In our newsletter this month:
Very large gemstones have long been treasured by collectors, usually for their rarity but sometimes simply for their peculiarity. Some huge gems have been well known for centuries. The 104 carat Stuart Sapphire, for example, has belonged to Scottish and British royalty since the 13th century. The 352 carat Timur Ruby (actually a red spinel), was known in India as early as the 14th century. The most famous star sapphire in the world, the 563 carat Star of India, is a relative newcomer - it was discovered a mere 300 years ago, in Sri Lanka.
So what counts as a huge gemstone? It is not simply a matter of carat weight. A huge gem must, first of all, be a gemstone - it is subject to the same standards of color, clarity, transparency and cut as gems of more modest size. A large mineral, even if it is natural corundum (aluminum oxide) by chemical composition, does not count as a gemstone if it does not meet the qualitative standards that gem traders express with the hard-to-define adjective gemmy.
In terms of carat weight, not every big gemstone is considered to be huge. For some gem varieties, large stones are common. Specimens of quartz, chalcedony and jasper, for example, are often found weighing as much as 50 carats. The same is true for malachite, fluorite, agate, hematite and amber. A huge gem for these varieties is more in the order of 70 to 100 carats or more. Even topaz is sometimes found in extraordinarily large sizes. In fact one of the largest faceted gemstones in the world is a 22,895 carat yellow topaz from Minas Gerais, Brazil. It's a popular attraction at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
Different standards apply for sapphires. Though star sapphires weighing up to 20 carats are relatively common, faceted sapphires with good color and transparency weighing over 8 carats are very rare. Spinel and tsavorite garnet of this weight are even more unusual. Gems like alexandrite and demantoid garnet are so rarely found weighing over 1 carat that a 3 or 4 carat stone would count as huge.
Like most gem aficionados, we treasure the rare and unusual. So we've recently created a gallery of huge gems, where you can see a selection of about 40 different gemstone varieties of unusually large stones. They include a number of recent acquisitions, including a 575 carat malachite, a 398 carat bloodstone, a 265 carat star rose quartz, a 206 carat blue topaz and a 96 carat rhodolite garnet.
Aquamarine belongs to the beryl family, along with emerald and morganite. But where emeralds are typically heavily included and are routinely treated with oil to fill fissures, high quality aquamarine can have wonderful clarity.
Recently we've acquired a small number of top grade aquamarines from Mozambique that combine excellent color saturation with superb clarity. The largest of these is a 40.56 carat octagonal gem. Beautifully cut with no window - always a challenge with clean lighter colored gems - it measures 22 x 17.47 x 13.86 mm. The color is simply outstanding. It is also certified by the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS). Click on the photos above to view our fine aquamarine gems.
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Happy gem hunting,Your friends at GemSelect
- First Published: July-01-2010
- Last Updated: August-05-2016
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