Taaffeite (Magnesiotaaffeite)
Thumbnail, 1.5 x 1.2 x 0.5 cm
Chaung-gyi-ah-le-ywa, Chaung-gyi Zone, Mandalay Region, Myanmar (Burma)
Ex. William (Bill) Larson

Taaffeite is one of those Holy Grails of collecting minerals as rare species that almost never turn up for sale, and in the past these have been glorified by the media at large as among the world's most expensive gems because of the strange discovery of the species. That being said, THIS IS ONE OF THE FINEST GEM CRYSTALS IN THE WORLD FOR THE SPECIES. The photos say it all, if you look at any others out there. This nearly complete, and obviously competition-level, tabular crystal is gem clear, transparent and almost colorless (it has faint color from some dispersed iron inclusions, perhaps: there are a few tiny blebs of brown Goethite along with a trace of straw-yellow iron staining for added contrast). It is 6.75 carats but looks much larger as it is flattish, so it presents a broad surface area. It is well formed with only slight evidence of being waterworn and one conchoidal fracture at the "base". It also fluoresces a vivid red in short wave UV which was a surprise to us. As reported by Wikipedia and by anecdote: "Taaffeite is a mineral, named after its discoverer Richard Taaffe who found the first sample, a cut and polished gem, in October 1945 in a jeweler's shop in Dublin, Ireland. As such, it is the only gemstone to have been initially identified from a faceted stone." The currently accepted IMA name is Magnesiotaaffeite and this super rare gem species is a magnesium-aluminum-beryllium oxide! This subtle, small beauty is one of the real prizes hiding in the 1000 piece Larson Burma collection, assembled over dozens of trips and 3 decades of travel to Myanmar prior to 2008. One Of the finest Thumbnails of the species, from the noted Burma collection of Bill Larson.