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Your favorite stone

favorite stones alexandrite (my birthstone) pearls, opals next and
purple or red diamonds.


Jade and Sugilite.

If you have gemstone collection which is in a vault and nobody but
you will ever see them. Which ones would you choose, and why? 

If I had an unlimited budget, I’d choose something rare, or
difficult to get, so a diamond is out.

Either a very large clear natural Alexandrite.

Regards Charles A.

Over all I would say Opal and more specifically gray base opal.

One of my favourite gems are opal. Are quality opals A
question born from ignorance.

What is opal?
Composition SiO2nH2O

The same chemical composition as quartz but contains 1 to 2% water.

This is why opal should not be allowed to dry out.

At the atomic level it is composed of tiny spheres (from 40 to 4000A
in diameter) at this level it has no regular structure.

Hardness 5.5-6.5

Density in g/cm3 1.98-2.2 depending on the water content.

Derived through the Greek ‘opallios’ from the Sanskrit ‘upala’ which
means “precious stone”.


White precious opal is the oldest known and used. Until the
discovery of Black precious opal, at the beginning of the 20th
century, it was the noble opal Par excellence.

“The delicate colour and tenderness of the opal remind me of a
loving and beautiful child.”

The above quotation, perhaps the most beautiful ever applied to a
gemstone, is attributed to the Greek poet Onomakritis, who lived in
the sixth century B.C.

Praised by Pliny the Elder (a Roman Naturalist and Historian) as the
ultimate in He described it thus:

“Made up of the glories of the most precious gems, to describe them
is a matter of inexpressible difficulty. For there is amongst them
the gentler fire of the ruby, there is the rich purple of the
amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, and all shining
together in an indescribable union. Others, by an excessive
heightening of their hues equal all the colours of the painter,
others the flame of burning brimstone, or of a fire quickened by

White precious opals of gem quality fetch very high prices. It is
ranked only behind the four principal (diamond, emerald,
ruby and sapphire), black precious opal, imperial jade and
alexandrite. Black precious opal, value very high and ranked
immediately after the four principal

So be it.


I like phenomenon stones incl. spectrolite, opal, cat’s eyes
etc…but lately, I’ve been into Gem silica (chrysocolla chalcedony),
and have been cutting a bunch of it I managed to get a hold of. I
like the really gemmy stuff, but I think the material with the
chatoyant malachite fans is just fantastic!

I have seen thousands of stones but there are a few memorable ones
which passed through my hands. An 8.66 ct.natural color Vivid Pink,
IF, marquise cut diamond. Or the 25.83 ct. Orange-Peach Sapphire in
a round Portuguese cut, both were stunning. But the stones I still
marvel at are the lowly Fire Agates, no two are ever alike, patterns
are so variable, colors so vivid, and priced so affordably.

Dallas Meloon

Let's assume that money is not the issue. Your budget is unlimited. 

Then I would like a mountain over a mile high to serve as a
"dimension stone" (as it is called in BC laws) and I would carve it
into a foundation for a building. The foundation itself would be cut
and ground and shaped to be aesthetic every foot of the way up. Does
that sound “Inca” to you?

In the 60s I worked and prospected in and around Yellowknife mines.
My last job was doing carpentry and labour work on a nurse’s
residence at the hospital. We built on Precambrian rocky hills
because the muskeg is too soft in summer. The residence was/is
essentially an extension of bedrock.

Well R.E. Rourke,

I hope the assumptions from the lofty perch on your oh so
knowledgeable high horse have not impacted your endocrine terminus.
Lets start with the many assumptions you have.

One my white hair and sagging girl dangles thank you for thinking
without knowing, that I’m new or just starting out. I truly wish
assumptions such as these could erase wrinkles. I’ve been at this
medium for decades.

Next which part of not disparaging did you not understand? This
thread was meant to be fun and find out what other people like,
instead of being negative.

Just because you have not heard of something doesn’t make it false
or not real. I never have in any of my posts mentioned cal silica.
That is completely your assumption. To out of hand assume something is
treated or not real when that was never said makes me personally
wonder if the high horse you are sitting on has left a fragrant
deposit that has influenced your judgement. Or at least affected your
eyesight when reading.

Lesson about “Tiffany Stone” It also goes by several other names.
Ice Cream opal is another. What it is, is opalized fluorite. I do
suppose that your have in your vast studies heard of Fluorite? The
deposit it comes from is is a area of the Wah Wah mountain range
between Beaver Utah and Milford Utah. Before the mining of
bertrandite switched almost entirely to China there was a thriving
mine for the bertrandite in Utah. It is what Beryllium is extracted
from. I do hope you have heard of the existence of Beryllium. That
enclave of land is not open any longer to even the miners. It was shut
down many years ago. While it was open the drivers of the large trucks
would pick up some of the more colorful rocks and take them out off
the property. These eventually were sold to rock hounds. The cutting
and manufacturing of the Beryllium rich rocks caused a nasty disease
called berylliosis. Think what asbestos does to the lungs. It is one
of the reasons the mining of Beryllium in this country was closed and
allowed to go off shore and let some other country worry about it.
But it has been found that Beryllium is an important in many
products. With the possible embargo of rare earths by China the mine
near Milford Utah is being reactivated. Thus the Bertrandite will
once again find it’s way into the market of rock hounds.

Tiffany Stone like many rocks found around the Earth that are
silicate based are considered opals or opalites. Does the opal from
say Mexico differ from the opal in Australia or Ethiopia or Peru or
many other places… Yes! Each in their primordial ooze state were
subject to other elements. Each type of opal is unique due to the
variances of chemical composition, heat, pressures, and time. Tiffany
Stone since it is opalized fluorite takes on the same color range as
regular fluorite. Purple is one of the main colors. While it
normally does not have any green tinges, it does have a nice white to
cream base. It also exhibits pockets or vugs with nice fluorite
crystals that are clear. One of the rarer secondary colors is pink. My
favorite is the combination of the purples pinks and creams. Hence the
name Ice Cream opal was also coined but not used as much as Tiffany

Satin Flash Opal is another silicate that is about 4 miles as the
crow flies from the bertrandite deposit. As with Australian opal it
had a different primordial soup from one area to the next. In fact
about 15 miles from the Bertrandite deposit in the other direction is
the mining area of bixbite or for us that are familiar with it the
Red Emerald. It is in the Beryl family. I do hope you have heard of
the Utah Bixbite in vast store house of knowledge about stones. In
Fact one of the most magnificent gems I’ve ever seen is a 12 carat
flawless deep red faceted Bixbite gem. Back in my earlier days I
worked at my uncles ski resort and became good friends with the lady
who is now married to man who for a long time owned the bixbite mine
in the Wah Wah mountains. She has the 12 carat Bixbite set in a
necklace. But back to Satin Flash Opal.

The very small deposit of Satin Flash opal is also described in
"ALL" the rock hounding guides printed about Utah. They erroneously
say it is open to the public, but it is not. There is some small bits
that get picked up but the major portion of it is mined via a back
hoe and knowing where the veins are. The mining claim is owned by two
good friends of mine. It is sometimes referred to as Bacon Opal.
Which is sad. It shows that the person who cut the slabs and then the
resulting gem didn’t understand the best cutting method. While yes it
can look really great with the stripes of golden colors, the real
beauty comes from not cutting it against the grain of deposition but
with the grain.

You assumed again that because I said that some people think it is
plastic when it is cut that it had to be treated and was thus
inferior. Oh how wrong assumptions can be without the knowledge to
back it up. IT IS NOT TREATED. It has not been stabilized at all.
It’s actually quite durable compared to some Australian opals. It has
a lot of deformation due to bytroidal deposition. It also will have
finer threads of a white substance like rutiles. The rarest of this
opal is the pink hued ones. The same primordial soup that gave us
Bixbite also helped color the pink in the Tiffany Stone, and some
bits of the Satin Flash opal.

As rare as Bixbite/red emerald is in gem quality, so are these two
mentioned gem stones. One due to accessability, the other due to
avaialabilaty They may have differing names but for the people who
mine or collect them in the areas they come from, they are called what
I’ve posted them as. Are they included in all the gemstone bibles?
Depends on if you are a rock hound or a gemologist with what is coming
across as a very narrow scope and closed mind. But then I’m assuming
from your post in regards to these two stones alone that you have a
narrow scope and closed mind unless it is diamond or corundum of the
highest quality. I’m not saying they are bad, just not the only
gemstone or semi precious gem stone on this planet that maybe someone
other than you might like!!

You probably didn’t know that silver ore could be obtained from
sand, not just sandstone. Only one place on Earth they have found a
viable deposit in sand. Maybe because you haven’t heard of it, it
doesn’t exist. The place is called Silver Reef Utah. Just I-15 north
of St. George Utah. And about an hours drive south of Milford Utah.

Also Silver in past history was for a time thought of as more
precious than gold. Just depends on your perspective. Don’t dismiss
something just because you haven’t heard or you figure it is crap to
use your word. One persons trash is another’s treasure.

The pictures are being made this afternoon, and uploaded as soon as
one of my in house geeks figure out the digital stuff to upload them.

Unfortunately, I like anything that is hard enough to take a polish
and have interesting patterns and/or colors and is big enough to work
with my clumsy fingers.

Best Regards,
Dave Leininger

Spinels in most colors, but esp. the light slate blue shades,
low-grade rubies and sapphires with the fantastic crystal structure
patterns that is abstract in its patterns, and for setting, diamonds
for their toughness.


I love chatoyant/adularescent stones that have a flash, sparkle or
silky shimmer, including cat’s eye chrysoberyl, moonstones,
sunstones, labradorite/Spectrolite, kyanite, opals, fire agate and
shimmery Australian tigers eye/tiger iron.

I also love agates and jaspers because there are so many variations!
Sonora Sunrise (crysocolla, cuprite and tennorite) comes to mind,
dendritic agates and dendritic opal, plume agates, and fossil coral
in orange hues, brightly colored mookaite… And boulder, or ribbon,
turquoise and boulder opals because of the contrast between stone and
matrix. A skilled lapidary artist (vision and precision) can make a
treasure of any of these.

And though it’s not technically a stone, I adore pearls because of
their luminosity. And beautiful fossils!


Easy answer for me: EMERALD.


I have to think that My favorite stone is the one that sells for
more then I bought it for and allows me to buy another more
beautiful stone that I can then work with and sell to buy something
more beautiful to work with…

I love most all gemstones… They are a little like children,Each one
is beautiful and unique in it’s own way…

Vernon Wilson

My favorite gemstone would have to be mine cut diamonds. Not only
for their rarity and beauty, but for their heritage (oh, the things
they have seen, the places they have been, the stories they could
tell…) And not just for the history that the diamonds themselves
have seen and lived through, but also for the standards established
by the craftsmen that set them.

In my opinion, some of the most beautiful jewelry ever made was
created when finished diamonds were really not much more than faceted
crystals. And to think they were able to create those pieces with no
microscopes, no power tools and no artificial lighting. Just hand
tools and craftsmanship, pure and simple. But that was also when no
one but the exceptionally wealthy could own anything but the simplest
jewelry, so it was OK for a goldsmith to take a month or more to
create a single piece for a one carat diamond.

As long as I’m talking about old world craftsmanship, I’d like to
take this opportunity to disagree with a more and more common thought
expressed on Orchid lately that fine craftsmanship no longer exists,
except as practiced by the person making the complaint and those very
few similarly enlightened individuals of exceptionally high
intelligence. There are plenty of folks that are making jewelry to
the standards set so many years ago. In fact I’d go so far as to say
that the level of craftsmanship achieved by many of our own Orchid
contributors exceeds that of the old world masters. A good bit of it
far exceeds those standards and sets new, even higher standards that
would have been unimaginable a hundred years ago.

I get a little peeved sometimes when people suggest that theirs is
the only work that exists today that meets those standards, and the
work that the rest of us mere mortals create is instantly dismissed
as crap for one reason or another. Take a look around before you go
calling everything besides your own work crap. Some people (perish
the thought) may actually see your stuff as unimaginative, boring and
tedious crap. But the vast majority of those people won’t make that
call at least until they see it and then will keep that particular
thought to themselves. Out of common courtesy. Which ain’t so common
anymore it seems.

Great thread Agnes! Love having you around too! Wear that grey hair
as the crown of experience that it is!

Dave Phelps

Give me a good moonstone, opal, or jade any day.

My favorite stone that I actually own right now is a faceted smokey
quartz the size of my thumbnail. No inclusions, a gorgeous dark
color. I don’t know what I’ll set it in but it won’t be sold when it
is set!

I can not say that I have any one favorite gemstone. Some stones
just speakto me, either because of the depth, clarity and/or richness
of color, or through some special feature like the fire in some black
or boulder opal. A stone that inspires me in that way is a lot of fun
for me to work with, as I know it will also speak to others in the
final product, and I love to be a part of and share that sort of
beauty which is beyond the ability of these mere human hands to have
created. I can only try to more effectively present that beauty so
that it can be worn and enjoyed.

Victoria Stone (even if it is man-made), Rainbow Calsilica,
Rutilated Quartz. Can’t help it, just love 'em!


I just found out from a fellow ‘rock hound’ as he calls himself,
opalised fluorite, also called bertrandite is being sold now as
"tiffany stone". So it turns out that it is a marketing gimmick (as I
suspected) as it has only recently started to be called" tiffany stone"
in and mostly online, as it is not certifiable through the GIA or any
such organization. It is also called purple opal, ice cream opalite
and is fairly rare. As the rock material Bertrandite I have used it
as cabs in the past as the material i had been given came from a now
closed beryllium mine in Utah that was known as the Brush Weilman
Mine which was supposedly contracted by the US govt. to provide
Beryllium for nose cones for missiles, and by other companies for
metallurgical use ( or so I was told that was its source).
Scientifically small quantities have been found practically
everywhere on earth usually in a conglomerate with other minerals
like rhodonite, agate and dolomite which would explain the occurence
of it in small quantities all over the globe. The Brush Weilman
(maybe Wellman) mine was never opened to public collecting so
apparently very little material escaped the crushers. Nonetheless
with the proliferation of lapidary rough and cut stones being sold on
sites from etsy to eBay and with individual’s setting up virtual
shops, i am not surprised that someone would take a recognized
mineral and rather than use it’s mineralogical name sell it as
something else to create a “buzz” when they may have had hundred
weights of the stuff laying around in a drum for years, or
alternatively discovered it at some gem show or rock club meeting and
realizing its potential once cut and polished stones tried to call it
something sounding more interesting! Only a theory though. since it
is supposedly fairly rare and is based on what a person who has been
collecting in the US southwest for over 50 years tells me about the
material - though i trust this fellow’s opinion above most of what
one can find on the internet He also tells me the price for rough has
gone from reasonably inexpensive in the late 80’s ( at about 35.00 a
kilo) because the material was hard to work with the purple to
lavendar opalized flourite material is quite soft, and needs to be
stabilised occasionally, though it is fine for doublets, even
triplets. Wear would make it very iffy in a ring or something that
gets knocked about.Neither tiffany Stone nor Opalized Fluorite is to
be found on Mindat’s geological index in fact this is their response
to inquiries regarding “tiffany stone”

“Tiffany stone” (aka “Opalized flourite”) is a marketing term - not
a mineral name. So if you are looking for some sort of validation of
it being a “mineral” - you won’t find it. It is just a name that has
been tacked on a peculiar form of flourite in order to make it sell
better… (It is not even a valid varietal name for flourite.)

As for “satin Flash” opal, one source claims it is solely found on a
knoll in Utah and formed from a geyser long ago capped naturally. I
saw a photo of a piece of it after faceting. It is not actually an
opal but light rolls off the bubbles in the hyalite material it is
supposedly from though clear, whereas hyalite is in general
translucent to opaque- so it seems another “rare” marketing gimmick.
Folks, when the fine mineral dealers don’t have a listing of it, it
isn’t classified as a gem or mineral, no scientific references can
be found you can always be certain that whatever the material is is
part of a marketing scheme to sell something that is otherwise not
moving well, or that someone cut and looked good. Does it make for a
sound stone to set in jewelry? Not always, unless you guarantee your
work and can replace the stone as necessary with normal wear. Soft
stones do not work well in jewelry. It may look nice in a gem display
case but not, in jewelry !

I do hope that anyone that loves to buy the’ newest things’ that are
bright and sparkly - like this “satin flash opal” or appealing to
your taste, will consider the replacement costs and availability of
the material in the future before setting something relatively
unknown, not certifiable and not insurable in a piece of jewelry… I
know there is a red flash opal but apparently that is not the stone
being advertised on the internet gem sites. They are marketing
stones- pure and simple- to make money. Some are completely
unsuitable for jewelry unless you educate the client about the
stone’s properties should you offer it set into a piece of art
jewelry or even as a replacement stone. In the case of using it as a
replacement stone, I urge you to have a few of them on hand with
your jobbing envelope should they need replacing, provided you
warrant your work. I would never offer a client something that is a
gimmick stones, or coated or assembled, not certifiable or otherwise
unknown material. This is primarily intended to be useful to novice
jewelry makers in an attempt to save you from later headaches. Use
materials that are tried and scientifically classified.

There are a world of minerals and gems out there that are fine for
jewelry. There are some that are even dangerous ( soft arsenic
containing stones, or crystals of vitriol- that though beautiful
displaying deep tones of red and green (relative to the names of the
2 examples given that touch the skin and can be dissolved, though
slowly, by skin chemistry/acids,salts and moisture for instance) and
could be absorbed through the skin, and too soft for use in jewelry
particularly without warning your customers, and others that aren’t
what they claim to be -“rainbow calsilica” for instance being a good
example (I think that has been taken off the market actually since it
was discovered to be toxic and lead containing in some cases).

Just because it may be marketed as unique or rare or from a source
now closed, or otherwise for sale doesn’t mean it’s worth the money
asked, worth the hassle of finding a replacement when it breaks
because its unknown to the mineralogical and gemological trades or
may be too soft to be of lasting quality. Buy smartly. Be able to
stand behind what you chose to set in your work and if you offer
insurance (practically anyone in business may sell Jewelers Mutual
insurance to their customers), make sure the material you set is in
fact insurable and easily replaceable. It doesn’t mean limiting your
choices to standard fare but that even non traditional jewelry
stones and cabs can be found within a reasonable amount of time and
at a reasonable cost to you, and with minimal changes replaced into
work that you can tell was simply worn normally. If it has obviously
been run over by a car- that’s a different story, but when you begin
to charge top dollar for your work, and you choose a stone, or rather
lapidary material that you bought at a gem show, as a one time thing
without having a relationship with the vendor, and without buying
matching pieces,then the problems that i am speaking of here today
will become evident. It happens a lot. It is not a new concept that
dealers try and get rid of material that has sat in a bin somewhere,
not moved a pound of in years and then was cut and looked good, or
great, but that won’t be around in a cut form when one needs it. If
you add lapidary to your skill set along with the tools and
equipment, then no problem, you can make what you need when you have
time to cut and/or facet your own stones- maybe even sell some as a
sideline in your shop or studio, but if that’s not the case, be a
good consumer from the first and see through the gimmicky stuff out

Chrysoprase, malachite and lapis for me. Its a colour thing.