Lapidary Rock Saw
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Good gem quality chrysoprase is always going to be a rare find, full stop. The truth of the matter is like any other gemstone, as soon as the value goes up, everyone gets on the bandwagon and tries to cash in.
Rare A grade and gem grade chrysoprase always almost associated with Marlborough chrysoprase and is found only in one area in Australia. That area is Marlborough - one and a half hour drive North from Rockhampton is guarded fiercely by the mine owners. The reason for this is that due to the prices and the market demand for the green rock, there are always people around that illegally fossick for this gem on private property. Then on various internet sites, they sell the rough claiming it to be vintage stock.
The truth of the matter is that whilst there are many people claiming that they have vintage stock available, the quality found is generally fairly average. C and D grade chrysoprase rough can be found in various places commanding high prices just because of the inaccessibility of stock by The Lapidary circles and the gem enthusiasts. A grade material as far as I am aware is only available via the 2 major mines and only operating in Marlborough. That is a Chinese owned counterpart and Candala Mines which is owned by an Australian company. Even so, rough that is sold out there is sold sparingly and is almost always pre allocated before they are dug. The reason for this is contributed by the high demand of this rough.
There are always the runner ups and the others behind the leading pack. Chrysoprase is found in many parts of the world including other areas in Australia such as Western Australia and South Australia, as well as Tanzania, Russia and the US. Admittedly I have seen some pretty nice chrysoprase rough out there but none seems to have the Marlborough signatory translucence and peppermint colour.
Green yellow, opaque brown quality and reconstituted stuff is all out there in the market at the moment and not to mention fakes which is are usually sold by suppliers claiming that the cabbed chrysoprase is the cut from the real Marlborough rough. My thoughts on buying and paying a premium - if the store is not mine affiliated or that they only sell cabochons and are unable to sell you rough, alarm bells should sound almost immediately and you may need to stay clear. After all, it is your reputation that you need to protect.
There is also the coined term Australian chrysoprase. Whilst it is true technically, do a quick check before buying. Western and South Australian chrysoprase go for a lot less than the Marlborough variety. It is like talking rubies. You can buy synthetic or low grade rubies for a couple of hundred bucks or you could go for the real natural stuff that costs thousands of dollars.
Western Australian chrysoprase is almost always depicted by a few telltale signs:
- Thick ironstone outer rind
- Washed out colour sometimes found with black dendrites
- More of a green yellow spectrum than a peppermint one
- Opaque haze within the translucent areas
- Brown spots within the lower grade rough
Don't get me wrong. I love chrysoprase no matter where it comes from. But I am also wary of overpaying for rough depicted as Marlborough when it just isn't. Recently I saw a trader sell cabochons with the above listed markings as Marlborough on eBay and asked for a hefty price. As much as I wanted to message the trader, I thought writing an article to get it out there is probably a better thing. If you think that this article will help any others, feel free to link it on to your site or blog. Just if you could, do let me know.
Okay I should probably also advice on what to look for when searching for the Marlborough green.
- Peppermint to Apple spectrum greens
- White silicrete cap. Marlborough does have some ironstone but none as thick as rind as that of the Western Australian chrysoprase
- If any, white dendrites and never black
- More translucent greens with a bluer spectrum although some green yellow have been found.
If you need a photo reference, you can have a look at the gallery section of our site under chrysoprase mines - we will also be inserting some reference photos for you shortly.
One of the reasons I wrote this article is to help create awareness. If you need help in identifying Australian chrysoprase, feel free to write to me in the forum on our site and I will do my best to help.
If you enjoyed reading this article and are interested in learning more about gem fakes and frauds Yvonne Jiew would like to invite you to read further about chrysoprase on her website plus she is always looking for new and interesting articles on gemstones to add to her forum, http://www.rockandmineralsupermarketaustralia.com/apps/forums/. So do take advantage of the free membership program that they have on their site. Like EzineArticles, all articles can be signed with a backlink to your site which may help to increasing your site traffic for Google ranking.