Rubies are regarded amongst the most valuable gems in the world, and despite the fact that rather large crystals of red colored Corundum are found in multiple world localities, transparent crystals are few and far between. In addition to the scarcity of gem Corundum crystals is the elusive "Trapiche" habit that is found in a very small percentage of Ruby crystals, most notably from Myanmar. This piece is a polished cross section (slice) of a "Trapiche" Ruby crystal with a rich reddish-pink hue that glows with good backlighting. The "legs" or "spokes" in the stone are pretty sharp with good hexagonal symmetry. To find this phenomenon in a Ruby is rather rare in the mineral world, and this piece a very good example of something that few people have seen outside of the material from Myanmar. This piece would make a wonderful addition to a gemstone suite or a collection of gem crystals. It could also be set to create a unique piece of jewelry.
A little history -
The word "Trapiche" comes from the name of a Spanish mill consisting of wooden spokes or rollers that were designed to extract the juice from fruit, including olives, dating back to the Middle Ages. The machine was also later adapted to extract juice from sugar cane.
This term has been used for minerals since 1879 when Emile Bertrand first used it to describe Emeralds from Colombia. The dark six-sided star shaped patterns seen inside the crystals (when viewed looking down the "c" axis) are similar to the actual spokes of a trapiche machine. A Trapiche is the result of the hexagonal shape of the crystal, where the darker impurities interrupt the growth of the crystal and are pushed to the center of the crystal and then radiates out in the six directions of the corners of the crystal. Typically, it is required that crystals are sliced and polished in order to see the "legs" of the Trapiche more clearly.
Although this phenomenon is exceptionally rare around the world, in addition to Emeralds, I have personally observed these inclusions in Ruby, Sapphire and Tourmaline, so it stands to reason that there is a connection between hexagonal / trigonal mineral species and the "Trapiche" effect.
Locality: Mong Hsu, Loilem District, Shan State, Myanmar (Burma)
Specimen Size: 4.82 mm (thumbnail)
Specimen Weight: 0.32 cts
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Last updated 3 July 2022.
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