Andradite Var. Demantoid Garnet
Cabinet, 13.0 x 13.0 x 3.0 cm
Antetezambato, Ambanja, Ambanja District, Diana Region, Antsiranana Province, Madagascar

This extremely rare large plate has at least 100 crystals, many exceeding 1 cm. This is flashy and bright, with incredible coverage. Out of the whole find, perhaps under a dozen specimens had so many crystals on one plate, I have been told by my own sources who are close to the material; and have seen nearly all that came out. This plate has the deepest green color for the find, with no tinge of the brown hue that infringes on the quality of some demantoids from here (those that do not cross over to the "topazolite" variety of garnet, anyhow). The matrix is heavier than you might expect because it too, is garnet - altered in a rare event called metasomatism where the limestone host rock was replaced by garnet in micro-scale. This is a dramatic example for the size range, and features garnets of a quality that, if from the old classic locale in Italy, would absolutely be priced with another "zero" in the price. Such rich specimens were uncommon even in this find, as many as there were in the first tranches found. The locality is downright dangerous, and collecting is under appalling conditions. Needless to say, the recovery of fine larger pieces is all the more difficult here. Further production here declined in 2010 and I expect to continue at only a modest pace compared to the easier pickings of the first year. For more information and location photos, see our update from 2010, here: Joe Budd photos

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