Belvedere Boutique HotelApril 12, 2017
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Text Edward Jenkins
This is the third in a series of articles about the gemstones of Namibia. Gems are weighed in carats, a word derived from the Greek word keration (fruit of the carob tree). In ancient times, carob seeds were widely used to counterbalance the weight of gemstones during transactions, because of their uniform size and weight. Today, one carat equals 0.2 grams.
While small finds of jeremejevite occur in Myammar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Russia, and the Eifel District of Germany, many gemmologists agree that Namibian jeremejevite deposits contain the best specimens in the world.
T he little-known and extremely rare crystal jeremejevite is beloved by mineral collectors around the world, but remains little known in the jewellery business, as collectors continue to snap up any gem-quality crystals that become available.
Named after the Russian mineralogist Pavel Jeremejev, the crystal was initially discovered in Siberia, and first described in 1883.
The prismatic blue crystals are so rare that ninety years passed before they were again discovered, this time in Namibia. Around 1970 a cavity filled with crystals was discovered near the Mile 72 fishing camp, north of Swakopmund, and about two years later what was thought to be a blue aquamarine was found during a road-building operation in the same area. Some of these crystals were identified as jeremejevite, four claims were staked in the Mile 72 area, and mining took place from 1973–1977. Most of the crystals discovered were a less desirable pale-yellow colour, but some were the highly sought-after cornflower blue.
In 2001, a significant new find occurred in Namibia’s Erongo Mountains. Again, most crystals were colourless to pale yellow, but some were deep blue, ranging from 1–10 centimetres in length. The Erongo Mountains continued to give up their bounty. In March 2010, 20 kilograms of loose crystals, up to 20 centimetres long, were harvested, along with beautiful collector’s specimens, stirring new interest in the gems among collectors worldwide.
Over thousands of years virtually every known gemstone has given rise to myths concerning its virtues for humankind, such as bringing love or luck, providing good health, or even preventing seasickness. However, any such mythology is markedly absent for jeremejevite, due to its extreme rarity and relatively short association with human culture.
Perhaps, as more gem-quality stones are discovered, some of them will begin to make their way to jewellers eager to showcase these rare treasures. Jewellery wearers will then have the opportunity to discover the hidden virtues of jeremejevite for themselves.
Acknowledgement: To Hannes Brunner, of Pangolin Trading, for background information.
This article was first published in the Flamingo November 2010 issue.