst, William Sharon and William Ralston, John Mackay, Adolph Sutro, William Flood and Leland Stanford all made their fortunes and fame in Virginia City. Other cities were helped by the great wealth of the Comstock such as Denver (Another Minting Center for the Liberties and Morgan's Silver Dollars along with San Francisco ) all later connected by rail. Virginia City fame was rekindled in the late 1960's Bonanza TV Series but featured a Virginia City that was easily accessible via wagons and horses on level ground but in reality it was just the opposite for this wild west premier mining town which seemed to defy gravity.
"If the rock was moderately promising, we followed the custom of the country, used strong adjectives, and frothed at the mouth as if a very marvel in silver discoveries had transpired. If the mine was a 'developed' one we would squander half a column of adulation on a shaft, or a new wire rope, or a dressed-pine windlass, or a fascinating force pump."
It was either refined in Gold Hill or was moved onward onto Carson City. By1865 Gold Hill Mines only had produced another $ 3,000,000 in gold and silver from some of it's most famous glory holes such as: “Gold Hill Mine and The Yellow Jacket Mine.” It maxed out in population of over 10,000 by the early 1870's (in the prime time of the boom years), all becaused of the large influx of grubstakers with the insatiable need for gold, silver and supplies. It also experienced the great floods of 1862 and survived it all, truly exemplified the stout character and dedication to the dreams of finding gold while enduring all hardships. The mines of Gold Hill were worked off and on till 1942 and finally closed. The small remaining town is now a historic site open to visitors and guests year round.
The Virginia and Truckee Railroad:
The Mines of the Comstock Lode, Brought many “Firsts” to the Mining Industry.
The glowing blue green tombstone of Ramona Sanchez in the cemetery of Virginia City.
Other Mines to Visit in Nearby Nevada
The Story of Alexanrite
The Story of Alexandrite
The first ever discovery of Alexandrite took place in a remote area of Russia on the Asiatic side of the Urals along the Tokovaya River near the city of Ekaterinburg (named for the beloved Empress Catherine II). In a few short years it became one of the richest gemstone mines in the world, rivaling the great emerald mines of Cleopatra in Sikeit, Egypt’s Zabara Mountain region. From this mining area, in addition to alexandrite came emerald, aquamarine, amethyst, chysoberyl, quartz, blue topaz, fluoritie, apatite, rutile and phenakite. Ekaterinburg -- as fortune would have it -- was located on the great road from Russia to Siberia, which turned it into a fair sized city by the turn of the 1800's. Within a short time it became a city where most of the population was associated with mining, cutting and carving gemstones or minting coins. (Today it is know by the name of Sverdlovsk, having been renamed by the Soviets). It is very seldom visited by tourists since very little is left of the rich mines once associated with the region.
As the story goes, the first discovery of gemstones in the region took place by a peasant charcoal-burner who was on his way to Ekaterinburg. Following along a trail next to the Tokovaya River, he had to pass over a large, recently storm fallen tree. Surprisingly, within its large exposed roots he found sparkling gem crystals. As a loyal citizen, he took the crystals to the gem cutting lapidaries within the city. Of course the businesses were closely controlled by Czar Nicholas, who was immediately notified of the great find. Soon after, government mines were everywhere within the region, using local citizens as the workers.
Of great interest was a member of the chrysoberyl family, a most unusual stone, first described as a stone "with the ability to change color under prevailing light. In daylight, rich green colors reflected from its rich dark purplish background, while at night, under artificial light, it emitted red hues." It was, by chance, first discovered on April 23rd, 1830, Czarevitch Alexander Nicolajevitch's birthday after whom it was so named "Alexandrite." It became an instant hit and it’s unusual colors (the reflected colors were also the colors of the Russian Military) made it an instant novelty. It became an even more popular gemstone when its young namesake Alexander became the Czar of Russia in 1855. Alexandrite became so highly prized it is said that by 1898 it was selling for as much as $38 per carat for top quality stones. The thin vein deposits were usually mined by open pit or trench techniques by very crude methods. The long harsh winter brought mining to a standstill during the bitter cold season.
Despite the many stones that were mined compared to the many other gemstones this area did not yield large crystals of facet-graded quality for the demanding Russian lapidaries. Only a few stones of any size over 3 carats were ever found and cut from the Tokovaya River deposits and in time have become the rarest and most expensive gemstones on this planet. It is believed that the largest specimen ever found is presently housed in the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow. It is approximately 18 X 13 centimeters and contains at least 22 large crystals in matrix. Today a one carat Alexandrite of outstanding quality is approximately $10,000.00. Only small and insignificant pockets of crystals have been found throughout the world until the rich deposits recently discovered in Brazil in the mid 1990’s.
History of Zoisite (Tanzanite)
History of Zoisite ( Tanzanite )
Located in the northern part of Tanzania, in the Usumburu Mountains inhabited by the farming and herding Masai people of Africa, in an area called Merelani we get one of the world's most exquisite gem forms of Zoisite. Zoisite was so named after the Czechoslavakian Baron Zois von Edelstein who first discovered it. But his discovered variety was a lifeless grayish white and yellowish brown which had very little importance, prominence and demand as a gem material in his homeland's region. It was not until 1966 in a far away continent in a very arid region of Africa that one of the most recent and sensational gems the world has seen was discovered by an Arusha tailor named Sousa. Of exceptional beauty in its dark blue, violet-purple colorization, it was first believed to be a rich colored sapphire material, until researched with proper sophisticated gem identification equipment and found to be a completely new gemstone form of Zoisite, never seen before. One year later Tiffany's & Co. created a huge sensation with their advertised announcement of the new gem, calling it from its country of origin, "Tanzanite."
The Merelani Mine is located south of the famous landmark, Mount Kilimanjaro and north of the Olduvai Gorge where the famous paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey made his famous early man discovery. The nearest town, Arusha, is over 50 kilometers to the northwest. It is a desolate region where in 1997 a sudden deluge of over 7 inches of rain flooded the mine and killed over thirty miners. It took almost a year to pump, dig and dry out the mine plus claim the bodies, during which time a tremendous increase in the prices of gem tanzanite was noticed on the world markets because of the lack of material available. Most crystals, although heat treated for increased color uniformity and saturation of hue, are not found in the natural colors of deep violet-purplish blue but in the more common colors of gray, brown, yellowish-brown, green and light green with occasional pink and red along with white and transparent. Mining in the Merelani region is extremely harsh and difficult since the material is found in very heavily metamorphosed layered rock requiring intense laboring. In addition to the many climatic hardships in the short 24 years of existence of this deposit, the mining area has experienced political unrest and revolts, tribal fighting for control, civil unrest, infighting over claims, constant insects, extremely poor mine safety, cholera epidemics, flooding, feudalistic overlords (working miners in poverty while paying them next to nothing). Many fine crystals have been discovered at this one and only know source.
Tanzanite's strong pleochroism (the ability of the crystal to exhibit color changes when rotated in light-although lost in heat treating), is a real asset to the natural stone's brilliance when faceted and polished. Larger crystals that will allow 4 carat finished gemstones are quite rare, and the largest flawless tanzanite (found to date) of 122.7 carats finished, is currently in the Smithsonian Institution's Gem Collection. Most crystals from the mine are either sent to nearby cutters in Africa or shipped to Belgium or Germany for finishing, with India being the largest cutter today. Although relatively soft, when first discovered it was suggested to not be mounted in rings where the gems could easily be scratched or broken, so extreme care in wear and cleaning is highly recommended. Current prices for the deep rich blue, violet purple gemstones vary from $650 to $1,000 per carat depending on clarity and the gem's evident pleochroism characteristics. Fact: 1) The deeper the color and clarity the more expensive the stone per carat weight. Fact: 2) It was recently voted as a new official birthstone (the very first in over 95 years), for the month of December symbolizing prosperity along with Turquoise, Blue Zircon and Blue Topaz.
AGATE–(All Quartz based gemstones) For the healing of all chest and lung aliments plus boils, envy, epidemics, protection from the powers of the evil eye, fear, falling sickness, indigestion, insanity, kidney problems, loose teeth, pestilence, sea sickness, tender gums, tired eyes, ulcers and vertigo
Amber– Legend holds that the wearing of amber protects the wearer from croup, ear infections, fevers, arthritis, hay fever and tonsillitis
Amethyst– Protection for headaches, gout, hangovers, liver ailments, plagues, poisons, stomach disorder, tumors, toothaches, evil sorcery
Bloodstone–Protection from bladder problems, excitability, gall stones, hemorrhoids, loss of smell
Carnelian–Helps avoid bad tempers, hemorrhages, loss of voice and tumors
Coral–Protects the wearer from a weak heart, teething, hemorrhages, colic, convulsions, contagious diseases, blood problems, weak heart, evil sorcery, eye problems and protection from the evil eye
Diamond–Protects from loss of courage, nightmares, psoriasis, dermatitis, loss of strength and evil spirits
Emerald–Helps to protect the wearer from constipation, gastritis, leprosy, loss of appetite, plagues, possession by demons and evil spirits and snake venom
Flint–Legend holds that the wearer is protected from warts, rheumatism, allergies from nursing milk, kidney problems, labor pains, bladder issues and cramps
Garnet–As legend holds, garnet protects from open wounds, incontinence, plagues, melancholia, evil thoughts and drowning
Hematite–Helps in the protection of snake bits and their poisons, stomach disorders, headaches, kidney problems, bladder problems and eye complaints
Jade–Protects from stomach disorders, weak heart, hemorrhages, loss of voice, liver and leg problems, blood purification, bone problems, food allergies, excitability and foot complaints
Jet–Protects the wearer from faintness, falling sickness, King’s evil, toothaches and sadness (mourning)
Lapis Lazuli–Helps the wearer from labor pains, melancholia, skin disorders, timidity, depression, eye complaints and apoplexy
Malachite–Protects from evil sorcery, insomnia, allergies to nursing milk, rheumatism, teething, and weak heart
Moonstone–Helps avoid sterility, epilepsy and fevers
Opal–Protects the wearer from contagious diseases, epidemics, eye problems, melancholia
Quartz, Rock Crystal–Protects from gall stones, dropsy, colic, gout, kidney problems and infections from wounds
Sapphire–It is said to protect the wearer from eye and vision problems, fevers, arguing, boils, loss of courage, mental health, plagues, poisons, skin disorders, tired eyes, ulcers, and vertigo
Sardonyx–(a banded form of onyx, quartz) as legend holds, the wearer of this gemstone is protected from ulcers, vertigo, insanity, insomnia and indigestion
Serpentine–Protects from dropsy
Turquoise–Helps the wearer in the prevention of eye strain, plus protection from poisons, the evil eye, falling sickness, protection from demons and evil spirits
Topaz–Protects the wearer from tired and red eyes from straining, ulcers, vertigo, rabies, poisons, hemorrhages, gout, jaundice, melancholia and hemorrhoids
Tourmaline–Helps the wearer in the avoidance of timidity, fright from terror and dread
Zircons–Helps the wearer from plagues, melancholia, insomnia, jaundice, bad tempers, dropsy, epidemics and fevers
The Power of Crystals
The Power of Crystals
From the earliest times of human occupation of the third rock from the sun, they have been drawn to the many shiny and colorful objects that could be found and fashioned into adornments. The earth has over 2,000 different elements and minerals of which only a few hundred could actually be used as true gems, possessing the qualities of brilliance, color or beauty. Over the many thousand years that gems have been hunted and desired many many legends, superstitions and folk lore have evolved between gems and there associations with magic, evil, wealth, power, health, luck, love, fame, fertility and honor, etc.. Almost all minerals have crystal properties of growth and many crystals have as mentioned been sensed to possess special powers and energies that emulate from within to form an energy field around.
In studies by the Russian Scientist, Peter Kirlian, who used photography to capture the electromagnetic atomic fields that existed around plants, animals, minerals and crystals, he exposed these ancient truths previously only felt but unseen by capturing the actual radiating images and patterns on film.
From ancient India’s history of Sanskrit comes the practice of healing using this hidden energy of crystals and directing their healing powers to direct areas of the body. In their belief the body holds both major and minor energy points called “Chakras” which translates to “wheel of light” in ancient Sanskrit. According to practitioners, placement of the correct colored gem crystal to the appropriate body’s energy point (Chakras) will result in great healing power in very strong concentration to the direct locale needed to improve all ailments both mentally and physically. There are believed to be seven Major Chakras (Energy Points of the Body) that are associated with the 7 Colors of the Natural Light Spectrum that control are the internal energies associated with the human spirit. These seven main Chakras are specifically located near endocrine glands (glands that release hormones to the body).
The 7 Chakras
The 7 Chakras (In Priority from the Root to the Spiritual Center)
7) The Base of the Spine (The Root Chakra) Associate Gem Color – RED
6) The Abdomen Associate Gem Color – ORANGE
5) The Solar Plexus Associate Gem Color – YELLOW
4) The Heart Associate Gem Color – GREEN
3) The Throat Associate Gem Color – BLUE
2) The Brow Associate Gem Color – PURPLE/INDIGO
1) The Crown of the Head Associate Gem Color - VIOLET
Curse of The Hope Diamond
The Mysterious Legend, Travels and Believed Curse of the Great “French Blue”
The Curse (Fact or Fiction) - Believe What You May !
Jean Baptiste Tavernier The French diamond merchant and trader, who brings the roughly cut gem to France along with many other gems and diamonds. He stated that the diamond was stolen in 1642 from the forehead of a much worshiped Hindu Temple Idol (depicting the goddess Rama Sita) from the Ananda Temple, along the Coleroon River in Mandala, Burma India. It is reported that Jean Baptiste was approached by a slave acting very suspiciously and was secretively shown the world's largest deepest blue diamond. Recognizing it as a diamond and not a large sapphire, he immediately purchased it. He continued on his travels for another 6 years winding his way back to France. He was made a Noble by order of the King of France on his return for bringing such great treasures back to the Kingdom of France, greatly befitting the Sun King's Court and Treasury. He also brought back 44 other large diamonds and 1,122 smaller diamonds and additional gems, which also were immediately sold to the French Monarchy. He was killed by being torn apart by wild dogs on his next trip, to Russia after selling the gems to Louis XIV. Thus becomes the first victim to death by horrible circumstances attributed to the curse of the stolen gem.
Pierre Cartier, world renowned diamond dealer and jeweler in his new USA store, in 1910 finally ends up with liquidating the “Great Blue,” after it was listed up for auction for almost 2 years finally being purchased by his brother Louis in Paris, for immediate liquidation. With his great social connections, he immediately contacted the very wealthy and social magnates in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean and her husband Ned about this great opportunity for them. He had it remounted in 1911 into a more desirable mounting surrounded by white diamonds that made it irresistible to Evalyn, a connoisseur of fine art and jewelry who had seen it approx. 6 months earlier in Europe but passed upon it because she didn't like the mounting it was in at the time. Having been warned by Pierre about the curse, the McLean's were not phased at all because they were so completely enthralled with the brilliance and beauty of this deep blue diamond in it's new mounting and purchased it for a total of $ 40,000 (a much discounted price compared to the many earlier prices paid by other owners) Pierre died in Oct. 1964 in Geneva suffering the only misfortune of the death of Peter a young grandson, and his wife just a few years earlier
Photo courtesy of the USA Smithsonian
Other Questions of Mysterious Lore:
For more information on “The Hope Diamond” click on http://www.si.edu/Encyclopedia_Si/nmnh/hope.htm
Great Gems Of Power
Our first gem discussed is: The Great Red Spinel, set into the British Imperial State Crown (stored in the Tower of London’s Crown Jewels Room) has a long list of wars, luck in battles, murders and an ugly association to Peter the Cruel, a ruthless and terrible King of Spain and Edward the Black Prince of England.
In the 1300’s The King of Castille in Spain, Peter the Cruel, defeated the Moorish King of Granada in battle. King Abu Said on behave of his army met Peter after the battle in order to negotiate an honorable resolve and a plea for safety for all his generals, loyal servants, army and members of his kingdom. At the banquet called quickly by Peter the Cruel, Abu Said present Peter with 4 huge “Balas Rubies.” But despite the warm hospitality and festivities extended to Abu, Peter had already planned his death along with all his servants and generals prior to the event with wicked orders to all those in his command to kill his guests after the dinner and entertainment. Peter personally murdered Abu Said with a dagger and took the 4 prized Spinels back to Spain. Peter continued his rein of terror on his subjects for several years gaining the title that he is now historically infamously known, Peter the Cruel, until his half brother decided to rebel against Peter’s terrorist rein. Henry of Trastamara attacked the Castle in Castille forcing Peter to quickly flee but all was not lost unfortunately for all his subjects for Peter, had secretly entered into an secret alliance with Edward, The Black Prince of England. Together their evil powers and ruthless battle techniques defeated Henry in 1367 at the Battle of Najera. Surprised and elated that they had been victorious; Peter gave Edward the Black Prince of England the largest of the 4 “Balas Rubies.” The Black Prince of England better known as Edward, Prince of Woodstock, and Prince of Wales was born in 1330 and was the heir apparent being the first born of King Edward III. He was a natural, athletic and talented warrior with strong fighting tactical understanding and battle leadership intuition.
He won his first battle at the age of 16 in 1346 at the Battle of Crecy with much accolades. His infamous alliance with Peter the Cruel reinforced his legend as a ferrous fighter, one with a deep dark battle temper and horrific appearance atop of his black horse wearing his all black armor. Many battles would follow during England’s era of The 100 Year Wars all with similar results. He married Joan Plantagenet in 1361 laviously decorating her with riches, castles and jewelry while he continued his life of fighting battles. He died on June 8th, 1376 at the age of 46 due to aliments caused in his many campaigns and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. He is noted as the warrior who brought the great Red Spinel “The Great Balas Ruby of Granada” back to England that years later became the trade mark of Henry V in battle. The bright red gem was affixed to the front of Henry’s helmet which he wore as the gem of protection and good luck at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 where his troops defeated the enemies of the crown. Much later at the battle of Bosworth it again appeared prominently on the helmet of Richard III with the same similar results. The great jewel was removed from prominence and sold to whoever wished to buy the remains of the melted historic artifacts of the English Monarchy at the crown jewels auction that was one of the first orders of business during the short puritanical dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. Luck was again an important factor with this jewel; it was purchased by a jeweler in London for safe keeping. It boldly reappeared in stunning grandeur with the redesigning of the crown jewels upon the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660. The jeweler sold it to Charles II shortly after his re-instatement as the true King of England. It became the brilliant red foremost center point in the Imperial State Crown of England where it resides today and is viewed by millions of visitors yearly in the Tower of London’s Crown Jewels Room. It is approx. 150 carats and is not really a ruby (corundum based gem) but a red spinel. This fact was not discovered until centuries later upon close examination and testing with modern equipment for the true refraction index and composition of the great gem.