I do not believe even Merlin himself could have conjured up a more beautiful dragon than this breath-taking crystal gold on quartz. This specimen was mined in January, 1998 at the Colorado Quartz Mine in Mariposa County, California. It was publicly displayed in a special case on the floor of the Gem and Mineral Show at the Merchandise Mart. Of course it was secured behind glass, so I couldn't measure it except by eyeball, but I estimated this specimen to be seven to eight inches high. I do not yet know if this remarkable, museum quality specimen is available for sale, but you can bet if it is, you better be a Merlin at conjuring up money to be able to afford this golden dragon.
This tourmaline crystal is one of the finer specimens to come out of a small pocket of exceptional blue capped elbaite crystals from the Sapo Mine, Pederneira, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The stocky crystal depicted at left is about 1.75" long. If you're browsing at 800x600 resolution on a 15" monitor, the actual specimen is two-thirds the size of the image on your screen.
The Arkenstone and Trinity Mineral Company acquired about half of the crystals from that pocket and are selling them online as a special offering during their Virtual Denver Show. New Era Gems, an International Gem and Jewelry Show, Inc. faceting rough dealer, displayed the balance of the pocket's yield at their booth at that wholesale only show, held in one of the three main arenas at the Merchandise Mart. While I was graciously permitted to come in and browse the gem and jewelry show, you won't be seeing any pictures from that one, because unfortunately photography wasn't allowed.
Tourmalines belong to the hexagonal crystal system. They are like feldspars and garnets in that tourmalines are not a single species with a distinct chemical composition, but are a group of closely related species. Tourmalines are silicates of aluminum and boron, but are chemically complex because the various group members comprise solid solution series between several other elements such as calcium, sodium, iron, magnesium and lithium, which may be present in varying proportions. The rich chemical variation between various members of the tourmaline group is responsible for the very wide range of colors that occur in tourmalines, perhaps more than any other family of minerals.
Multicolor tourmalines such as the more commonly available green over red "watermelon" crystals, are very popular with specimen collectors and gem cutters alike. The color changes in multicolor crystals are due to changing chemistry over time in the formative environment. In addition its blue cap, the crystal shown has a bluish rind over its mostly pink core, producing a rich magenta color when viewed through.
Except for a rather modest self-collected schorl, the sodium-iron rich, opaque black common variety, this fine Brazilian blue cap is the first tourmaline crystal to grace my own rock collection. You just don't find these lying about like Apache tears and anthill garnets, and I've always seemed to have an eye for the pricer, multicolored elbaites. I simply never felt that I could afford to silver pick an exotic tourmaline. However, Rob Lavinsky and John Veevaert made me a facilitating deal on this specimen that completely overwhelmed my frugal disposition
and elbaite resistance. Of course this rock is now off the market, most likely until death do us part.