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Archive for February, 2006

Minerama 2006

Posted February 25, 2006 By AussieSapphire

Just a quick post to remind anyone interested in fossicking and all things gems, that Minerama will be held at Glen Innes on the 10, 11 and 12 March 2006. Not long now so if you havent already planned your trip to Glen Innes, you'd better get organised.

One of the largest gem shows in NSW, Minerama offers a host of traders from which to buy a huge variety of gems (rough and cut), fossils and mineral specimens, lapidary supplies and much, much more. Of course, we will also be attending so dont forget to say G'day and have a look first hand at our selection of fine rough and other items.

Glen Innes and district offers a wealth of interesting and exciting things to do so why not stay a little longer. During Minerama, dont miss the guided fossicking tours which are run throughout the 3 day festival – these include some locations which are normally unavailable to the public so it is an excellent opportunity to find some real treasures. We will again be opening a section of the Reddestone Creek on our property – at this stage, tours are planned for both Saturday and Sunday. Good luck to all who try their luck – and remember, the luckiest fossickers are often those that work the hardest ! Some excellent gems were found last year and we look forward to hearing how people go this year.

Here are some other highly recommended "must see and do" activities while visiting the area:

  • The Emmaville Mining Museum – a really great set up with a fantastic collection of gems and crystals. Allow half a day and enjoy a great counter lunch at one of the historic local pubs.
  • Travel through to Torrington visiting the historic Ottery Arsenic mine on the way.
  • You can then head home through Deepwater, another small local village with some great places to stop for refreshment.
  • A drive out to the Kings Plain area will show some other current and past sapphire mining activity and the Kings Plain Castle can be seen from a distance.
  • The Land of the Beardies museum should not be missed when in Glen Innes – some great exhibits showcasing our pioneering past.
  • Dont forget to visit Schmidts Jewellers opposite the Town Hall in the main street of Glen Innes – see a wide selection of all the Aussie Sapphire range. Discount offers on most stock throughout the Minerama weekend.

See the official Minerama website for more details – this website has recently been upgraded so it looks a little different for those who have visited it before. Unfortunately, I do not believe the new version is an improvement but it is still worth a look – you can find information on the program here (scroll down the page for details on the various tours).

See our report from last year at Minerama.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire and hope to see you in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, check out some of the great stock we have online.

Telephone Troubles

Posted February 14, 2006 By AussieSapphire

We have been experiencing problems with our phone line since last Saturday. This has meant that we could not log in to the internet and retrieve emails – while we have tried to keep up with most emails by alternative means, there is the possibility that some may have been overlooked. The phone seems to be working normally again now and we have tried to catch up on all pending emails, invoices, etc. If you have an enquiry which has not been answered, please check with us to make sure your email reached our system.

We apologise for the inconvenience and hope to be answering all enquiries as normal from now.

Thank you from Aussie Sapphire

Listings Update

Posted February 10, 2006 By AussieSapphire

Just a quick note to our customers regarding new listings. There has been a bit of a rush on for our rough sapphire so store inventory is a bit depleted at the moment. We will be listing new stock this weekend. There are a number of auctions for rough sapphire that are still at quite low prices so give these a go also. Please check back for new listings on Sunday – we hope to have some of the better pieces from the last couple of week's mining listed by then.

cheers from Aussie Sapphire

Sapphire from Madagascar

Posted February 5, 2006 By AussieSapphire

Those interested in sapphire will have noted the increasing prominance of sapphire from Madagascar. This island is prolific in a variety of gems and is particularly noted for its ruby and sapphire. Richard Hughes, widely regarded as one of the world's experts on gem corundum has written an excellent article on his recent trip to the sapphire mines of Madagascar. A very entertaining article with some excellent photographs – well worth reading !

Sorcerers and Sapphires

A visit to Madagascar

One thing that struck us reading the article was the sheer number of people working in these areas. Although they note that Madagascar has huge reserves of gems, the many thousands of miners working the ground can shift a lot of dirt. Another interesting fact about Madagascar is the biological diversity – many species are found only here. One concern with the incredible amount of mining activity is the lack of environmental protection. It is surely a short-sighted approach to sell these beautiful gems to dealers at such low prices and be left with only environmental degradation – another disappointing factor in todays world where buyers demand only the cheapest price without regard to the overall long-term cost.

As mentioned in the article, Vincent Pardieu (AIGS, Thailand) was on this trip to Madagascar as he had previously visited the country and had some experience of the mining areas there. We have previously published a link to Vincent's article on this trip but it is definitely worth re-reading as it has some excellent commentary on the state of the industry there along with very interesting photographs.

An update on Ruby and Sapphire mining in Madagascar

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire.
Remember to check our website for new updates and links to our Ebay Store.

Gem of the Month: Amethyst

Posted February 1, 2006 By AussieSapphire

Amethyst – the birthstone for February with its characteristic colour is immediately recognisable. The colour purple has long been associated with royalty and nobility – accordingly, amethyst has been a stone of royalty for thousands of years. It is now an affordable and popular gemstone for everyone.

Gemmology matters: Amethyst is a macrocrystalline variety of the mineral Quartz (SiO2). The purple colour of amethyst is due to trace amounts of iron (Fe4+) impurities at specific sites in the crystal structure of quartz. The difference between amethyst and citrine is due to the oxidation state of the iron impurities present in the quartz and is the reason why amethyst can be heated to form citrine.

Amethyst can occur as crystals that are six sided on either end and may form as “drusy” which are crystalline crusts covering the host rock. It is found inside geodes and in alluvial deposits all around the world – most commercial amethyst is mined in parts of South America and Africa although synthetic amethyst is also produced in large quantities.

Like all quartz, the hardness of amethyst on the Moh’s scale of hardness is 7. It has no cleavage and conchoidal fracture. Amethyst is suitable for most types of jewellery and has no special care requirements. The colour of amethyst may range from deep purple, light lilac, lavender and mauve. Top quality amethyst is a deep medium purple with flashes of rose and is termed Siberian Amethyst for the original source of this type.

Mythology and Lore: Amethyst has been used as gemstones and other ornamental objects for thousands of years – its use is recorded as far back as the Minoan period in Greece (c 2500 B.C.). The name amethyst comes from the Greek word amethustos which means not drunken. Early Greeks believed that drinking wine from an amethyst cup would prevent intoxication.

In ancient cultures, amethyst amulets were worn as antidotes against poison, to dispel sleep, as protection against harm in battle and to sharpen one’s wits. In medieval times, amethyst was still credited with protecting one from the effects of drunkenness, both of the cup and also from the intoxicating effects of being in love. The wearing of amethyst was also thought to protect soldiers from harm and give them victory over their enemies, and assist hunters with the capture of wild animals.

Amethyst is usually associated with Pisces but also variously Virgo, Aquarius and Capricorn. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February and may be given on the 4th, 6th and 17th years of marriage.

According to Greek myth, amethyst originated when Bacchus, the God of Wine, became angry at mortals. He vowed the next mortal that crossed his path would be devoured by tigers.  Just then, a beautiful young maiden named Amethyst was on her way to worship at the temple of the Goddess Diana. Diana, knowing of Bacchus’ vow, turned Amethyst into a pillar of colorless quartz to protect her from the tigers.  When Bacchus witnessed the miracle, he repented and poured wine over Amethyst (alternative versions suggest that he wept tears of wine over the pillar) staining the quartz purple.

Alternatives in Purple:  When people think of a purple gemstone, amethyst springs immediately to mind. Amethyst is an affordable gemstone and is available in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and cuts. However, there are a few alternatives in purple although none so easy to purchase. One excellent but sometimes difficult to find alternative is purple sapphire – once called “oriental amethyst”, the use of this name is now discouraged by the trade as being misleading. Sapphire may be found in a range of shades including a variety of pinkish or bluish purple colours although they will obviously be far more expensive than amethyst. The other obvious candidate is tanzanite – a rare gemstone which is generally a bluish purple colour (although the colour is the result of heating brownish or greenish zoisite). Certainly, amethyst is a wonderful choice for those looking for a purple gemstone.

Links of interest:
International Colored Gemstone Association – Gem by Gem article on Amethyst
Mineral Galleries – article on amethyst
Bernadine Fine Arts Jewelry – amethyst facts and information
Amethyst information page by Mineral Miners
Univ Texas Gem Notes on Quartz (including amethyst)
Wikipedia – article on Amethyst

We have good stock of amethyst in both rough and cut form at the moment. Our Ebay store contains a number of faceted amethyst gems in calibrated sizes and we expect more stock in quite soon. We have also received a parcel of excellent quality African amethyst of great colour (mined in Nigeria) and will be offering this soon at very realistic prices (see photo above).

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire.