(Slices of Trapiche Emerald from Colombia. Weight: 10.15 carats total for all pieces)
Image © supplied by Woodmansee* Gems
Gemstones have always held nations and the populations rapt in their beauty and brilliance. Diamonds and emeralds especially rare emeralds like the Chalk Emerald have fascinated mankind ever since they were found. Precious gemstones like these are usually housed in museums for others to marvel at their beauty. But apart from the usually commercially popular gemstones like emeralds and diamonds there is another market for gemstones emerging where gemstone experts and gemstone collectors purchase and sell gemstones. These gemstones though rarely used in jewelry are usually purchased as collectibles due to their rarity.
One such gemstone is the Trapiche emerald. The Trapiche emerald is a form of the precious emerald mined mostly in the continent of South America.
Trapiche Emerald History & Etymology:
The first Trapiche emeralds were discovered in 1879 by an unknown French mineralogist. Trapiche emerald hence instead of deriving their name in the honor of the French mineralogist, derive their name from the appearance of the crystals. Trapiche emerald are characterized by a ray like appearance which is similar to the wheel which was commonly used for grinding sugar when the crystals were discovered.
Trapiche emeralds hence derive their name from the Spanish word trapiche which literally translates to wheel with spokes. The name Trapiche was first given to only the Trapiche emerald but subsequently was conferred on rubies and sapphires with the similar wheel like appearance on the crystals.
Trapiche Emerald Occurrence:
Trapiche emeralds are found only in Columbia in the Le Pena district where the famous Muzo mines are located. Trapiche emerald yielded from these mines are of high gemstone quality. The exceptional quality crystals of Trapiche emerald yielded from these mines command prices which often rival the prices of emeralds.
Trapiche Emerald Properties:
Trapiche emeralds have stationary six spokes patterned wheels. Trapiche emerald are extremely rare and hence found in very few localities. Trapiche emerald are composed of beryl, aluminum and silicon. The dominant presence of silicon in the composition classifies Trapiche emerald as silicates mineral.
Trapiche emeralds occur as tabular masses very similar to the natural occurrence of emerald. Trapiche emerald occur as massive crystalline masses with well formed crystals in their natural form. Trapiche emerald crystals display dihexagonal as well as dipyramidal properties and have a molecular weight of approximately 537 grams.
Trapiche emeralds usually have imperfect cleavages with conchoidal and uneven fracturing. However, are quite hard with a Moh’s hardness between 7.5 and 8 thus making the gemstones of Trapiche emerald ideal for use in jewelry.
The spokes of the wheel that appear on Trapiche emeralds usually have white outlines. Trapiche emeralds have a vitreous luster which changes to a pearly sheen on the edges of the crystals. Transparent crystals of Trapiche emerald can be rarely seen. Trapiche emerald are hence usually translucent or opaque.
Trapiche emerald usually occur in green color but certain changes in the composition can make Trapiche emerald look greenish blue. The spokes and the wheel appearance on Trapiche emerald initially had experts believing that Trapiche emerald were a result of twinning. But subsequent research proved that Trapiche emerald do not display twinning and instead are one crystal.
The unique patterns on Trapiche emerald make them an almost unforgettable gem and among the must-haves in any collector’ or experts’ collection.
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