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    Spodumene (variety kunzite)

    Most gemstones are already rare in some way; otherwise they would not be as valued as they are. The truly exceptional must prove their rarity in many ways and - given the inherent scarcity of the raw material, its top-notch gemological qualities, pedigreed provenance and documentation - such is the case with this remarkable faceted kunzite.

    Among the mineral species that make up the Earth's crust, spodumene is not at all abundant, yet in very few places in the earth, it occurs in small deposits rich enough to be considered an ore of lithium and as crystals to some 6 meters long. Many orders of magnitude less common are gem quality crystals of the mineral. Since being first described in 1800, spodumene remained off the aesthetic radar for 80 years until the discovery of its green gem variety, hiddenite, which became, and still is, highly prized. A little more than 20 years later, a find of limpid lilac crystals in California - varietally named kunzite, after noted Tiffany gemologist, G.F. Kunz - changed the status of spodumene to that of a bona fide gem species. The reality remains that gem quality kunzite represents only the tiniest fraction of the spodumene known.

    At over 722 carats and measuring approximately 42.95 x 39.25 x 43.85 mm, this modified rectangular (emerald) step cut gem is among the giants for kunzite. It is the largest of four significantly large stones that were cut in 1981 by John Ramsey and Tom Carleton from a one-kilogram crystal that, 25 years prior to Ramsey's acquisition of it, had been taken across the Atlantic from Brazil to reside in a European collection. Only in Brazil have gem crystals large enough to produce this size and quality been unearthed. Ramsey's comments regarding the rough crystal:

    "It should first be mentioned that the availability of a one-kilo, essentially clean kunzite crystal from Brazil in today's marketplace is in itself a phenomenon. Certainly, a number of fine crystals from Brazil were available in the late 1950's and early 1960's, but these disappeared from the market some time ago. Afghanistan produces kunzite, but nothing of the size and quality of the crystal described." 1

    This superbly cut stone is in the same elite size league as the Smithsonian Institution's 880 carat kunzite. However, in a letter, renowned gemological authority, Joel Arem, wrote in comparison that "the 722 [carats] from this crystal [are] far superior in color and cut with both deep saturation and high brilliancy." He also declared that "I believe that nobody would argue against the premise that the number of stones against which this [stone] might be compared can be counted on one hand." 2 Arem underscored this belief when he chose a photograph of this specimen to illustrate the gem species in his popular Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones. 3

    Ramsey described in detail the process and difficulties of cutting kunzite in general, and this stone in particular, in a 1981 article published in the internationally leading gemological journal, Gems & Gemology. Kunzite is trichroic, meaning it exhibits different colors in 3 directions, and one of the important decisions the cutters made was to produce several stones out of the one kilo rough crystal rather than one single gem. In doing so, they maximized the color intensity. Any other direction would have produced either a much paler purple or even a near colorless to pale green... one can imagine since the trichroism is still wonderfully apparent when viewed in the appropriate directions. This sort of documentation, in addition to the gemstone encyclopedia entry and a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certificate 4 confirming the gem material identity, adds significant collector appeal and value over and above the stone's superlative inherent qualities.

    Rare gem material, superb craftsmanship, stature and a documented history make this museum-quality gem a true rarity.

    1 Ramsey, J. "The Cutting Properties of Kunzite" Gems&Gemology, winter 1981. Detailed account of the cutting of the rough from which this stone came.
    2 Arem, J. Letter dated 2/26/93. States "world's finest cut kunzite".
    3 Arem, J. Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones, Second Edition, 1987. Index section of color photographs, #215.
    4 Gemological Institute of America Identification Report 4254632, dated 12/01/93.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    6th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,874

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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