Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

Vladimir Bukanov. Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia



CELESTINE (Coelestin—Célestine—÷елестин) (Schultz, 1797), from Lat. “coelestis” – of the sky, alluding to the sky-blue color commonly exhibited by its crystal.

Composition & Properties. Sulfate group – Sr[SO4], orthorhombic system. It forms series with baryte. Hardness 3.5. Density 3.9. Glass luster, nacre one. Perfect cleavage in one direction. Fragile. It is found in the form of columnar and plate crystals, as well as in columnar, radial-rayed and grained aggregates; it often fills in secretions in sedimentary rocks. Color: colorless, white and because of admixtures light blue, orange, red, more rarely yellow or green. Transparent to translucent.

Deposits. Celestine is found mainly in sedimentary layers, more rarely in hydrothermal veins. It is widespread, that’s why we mention only the most typical deposits with transparent crystals. In Russia, deposits of celestine are known in the Arkhangel’sk Region on the Pinega River, near the villages of Priluky and Vikhtovo. In the Moscow Region, they are situated in the Novomoskovsk Dist.; in the Volga Region – opposite to Kazan’, near the village of Pechishchy and also in Zhiguli Mts. – there is the Vodinskoye deposit and Syukeevo deposit near Tetyushi; in the Northern Caucasus – near Kislovodsk, and in Dagestan – in the Sergokalinskiy Dist. In Kazakhstan, on the Mangyshlak Penin., on the coast of the Caspian Sea, colorless and light blue celestine fills in concretions up to 1.2 m. in Ungozya Mt. In Turkmenistan, they extract the best in color and in size transparent light blue and colorless crystals of celestine. In the Kap-Kutan cave system, crystals celestine up to 3 cm. occur in karst gypsum in the Gowurdak (Gaurdak), Kugitantau Range; and at the Arik deposit; at Babadurmaz deposit, near Ashkhabad; also to the north-east from Nebit Dag there are deposits Beineu and Beineu Kyr. In Uzbekistan, light bluish celestine fills in karst cavities by Qüqon (Kokand); and near Toshkent (Tashkent) they find its pseudomorphs on fossil wood. In Tadzhikistan, at the Gulisay deposit, to the northwest from Küulob (Kulyab), they registered crystals of celestine up to 25 cm. long, and in Southern Tadzhikistan, in the basin of the Obi Niou River, they find celestine pseudomorphs on ammonites. There, in the Dzhetym-Tau Range, they discovered of celestine with amethyst secretions; besides, they find crystals black of inclusions of galena. In South-East Tadzhikistan, at the Khermonzhou deposit they extracted ornamental gray-light blue celestinobaryte. It is submitted by veins capacity up to 0.5 m., with the combined fine-grained units of ribbon structures. In North Tadzhikistan, in the Fergana Valley, there are such deposits of celestine as Lyakan, and Dzhida-Bulak. In Kyrgyzstan, at the Sulu Terek deposit, celestine fills in cavities in basalts, and at the Western Ulkunburul deposit massif blue celestine is an ornamental stone. In Armenia, in limestones of the Malishkinskoye deposit, celestine fills in geodes up to 10 cm. in cross-section.

In other countries, gem-quality celestine is extracted in Poland, at the Machów Mine, in the region of Tarnobrzeg, where they find its crystals up to 10 cm. long together with gypsum. Similar size crystals meet in Italy, on the Sicily Is., at the Floristella mine. In the south of Great Britain, near Bristol, there is the Cliffton deposit of celestine, and in Somerset Co. at the Hall End deposit board-like crystals of celestine reached 10 cm. long. In Germany, crystals of celestine were found near Waldek, Hessen; and near Stadthagen, Lower Saxony; in Spain – in Granada Prov. In Africa, yellow-brownish celestine is extracted in Namibia, at the Tsumeb deposit. Perfect light blue and colorless transparent crystals up to 15 cm. come to the market from the northwestern part of Madagascar, from the Sakoany deposit, near Mitsinjo, and from the Katsepy deposit in the same region. In China, in volcanic rocks of the Zhejiang Prov., there is the Lishui deposit of celestine, and of the Hubai and Hunan Prov. they found calcite pseudomorphs on celestine, so called chrysanthemium flowers or chrysanthemium stone. In the U.S.A., in Ohio, available for faceting celestine in crystals up to 50 cm. was extracted at the deposits White Rock quarry, Putin Bay and Stroncian Is., near Erie Lake. In Texas, light blue crystals of celestine were discovered near Austin; in Pennsylvania – near the Belwood, Blair Co. In California, it fills in geodes together with colemanite at the Calico Hill deposit. In Canada, in the Ontario Prov., gem-quality light blue and bright orange celestine is found near Forks-of-Credit. In Mexico, at the Ramos Arizpe deposit, Coahuila State, they found large light blue crystals of celestine up to 12 cm., and in Muzquiz locality – crystals up to 28 cm., as well as in the state San Luis Potosí, at the Matehuala deposit and others.

Synonyms. Apotome, from Gk. “apo” – view, appearance and “tomo” – carve, obs. | Dioxynite | Prismatic polubaryte | Schützit, after the researcher Schütz | Sicilianit, after the discovery location on Sicily, Italy | Strontian.

Treatment. Transparent crystals of celestine, available for faceting are of collectors interest. They are processed with big difficulties because of their low hardness and fragility. Colorless and light blue stones up to 20 ct. are made from crystals from Madagascar and from the Tsumeb deposit, Namibia. Ornamental varieties are used in stone carving.