LOCATION: the full locality information for this deposit is near the town of Loliondo, close to Serengeti National Park and 7 km from the Kenyan border, W-NW of the north end of Lake Natron. It is closed to heavy traffic and on Maasai tribal lands.
I think the pictures state the obvious - these are shockingly large, faceted-looking "jewels" from nature that happen to be gemmy spessartine garnets of unprecedented size and quality. These have quietly been emerging from a small prospect in remote Tanzania and hoarded for sale at the Tucson show. I was tipped off by a gem dealer who was buying it up for cutting and faceting! Out of a large quantity mined, most are representative garnets by worldwide standards, or "almost killers" marred by too many internal dark veils and inclusions. Perhaps 1 in 100 is fully formed and translucent, colored an even orange to orange-red color. For the top specimens as shown here, the only comparables that can be even be thought to compete in this game are from two small and historic finds : a few , perhaps under half a dozen, major specimens from the Little 3 Mine in San Diego (and these although large and colorful aren't as sharply formed); or the small floater gem crystals found in Marienfluss Namibia in the early 1980s (though they had not the color saturation and size of the pieces shown here). These garnets are so shocking in their 3-dimensionality, color, and translucency that I believe they simply redefine what you can expect in a garnet crystal specimen. In other words, to my way of thinking, this is not just another "locality garnet", rather these define the standard now to which other garnet crystals from other localities should themselves be seen to measure up to. I made a quick trip ahead to Tucson before the show to negotiate and buy up the largest lot of this material to have been mined and hoarded over December and January of 2008 (sadly, the good specimens already were known to command prices relative to their weight in facet and carving rough). My understanding is that some material trickled out already at the show, though mostly of inferior quality, and the prices have already been soaring at the show and at the source as people realized what they had in hand. Note that due to the color saturation and thickness of these crystals, and slight internal inclusions that add up, the camera has a hard time conveying the depths of color and translucency you see in real life: they are MUCH better in person!
An adorable little cluster of several intergrown crystals, complete, very gemmy! 3.5 grams
Another crystal with unusually glassy faces, weighing 27 grams. This one has a rich red-orange color, and some inclusions but none jarring to the eye as they aren't near the surface to mar the color. It is remarkably symmetric, as if carved, even more so than most. It is completely pristine save one tiny ding on a back face.
A 35 gram crystal that is complete, and has top color and "glows" when backlit. It has some internal fibrous inclusions, but no jarring black spots. It is complete all around except only 3 slight contacts or damage spots on back or side faces - very trivial really (you cannot see them in the photo or from the front!), but enough that I can justify reducing the price for perfection on the few that are, to a much lower pricepoint for this one despite the fact it LOOKS the same from the front and sides anyhow.
This 45-gram crystal is one of the most symmetric for its size, SHARP on all faces, and complete all around except for the slightest little ding or contact at one tip out of all of them. It has about the best natural lustre of any in its size range, really glassy instead of just "waxy". In person, you can see this extra few percent difference. It has nearly the top color and while it is included a bit, it doesn't have large and potentially jarring black inclusions as most larger crystals do. Overall,thus, its one of the best of the size range.
Perhaps the single GEMMIEST, cleanest, crystal of the lot, this unusually elongated crystal GLOWS with color! It is complete all around, though a little flatter on one axis due to its unusual form. Approx 3 grams
An intensely orange, translucent crystal with some black inclusions. It would still be more expensive but for one tiny ding on one tip, but now for the reduced price if you dont mind that small defect, you get a crystal that otherwise is the same as the $3500 pieces in overall size and form and completeness! 48 grams
A piece of 75 grams with good color, translucency, and most faces being very sharp! However, it has a little assymetry and pitting in the back, hence the lower price.
A complete crystal, a little asymmetric but truly complete all around and a floater. This piece has great color and form, and is very impressive for the size and price range! It could be gemmier, but the translucency is there so it glows when backlit, and the form is SHARP. 84 grams.
A "matrixy" cluster of two crystals, with a 2 cm , very gemmy, bright, translucent, deep orange jewel sitting atop another that is more massive and included - but complete on most faces and serving as a natural pedestal. Interesting piece for the display qualities of the association, thus. 57 grams.
61 grams. A complete floater , compound crystal with SUPER COLOR and a really neat ribbon of this bizarre red muscovite matrix running down the middle of the junction of two crystal outgrowths. The piece is complete all around, is a total floater and has no damage, and has nearly the highest translucency . It is overall one of the more unusual pieces. I love it for the style and the price!
Really a quite good crystal of 38 grams, though with some crazing in the back that does not hinder the translucency as you can see. Sharp and complete all around except only a small contact on the middle of the back face, this is a rare and unusual elongated crystal.
Really a quite good crystal of 44 grams, though with some inclusions that make it dark but do not hinder the translucency as you can see. Sharp and complete all around except only a small contact on bottom
Really a quite good crystal of 63 grams, though with some inclusions that make it dark but do not hinder the translucency as you can see. Sharp and complete all around!
A little jewel of color, SUPER color , just the tops...a little murky inside though to balance. Complete all around and Approx 4 grams
A 16-gram doublet, very colorful and very gemmy, complete all around! IN this rare case, the black include dmuscovite inside the bottom portion serves to accent very nicely the color and form. It is a stunning, unusual specimen overall, for the price range
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