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[Discovery Channel Reseach] Topaz in Brazil


A director from Discovery Channel Canada has contacted me yesterday
with request for help in his research for a new documentary film
"Topaz in Brazil" he is working on.

I ask the group for help in answering few of his questions:

Is there a particular street or area or market in Rio or Belo
Horizonte that is known for gemstones and jewelry?

Is Imperial Topaz mined from Capao and Vermelhao mines?

Is white Topaz mined from Marambia, Rhodonia and Espirato Santo

Any Mineralogy Museum in Rio other than the one at the School of
Mines in Ouro Preto? Any comments about that one?


Hello All, Looks like they’re getting going on Hans Durstling’s
writing project! Financing of 7 episodes for the Canadian Discovery
Channel of the 13 he originally proposed, came together while he was
visiting here at the end of last year. It was really exciting being
a fly on the wall and seeing how a project like this is developed.
Besides getting daily updates on what was happening, and hearing
about all his L.A. area visits to contacts for the series, just
before Hans hit the road back to Canada in January, I got to sit in
on his interview with Judith Osmer of J.O. Crystal (Ramaura ™
rubies) and got another tour of her lab… which was a special treat.
Our visit to the L.A. County Museum of Natural History and visit with
Dorothy Ettensohn was a great experience too.

It was fun too, to dig through my files and pull out contact info
memories! Hans and I finally met Lisa from Topanga in person right
here in my home, and got to see some of her great creations, and we
visited Rick Martin at his home too and saw some of his work, and
had a great show and tell time.

I really hope Hans will write up his cross-continent excursion for
the list (and the Eclectic Lapidary) because it was an amazing
trip… from Southern California, to Arizona for a quick stop at
Quartzite, then on across to the San Carlos Reservation to meet with
Charles Vargas and see the peridot mining there, and then onto the
Arkansas quartz crystal mines… and a visit with Stuart Schmitt, and
up to the new emerald deposit at Hiddenite, NC, and then on up the
east coast …with more stops along the way up to Maine, and finally
back to Moncton, New Brunswick.

I’ll tuck in a special thank you to Hans and thank you to Gail
Clark, Sue Nielson, Rick Martin and other friends from Orchid for
helping me get back into the lapidary part of my life again,
following my husband’s death last September. For Hans to take the
time to help me in the midst of all he was doing for this series,
was an act of true friendship, and I’m really glad it worked out
that he could use the studio here as a base of operations for the
writing work and California interviews for one part of the series.

I’m sure all the Orchideans will be looking forward to hearing
updates from our fellow list member on this exciting project!

Carol J. Bova

Hi everyone, It might interest you all to know that this project (a
TV series on precious stones) is of my own origination; my idea, my
proposal. I wrote the first version five years ago. It was at that
time submitted to the Canadian Learning Channel; was trned down with
compliments (I think maybe they always do that); went into prolonged
hiatus, then was activated again about this time last year when I
re-wrote it and the production company submitted to the (Canadian)
Discovery Channel. At that time the Discovery Channel committed to a
one hour pilot; which, however, didn’t pass the starting gate by
virtue of the fact that funding for a pilot is difficult to come by.

Not long after, however, the proposal was reconsidered, and the
Canadian Discovery Channel committed to seven episodes of what I
originally wrote as a thirteen part series. While I was visiting in
Los Angeles in December/January the word came from the production
company that the final funding portion had fallen into place.

In anticipation of this outcome, I visited among others, Orchidean
David Barzilay who was wonderfully helpful and informative in
shepherding me through the Los Angeles “jewelry district”. (Thanks

And then I drove back, 3.383 miles all told, all the way from Los
Angeles to Moncton in New Brunswick Canada, stopping en route in
Quartzite; then stopping to dig peridot with the Apache Indians of
the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona (that was a wonderful day which
I will never forget - thank you Charles Vargas!) then stopping in
Mount Ida Arkansas to dig quartz crystals; and arriving in Hiddenite
North Carolina just a few days after the most recent major emerald
find. This was fortuitous timing indeed! The day I arrived Jamie Hill
the emerald man of North Carolina, was just in the process of
briefing 21 armed security guards who would stand watch over the site
24 hours a day beginning the next morning. I saw the two emeralds in
situ in their cleft in the rock just as the afternoon sun slanted
right down upon them. Wow! Such a brilliant vibrant green! And of
course thanks to Jamie Hill.

Then it was on to the Smithsonian (got lost trying to find my way
out of Washington DC) and to the Peabody Museum at Harvard, and
finally to Bucksfield Maine in the middle of Maine gem district do
some trading of my remaining Bay of Fundy minerals for cutting rough
including a spectacular chunk of Four Peaks Amethyst.

By now, research work is well underway. And I don’t think I’m
letting any secrets out when I mention that the director of the Topaz
episode is Susan Mawhood of Toronto, who is not at all a

And if any of the many many other persons who helped me by providing
me with and contacts, and whom I did not mention by name,
are also Ochideans…to you, all, a sincere and appreciative thank
you also!

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

Dear Hanuman,

There is one museum in Rio that has a mineral display…it is near
the terminal of the Sugarloaf tramway. It is poorly maintained and
has little to recommend it. The mineralogy museum in Belo Horizonte
is excellent from the standpoint of historical occurrences and
systematic display. The Gem Center in Belo is a great place to get
started networking in local commerce. The Brazilian Gemological
Institute is also located in Belo. he best mineral museum in Brazil
is undoubtedly the one at the school of mines in Ouro Preto.

Ouro Preto and Belo are the centers of Imperial Topaz commerce, but
I am not sure that much of it circulates on the open market. Just
outside the city of Ouro Preto there is a gas station called the
Posto Topazio Imperial where much illicit topaz commerce has
transpired in the past.

Common topaz occurs throughout the gem mining districts and most of
it occurs as alluvial cobbles, some of which can weigh many kilos.
Most of it is clear enough to read through when cleaved. The largest
topaz crystal ever found in Brazil was the size of a small house !

I bought four kilos of white topaz from Brazil at the Tucson show
this year for ten dollars per kilo !!! Hope this helps…Ron
at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

Hanuman, suggest that the Canadian producer (is it Hans Durstling?)
contact my friend, David Stanley Epstein, author of: “The Gem
Merchant,” ‘How to be one, how to deal with one.’ < >

David is an American who lives in Teofolo Otoni, Brasil, and is a
cutter and gem dealer and buyer’s agent there.

You might also suggest he contact Charles Carmona at Guild
Laboratories < > Charlie has led tours of that

David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

A great big CONGRATULATIONS to you Hans on proceeding with your
Discovery series. I look forward to seeing it and will make sure all
my local students and Society members do as well. This will
obviously be a major contribution to our art and industry!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL wher simple elegance IS
fine jewelry!

Dear Hanuman I’m in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. I think you’d better
contact the Brazilian Institute of Minerals and Gems. Their website
is Regards, Regina Bittencourt