Emeralds are amongst the most well-known yet elusive gems in the world. That's not to say that Emeralds are rare per se, but fine GEM quality stones are certainly much harder to find than the majority of commonly known gems. Colombia is the world's leading producer of gem quality Emeralds, but it's not only the transparent material that inctices collectors. When it comes to Emeralds, the Trapiche stones stand alone in a class all their own. This particular specimen is a classic example of the famous Muzo Trapiches featuring a beautiful glowing green interior that shows up well with good backlighting. You can see in the first photo that this one actually has an extra "leg" or "spoke", but it strangely doesn't show through on the reverse side. With that said the "spokes" or "legs" of the stone are still incredibly sharp and well-formed with fantastic hexagonal arrangement and symmetry.
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: 6.43 mm (thumbnail)
Specimen Weight: 0.55 cts
Shipping from United States
1-3 business days
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