Thanks for that detailed and very interesting review of the situation at
Morro Redondo. I tend to agree with you that the prejudice against heat
treated and irradiated gem material is something that needs to be
re-evaluated by the public. However, it will probably continue for a long
time. The fact remains that people prefer to get the real thing, if they can
Ifind myself buying heat treated Montana saphire to get that non-zoned
cornflower blue color. I, like most small operators don't have the time,
money or experience to do heat treating (let alone sending it to a nuclear
treatment lab) post cutting. When this saphire is cut and I choose to sell,
the fact that it was heated to produce that color will be made clear to any
potential buyers. Sad to say that some others choose to forget to mention the
factual history of the gems they sell. Herein lies the problem. The miners of
the real thing, be it pink tourmaline or blue saphires, have a vested
interest in keeping the prejudice alive. After all, they view the production
of treated "look alikes" as unfair and un-needed competition. On the other
hand I have seen it written that heat treatment is just a way to speed up
what would have happened to the gem material anyway, had it been left in the
earth X number of years longer.
It is a tough issue, and we have not even touched on the synthetics and "lab
grown" species of gems and rough. Which, I see in ever increasing numbers at
the gem shows in the form of ruby, emerald, alexandrite and opal. It will be
very interesting to see how the whole thing plays out.....
From: firstname.lastname@example.org on Fri, Jul 5, 1996 11:15 PM
Subject: RE: start some threads....
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Date: Sat, 06 Jul 1996 01:50:18 -0400
From: Mark Liccini
Subject: RE: start some threads....
Interesting comments, you made, about the tourmaline. I wish some of that
Brazilian tourmaline that you say is good as or better than Pala CA
tourmaline would make it to the West coast shows. I go to a lot of these and
most of the Brazilian Tourmaline (cut and rough) shown at these events is
pretty awful in comparison to the material from Pala CA. As you know the
mines are in a pretty low production mode making this a niche player area.
The fact that the Pala tourmaline does not need to be cooked and/or nuked to
achieve it's unique pink tone(s) makes it all the more desirable, to me
anyway. BTW, how stable is the color of that Brazilian baked/nuked
Tourmaline? I ask, because other stones, ie:topaz, that have been heat and
radiation treated fade or change if exposed to sunlight too long (Count
Be sure to let us know what you find out about the Brazilian opal.
Will post below more the most current info on Morro Redondo Tourmaline.It is
permenant at the final stage of treatment.And Often I hear Lapidaries state
would never treat a stone,but that's a cover up for the lack of knowledge or
reluctance to try.The Lapidary Arts is exactly that;a treatment of cutting
and polishing the stones.This general resistance to treating is why the
dealers at the shows have litte to no Brazillian material.And actually it is
the job of the Lapidary to treat at the conclusion of the cutting.Not the
rough seller.All stones subjected to heatings need to be as clean as
possible and even the pores
sealed by the "Beilby Layer" in polishing to avoid breakage.
About the Opal,it does'nt get down to the town where I have an office.You
have to go and get it.It will be a real adventure as it is quite remote and
I will have to book in there for a month or so.But I am sure it can be had
considerably less than Australian goods.I hope to go before summers end.Let
me know what you think about the following analysis.
This is a report on the largest occurance of Tourmaline in the history of
Brazil gem mining;the Morro Redondo Tourmaline of the State of Minas Gerias
Brazil.The material was first discovered in 1992 near the village of Morro
Redondo,in the notheast of Minas Gerias.
The first pocket was found halfway up the side of a mountain.It contained a
modest amount of Gem Blue Tourmaline.Then on the following rise,they found 3
more pockets.One of all Black Tourmaline mostly terminated ends with a
layerlike surface termainations running parrell to the "C" axis.creating a
The next contained Morganite crystals up to 2 kilo in size.Very clean
to Bi-color material.It was at this point that a very unique treating process
was discovered that gave inspiration to the later developments in Tourmaline
treatmemnts. This Peach type of material was first heated to White,then
subjected to 450 megarads Colbolt irradiation.It turned to various shades of
Green.Then reheated to a uniform pale Pink.
The final Tourmaline pocket was 10-15 meters square.They began by sinking
holes to a depth of 3 meters.The Tourmaline discovered was a Brownish to Pink
"A" axis,often found complete in Bi-color Blue/Green and Brown/Pink;the "C"
axis being a Red to Pink/Peach. The bulk of the material was extraordinarily
clean and well formed.With the exception of the Blue/Green side of the
pieces.This end is almost always lightly included.Where the two colors join
often is observed a light to heavy silk.Many having a Gem Cat's eye effect.
This pocket(they named it Elba) produced a record 47 tons of Tourmaline
total from February 1992 to March 1996.The first 8 tons of production was
seized by local authorities and auctioned for Taxes to a Govenador Valadares
Firm of Miranda for $60/kg.At mid production they tunneled in from the side
and the entire top above collapsed.All along the sides and bottom of the
matrix specimens of Tourmaline,Albite.Lepidolite,and Quartz.
Although sparcely reported in the United States,this Tourmaline dominated
the Gemstone industry in Brazil for almost 4 years.Sales of ton lots of
rejection(heavily included) material were common.There were over 400 miners
at the site at peak.The squares and Gem trading streets of Arasuai,Teflo
and Gov.Valadares were smothered with small miners selling their weekly
productions.Mine Runs went from a low of $60 initially to $150/kg in first
week of July 1996.Clean needles under 1 gram in size went from as little as
$200 per kilo to $4/gm(July,1996).Larger sizes(up to 100 gram)began at
now are scarce,and almost seller's prices.Material of all grades,although
daily in price,will continue on the market until sometime in August,1996,
attesting to the massive task of sorting out the tonnage produced.
This Tourmaline is preferably cut down the "C" axis,producing
and Peach-Pink Stones.Commercially the finished stones are first heated to
to turn to white,then heated further to 680-700C to gain a Pinkish hue.Then
stones are given 80-100 megarads of Colbolt irradiation to return a fairly
uniform "hot" red color.Adjustments by heating are made to those that treat
dark on the final stage.
So,goodbye Morro Redondo.This Gemstone rough production now in it's final
stages is only this year reaching the U.S. Market.And throughout it's
introduction to present the cut stone prices appear to be stable at around
$35-50/ct for Parcels of calibrated goods in New York.Odd colors and
rejections trading as low as $3/ct.And certainly for several years to come
this discovery will be the Pink Tourmaline of choice due to it's astonishing
now widespread availability.
Gemstone Rough Dealers since 1970
Voice Mail/Fax: 201-795-1115
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224 7th St#2B 72 Van Reipen Ave#166
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