The Empress of Uruguay – Frequently Asked Questions.
How much does it weigh?
2,500 kilograms, or 2.5 tonnes. That’s a lot more than a large family car and as heavy as TWO small cars! When The Empress arrived at The Crystal Caves in November 2007, two large cranes were needed to lift her into her current position.
How tall is it?
She is big! The Empress stands 327 centimetres or 3.27 metres tall. That’s nearly 11 feet in the ‘old money’.
What happened to the other half?
After being mined and brought to the surface (which took nearly three months) the front of this giant Geode was carefully removed in very small sections to reveal the beauty you now see. Those small pieces were all sold from the turntable display upstairs in the Amethyst room in the Fascinating Facets Gift Shop. Take a look when you visit, some may still be there!
Is it all real?
The Empress is very real. Because she is so perfect in every detail, some people doubt that such a thing could occur naturally and that she is in some way ‘man-made’ or enhanced in some way. Some even suggest that perhaps the Amethyst crystals have been hand made by jewellers and then put into place in the Geode! In fact there has been no polishing or enhancement of any kind and the Empress is totally natural. Apart from the removal of the front to expose the interior, smoothing of the rough exposed edge and a coat of black paint on the exterior back, she is exactly as nature made her, deep under the ground.
What about those crystals?
Each of the thousands of beautiful crystals were formed inside the Geode exactly as you see them now. They are unusual crystals because they are rated as “AA jewellery quality”, because of their deep purple colour, and their pristine condition. Keen observers will also note some large, beautiful white Calcite crystals that seem to be emerging from among the Amethyst. The geologists tell us that the calcite crystals were formed inside the Empress first, and then at some later period, the Amethyst crystals grew and ‘smothered’ most of the Calcite. Indeed, the visible Calcite crystals show signs of Amethyst growing on them, which would support this theory.
How did you get it here?
The Empress had a special crate constructed tightly around her, at the mine in Uruguay, and this was then secured in her own steel container and shipped out of Brazil to Brisbane. Following the 1600km road trip to us here, huge cranes were used to remove her from the container and to gently place here in her current position. The “Empress Room” was then built around her. A lot of work and expense, but all well worth it!
How much did it cost and how much is it worth?
We paid US$75,000 for the Empress in late 2007, and at least another $25,000 getting her here and set up as you see her now. We have since received substantial offers from people wanting to buy her. She is reputedly now valued at over A$250,000, but she is not for sale.
Many people say they are surprised to see something so rare and “Special” in Atherton, rather than in Sydney, Paris or some other international city. When she was first found in that mine in Uruguay, she was first offered to our founder and still current owners, René and Nelleke Boissevain, because the Boissevains are long standing customers of this particular mine. René didn’t hesitate for very long before making the purchase. So the Empress is here because she is the most prized addition to the already impressive mineral collection belonging to our founders. René and Nelleke made Atherton their home back in the sixties, and so it is also the home of the collection, and of the Empress.