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Meteorites are stuff from outer space; each is a solid piece of debris which formed from dust within the protoplanetary disc or from object such as an asteroid, planetesimal, or planet, and which travels through space and falls through the atmosphere to the surface of earth. As alien objects which fall dramatically they have evoked interest and wonder among many people. I remember vividly at the age of ten watching with my dad the meteorites fall during a Perseid Meteor Shower such as shown in time lapse photography in Figure 1. We both were greatly excited by the sights of the darting meteor trails and the awe felt by both of us felt was almost palpable. This fond memory has prompted me to write about meteorites in hopes of further acquainting my readers with them. 

I will write three blogs about meteorites; in the first I’ll consider both iron and stony-iron meteorites, and the following blogs will be about chondrites and achondrites, both classes of stony meteorites, and lastly about chondrules, which are constituents of chondrites and are sub-millimeter to millimeter-sized spherules containing silicates and another minerals and are often quite beautiful.

The three major classifications of meteorites based on their mineral compositions are: stony meteorites which are comprised of silicate minerals, iron meteorites which primarily are comprised of an alloy of iron and nickel, and stony-iron meteorites which are comprised of a mixture of iron-nickel alloy and silicate minerals. Iron-nickel meteorites can also contain sulfide, carbide, phosphide minerals of iron, nickel, cobalt, and chromium, as well as native carbon. The class of stony-iron meteorites are comprised of two subclasses, pallasites and mesosiderites[. The distribution of classes of meteorites found world-wide are shown in TABLE 1 and examples of them are Figures 2-5.

Figure 1. Time-lapse photograph showing meteors falling during a Perseid Meteor Shower[




Meteorites containing an iron-nickel alloy are classified as the iron meteorites, and the stony iron meteorites, the latter including the pallasites and the mesosiderites.

In the iron meteorites the iron-nickel alloy is present as two minerals: kamacite which contains up to 7.5% dissolved nickel in solution with iron and taenite with more than 25% nickel in solution. Other minerals which contain iron, nickel, cobalt, phosphorous, oxygen, sulfur, and carbon in lesser abundance may be present in iron meteorites. These minerals with their compositions are summarized in Table 2. Each minda.org reference contains representative photographs of the mineral.


Figure 2. Canyon Diablo meteorite, Barringer Meteor Crater region, Coconino County, Arizona. Note the sculpting of its form by ablation and loss of the molten surface layer of iron alloy formed by frictional forces during its fall through the air.
Figure 3. Etched slice of a Canyon Diablo meteorite, Barringer Meteor Crater Region, Coconino county, Arizona[Ref28]. Note both the brown crystal of troilite with a grey rim of cohenite and the  The angular Widmenstatten are comprised of angular interleaving bands of the iron-nickel alloys kamacite and taenite referenced in TABLE 1.

The Structure and Metallurgy of Iron-Nickel Meteorites

Iron-nickel meteorites are thought to be remnants of the cores of planetesimals following collision between them . With slow cooling during solidificaiton of the core the liquid alloy mixture of iron and nickel results in a mixture of the two minerals kamacite and taenite. With sufficiently slow cooling to 912 deg C and below discrete visible crystals of each mineral form separately as shown in the iron-nickel phase diagram.  The interleafed arrangement of the crystals results in the arrangement called Widmanstatten Figures as shown in Figure 3 which become visible upon etching with an acid. The different grey-tones of the crystals develop from different etching susceptibilities which arise from the different atomic arrangements within face-centered cubic kamacite and body-centered cubic taenite.

Structure, Mineral Composition, and Formation of Stony-iron Meteorites

Stony-iron meteorites consist of approximately equal parts of iron-nickel alloy and silicate minerals as opposed to stony meteorites which primarily are made up of silicate minerals. Stony-iron meteorites are divided into two groups, the pallasites and the mesosiderites  Pallasites have silicate minerals, mostly olivine embedded in the meteoric iron. Mesosiderites are breccias comprised of fragments of meteoric iron interspersed with fragments of silicate minerals.


Results of a recent study suggest that pallasite meteorites may have formed in a glancing impact between a body with a largely solidified core surrounded by a molten layer and a larger body. It is assumed that loss of the solid core and formation a body comprised of aggregates of fragments of olivine surrounded by molten iron-nickel alloy ensued. Solidification of the molten alloy results in cementation of the olivine fragments which results in the structure shown in Figure 4

Figure 4. The olivine usually is present in a 2/1 volume ratio with the iron-nickel matrix. The boundary regions between an olivine crystal and metal may contain thin layers of a mineral such as troilite, schreibersite, or chromite.


Mesosiderites are considered to have formed from fragments of iron-nickel alloy and silicate minerals which resulted from collision of metal-rich and silica-rich asteroids. The fragments may be of the igneous rocks, basalts, gabbros, and pyroxenites of igneous rocks as well as fragments of the minerals orthopyroxene, olivine, and plagioclase. The Iron-nickel metal is mostly in the form of millimenter or sub-millimeter grains admixed with grains of silicate minerals in the same size range surrounding the larger fragments of rocks and minerals. These structural features are shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5  . Mesosiderite, found at Gillio, Libya in 1985. Metal nodules, pyroxene, on Ca-pyroxene fragments, plagioclase, pyrrhotite, chromite, and both kamacite and taenite are present.

Precious Coral

Both precious red and black corals are bottom-dwelling sessile marine branched animals that have been harvested at depths between 60 and 20,000 feet [Ref 1, Ref 2]. They have provided lapidarists and other artisans with materials they use to create extraordinarily beautiful jewelry and objects of art, as witnessed by Figures 1 and 2.  In this Blog, I’ll describe the physical properties and the sources of the colors of the corals that underlie their use in jewelry making and in carving fine objects of art.

As shown in Figure 1, the Chinese Qing Dynasty red coral sculpture, featuring four carved figures of Buddha, capitalizes on the flowing branched nature of the coral to produce a beautiful and graceful carving. The flowing shapes of the branches

of black coral are an interesting contrast to the disciplined shapes of the gold fittings set with gems, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 1.  Chinese Qing Dynasty carving in branched red coral with four figures of Buddha, circa 1862-1874 [Ref 3].
Figure 2. Black coral necklace with accents of green and pink tourmaline, blue topaz, amethyst, citrine, and fire opal set in 18-carat gold [Ref 4].


Gemstones of red and black coral comprise the hard tissue core or skeleton which supports the soft tissues of the organisms as shown in Figures 3-5.

Figure 3. A red coral in situ with white soft tissue supported by the red coral tree. The soft tissue contains the polyps, the feeding organ of the coral and tissues connecting them [Ref 5].
Figure 4. Sections of branches of the red coral skeleton. The section on the left has been bleached. The furrows on the surface of the skeleton contain the part of the soft tissue which distributes nutrients [Ref 6].
Figure 5. A black coral (Cirrhipathes sp.) with yellow soft tissue surrounding the hard tissue core is shown on the left and the same specimen with its soft tissue removed is shown on the right [Ref 7].


Gemstones of red and black coral comprise the hard tissue core or skeleton which supports the soft tissues of the organisms as shown in Figures 3-5. The physical and chemical properties of each coral underlie its usage in jewelry and art objects.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Precious Red Coral

The hard tissue of the skeleton of red coral is comprised of aggregated nanometer-sized crystals of magnesium-rich calcite {(Ca.Mn)CO3} which are arranged in rings  separated by an annular layer of organic matrix containing glycoproteins and glycosaminoglycans[Ref 8]. The annular arrangement of the mineral and organic matrix is shown in the cross-section of a stem in Figure. The organic matrix is highlighted by a purple stain and the layer of magnesium-rich calcite is unstained [Ref 9]. The axial region rich in magnesian calcite is indicate by the letter 

A and the spaces occupied by the longitudinal canals, the regions of soft tissue which transport nutrients are labeled by the letter B.

Figure 6. Cross-section of a stem of red coral in which the soft tissue has been stained purple [Ref 10].

Pigmentation in Precious Red Coral

The red pigment in precious red coral has been determined to be canthaxanthin, a member of the family of retinoids which are ubiquitous in red-colored organisms [Ref 11]. Its location in the outer soft tissue and organic matrix is demonstrated by its red color in Figures 7 and 8. The range of hues of the red color of the coral as a gemstone is shown in Reference 12.

Figure 7. The localization of the red pigment canthanxanthin in the organic matrix is demonstrated by the lack of color in the sclerites (spicules) [Ref 10].
Figure 8. Further demonstration that the red pigment is present in the organic matrix [Ref 13]. 

Mechanical Properties of Precious Red Coral [Ref 14]

The values of Mohs Hardness in the range 3-4 for red coral are comparable to that of 3 for black coral [Ref 14]. With its axial core of magnesian calcite, red coral is brittle with an irregular or splintery fracture, and cannot be bent to assume complex shapes as can be done with black coral. Natural shapes and those obtained by carving are similar to those in black coral jewelry and art objects as can be seen in comparing the jewelry and art objects in Figures 9-17 to those in Figures 18-26.


Figure 9. Necklace incorporating branches of red coral [Ref 15].
Figure 10. Red coral bracelet with gold fittings [Ref 16].
Figure 11. Italian good-luck-horn pendant
[Ref 17].
Figure 12. Goddess Flora carved in red coral [Ref 18].
Figure 13. Red coral necklace with silver beads, Yemeni [Ref 19].
Figure 14. Figure of Mulan carved in red coral [Ref 20, Ref 21].
Figure15. Carved flower pendant set in 14 carat gold [Ref 22].
Figure 16. Red coral rose set in sterling silver ring [Ref 23].
Figure 17. Carved red coral snuff bottle. Chinese [Ref 24].

Physical and Chemical Properties of Black Coral

Some black corals are branched, while others have long and straight stems or spirally twisted stems, as shown in Figures 18 and 19. The stem or branch of the black coral skeleton is not composed of a core of magnesian-rich calcite as in red coral, but consists of laminated composites comprised primarily of protein and chitin fibrils [Ref 24]. The growth of the diameter of a stem or branch proceeds by accretion of layers, as shown by the polished cross section of a stem in Figure 18 [Ref 25]. The black color seen throughout the stem is due to the melanin [Ref 25], a black pigment widely distributed in both the animal and plant kingdoms [Ref 26].

Figure 18. Branched black coral [Ref 27].
Figure 19. Spiral black coral with and without the external tissues which resides on the central skeleton [Ref 28].
Figure 20. Transverse polished section of black coral. (Leiopathes species
showing layers of chitin after removal of proteins. The fine structure of 
concentric rings is evident. The diameter of the stem is ~ 7 mm {Ref 29].

Mechanical Properties of Black Coral

To compensate for the lack of stiffness, due to the absence of a skeletal core of rigid magnesium, as in red coral layers, the chitin fibrils [Ref 30] comprising the strong part of the skeleton, is spirally wound in the concentric layers [Ref 30] comprising the stem and branches as shown in Figures 8-10. Such a winding scheme works to prevent kinking of the stem due to bending and twisting of the stem due to torsional forces. This scheme compensates for the lack of a stiff mineral axis as is present in red coral. Values of the mechanical measures of the strength of the skeleton of black coral are summarized in Table I taken from Ref 30.

Figure 19. View of two layers of chitin fibrils in two layers the stem of black coral. 
The fibrils are wound in spiral fashion about the axis of the stem. The scale bar 
is 10 microns (0.0010 cm) [Ref 30].
Figure 20. Sketch showing different spiral patterns in layers of chitin fibrils in two black coral species [Ref 30].


Mohs Hardness33
Micro-indentation Hardnesshardness along the long axis (pounds/mm2)26,000 lb/in231,663 lb/in2
Micro-indentation hardness along a diameter (pounds/mm2)28,968 lb/in232,516 lb/in2
Extensibility (%)7.373.84

The Mohs hardness of 3, of black coral, is comparable to the range of values 3-4 of red coral, so that expectations of resistance of both to wear, particularly scratching are similar. Values of micro-indentation hardness in the range of 26,000 to 32,516 lb/in2 are approximately one-half the value of 58,064lb/in2 estimated for the rhombohedral surface of calcite estimated from Figure 1. These values of Mohs and micro-indentation hardness suggest care in wearing black coral jewelry. Jewelry such as pendants, earrings, and necklaces of this coral will have longer scratch-free life expectancy. 

The large room-temperature values of the extensibility of the two black coral species of 3.845% and 7.37%, especially augmented by the thermoelasticity, [Ref 31], of the coral at higher temperatures underlie the shaping of jewelry with intricate shapes. The softness of black coral underlies the use of carved shapes in jewelry. Working the coral at an elevated temperature would further enable attaining intricate shapes with finer carved relief.

Figure 18. Transverse polished section of black coral. (Leiopathes species) showing layers of chitin after removal of proteins. The fine structure of concentric rings is evident. The diameter of the stem is ~ 7 mm [Ref 32].
Figure 21. Black coral cuff obtained by bending [Ref 33].
Figure 22. Turtles carved in black coral set in gold [Ref 34].
Figure 23. Galloping steed carved in black coral [Ref 35].
Figure 24. Flowing shape carved in black coral and set in gold [Ref 36].
Figure 25. Dragon bracelet fabricated by carving and bending black coral [Ref 37].
Figure 26 Miniature caravel with hull fabricated by carving and sails fabricated by both carving and bending black coral [Ref 38]. 


Ref 1. https://coral.org/coral-reefs-101/coral-reef-ecology/how-coral-reefs-grow/

Ref 2. https://ocean.si.edu/ecosystems/coral-reefs/deep-sea-corals

Ref 3. http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2013/11/09/28391538.html

Ref 4. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/57702438948445952/

Ref 5. https://www.gia.edu/doc/Spring-2007-Gems-Gemology-Pink-Red-Coral-Guide-Determining-Origin-Color.pdf

Ref 6. https://www.gia.edu/doc/Spring-2007-Gems-Gemology-Pink-Red-Coral-Guide-Determining-Origin-Color.pdf

Ref 7.https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2014/11/corals

Ref 8. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/D_Vielzeuf/publication/234720020_Nano_to_macroscale_biomineral_architecture_of_red_coral_Corallium_rubrum/links/00b4951d5313abbd26000000/Nano-to-macroscale-biomineral-architecture-of-red-coral-Corallium-rubrum.pdf

Ref 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142144/

Ref 10. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/D_Vielzeuf/publication/234720020_Nano_to_macroscale_biomineral_architecture_of_red_coral_Corallium_rubrum/links/00b4951d5313abbd26000000/Nano-to-macroscale-biomineral-architecture-of-red-coral-Corallium-rubrum.pdf

Ref 11. https://www.academia.edu/19398320/Determination_of_canthaxanthin_in_the_red_coral_Corallium_rubrum_from_Marseille_by_HPLC_combined_with_UV_and_MS_detection

Ref 12. https://www.gemdat.org/gem-42717.html

Ref 13.


Ref 14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precious_coral

Ref 15. https://www.shellhorizons.com/details.asp?ProductID=CR1-2&Page=1

Ref 16. https://www.enjoythecoast.it/en/the-coral-jewelry

Ref 17. https://jjpjewelry.com/products/good-luck-coral-horn

Ref 18. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/480829697690763070/

Ref 19. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/480829697706273935/

Ref 20. http://ahwilkens.com/portfolio/chinese-finely-carved-red-coral-figure-mulan/

Ref 21. https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/ballad-hua-mulan-legendary-warrior-woman-who-brought-hope-china-005084

Ref 22. https://www.amazon.com/Arthurs-Jewelry-Genuine-natural-enhancer/dp/B01H4U0DSM

Ref 23. https://www.qvc.com/American-West-Red-Coral-Carved-Rose-Sterling-Ring.product.J271747.html

Ref 24. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Chinese-Exquisite-Red-Coral-Hand-Carved-Monkey-model-Snuff-Bottle-Z338-/192760671008?oid=264004014902

Ref 25.


Ref 26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9451820

Ref 27. https://www.flickr.com/photos/searchoflife/12464176455

Ref 28. https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2014/11/corals

Ref 29. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234720192_Variability_in_growth_rates_of_long-lived_black_coral_Leiopathes_sp_from_the_Azores_Northeast_Atlantic

Ref 30.https://www.jstor.org/stable/1542113?read-now=1&seq=14#metadata_info_tab_contents

Ref 31. http://www.minambiente.it/sites/default/files/archivio/allegati/cites/manuale_identificazione_CORALLI.pdf

Ref 32. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234720192_Variability_in_growth_rates_of_long-lived_black_coral_Leiopathes_sp_from_the_Azores_Northeast_Atlantic

Ref 33. https://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/127806-black-coral-cuff-bracelet

Ref 34. https://www.mauidivers.com/collections/black-coral-jewelry

Ref 35. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Item-Details-A-superb-and-rare-galloping-carving-beautifully-hand-carved-from-/262077498896?_mwBanner=1&nma=true&si=wZz1N7MV99LfoWfWtLDCDZ3oG1c%253D&orig_cvip=true&nordt=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

Ref 36. https://www.mauidivers.com/collections/black-coral-jewelry

Ref 37. https://www.etsy.com/listing/641051675/dragon-carving-akar-bahar-black-coral?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_a-jewelry-bracelets-bangles&utm_custom1=12efb5ca-cff4-4b3c-b7cd-593581c87464&utm_content=go_270950435_21143556995_69017212115_pla-106552239395_c__641051675&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7saqko2j3wIVA9vACh3x8APoEAQYBSABEgIkxfD_BwE

Ref 38. https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g147365-d6480217-i124668994-Artifacts-Grand_Cayman_Cayman_Islands.html

Art Deco Rubies

Art Deco is my favorite style of jewelry, with its flair of design and the use of unusual combinations of gemstones. Art Deco is a style of architecture and design which first appeared in France just before World War I, reached its high point during the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, and extended into the 1940’s. Today, authentic Art Deco period jewelry and art objects, as well as reproductions, remain esteemed by wearers of jewelry and collectors. In the following gallery I’ve included ruby jewelry and art objects which greatly appeal to me.


Figure 1. Art Deco brooch with carved ruby and surrounding diamonds [Ref 1].
Figure 2. Art Deco diamond and ruby floral cluster setting in a platinum ring [Ref 2].
Figure 3. Art Deco ruby and diamond decorated onyx compact [Ref 3].
Figure 4. Art Deco carved ruby and emerald, diamond, onyx, and enamel 
pendant brooch [Ref 4].
Figure 5. Art Deco carved jade, diamond, ruby, and platinum card case [Ref 5].
Figure 6. Art Deco ruby and diamond necklace and brooch [Ref 6].
Figure 7. Art Deco ruby, onyx, and diamond set platinum brooch [Ref 7].
Figure 8. Art deco carved ruby, sapphire, emerald, and diamond “Tutti Frutti” bracelet [Ref 8].
Figure 9. Art Deco ruby and diamond yellow gold watch [Ref 9].
Figure 10. Art Deco carved jade, ruby, and onyx
Pendant brooch [Ref 10].


Ref 1. http://www.gemscene.com/art-deco.html

Ref 2. https://www.carters.com.au/index.cfm/item/387782-an-art-deco-style-diamond-and-ruby-ring-of-floral-cluster-design/

Ref 3. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/509751251551385459/

Ref 4. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/509751251547056346/

Ref 5. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/94716398384257546/?lp=true

Ref 6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/clivekandel/6839720818

Ref 7. https://www.1stdibs.com/jewelry/brooches/brooches/1920s-art-deco-ruby-onyx-diamond-platinum-canvas-brooch/id-j_1323593/

Ref 8. https://www.christies.com/features/Cartier-jewels-collecting-guide-9582-1.aspx

Ref 9. https://www.1stdibs.com/jewelry/watches/wrist-watches/1940s-art-deco-112-carat-ruby-101-carat-diamond-yellow-gold-watch/id-j_4725961/

Ref 10. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/354799276872845520/

Ancient Rubies

In this continuation of blogs about the corundum gem varieties, sapphire and ruby, I will first describe the trade routes that first brought the gems, from their mines in the East, to the Roman Empire, then to the rest of Europe. I will also present a gallery of ruby jewelry and artworks designed and made by artisans of the Grecian and Roman Empires and those of the Victorian Era, as well. 


As shown in Table I, sapphires and rubies were mined in the East, before 543 BC in what is now Sri Lanka; before 600 AD in what is now Myanmar; before 951 AD in Afghanistan; before 1408 AD in what are now Thailand and Cambodia. Mining began in 1879 in the Kashmir province of India. Interestingly the mines in the East were the sole sources of sapphires and rubies until the discovery of these gems in Madagascar.

The overland and maritime routes of the Silk Road between the East and West served to bring sapphires and rubies from their sources in the East to the Mediterranean, and particularly to coastal cities of the Roman Empire [Ref 1, Ref 2]. The relationship of the port locations serving the Silk Road, to the sources of the gems, are shown in Figure 1. As seen in the figure, sources of rubies and sapphires in what is now Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, were in close proximity to the ports serving the maritime routes. Trade along the Silk Road, beginning in 2 BC, provided sapphire and ruby gemstones to the Etruscan and Roman Empires, as well as to Europe, later on. Both overland and maritime routes also served to bring the gemstones to the Mughal Empire in what are now India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  


Before 543 BC [Ref 1,2,3] Sri Lanka Gemstones appeared in Etruscan jewelry  (700 BC to late 4th Century BC).
Before 600 AD [Ref 1] Myanmar (Burma) Mentioned in ancient legends. Europeans reported source in 15th century.
Before 951 AD [Ref 1] Afghanistan Ruby mines on border with Tajikistan since 10th century.
Before 1408 AD [Ref 1,4]  Thailand/Cambodia More sapphire and ruby deposits in Thailand than in Cambodia
1879 [Ref 5] Kashmir State, India Blue sapphires discovered in Padar region.
After 1891 [Ref 1] Madagascar Sapphire and ruby occurances first described in 1547.
1895 [Ref 6] Yogo Gulch, Montana, USA Noted for deep blue color
1950 [Ref 1] Tanzania Ruby deposits still being discovered.
1973 [Ref 1] Kenya Most important deposit near Mangari in SE Kenya.
1970’s [Ref 1] Vietnam First major discovery in province of Luc Yen. Major commercial mining began 1980’s.
2008 [Ref 1]
Mozambique Deposit found near Zambia border.


In a search of the web for examples of ancient ruby jewelry and art objects from the Roman and Hellenistic Era to the Victorian Era, I found a dearth of examples of ruby jewelry, in contrast to finding examples of both sapphire and garnet jewelry. Studies from ancient sources show that ruby jewelry was extremely rare and that the red garnet was the most popular gem in the Helenistic Era, but somewhat less popular in the Roman empire [Table, PP 175-176 Ref 1]. 

Accordingly this gallery presents examples of ruby jewelry and art works from the Medieval Era [Ref 9] to the Victorian Era

Medieval Era

Figure 1. Gold ring brooch set with rubies and sapphires, English circa 1275-1300[Ref 10].
Figure 2. Crown of Princess Blanche with rubies, sapphires, and pearls, English probably 1370-80 [Ref 11, Ref 12].
Figure 3. Reliquary brooch, set with rubies and other gemstones, 
Bohemian(?) mid-14th century [Ref 13].
Figure 4. Ring with ruby and opal set in gold, circa 1300-1325 [Ref 14].

Renaissance Era [Ref 15]

Figure 5. Pendant with baroque pearls and set with rubies, diamonds, and sapphires, known as The Canning Jewel, English, 16th century [Ref 15, Ref 16].
Figure 6. Portrait frame, worn as a pendant and set with rubies, emeralds and pearls. English, 1547-1619) [Ref 17].
Figure 7. Gold Gimmel Ring with ruby and diamond, German dated 1631[Ref 18, Ref 19].
Figure 8. Enameled gold scent holder (pomander) set with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, Netherlands 1600-1625 [Ref 20].
Figure 9. Gold snuffbox set with rubies, diamonds, mother of pearl. Berlin, circa 1765 [Ref 21].]

Victorian Era [Ref 21] 

Figure 10. Victorian Burmese Ruby and diamond necklace, English, circa 1850 [Ref 22, Ref 23].
Figure 11. Diamond and ruby pendant necklace, French circa 1900 [Ref 24].
Figure 12. Ruby and diamond set gold ring, 1890s [Ref 25].
Figure 13. Ruby and diamond pendant, circa 1900 [Ref 26].
Figure 14. Gold cross pendant set with rubies and 
green sapphires with cannaetille work, late Victorian Era [Ref 27, Ref 28].
Figure 15. Dutch East Indies Javanese Royal Presentation cane set with rubies and diamonds, Java 1800-1900 [Ref 28, Ref 29].


Ref 1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236881270_Mining_and_minerals_trade_on_the_Silk_Road_to_the_ancient_literary_sources_2_BC_to_10_AD_Centuries

Ref 2. http://studiopjj.blogspot.com/2007/05/east-and-west-ancient-gem-trade-between.html

Ref 3. https://www.langantiques.com/university/Ruby

Ref 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etruscan_civilization

Ref 5. https://gem-a.com/news-publications/media-centre/news-blogs/gems-from-gem-a/gem/ancient-sapphires-and-adventures-in-ceylon

Ref 6. http://www.lotusgemology.com/index.php/library/articles/276-moontown-a-history-of-chanthaburi-thailand-and-pailin-cambodia

Ref 7. http://www.ruby-sapphire.com/r-s-bk-india.htm

Ref 8. https://gemgallery.com/yogo-sapphire-gemology

Ref 9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Ages

Ref 10. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/89931323788019900/

Ref 11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_of_Princess_Blanche


Ref 12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanche_of_England

Ref 13. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155937205834052921/

Ref 14. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155937205826166727/

Ref 15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

Ref 16. https://www.britannica.com/art/jewelry/The-history-of-jewelry-design

Ref 17.  https://theframeblog.com/category/16th-17th-century/

Ref 18. http://www.medieval-rings.com/exhibitions/cycles-of-life-35062/rings/renaissance-gimmel-ring-with-memento-mori-42534

Ref 19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimmal_ring

Ref 20. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/370772981794628769/?lp=true

Ref 21. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/335799715956345727/

Ref 22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_era

Fig. 23. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/151574343680238550/

Fig 24.  http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2008/10/12/10923843.html

Ref 25. https://www.kalmarantiques.com.au/product/antique-ruby-and-diamond-ring-made-in-the-victorian-era/

Ref 26. https://www.1stdibs.com/jewelry/necklaces/pendant-necklaces/antique-victorian-ruby-diamond-pendant-platinum-circa-1900/id-j_4838913/

Ref 27.  https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-us/auction-catalogues/gorringes/catalogue-id-srgo10026/lot-5c8d439e-5052-4618-b7c2-a72f00d0c0ed

Ref 28. https://www.langantiques.com/university/Cannetille

Ref 29. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_East_India_Company


Along with the colors and crystal forms of minerals, their mechanical properties such as the hardness. tenacity, and habits of structural failure can be very useful tools in identifying an unknown mineral. In this first Blog on the use of mechanical properties in identifying minerals I’ll focus on hardness and describe the Moh’s Hardness Scale, the standard reference scale for minerals, and briefly describe how to use it. I’ll also list those often available objects which can be usedinstead of a mineral member of the scale as hardness references for comparison with the mineral.

The Mohs Hardness Test and Scale were invented in 1812 by the German mineralogist Fredrich Moh[Ref1,2] as a means to rank minerals according to their relative hardness in resisting scratching. Its ease of use has resulted in its wide application by mineral collectors and lapidarists. The ten-point scale begins with the softest mineral talc assigned a hardness of 1 and ends with the hardest mineral diamond assigned a hardness of 10. Minerals with intervening hardness values between 2 and 9 are: gypsum (selenite) at a hardness of 2, calcite at 3, fluorite at 4, apatite at 5, orthoclase (feldspar) at 6, quartz at 7, topaz at 8, and corundum (ruby, sapphire) at 9. In Figure 1 shows the hardness scale, and as well, includes everyday objects of known hardness which can also be used in hardness testing[Ref2]. The relative hardness values are obtained by determining which mineral scratches one of lesser hardness and is scratched by a mineral or an object of greater hardness. Testing is done by placing a sharp point of one mineral or another testing agent against the surface of another and attempting to scratch it. One of the following results may be observed:

If mineral A scratches mineral B then A is harder than B.

If A doesn’t scratch B then B is harder than A.

If A and B are relatively ineffective in scratching each other they are of equal hardness.

If A can be scratched by B but not by C the hardness o A is between the hardness of B and C.

The Mohs Hardness Test is performed using the steps and tips as described in

Figures 2 and as shown live in the YouTube video accompanying this brief presentation. An example of testing using a knife and a penny are described in Figure3.

Figure 1. Mohs Hardness Scale collection and mineral identification[Ref3]. The copper penny must be dated no later than 1982; pennies issued subsequently were minted using a softer bronze alloy[Ref4].
Figure 2. Steps in performing Mohs Hardness Test[Ref5].
Figure3. An example of a Mohs Hardness test using a knife and a penny[Ref5].


Ref 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Mohs

Ref2. https://geology.com/minerals/mohs-hardness-scale.shtml

Ref 3. https://www.lindahall.org/friedrich-mohs/

Ref 4. https://www.nbc12.com/story/17003531/jens-coin-story/

Ref 5. http://www.rocksandminerals.com/hardness/mohs.htm

Sapphire – Art Deco

Art Deco is my favorite style of jewelry with its flair of design and the use of unusual combinations of gemstones.  Art Deco is a style of architecture and design which first appeared in France just before World War I, reaching its high point in the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, and extending into the 1940s.  Today, authentic period jewelry, art objects and reproductions remain esteemed by those who wear and collect it.  In the following gallery I’ve included jewelry and art objects which greatly appeal to me.


Figure 1.  Art Deco brooch with sapphire cabochon set in an onyx frame with rubies set in gold.  The material on which the gems are mounted is not identified [Ref 1].
Figure 2.  Art Deco sapphire and diamond inlayed silver cigarette case [Ref 2].
Figure 3.  Art Deco diamond and sapphire ring [Ref 3].
Figure 4.  Cuff links with ruby cabochon and sapphire set in white gold with black onyx trimmed stud [Ref 4].
Figure 5.  Art Deco diamond, sapphire, and platinum watch [Ref 5].
Figure 6.  Art Deco tiara with diamonds and sapphires set in white gold [Ref 6].
Figure 7.  Art Deco diamond and sapphire bracelet, circa 1920 [Ref 7].
Figure 8.  Art Deco brooch in Egyptian style set with sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds [Ref 8].
Figure 9.  Diamond brooch set with sapphire accents [Ref 9].
Figure 10.  Art Deco watch with cameos, set with sapphires and diamonds [Ref 10].


Ref 1.  http://www.doitjewelry.com/02/21/a-beautiful-and-rare-art-deco-brooch-french-circa-1930-centring-a-round-sapphire-cabochon-within-an-onyx-frame-and-further-set-with-calibre-rubies-mounted-in-gold-illegible-makers-mark-6-x-3c-3/

Ref 2.  https://www.rubylane.com/item/821070-RT-4365/Art-Deco-Diamond-Sapphire-800-Silver

Ref 3.  http://www.antiquejewel.com/en/2ndpage.asp?dtn=15033-0048

Ref 4.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383861568224232322/

Ref 5.  http://www.macklowegallery.com/search-antiques.asp/currentPage/-1/art-nouveau-antique-estate/art%20deco

Ref 6.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/368732288212254566/

Ref 7.  https://www.langantiques.com/university/Art_Deco_Era_Jewelry

Ref 8.  http://www.gemscene.com/art-deco.html

Ref 9.  https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&biw=1180&bih=952&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=4SMEXPngL4LMjgSM7IKgBA&q=sapphire+jewelry+and+art+made+in+art+deco+era&oq=sapphire+jewelry+and+art+made+in+art+deco+era&gs_l=img.12…8687.29358..31068…3.0..0.98.2380.32……0….1..gws-wiz-img.cb574UrAC_k#imgrc=ROK8ATGFQOWIgM:

Ref 10.  http://www.antiquejewel.com/en/2ndpage.asp?dtn=13119-0030

Ancient Sapphires

In this blog I’m displaying examples of jewelry and art objects from ancient Asia and the Mughal Empire.  I also include examples of jewelry from the Roman Empire and the Medieval Victorian Eras in Europe.


Figure 1.  Sapphire and gold finger ring, Central Asian, circa 4th century BC – 1st century AD [Ref 1].
Figure 2.  Various types of beads found in burial grounds dated to 1000 BC in Sri Lanka [Ref 2].
Figure 3.  Turban ornament set with sapphires, emeralds, rubies, 
from the Mughal Empire, created after 1526 [Ref 3, Ref 4].
Figure 4.  White jade scent bottle set with sapphires, rubies, diamonds, and emeralds set in gold, Mughal Empire,18th/19th century [Ref 5].
Figure 5.  Gold turban ornament set with a sapphire
cabochon with other gems of rubies and emeralds, 
Mughal Empire [Ref 6]


Figure 6.  Roman sapphire cameo with gemstone source attributed to Sri Lanka,
1st century AD [Ref 7].
Figure 7.  Roman sapphire and gold ring, Sri Lankan, circa 1st -2rd century AD [Ref 8].
Figure 8.  Roman sapphire in gold earrings.  The other gemstones are not identified [Ref 9].
Figure 9.  Roman sapphire and gold dress pin carved from a single crystal, 
100-130 AD [Ref 10].
Figure 10.  Roman gold bracelet with sapphire, emerald, and glass settings, 375-400 AD [Ref 11].


Figure 11.  Sapphire and gold ring with beading characteristic of the Viking period, 10th-11th centuries AD [Ref 12].


Figure 12.  Brooch set with sapphires, garnets, pearls, and enameled, German, 1359 AD [Ref 13].

Figure 13.  Carved sapphire seal mounted in enameled gold, England, Circa
1580 AD [Ref 14].


Figure 14.  Sapphire, diamond and gold cross, Russia, 1898 [Ref 15].


Ref 1.  https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/ancient-jewelry-wearable-art/central-asian-gold-sapphire-finger-ring-30/63724

Ref 2.  https://www.internetstones.com/ancient-technology-sri-lankan-gemstone-beads-carvings-cameos-intaglios-carnelian-rock-crystal.html

Ref 3.  http://portobelloantiques.blogspot.com/2010/05/indian-turban-ornament.html

Ref 4.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mughal_Empire

Ref 5.  https://www.reenaahluwalia.com/blog/2013/6/20/splendors-of-mughal-india-i

Ref 6.  https://bellatory.com/fashion-accessories/Mughal-Jewelry-Royal-and-antique-jewelry-of-North-India

Ref 7.  https://gem-a.com/news-publications/media-centre/news-blogs/gems-from-gem-a/gem/ancient-sapphires-and-adventures-in-ceylon

Ref 8.  https://medusa-art.com/roman-gold-ring-with-sapphire.html

Ref 9  https://www.google.com/search?q=ancient+roman+sapphire+jewelry&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjMy_OcqYTfAhVOEawKHW4EAxkQ_AUIDygC&biw=1236&bih=951#imgrc=BNm3q6dbCiYfDM:

Ref 10.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/82824080622310428/

Ref 11.  http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/16310/unknown-maker-bracelet-roman-about-ad-379-395/

Ref 12.  http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/12180

Ref 13.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/229050331032972074/

Ref 14.  http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O114861/seal-and-case-unknown/

Ref 15.  http://romanovrussia.com/antique/1800s-sapphire-cross/

Quartzite Field Trip

Four members of the club (Linda and Marty Dougherty and John and Beth Duggan) made it down to Quartzite, Arizona for the annual Pow Wow. This show has been held in January for over 50 years. There were over two thousand vendors to visit in the area so there was lots to see and buy.

For the seventh year in a row Linda and Marty attended the annual roadside Clean up in Quartzsite, Arizona sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and American Lands Access Association. There were club members of other American Federations, Northwest, California, Mid-west and Rocky Mountain, which the Coconino Club is a member.

Twelve of them plus the cameraman drove 10 miles East of Quartzsite to the Gold Nugget Rd.  turn-off and spent a couple hours collecting discarded trash which is apparent in the attached photograph. Not sure how much this years weighed, but in previous years in this area we collected a couple tons of trash, some being really gross!!!!

Marty and Linda are on the left

Largest Star Sapphire/Ruby

We usually think of star sapphires and rubies as stones in the few carat range, not in hundreds and thousands of carats. But some are an amazing size. At the top, are the World’s Largest which are truly awesome. In this blog I’ll describe the worlds largest blue star sapphire, star ruby, and black star sapphire, as well as gems ranking near their size but just below the record. I’ll also include a short history of each gem. 

Worlds Largest Blue Star Sapphire: The Star of Adam [Ref 1, Ref 2]

The world’s largest star sapphire weighs an amazing 1,4O4 carats, and when held, largely occupies the palm of a hand, as shown in Figure 1. 

Figure 1. Star of Adam

The stone was found in the fall of 2015 at mine in the famed alluvial gem deposits near Ratnapura, Sri Lanka [Ref 1 Ref 2]. At first sight, the owner estimated the value of the gem at $175 million. As of January 2016, the owner was pondering whether to auction the gem or to display it. A diligent trip over the internet disclosed no further information about any attempt to auction the gem. However, the gem may have been sold in a private transaction.

World’s Largest Black Star Sapphire: The Black Star of Queensland [Ref 3, Ref 4, Ref 5]

The Black Star of Queensland, as shown in Figure 2, weighs 733 carats, and was the world’s largest sapphire until being displaced by the Star of Adam. This gem is also seen to fill the palm of a hand but does not have the cabochon height of the Star of Adam.

Reportedly, the rough stone was found by a twelve-year old boy, Roy Spencer, in the mid-1930s, in the Reward Claim near Anakie, Queensland, Australia [Ref 3]. The boy’s father, Harry Spencer, assumed it was merely a black crystal and the family used it as a doorstop for over a decade. A second look disclosed the gem.

The stone was sold by Spencer in 1947 to the jeweler Harry Kazanjian for $18,000AU which funded a new house for the family. The subsequent history of the stone has been shared by owners and institutions. The gem was loaned to the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in 1969. In 1971 it was seen around Cher’s on television show. To fulfill a childhood dream, the artist and jeweler, Jack Armstrong, and his wealthy girlfriend, Gabrielle Grohe, convinced the Kazanjian family to sell the gem in 2003 [Ref 4]. In 2010 [Ref 5], the pair squabbled over the stone and Armstrong agreed to pay $500,000 for Grohe’s share,  but failed to pay, and due to a judge’s ruling he lost all right to the gemstone. 

Figure 2. Worlds largest black star sapphire [Ref 6].

World’ Largest Star Ruby: the Appalachian Ruby Star [Ref 7]

The Appalachian Ruby Star weighs 139.43 carats and barely edges out the Rosser Reeves Star ruby, that weighs in at 138.72 carats, as shown in Figure 3. The Appalachian Star ruby was cut from a rough ruby, which also yielded three additional stones. The weight of the group of four star rubies became known as the Mountain Star Ruby Collection and is shown in Figure 4. The aggregate weight of the rubies totals 342 carats.

The rough ruby was found in 1990 by Wayne Messer, a fishing guide in Western North Carolina. He had noted traces of corundum in a stream bed and traced the alluvial stones back to their source. Upon digging some eight feet, found the rough ruby. The quartet of star rubies was cut by Sam Fore from the rough stone which weighed 377 carats.

The Appalachian Star ruby was exhibited in 1992 at the Natural history Museum in London, drawing an estimated 150,000 people. Several attempts were made over the years to sell the collection, appraised at a value close to $100 million. Only recently, following the death of Messer, was the collection offered for sale.

Figure 3. The Appalachian Star, World’s Largest Star ruby [Ref 7].

Figure 4. The four star rubies, cut from the large rough ruby which gave the Appalachian Star [Ref 7].

The Rosser Reeves Ruby [Ref 8, Ref 9]

At a weight of 138.7 carats, the Rosser Reeve Ruby is the world’s second heaviest star ruby, and was found in Sri Lanka. The gem is named after Rosser Reeves a pioneer in the advertising industry. Rosser donated the gem to the Smithsonian Institute in 1965. Despite his attractive tale of buying the gem at an auction in Istanbul, he actually bought the gem from Robert C. Nelson Jr.  At purchase, the stone weighed just over 140 carats, but was scratched and so was re-polished, which also helped to re-center the star on the Cabochon. Fortunately for museum goers, this beautiful gem still can be seen at the Smithsonian institute. As a note, the Wikipedia article used as the reference for this segment of the blog was written by Brendan Reeves, great grandson of Rosser.

Figure 5. The Rosser Reeves star ruby [Ref 9].


Ref 1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2016/01/10/worlds-largest-blue-star-sapphire-found-worth-300-million/#6a06d4f075d1

Ref 2. https://www.mindat.org/loc-3147.html

Ref 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Star_of_Queensland#cite_note-5

Ref 4. https://www.upi.com/Feature-Legendary-sapphire-for-sale/10481044491153/

Ref 5. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/05/local/la-me-blacksapphire5-2010jan05/2

Ref 6. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/863987509737025682/

Ref 7. https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/extremely-rare-star-rubies-found-fishing-guide-could-fetch-millions

Ref 8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosser_Reeves_Ruby

Ref 9. https://geogallery.si.edu/10002811/rosser-reeves-star-ruby

October 26th Field Trip to Alpine Az

This was the clubs second field trip for October with the intention of collecting Luna Blue Agate in New Mexico.

A new friend from the Prescott club was to meet us Saturday afternoon  in Alpine to lead us to Reserve , New Mexico to collect Agate on Sunday October 27th.

Thirteen members arrived in Alpine, Arizona around noon at the motel and from there we headed east on the 180 towards Luna N.M. We made several stops south of Luna at mile marker 10 and then at mile marker 4. 

Good material was collected at MM4  in the road cuts, some Luna Blue was found and Druzy. Not a real productive site but still a good start for what awaited in Reserve on Sunday.

After breakfast Sunday morning we followed Allen Valley to Reserve N.M. where Allen had made arrangements to cross over private property onto State Land which was about a 3 mile drive uphill on uneven dirt road through three closed gates to a plateau in a forested setting. A vast expanse of forest land was covered in Banded Agate with Druzy. It was an overwhelming amount of material. It was hard not to pick it all up, but we had to be selective when we realized how much there actually was.

We spent the day there trying several locations and coming away very happy. 

Sunday evening at dinner Allen made arrangements with a local from Alpine to lead us back into N.M. to several locations that turned out to be not so productive. It is my feeling our local guide did not want to take us to any secret spots thinking we would come back at some point and clean them out, can’t blame her for that, but she shouldn’t have offered to waste a whole day driving around. Beautiful country but we wanted rocks too. All in all this was a successful trip.

Members that attended :

Lowen & Cheryl

Sandy & Wendy

John & Beth

Andrea & Linda A

Clint & Erica 

Alan Cartwright 

Marty & Linda