Aquamarine on feldspar, Namibia
description: T 2 1/2" ac. This is a very high quality specimen of aquamarine on orthoclase (a feldspar species) from the Erongo mountains of Namibia for the following reasons: (1) The aquamarine crystal is double terminated (i.e. each crystal end is a prism). (2) The edges and the vertices of both of the aquamarine and feldspar crystal are sharp. (3) The aquamarine crystal is on a contrasting "matrix." Most aquamarine specimens removed from the Erongo Mountains were not on any matrix at all. (4) The "matrix" of this specimen is unusual - a terminated crystal of orthoclase feldspar. Since feldspars are much more susceptible to chemical reactions within their host gem pockets, silicate gem crystals are generally not found on a feldspar matrix. This is the only specimen of its type I have seen from the Erongos despite having seen thousands of specimens since 2001 in the United States, southern Africa and Australia. The specimen would be of higher value if the luster on the aquamarine crystal was higher or if it was facet quality. The aquamarine crystal has a pale gem section near the "top" and a moderate luster. Pieces of this caliber are unlikely to ever be common. These specimens have only been surfaced from Namibia since late 2000. The production is only as a result of small scale mining by artisan native Namibian miners who only have hand tools to endure the rigors of hard granite and pegmatite. As a result of the simple extraction methods, many pieces are removed damaged. There would undoubtedly be losses to the gem cutting trade also. When political instability in Pakistan eventually settles, it is likely that fewer dealers who have recently visited Namibia to buy aquamarine will continue to return since Pakistani aquamarine is generally of higher quality. This may cause supplies of Namibian aquamarine specimens to diminish.
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