Caringorm: nowhere to be found?

I might need help from our friends across the pond on this one… A
customer wants a large (30mm-ish) faceted Caringorm (dark smokey
quartz from the Cairngorm region in Scotland - correct me if I’m
wrong) and I’ve run out of leads. A new Ordhid e-mail buddy got me
in touch with a jeweler in Scotland who confirmed the description,
but said the mine has been closed for decades. The customer
definitely wants one mined in Scotland (no, I can’t cheat!). Any
ideas? Large clean piece of rough I can have cut? Existing stone in a
setting that could be removed? It’s a big order for a good customer,
so I’d really appreciate any help.

Cindy Crounse
Refined Designs Original Fine Jewelry

You were advised correctly. The Scottish source for cairngorms has
been mined out for a long time. You MIGHT find one by spending a lot
of time searching ebay for cairngorm brooches and such, but you
would have to be very careful in making sure the seller is in fact
selling an authentic natural cairngorm. If you find one it will have
to be pretty old, say 100 years more or less, and you’ll pay a
pretty stiff price. I’ve looked into it and even bought a couple,
all of which have turned out to have been misrepresented by the
seller, Unintentionally, I’m sure O:-) .As far as I’m concerned
smoky quartz is smoky quartz. I took the fake “cairngorm” out of a
nice sterling brooch I had bought my wife some forty years ago and
cut a new one out of a large piece of smoky quatrz/citrine I bought
from New Era a few years ago. Looks great.

Jerry in Kodiak

I have been told that there is some material from Perthshire that is
similar to the Cairngorm quartz. It is still from Scotland but from a
different region. For Many years Scottish jewelers have used smoky
quartz or citrine as a substitute for Cairngorm, but the original
stuff is more of a brownish tea color. There was a Scottish stone
dealer who expected to have some available but I have been waiting
more than two years to hear from him. I can’t seem to find his card as
it has been a long time.

Stephen Walker


You may have two sources for this material.

You can try searching on eBay for old Scottish kilt pins. Once in a
while you can find one that is damaged and available at a reasonable
price. Some of these brooches had a large center stone that was
often a Smokey quartz.

Another source that you may want to look into is in Germany. I am
not familiar with a current source but in The regions of Idar and
Oberstein the cutters where known for cutting different varieties of
quartz. There could be someone there with old material.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry

Hi … I live in England (not far from scotland!) and can confirm the
mine has been shut for an age. As it happens my mother in law (who
likes yellow stones) set me a ‘task’ (grr!) a couple of weeks ago to
find and set a cairngorn stone for her … I havent managed yet …
but I reckon I can get away with cheating as I wont get paid and she
wont know (evil smirk…then hopes wife doesnt read message!)

However… I would recommend trying as many gem houses as you can …
I tried some US ones (Rio Grande, Fire Mountain etc) but with no
luck… I got as far as identifying a good London house (IMHO) which
is Woods (no connection to me) so you
might want to try them. Failing that then walking around the UK gem
area in Hatton garden (or finding someone to do it for you) is maybe
a good way of getting a result - you can get almost anything there
with luck!

Good luck (if you get a result please let me know!!)

Keith Elliott

I’m not an expert on cairngorm but my wife was given a necklace with
cairngorm by her Scots father. The color is more like a rich citrine;
nothing at all like dark smokey quartz. Sorry I can’t direct you to a

Kevin Kelly

I asked a friend of mine who owns a jewelry store in Inverness in
Scotland, and here is the reply I received:

  the jeweller this person spoke to is correct, no mining been
  done for ages. Now, the cairngorm is commonly a citrine and was
  used in large plaid brooches in silver (the round large
  stones). Most of them were in fact just glass and nearly all of
  the new ones are too. Unfortunately there is no way of sourcing
  new ones so the only way to get one would be to try and find an
  old one, of course it would be difficult to prove that it was
  actually mined in those mountains. The only chance is to go
  through antique jewellery stores and ask, if it's turn of the
  century or before and has a Scottish hallmark to prove that
  then it's possible it could be Cairngorm mined. I wouldn't have
  thought that it would be worthwhile spending money to have it
  lab tested to check it's origin but each to their own!

This is a very odd coincidence but a friend of mine brought over a
bunch of stones yesterday that his mother cut some 30 years ago at
least. One of the stones is marked as “cairgorn, smoky topaz,
quartz”. The “smoky topaz” is obvious a misnomer but it is clearly
smoky quartz. It’s a round brilliant, about 6 cts, approx. 35 mm
diameter. It’s beautifully cut; his mother was obviously a very
talented faceter. Is there a way to tell for sure what the origin of
the stone is? Anyway, if you’re interested, email me directly.

And, by the way, there are other beautiful, faceted stones in the lot
in case anyone’s interested: sphalerite, andalusite, rose quartz
(large, emerald-cut), tourmaline and more; also Mexican opal cabs
(including a large red oval with tons of red fire) and some fire
agate rough. Again, contact me off-list if you’re interested.