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Risks in cutting Tiffany Stone


#1

I recently purchased some lapidary rough marketed as "Tiffany Stone"
which I believe, from what I can glean off the internet, is an
opalized flourite from the Brush Wellman beryllium mines. I did a
quick search on beryllium and found a myriad of info on dangers of
exposure to it. (primarily citing mine worker’s exposure) I pulled
up an MSDS on beryllium and it painted a pretty ugly picture about
exposure to the dust and/or it dissolved in water (it said it is
very water soluable). Anyway, my question is, "what are the risks in
cutting “Tiffany Stone”?, Does it contain beryllium? Is there a
safe, reasonable way to work it? Any additional info, opinions
would be appreciated.

Chris
Abo Originals
Ketchikan, Alaska


#2

Chris, I was lucky enough to collect at Brush Wellman a couple of
years ago. There was a great deal of opalized material to be found
in quite an array of colors. Tiffany Stone is a new one on me. I did
find what was clearly identified as beryllium and it was a patterned
purple stone, quite different from the opalized material.

It is best to exercise great care in working the material and I have
been also told it can be “hot” radioactive wise, setting off geiger
counters. I had my most beautiful piece made into a sphere and keep
it a good distance away. I have chosen to not work any of the other
material I collected.

I know you will hear from others with far more knowledge. I wonder
just who and how they managed to come up with the name Tiffany
Stone. Perhaps it is the price? Teresa


#3

Hi, Chris- From your description, this sounds like the stuff also
marketed as “bertrandite” and “beryllium opalite.” I have been told by
dealers of this rough that you should always wear a particle-filter
mask when working it, as the beryllium is toxic. – Lee Einer
http://www.members.home.net/appealsman


#4
    Hi, Chris- From your description, this sounds like the stuff
also marketed as "bertrandite" and "beryllium opalite." I have been
told by dealers of this rough that you should always wear a
particle-filter mask when working it, as the beryllium is toxic. --
Lee Einer http://www.members.home.net/appealsman 

Lee, if you will check in a rock and mineral handbook (I found
Bertrandite in Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Rocks and Minerals),
you will see that Bertrandite Cololess to pale yellow (and
crystalline). I has an excellent prismatic cleavage. While the opalite
and fluorite (which is what the purple stuff is, according to my PhD
geology professor) may have come from a beryllium mine, that does not
mean they are beryllium ore (Bertrandite), nor are they justified
in calling it “beryllium opalite”.

Margaret


#5
    Chris, I was lucky enough to collect at Brush Wellman a couple
of years ago. There was a great deal of opalized material to be
found in quite an array of colors. Tiffany Stone is a new one on
me. I did find what was clearly identified as beryllium and it was
a patterned purple stone, quite different from the opalized
material. 
    It is best to exercise great care in working the material and
I have been also told it can be "hot" radioactive wise, setting off
geiger counters. I had my most beautiful piece made into a sphere
and keep it a good distance away. I have chosen to not work any of
the other material I collected. 
    I know you will hear from others with far more knowledge. I
wonder just who and how they managed to come up with the name
Tiffany Stone. Perhaps it is the price? Teresa 

I have been to Brush-Wellman several times. The first time I went
was part of a Geology field trip from Southern Utah University (then
So. Utah State College). We were told several things by Dr. Kennedy,
our Professor: First, that the beryllium is in a mineral called
Bertrandite. Second, the Bertrandite is at a *very low
*concentration; (in order to process it, they have to mix it with a
lot of non-gem beryl from a South American emerald mine); they mine
for it with an instrument they stick in the ground called a
Berylometer. They check around in the pit and find the places with
the highest readings and work there. Third; the Bertrandite is well
underground, so they have to dig a deep pit to uncover it. In the
overburden that they remove are the nodules that contain the opal
and the purple material, which is actually Fluorspar. He thought
these nodules probably do not contain any beryllium, although it is,
of course, possible. The second time I was there was during an
Elderhostel in Delta; the chemist from the mine came and talked to us
(don’t remember his name any more). He, as I recall, said pretty much
the same thing, although in considerably less detail. But
radioactivity was never mentioned (and if it were present, he
certainly would’ve known it, and cautioned us about it, when he gave
a couple of us permission to visit the mine and collect material in
that overburden pile.) The Tiffany Stone name is a new one to me too;
probably mostly psychology, to make us think it is something rellly
rare and precious, rather than just Fluorspar!

Margaret


#6

Hi, Margaret- I don’t disagree with you regarding the (in)accuracy of
the mineral terms “bertrandite” and “Beryllium opalite” being applied
to the rough under discussion. In fact, I have heard some debate as to
whether “opalite” is even a legitimate minerological term.

That being said, the stone under discussion is frequently marketed
under these names. I have attached a link to a commercial webpage
marketing tiffany stone as an example.

http://slabs-and-cabs.com/id103.htm

Lee Einer
http://www.members.cox.net/appealsman