World’s Largest Emerald- Bahia Emerald

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens,Rare Gems,Rockhound stories — Gary December 5, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

Ownership Disputed Over 840-Pound, $400 Million Emerald

Bahia Emerald has picked up an article from The Wall Street Journal that reports a story about an 840-pound emerald.

In the article, “Five People Claim Ownership of an 840-Pound $400M Emerald” we are told of a man who had original ownership of the large diamond. And, he kept it in a storage box.

Then he reported it stolen.

Lt. Thomas Grubb is in charge of the investigation. He was notified of the “theft” by the emerald’s original owner, Larry Bieglar who is a gem broker and real estate investor who had a disagreement it seems with two other men.

The men, Todd Armstrong and Kit Morrison, are two businessmen who claimed they paid $1 million for diamonds but Bieglar didn’t deliver. They went on to say that he had put the 840-pound emerald up for collateral.

Bieglar has a much different story. He claims that the two guys offered him $80 million for the emerald and he accepted; he felt that $80 million was a fair price. He also says these guys didn’t pay anything.

As the article goes on to report, Armstrong and Morrison placed the emerald in a warehouse and agreed to turn it over to the police until the matter was resolved.
The Los Angeles based police traveled to Las Vegas to retrieve the emerald.

They found the emerald and were surprised. It looks like a big black rock. It is all in one piece.

It turns out the emerald is actually a Brazilian emerald and when appraised in that country only came in at $372 million.

When you start getting to these sizes of gems it is difficult to know the correct value.

In the case of the emerald, unless a person is going to “break it down,” it really isn’t much good other than for viewing as in a museum.

Diamonds tend to be the most expensive gem. I found the largest to be possibly 7,000 carats. If I took a value of two thousand dollars per carat and multiplied it by 7,000 I get $14 million; that is a far cry from $400 million. Of course there may be extra value because of the “uncut” size but how is that figured?

I think an excellent point is made by Maarten De Witte who suggests that either the diamond is worthless because of size or out of everyone’s ability to purchase for the same reason; it’s too big.

For a lot of us the only experience we have with diamonds is when we give or get one upon engagement.

I was told by a dear friend of mine that he purchases diamonds because should our economy ever become worthless with respect to our currency he would have something to “barter with.”

People are interesting especially when it comes to wealth.

More pictures here.

Gemstone Buying Guide and Exotic Gems

Filed under: interviews(new) — Gary @ 10:37 pm

Very informative books for rockhounds. Check out her site!

Where do you get your information?

  • From hands-on experience with the gems in the US and abroad.
  • Directly from dealers and jewelers who specialize in whatever I’m discussing. For example, I’ll interview several opal dealers if I’m writing about opals and I’ll have some of them check the accuracy of my sections on opals.
  • From appraisers and gem laboratories. I also have them check what I write.
  • From gem and jewelry seminars geared to the trade. Even though I graduated from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), I must keep abreast of new developments, sources and treatments.
  • From consumers and hobbyists. Sometimes they know more than “experts.”
  • From gem shows. This is one of the best ways to learn about gem pricing and availability.

Where do you get your photos?

I’ve taken many of the photos myself (those with no photo credits). The others I get from designers, jewelers, photographers and gem dealers. They get free publicity by having their name mentioned and I get free usage of the photos. There is no paid advertising in my books.


Gem and Jewelry Books

My name is Renée Newman. Gary asked me to do a blurb about myself and my gem books.
I became interested in gems while directing tours to Asia, South America and the South Pacific. Most of the time my tour groups stayed in plush hotels, and our “rockhounding” was limited to visiting jewelry factories and pearl farms. One exception was a stay in some huts along the Amazon River, where we were able to collect stones and plant materials, which the natives used for beads and other ornaments. One of the promised highlights was a visit to an Indian village, where we could see them dance, and then purchase the crafts that they made. The Indians were dressed in typical native garb and wore hats with feathers. As our bus was driving off after the visit to the village, one of the passengers motioned for us to look back. There we could see villagers taking off their Indian clothes and replacing them with jeans and western shirts and blouses. We all had a good laugh.
My passengers had lots of questions about the gems they saw, and in order to answer them, I decided to take some gemology courses at the Gemological Institute of America. I liked the classes so well that I decided to complete my gemological training at the GIA.
Afterwards, I got a job at a firm in downtown Los Angeles as a gemologist and jewelry quality control manager. However, it was always in the back of my mind to write books that would help consumers make wise decisions about the jewelry and stones they purchased. My first book was the Diamond Ring Buying Guide. It was well-received and readers asked me to branch out and do books on colored gems. Eventually I became a full-time author.
My books are available at major bookstores, jewelry supply stores and gemmological organizations and schools. The books most geared to rockhounds are the Gemstone Buying Guide and my Exotic Gems Series, which goes into more depth on lesser known stones, such as members of the feldspar family. Volume 1 includes rhodochrosite, sunstone and spectrolite jewelry by Mark Anderson and Jessica Dow from Different Seasons Jewelry

Different Seasons Sunstone Carving by Martha Borzoni

Different Seasons Sunstone Carving by Martha Borzoni

spectrolite pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

Spectrolite pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

Amazonite from Different Seasons Jewelry photo by Jessica Dow

Amazonite from Different Seasons Jewelry photo by Jessica Dow

. Amazonite, a green to greenish blue variety of microcline feldspar is also discussed. I didn’t see any of this feldspar when I visited the Amazon, although the name “amazonite” may originate from its resemblance to the color of the Amazon river or the green stones that Amazon natives wore when early German naturalists visited the area. Most Brazilian amazonite is found in the state of Minas Gerais, where crystals more than a meter high have been reported. Pikes Peak, Colorado is the best known source of amazonite in the U.S. Two slabs of Russian amazonite are shown in the fourth photo by Jessica Dow.
A new second volume of Exotic Gems will be available this coming February. It will include alexandrite, cat’s-eye chrysoberyl, dinobone, kyanite, andalusite, sillimanite, common opal, fire opal, tsavorite, demantoid, rhodolite, spessartine, almandine and other garnets. You can learn more about me and my books at

pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

Pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

What is flintknapping?

Filed under: regular postings — Gary December 3, 2010 @ 10:58 am
Michael Miller

Michael Miller

Archeologist Specializing in the Art of Flintknapping.

Michael Miller has been fascinated with rocks since early childhood; his mineral, fossil, and rock collecting took him to interesting places but, none as addicting as the realm of flintknapping. What is flintknapping? Technically and archaeologically, knapping is shaping of conchoidally fracturing stone to create an objective piece, be it an arrowhead, gun flint, scraper, etc. Numerous types of stone can be knapped, a short list includes: flint, chert, obsidian, chalcedony, basalt, and jasper. Lithic material for use in flintknapping can be found just about everywhere humans have ever called home. Michael grew up in Ohio and even after traveling all over the world as a professional archeologist he prefers the cherts from the Midwest. His favorite material to knap is Upper Mercer chert from south-central Ohio; it is a black to blue chert that is often mottled and occasionally has quartz inclusions. Some of the most colorful stone for knapping, Flint Ridge Flint, comes from Ohio too. Flint Ridge Flint is highly revered for the numerous colors, distinctive banding, and inclusions that make it so unique.  Michael enjoys digging for his stone but, also participates in an ever growing trade-network of knappers and exchanges his rocks for exotic and interesting cherts from all over the USA and world.

Flint Ridge

Flint Ridge

Flint Knapping

Flint Knapping

How do you get started in flintknapping? As with other rock hobbies, learning to knap takes dedication and time. Michael recommends that beginners look to the pros; flintknapping has a long tradition of being passed down, and the best way to learn is from another skilled flintknapper.  He says to go to a “knap-in”, this is when a bunch of knappers get together over a weekend for the sole purpose of banging on rocks, trading/selling rocks, learning new techniques and talking rock with fellow rock knockers. Ask almost any knapper for a lesson, and they’ll happily share their time, rock, and skills with you. If you can’t get to a knap-in, the Internet offers tons of resources, as many knappers have spread their specialized knowledge in the form of pictures and videos. Michael’s website,, offers a large selection of links to those looking to learn more about the art.

Michael spends his days working as a lithic analyst, an archaeologist that specializes in the study of stone artifacts. He uses his in-depth knowledge of flintknapping to help inform him about the artifacts that he studies; by correlating the practices of prehistoric humans with modern day experiments, he gains invaluable insight into the lifeways of our ancestors. On his off time, you guessed it, he plays with rocks and devotes untold hours to his website,, which has grown over the past ten years into the largest flintknapping website out there, showcasing the work of over 40 knappers and listing thousands of replicas for sale.