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Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

Vladimir Bukanov. Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

AMPHIBOLE, GROUP: ACTINOLITE, TREMOLITE, NEPHRITE, KAERSUTITE, RIEBECKITE, RICHTERITE, GEDRITE


AMPHIBOLES group (Amphibole—Amphiboles—Амфиболы) (Haüy, R.J. 1801), from Gk. “amphibolos”, ambiguous, alluding to its similarity to other minerals. Silicates, subclasses band silicates. Hardness 5-6. Density 2.85-3.60. Glass luster and silk one for fibrous aggregates. Cleavage in two directions with the angles ~56° and 124°. Amphiboles are widespread in nature, rock-forming minerals of complicated content with wide displayed isomorphism. The most widely represented in the quantity of varieties of amphiboles is a group of monoclinic amphiboles. They are: actinolite, grunerite, kaersutite, cummingtonite, pargasite, riebeckite, magnesioriebeckite, richterite, potassium richterite, tremolite and holmquistite. However, the most interesting are actinolite and tremolite only, which produce an isomorphic row. Of less practical importance there is riebeckite, richterite, as well as orthorhombic amphiboles – anthophyllite and gedrite. They are used sometimes in jewelry. There are also amphiboles in crystals of different sizes and shapes, transparency and color. Some of them are used for faceting or as ornamental stones; also they can be a part of complicated ornamental rocks.

Actinolite (Actinolit—Actinolite—Актинолит) (Kirwan R., 1794), from Gk. “aktis” – a ray, is alluding to its common occurrence as radiating needles. A.G. Werner’s earlier name was strahlstein, Germ. “strahl” – a ray and “stein” – a stone. Composition – Ca2(Mg,Fe)5[OH|Si4O11]2

Tremolite (Tremolit—Trémolite—Тремолит) (Höpfner, 1790), after its discovery locality in Val Tremola, near St Gotthard, Switzerland. Composition – Ca2Mg5[(OH,F)|Si4O11]2 The both minerals are of monoclinic system. Hardness 5-6. Density 3.0-3.4. Actinolite is magnesia hornblende. It is found as flattened or needle crystals, as well as fine-fibrous aggregates of byssolite or actinolite-asbestos. Its color is green of different hue with brownish tones, which depends on iron in its content. Rarely, transparent crystals of noble actinolite are found, which are available for faceting. Tremolite is found as needle, board and short-columnar crystals, but more typical for it radial-rayed tremolite sun, and parallel – fibrous and twisted-fibrous aggregates are. Because of iron content, it can be colorless, brown or green of different hue. Green color usually depends on chromium or vanadium admixture, and pink-violet color – on manganese; but its green color is less thick than those of actinolite. In rock crystal fine-fibrous actinolite and tremolite-byssolite or mountain flax form irregular inclusions in the shape of hair stone. Such actinolite hair stone can be found also in transparent varieties of other minerals: adularia, axinite, and apatite. Parallel-fibrous aggregates of actinolite and tremolite in cabochons of these minerals produce the effect of cat’s-eyes, they are also called Thetis hair stone, after Ancient Gk. sea goddess Thétis. Actinolite cat’s-eye, or amphibole cat’s-eye is a popular jewelry-ornamental stone, its imitations are widespread (See quartz).

Ornamental rocks. Actinolite as rock-forming material and as inclusions takes part in the content of some gemstones and ornamental stones. The most popular is nephrite (See later). Actinolite hornblende is also rock-forming mineral for such ornamental stones as hornblende jade, or amphibolite jade and pudding-stone jade. Of the same type is red jade – manui; smaragdite – massive rock of the slate structure, composed almost completely with emerald-green actinolite. Ornamental amphibolites are characterized with well polishing, decorative texture and admixtures of garnet, epidote, zoisite and others. An example of such rock is anyolite, in which beside actinolite there is also pauper grained green zoisite and ruby in the shape of large inclusions.

Deposits. Actinolite and tremolite are the widespread in metamorphic schists, skarns and transformed hyperbasites. In Russia, in the Middle Urals, in the region of the Verkhne Neyvinsk, in alpine veins they found transparent crystals of actinolite. Near Verchniy Ufalei there is the Kurtinskoye deposit of ornamental amphibolite. According the content, there can be classified garnet amphibolites from actinolite with insets of garnet and zoisite. Among ornamental varieties, there is also zoisit amphibolite rock of dark green to black color with pale colored insets of zoisite, up to 3-7 mm. in size. In Pribaikalia, at the Slyudyanka deposit, an ornamental stone is vanadium smaragdite, completely composed with long-prismatic crystals of greenish-yellow chrome-vanadium tremolite. The length of some crystals reached 20-30 cm., and their transparent sectors were available for faceting. In the Primorskiy Region, at the Sinerechenskoye deposit, actinolite is found as inclusions in crystals of quartz, where it forms quartz hair stone. In the Ukraine, jewelry-ornamental actinolitite is found in hyperbasites of the Priazovia Territory; also in the basins of the rivers Bug and Dnestr. In Priazovia, at the Zelenaya Gorka deposit, this rock is represented with accumulations up to 150 m. thick and up to 300 m. long. In Uzbekistan, in the Sultan Uiz-Dag Ridge, there are lenses of ornamental amphibolites. Among the other countries actinolite-smaragdite was found in Austria, in serpentines of Kraubath, Styria. In Slovakia, green prismatic crystals of actinolite, up to 10 cm. long, were described at the Muránska Dlhá Lúka deposit. At the Kalinovo deposit, the length of fibers of actinolite-asbestos reached 50 cm. At the Vyhne Kloç deposit, actinolite as inclusions in quartz forms prase. In 1782, in Romania, tremolite from the Sebešu de Sus deposit, Sibiu Dept., was described first as star spar, and later it was called sebesite. In alpine veins of Switzerland, near the village of Zermatt, Valais canton, the fine-fibrous variety of it is found – amiant-asbestos or fibrous asbestos. In Greece, on the Serifos Is. (the Cyclades Iss.), actinolite as inclusions in quartz forms quartz hair stone. Gem-quality transparent actinolite – smaragdite, or smaragdian grammatite of green and brown color is extracted in Tanzania at the Merlani deposit; and at the Longido Ruby mine, together with smaragdite they extract zoisite-actinolite rock – Masai anyolite with inclusions of ruby, which in the whole is ornamental stone. Findings of dark green actinolite are described also in Uganda. On Madagascar, jewelry-ornamental quartz hair stone with actinolite is known at the Soavina deposit, near Antsirabe. In Myanmar and on Taiwan, in nephrite, there are massive veins of tremolite of parallel-fibrous structure; after cut in cabochon they display the effect of cat’s-eye. Such tremolite cat’s-eye is called Taiwan cat’s-eye, or nephrite cat’s-eye. Tremolite in mixture with albite is called jade matrix. In Kenya and Tanzania, there is manganese-containing grammatite – hexagonite of pale green and light pink color in crystals up to 2.5 cm.; and in Sierra Leone, it is chromium-containing and bright green in color. In Afghanistan, in the region of Nuristan, at the Kantiva deposit, Laghman Prov., they extracted transparent crystals of tremolite, up to 10 cm. long. Their findings of quartz hair stone with hornblende asbestos were also known. From Pakistan transparent green actinolite, available for faceting, came to the market. It was extracted on the Shigar River, in the Jammu and Kashmir State (disputed area), India, and Pakistan. Similar actinolite comes to the market from New Zealand. In the U.S.A., tremolite available for faceting comes to the market under the trade name hexagonite. Its transparent, gray-violet or violet-pink crystals were found at the Fowler deposit, New York State. At the Balmat Area, St Lawrence Co., they received stones up to 16.15 ct. In Vermont, at the Chester locality, Windsor Co. they extracted ornamental amphibolite. In Wyoming, golden-brown iris amphibolite is called gold jade. On Alaska, in the Kobuk River Valley, in nephrite they found massive yellowish-green parallel-fibrous veins of actinolite rock. After processing they are actinolite cat’s-eye. In Canada, in the Ontario and Québec Prov., similar veins of tremolite in nephrite are white, gray-blue and green in color. After processing they are tremolite cat’s-eye. Besides, in the Ontario Prov., in the Renfrew Dist., they found crystals of tremolite, up to 25x2 cm. in size; and at the Minden deposit, from transparent tremolite they received faceted stones up to 2 ct. Rare transparent crystals of magnesia hornblendes are faceted, their weight is not more than 5-10 ct. A sample is green actinolite faceted in a step pattern, 20.6 ct., in the Museum of the Canadian firm “Devonian”. Massive varieties are processed in cabochon, they often display the effect of cat’s-eye, and also they can be a material for stone-carving.

Synonyms. Actinolite – Actinoin, discr. | Glassy actinolite | Actinote, discr. | Hexagonite, from Gk “hexagon” – with six angles, because it was supposed it was crystallized in such system | Raystone | Emerald spar | Schorl spar | Smaragd spar | Thets hair stone, after the name of the sea goddess, the wife of Ocean the titan, the mother of all the rivers and sea goddesses Oceanids | Alkali radial stone | Strahlite (strelite), obs. | Green talkstone | Xylit (xylolith, Germ.), pseudomorphs after wood.

Tremolite – Abhazite, after the discovery location in Abkhazia, Georgia | Calamite | Grammatite, obs. | White jade | Kalamit | Karamsinite, after the Russ. mining engineer Karamsin | Nordenskiöldite, after the Swedish mineralogist N.G. Nordensheld | Magnesia hornblende, from Germ. hornblende, horn and blende – a name for dark prismatic minerals, which don’t contain extracted metals. The name was invented by medieval miners. | Raphilite, from Gk. needle and stone, because of the shape of its crystals | Thetis hair stone, after the name of the sea goddess | Radiated stone | Chrome-tremolite.

Amphibolite – Chunzenite (chunzanite), after the discovery location in the valley of the river Hunza (Chunza) in India | Smaragdite | Vanadium smaragdite.

Pargasite (Parasit—Pargasite—Паргасит) – (von Steinheil F., 1815), after its discovery locality at Pargas, 10 km south from Turku, Finland. Composition – NaCa2(Mg4Al)Si6Al2O22(OH)2.

Kaersutite (Kärsutit—Kaersutite—Керсутит) – (Lorencen J., 1884), after its discovery locality at Kaersut, 21 km. west-northwest from Umang, Greenland. Composition – NaCa2(Mg4Ti)Si6Al2O23(OH). The both minerals are of monoclinic system. Jewelry-ornamental pargasite is found in large crystals and in grained aggregates. Its color is from light green to brown, because of chromium admixture it can be bright green, because of lead admixture – red-brown. In South Yakutia, at the Emel’dzhak deposit, in veins among dolomite marbles they found crystals of pargasite up to 20 cm. long. Similar veins were found also in Pribaikalia, near the contact zone of the Tazheranskiy alkali massif. In Finland, on the Pargas Is., at the Simonsbi deposit crystals of pargasite reached 13 cm. in length. This mineral is also known in Morocco, at the Bou Agra deposit – in crystals up to 4 cm. In India, in the Hunza Valley, at the Alïäbäd deposit they found transparent crystals of pargasite up to 2 cm. long. There, in marbled limestones there are lenses of massive bright green pargasite. This amphibole poor with iron is known as an ornamental stone under the trade name chunzenite (hunzaite). Gem-quality green-brown noble pargasite is extracted also in Sri Lanka. In Brazil, dark brown crystals of pargasite, available for faceting, were found in the São Paolo State, near Tapiratiba. Such reddish-brown stones were known also in Sweden, at the Långban deposit. In India, in Tamil Nädu, transparent bright green pargasite was found near Karungalpatti, near Chennai (form. Madras). In South Africa, at the Griqualend, Northern Cape Prov., deposit quartz forms pseudomorphs on riebeckite like cat’s-eye and tiger’s-eye. For kaersutite prismatic crystals are typical, up to 30 cm. long, from brown to black in color. In Russia, at the Dzhida mine, Buryatia Rep., they extracted translucent brownish-yellow crystals of gem-quality kaersutite. Ornamental black jade from California, the U.S.A., consists on 3/4 from kaersutite.

Riebeckite (Riebeckit—Riebeckite—Рибекит) (Sauer A., 1888), after Emil Riebeck (1853-1885) the Germ. explorer, who discovered the mineral. Composition – Na2Fe32+Fe23+[(OH)2|Si8O22], monoclinic system. Hardness 4-5. Density 3.4. Glass luster. Cleavage in one direction. Fragile. It possesses strong pleochroism from indigo-blue to gray-light blue and yellowish-green to yellowish-brown. Riebeckite is represented in the content of parallel-fibrous aggregates of blue and greenish-blue crocidolite, so called lasurquartz. In cabochons it is known as pseudo-crocidolite hawk’s-eye, its golden-brownish oxidized variety is called tiger’s-eye. It is a popular jewelry-ornamental stone (See quartz). If riebeckite is not completely oxidized and it is represented with alternated stripes of light blue and brown color, such silification variety is called zebra crocidolite. After the replacement of parallel-fibrous aggregate of crocidolite with opal, crocidolite opal is formed, which in cabochon is called opal cat’s-eye. Fibrous variety of magnesiariebeckite – rhodusit, or blue asbestos is found sometimes in its silification form, in this case it is a jewelry-ornamental stone of grayish-light blue color. In Russia, in East Siberia, its findings are known in Khakassia, at the Verkhne-Askizskoye deposit. In the Rep. of Tyva, there are also deposits of riebeckite tiger’s-eye. In Central Kazakhstan, crystals of riebeckite, up to 30 cm. long, were found at the Kent deposit; in the region of Qarsaqbay (form. Karsakpai) this mineral is found at the Kumola deposit. At the Zhezkazgan deposit, fine-fibrous blue asbestos was found as inclusions in blue halite. In the Ukraine, riebeckite tiger’s-eye was found at the Krivorozhskoye deposit. In France, silicified crocidolite with admixture of limonite was extracted at the Chirmeque deposit in the Vosges, as well as in Scotland and in Poland. In Portugal, crystals of riebeckite were found at the Alter Pedroso deposit, Portalegre Prov. In Africa, riebeckite is found in Nigeria, at the deposits Kano and Sultan Amud, where its crystals reach 20x1 cm. in size. In South Africa, at the Prieska deposit, Northern Cape Prov., ornamental variety of massive riebeckite was extracted; at the Pomfret mine, North-West Prov., they extracted riebeckite asbestos, also near Robertson, Western Cape Prov., – magnesiariebeckite. In Western Australia, in the Hammersley Range, there is a deposit of ornamental tiger’s-eye – Wittenoom Gorge. In the U.S.A., deposits of blue crocidolite and pseudo-crocidolite are known in the states of Rhode Island and Colorado, where at the Pike’s Peak deposit, El Paco Co., riebeckite was also found.

Synonyms. Abriachanite – magnesia-ferrous riebeckite, after the discovery location near Abriachane, Scotland | Aegirin-asbestos | South African asbestos | Crocidolite, from Gk. “crocidos” – fiber | Griqualendite, after the discovery location near Griqualand, South Africa | Rhodusit, after the discovery location on the Rhodes Is. in the Aegean Sea, Greece | Iron stone | Blue iron stone.

Richterite (Richterit—Richtérite—Рихтерит) (Breithaupt A. 1865), after Theodor Richter (1824-1898), a Germ. mineralogist and metallurgist. Composition – NaCaNa(Mg,Fe)5[(OH)2|Si8O22], monoclinic system. Density 2.9-3.5. In Russia, the appearance of two new ornamental stones at the market was connected with it. The first was – blue nephrite, or dianite, which was discovered in the contact zone of the Murun alkali massif in the south-western part of Yakutia. It is massive gray-blue rock, almost completely composed with twisted-fibrous aggregate of potassium richterite. It is well processed and can be a perfect material for small stone-carving work of art and cabochons. Blocks, available for cut, reach 15-20 cm. wide. Because of its rarity, the declared price is rather high. Another ornamental stone is irnimitjasper of blue-violet tone is known on Irnimiyskoye deposit in the Khabarovsk Region. It contains veins of light blue richterite, from 1 to 15 mm. thick. Besides, in South Africa, at the Wessels sugilite deposit they discovered an ornamental rock with richterite. It contains sugilite, calcite, pectolite and quartz. We don’t know a trade name and properties of this stone. In Canada ferro-rich richterite as dark gray-green columnar crystals up to 10 cm. occurs in metasomatic rocks at Wilberforce, Renfrew Co., Ontario.

Synonyms. Astorite | Dianite, after the Princess Diana | Irnimit, after the discovery location between the Ir and Nimi Rivers, Khabarovsk Region, Russia | Natrotremolite | Blue rhodonite.

Gedrite (Gedrit—Gédrite—Жедрит) (Dufrenoy A. 1836), after the discovery location in the Héas Valley, near Gédre, Hautes-Pyrénées, France. Composition – (Mg,Fe2+)5Al2[OH|AlSi3O11]2. Rare orthorhombic amphibole. Density 2.8-3.3. Here, other amphiboles, close in properties to gedrite are described: anthophyllite, cummingtonite, holmquistite and grunerite. Anthophyllite (Schumacher, 1801), from Lat. “anthophyllum”, a clove, alluding to its characteristic clove-brown color. Composition – (Mg,Fe2+)7[OH|Si4O11]2, orthorhombic system. Color: yellowish-gray, yellowish-brown, clove-brown. Cummingtonite (Dewey, C. 1824), after its location, in Cummington, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts, U.S.A. Composition – (Mg,Fe2+)7[OH|Si4O11]2, monoclinic system. Color: from colorless to brownish. Holmquistite (Osann, A. 1913), after Per Johan Holmquist (1866-1946), Swedish petrologist. Composition – Li2Mg3Al2[OH|Si4O11]2, orthorhombic system. Color: light blue, dark violet-light blue, violet. Grunerite (Kenngott, A. 1853), after Louis Emmanuel Grüner of St Etienne, France, who first analyzed the iron-rich member. Composition – (Fe2+,Mg)7[OH|Si4O11]2, monoclinic system. Color: from colorless to brownish.

These minerals are often found as parallel-fibrous and radial aggregates, and alas well as inclusions in other minerals, which produce the effect of cat’s-eye. Non transparent to half-transparent. Sometimes, they are found in the shape of small columnar crystals. The size of gem-quality gedrite crystals reaches 10 cm. in length. Their color is usually yellowish to bright brown with reddish hue. Anthophyllite and gedrite are found in clusters and they form an isomorphic row. They are widespread, mainly in metamorphic rocks as parallel-fibrous aggregates. Sometimes, ornamental amphibolites are composed with them, including iris amphibo- lite. In Russia, a deposit of fine-grained iris amphibolite was discovered in North Karelia, nor far from the railway station of Chupa, near the Dyadina Mt. This black massive rock when polished displays the iridescence in greenish-blue and bright blue tones. After its color remained the tone of a “dove’s feather”, it was called tausinit. In West Greenland, iris amphibolite as an ornamental stone with the trade name nuumite was discovered at a tungsten deposit near Ameralik Fiord. There, at the Fiskenæsset deposit they found variety of gedrite with the effect of cat’s-eye. Anthophyllite-gedrite rock – nuumite is represented with lenses and layers of great length. After polishing mega grained aggregates of gedrite display the iridescence in greenish-blue, copper-yellow and golden-red tones. Such types of iris amphibolites are known in several states of the U.S.A. In jewelry nuumite has been being used since 1986. The largest crystal of anthophyllite from Montana deposit was 16x8 cm. in size. In Wyoming, gem-quality anthophyllite with the iridescence in yellowish-brownish and reddish tones was discovered. Iris amphibolite, composed almost completely with anthophyllite is also an ornamental stone there. In Austria, holmquistite occur in crystals up to 10 cm. at Brandrücken spodumene deposit, Koralpe, Carintia. In Australia, lavender radiating aggregates holmquistite up to 15 cm. occurs at Greenbushes, Western Australia. Blue-violet aggregates of holmquistite were discovered in quartz from Brazil; and green cummingtonite-asbestos in quartz from Krivoy Rog, Ukraine – cummingtonite cat’s-eye. In Russia, holmquistite is found in the East Sayan Mts., at the Bel’skoye and Gol’tsovoye deposits, Krasnoyarsk Region. In South Africa, grunerite cemented with opal forms fire jade.

Synonyms. Amphibolite – Iris amphibolite | Hornblende jade | Nuumite, after the discovery location near Nuuk, West Greenland. Anthophyllite – Star rock.

Similarity. Minerals, similar to amphibole, are augite and tourmaline. From augite it differs with the angle between cleavage planes; from tourmaline – with its hardness and absence of cleavage.

Nephrite (Nephrit—Néphrite—Нефрит) (Monardes, 1569), from Span. piedra de los riñones – “stone of the kidneys”, Lat. nephriticus lapis, Gk. “nephros”, and German. nephrit – a kidney, of the principle of similarity, which supposed to heal kidneys because pebbles of nephrite look like kidneys in their shape. It gemstone which is one of the forms of jade. Jade and nephrite had the common name till 1863, when Fr. researcher A. Damour has shown their differences. However, even now, the both gemstones are often described together as jade (see jadeite). In the ancient times, nephrite was known in China under the name ui-shi, Arabs called it jashm, Pers. – jashm or jashem,Gr. – jaspis, Assirians – jashpu, Hebrew – jashpe, jashfe or jashef, in Japan it was known as tama.

Nephrite is a rock of metasomatic origin. Hardness 6-6.5. Density 2.9-3.0. Greasy luster, wax one. Viscous. It contains almost completely from amphiboles of the row tremolite-actinolite. Texture of nephrite is usually massive, structure is twisted-fibrous, which is the reason of it viscous characteristics – a significant property of this ornamental stone. Non-transparent to translucent. Color: onion-green to greenish-gray, white, pinky, yellowish, tobacco-brown, bluish to black. Color is even often spotty or cloudy, sometimes speckled because of mineral inclusions. Its color depends, first of all, on ions of iron (Fe2+and Fe3+), less – on chromium (Cr3+), and nickel. The content of iron gives light blue hue in nephrite. As admixtures there are such minerals as serpentine, chlorite, calcite, magnesite and talc, which make nephrite less hard. Graphite and magnetite give dark color to nephrite; hematite – brownish hue, uvarovite – bright green tone. If parallel-fibrous aggregates of tremolite-actinolite are included, cabochons from nephrite display the effect of cat’s-eye.

Deposits. Nephrite is widespread gemstone than jadeite, it forms large monomineral blocks not rarely. According the genesis, they classify nephrite of dark tones, which was formed in rocks of ultrabasic content, and light-colored nephrite, which was formed in carbonate rocks when granites were intruding into them. Nephrite is extracted mainly at placers. In Russia nephrite was discovered in the East Sayan Mts., in the upper reaches of the Onot River in 1826. In 1851, the first lot of rough material, about 2 ton, was extracted there. In 1862 and 1867, nephrite from Russia was exhibited in London and Paris. Nowadays, deposits of nephrite are explored from the upper reaches of the Yenisey River to the middle reaches of the Vitim River, in the basin of the Lena River. The main region of this province is East-Sayn Mts. one, in the upper reaches of the rivers Belaya, Kitoy and Urik, left tributaries of the Angara River. In 1965, there new deposits of nephrite were discovered: Ulan-Khodinskoye, in 1967 – Ospinskoye, in 1972 – Bartogol’skoye, in 1973 – Gorlykgol’skoye and in 1976 – Zunospinskoye. The best veins with apple-green nephrite were found at the Ospinskoye deposit, there was also nephrite with the effect of cat’s-eye. In South Pribaikalia, in the south-western part of Buryatia Rep., there is the Jidinskiy area of nephrite deposits. There, on the Jida River, a left tributary of the Selenga River, they discovered the Khamarkhudinskoye deposit of the skarn type with nephrite of smoky-gray color with yellowish or greenish hue. In the West Sayan Mts., nephrite was discovered at the Kantegirskoye and Kurtushubinskoye deposits. At the second one, nephrite is greenish-gray or light green with light bluish hue. In 1978-1989, in the Vitim Region of nephrite deposits, in the north-eastern part of Buryatia Rep., in the basin of the Vitim River, they discovered and explored deposits of the skarn type: Buromskoye, Golyubinskoye, Kavoktinskoye, and only Parmskoye is situated in the ultramafite massif. Nephrite of skarn deposits is light-colored, from white, yellowish to salad-green. Besides, in Rep. of Tyva, they discovered the Bilinskoye deposit of nephrite. In the Polar Urals, near the railway station of Polyarnyi, they exploited the Nyrdvomenshor deposit of nephrite. At the South Urals, low quality nephrite is known in the Naralinskie Mts. It was extracted in the Unholy Region of Bashkortostan, at the Kozma-Demyanovskoye deposit, at placers in the upper reaches of the Lower Iremel’ River. In the northern part of Yakutia, in the basin of the Yana River, near the Batagai Settlement, they discovered placers with nephrite and vesuvianite jade. Not long ago, in South Yakutia, blue nephrite, or dianite was found in the contact zone of the Murun alkali massif. It differs from common nephrite in the content, because it is composed with richterite. Found there black nephrite is composed with potassium-manganese arfvedsonite, which is close in the content to richterite. In the northern part of Kamchatka, nephrite was discovered at the Kuyul’skiy massif. In Asia, deposits of nephrite are in Kyrgyzstan – Archalinskoye and Gavianskoye, and also in the East Pamirs, on the rivers Omesha, Kash Darja and others. There are data on extraction of a nephrite in Mongolia. Till 1906, in Europe, the only deposit of nephrite was Jordanów Šlàski in Lower Silesia, Poland. Small deposits were discovered in Italy – in the Prov. of Liguria, Calabria and Sicily. In Liguria, in the North Apennines, near Sestri Levante, beside nephrite they extracted ornamental diopside rock carcaro. In Switzerland, nephrite was extracted in small quantities at the Skortaseo deposit in skarns; in Germany – in the Harz Mts., Lower Saxony; in South Finland – at the iron-ore Stensvik deposit, and in the Hakkila area. In Africa, nephrite is extracted in Zambia, at the Mashaba deposit of chromites in the Selukwa Prov., and also in the neighboring Zimbabwe.

In China, nephrite has been known since the 12th cent. B.C.; and till the early of the 18th cent. A.D. its deposits were the only in the whole Asia. Through the “Silk Route” nephrite was delivered to the Near East. It was extracted mainly at placers on the rivers of the Nephrite Mts., (Kunlun Mts.) between Khotan and Kashgar, in the north-western part of China (now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomos Region). Nowadays, they exploit the deposits Lyushai, Kanakan and Karala there – mostly of the skarn type. Besides, not long ago, they discovered one more deposit of nephrite, about 10 km.2 . In the north-eastern part of China, deposits of nephrite are situated in the Liaoning Prov. and to the south from it, in the Jiangsu Prov., near Yangzhou. In Central China, in the Sichuan Prov., in the Tjang Mts. they found green nephrite. On Taiwan Is., near Hualien they have been exploiting the Feng-t’ien deposit since 1961. There, beside green and wax nephrite, they extract a rare translucent variety with the effect of cat’s-eye. This nephrite is characterized with fibrous texture (the length of fiber up to 2 cm.), greenish-yellow, brown and black color. In South Korea, to the north-east from Seoul, in the region of Chchun-Chchon they have been exploiting a deposit of tremolite nephrite of the skarn type since 1976. This mineral is known as Chchun-Chon jade, or white jade with admixture of diopside, calcite and chlorite. From the ancient times, nephrite was extracted also in the Upper Burma (Myanmar). There is information about the extraction of nephrite in Pakistan and on Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean.

Even in the 10th cent., in New Zealand, Maori found blocks of nephrite at placers along rivers, on the western coast of the Southern Is., where now, in the region of Westland Field, on Uakatipt Lake and in the valley of the Arakhura River they extract nephrite. The weight of these blocks is from several kg to 2 ton and even more. Ledge deposits were discovered on the D’Urville Is. and in the South Alps Ridge. From these regions jewelry-ornamental nephrite and rodingite come. In 1965-1966, in the southern part of Australia, on the territory of 9 km.2 of the Eyre Penin., they discovered large nephrite deposits of the skarn type – Cowbell and others. Nephrite is characterized there with broad spectrum of colors, excluding green one. The output of quality rough material is not more than 10% there, also they found gem-quality black nephrite. In New South Wales, the Dangowan deposit of nephrite is exploited, near Tamworth. Deposits of less scale are on Tasmania. In Indonesia – on the New Guinea Is., in Philippines – on the Mindoro and Owen Iss.

In 1887, in Canada, in the British Columbia Prov., they discovered placers with nephrite on the Fraser River. Since 1950-s, they has begun to exploit also ledge deposits there: Provansher Lake, Green Bay deposits at the Cassiar and Omineka Mts.; and in the Yukon Prov. – Fransis Lake. Nephrite from Canada is green with different levels of intensity, mainly ornamental one. It is typical for it to have insets of bright green uvarovite, magnetite and chromite. The output of the quality rough material is about 10%. In the U.S.A., at Alaska were nephrite placers known in the basin of the rivers Kobuk and Shanganak. They found light green and black nephrite there, as well as nephrite with the effect of cat’s-eye, the weight of blocks reached there 20 tons. Nephrite of the best quality was extracted in Wyoming, to the southeast from Lander, at the deposits Long Creek, Rouds and others. There is nephrite of different colors: green, yellowish-green and apple-green with whit and pink spots and with dendrites. At the Cortés Dam deposit, they found jet-like black nephrite. In California, there are deposits of nephrite in the Monteray Co. – Massa Hill, San Martin and others; and in the Mendocino Co. – Jade Bay, Wiliams Creek and others. Nephrite was collected mainly at placers on the Pacific coast, where some blocks reached 450 kg. Besides, in Central California, in serpentinites of the Mariposa Co. and Tulare Co. they discovered ledge deposits of nephrite. Its findings are also in the states Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon and Utah. There is information about deposits of nephrite in Mexico and Brazil.

Unique findings. In Russia, one of the first findings of nephrite was a large block, 524.5 kg weight, which was found on the Onot River in the Irkutsk Region. It is exhibited in the Mineralogical department of the British Museum, London. A block, 2137 kg weight, from the Jordanow deposit, Poland, is exhibited in the AMNH, N.Y. In 1937, in the East Sayan Mts., on the Kitoi River they found a huge block of nephrite, about 30 tons weight. An enormous mass of New Zealand nephrite weighing 7.17 ton, found in South Is. in 1902, is to be seen in the AMNH, N.Y. In 1971, in North Myanmar (Burma), such blocks were also found: from 10 to 30 tons. In 1972, in China, in the Liaoning Prov., they found a block of nephrite, 143 tons and 603 m3. In the same region the largest block was found, which was registered in the Guinness Book of Records: 264 tons, 7x6.1x4.9 m. in size.

Synonyms. Achloma, obs. | Cerannite, Fr. | Jade: (See App. 17) | Ieschm (yeshem, yeschef), Arabic, obs. | Green jasper | Kasch, local name of nephrite in Mongolia | Mutton lard, after its color | Imperial nephrite | Kashgarian nephrite | Leopard nephrite | Thawed snow, after its color | ~ stone: axe ~, green ~, star green ~, kidney ~, lumbar ~, Maori ~, mountain ~, musical ~.

Nephrite from China (local name): – Chichuku, Manchurian name | Tomb-jade | Ching yu (chin yu) –spinach-green | Chueng yu (chuen yu) – yellow | Yu-shi, for many gemstones, which are available for stone-carving | Yu stone | Yu | Hey yu – black | I yu | Kung yu (chiung yu) – red | Lao yu – Old nephrite | Pai yu (pey yu) – white | Pao yu (bao yu) – white | Han-yu, or mouth-jade, because thise amulets, supposed to afford protection to the dead, were placed in their mouths.

Nephrite from New Zealand (local Maori name): Auchunga – dark green, non-transparent | Inanga – white to light gray and light green, non-transparent | Kahurangi – light green, translucent | Kawa-kawa – green, half-transparent | Punamu – Maori green stone | Raucaraka – olive-green with yellow veins, non-transparent | Punamu stone | Totoveka – green with red spots, translucent.

Quality improvement. Even in Ancient China, artificial coloring of nephrite in auburn-brown tone was practices – Kan jade. Nowadays, quality improvement of nephrite is produced in autoclaves, in reducing atmosphere, under the pressure of 400-500 atm, and temperature 300-500°C during 24-100 hours. As a result, color is changing from dirty green to stable apple-green. From tobacco-brownish nephrite, because of the oxidation of iron and its transforming into hematite, they receive red as sealing wax and yellow material, more rare – polychromatic nephrite of greenish-red color. Pale colored nephrite with this method becomes lighter. Another method of quality improvement with complete transformation of color is the irradiation in a reactor with accelerated electrons.

Treatment. Nephrite has been known since the epoch of the Neolith. It was highly valued in all the ancient civilizations, especially in China and Mexico. The most ancient findings (3000 B.C.) of decorative work of art from nephrite were made in the south-eastern part of China, in the Zhejiang Prov., and in the north-west, in Chinese Turkestan, the Xinjiang Prov. In the Bible, the name jaspis was used usually for nephrite. In China, the most evaluated variety of nephrite had a separate name – emerald nephrite, or imperial nephrite. Stone-carvers of China preferred grayish-white nephrite – a color of “mutton grease”; in Mongolia – non-transparent white one as a lotus flower; in Japan – black one; and in Europe – green one. Solidity and beauty of this stone gave a possibility to make both adornments and tools from it. In China, the term “nephritic” was highly positive, it shown the highest level of perfection. From nephrite the Emperor’s throne and scepter were carved. Head-suits and belts of Emperor were decorated with nephrite from 24 plates with depiction of different phases of the Moon, therefore, this stone was named a musical stone. These plates produced musical sound when the emperor was going – this sound supposed to conjure evil spirits away. Officials of the highest ranks had nephrite clasps and discs, which differed in carved depictions and shapes. Women at the Emperor’s court had nephrite decorations of their clothes, mainly clasps. Chinese scientists wore rings from nephrite. In China, they made money, cult objects, diplomatic passports and gifts from nephrite – it meant as well openness and good intentions. So, in 1895, the Chinese embassy gifted a Field-Marshal’s baton from nephrite mounted in gold to the Russian Emperor Nicolas II; and a nephrite scepter was sending to the British Queen. Chinese masters reached perfections in carving on nephrite, they carved open-work spheres from it, which were free moving one inside the other. There were nephrite plates and dishes with carved dragons and nephrite cult discs, as well as cups and sticks for eating, pipes and so on. In the collection of the Imperial Museum in Beijing, there are funeral costumes from nephrite, which possessed a magical strength, according ancient Chinese beliefs, – this strength could protect dead bodies against decay. Such “costume” from the burial of the Prince Lyu Shen consisted of 2,690 nephrite plates with general weight 1,110 gm., they were set on the body and joint with gold wire. Jadeite was almost unknown in China till 1784 – the time of signing of the trade agreement with Myanmar (Burma). After it, this stone began to eject nephrite in the carving works on demand. Central America was another one ancient center of processing of nephrite, where such high developed civilizations as Maya and Aztecs existed. They evaluated nephrite more than gold. They made perfect work of art from it as early as 320 A.D. To this period the nephrite “Leyden Plate” is dated, which was found in Guatemala in 1864. There is a depiction of a winner, who tramples on a beaten. In Mexico, in the Temple of Inscriptions, which was discovered in 1952 n Palenke, the Chiapas State, beside numerous carved decorations from nephrite, they found a mosaic funeral mask of a ruler. It was composed with more than 240 pieces of nephrite. The breast of this ruler was decorated with nephrite necklaces, his fingers were stud with nephrite rings, and large pieces of nephrite were put into the hands of the dead ruler. Another country, where nephrite was a sacred stone and was processed long before Europeans came, was New Zealand. Maori carved funeral masks from nephrite and also human figures – “hei-tiki”. Nowadays, a large center of the processing of nephrite is Taiwan, from where produce made mainly from the rough material from British Columbia come under the name Taiwan nephrite. In Russia, nephrite came in fashion after it was found at the Sayan Mts. in the middle of the 19th cent. From those deposits it was sent to the Peterhof lapidary factory. Nephrite was one of he favorite stones of stone-carvers of the K. Fabergé firm. It was often used in different works of art, including the Easter Eggs and simple frames. In the Egg „Pansée”, 1899, the main material was nephrite. Modern masters use nephrite effectively in their works.

Famous Gems & Jewels. In the burial-vault of a Chinese Emperor from the Ming dynasty, who was buried in 1561, beside silver and gold ingots, were also blocks of nephrite. From white nephrite an Emperor’s cup was carved and empresses earrings in the shape of rabbits with ruby eyes, which were mounted in gold and decorated with gemstones. In one of Chinese palaces there is a statue of Buddha from white nephrite, 6 m high. In the Beijing Art Museum, former Imperial Palace, there are “nephrite mountains” – large blocks of nephrite, more than 1 m high and more than 1 ton weight, which are covered with carved sculptures. There is also a “Wine Goblet” from a complete block of dark green nephrite, 59.5 cm. high and 130.2 cm. in cross-section. In 1897, in Russia, they carved from nephrite the sarcophagus of the Emperor Alexander III. In the AMNH, N.Y., there is a nephrite block about 3 ton from New Zealand with carved depiction of a Maori warrior, who performs a war dance. In 1998, at the Sotheby’s auction, they exhibited two military ceremonial nephrite clubs, which were gifted to at the Duke of Windsor by Maori chiefs. Each club was evaluated in $3,500. In the 1176, in China, a special text was written on the nephrite work of art – “Ku yü t’ou pu” or “Illustrated Description of Ancient Jade”. It is a catalogue divided into a hundred of books and embellished with upward of seven hundred figures. The American collector H. Bishop made a demand to art specialist to describe his collection of 900 samples and entries from nephrite and jadeite. Nowadays, this collection is kept in the American Metropolitan Museum, New York. The unique book “Research and Description of Nephrite and Jadeite”, which was prepared under the edition of the famous mineralogist J.F. Kunz, contains 450 illustrations by Chinese artists. Its circulation was 100 pieces, which were sent largest world museums make a present, and its composed type and cliché were destroyed. In Russia, there are two copies of this book – in the State Hermitage, SPb. and in the Mining Museum, SPb.

Legends. Nephrite is supposed to be a symbol of good qualities in China. Its sparkling surface means benevolence, mild luster – kind heart, well polishing – knowledge, hardness – justice, rarity and translucence – spiritual purity, eternity – eternal passion, such property that all the cracks are obvious in this mineral – sincerity, it stays clear after long usage – moral strength, its angles can’t be taken off – honest law, musical sounds under strikes – expression of happiness. In China, there is an opinion, that nephrite protects dead people against evil spirits. That’s why they put produce from red or brown nephrite into the graves, so it is called also grave jade. Nephrite as a talisman is a victory stone and a stone of tranquility, which strengthens vital forces and gives luck in gambles. As an amulet, it protects against an “evil eye” and gives long life and family prosperity. It is a lucky stone for those, who were born under the sign of Aquarius. Green nephrite is good for Capricorn, red-brown one – for Virgo, yellow one – for Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio, and white one – for Libra. In China and New Zealand, nephrite is a national symbol of country, and in the U.S.A. – of the Wyoming State.

Similar Gemstones & Imitations. Beside jadeite, nephrite is similar with aventurine, agalmatolite, amazonite, verdite, hydrogrossular, emerald, californite, pectolite, plasma, prase, prehnite, serpentine, smithsonite and chrysoprase. Among the similar to nephrite ornamental stones we could mention seminephrite, or nephritoid – bright green to black rock of slate structure, of the intermediate content between nephrite and bedding rocks, usually serpentinite. Of the same type is light green ornamental stone bowesite, which is known in Queensland, Australia. Similar to nephrite in color is steatite. They make also glass imitation of nephrite – rice paste. More complete list of the imitations of jades is represented in the App. 17.

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