A great example of the classic, rare and desirable "Trapiche" habit seen in this Sapphire from Mong Hsu. This piece is a polished cross-section that has sharp, black, well-defined "spokes" or "legs" sitting in a mix of pastel pink, purple and golden hues, but if you look closel you can see a pair of thin blue Sapphire "stripes" (see the upper right hand corner for the first photo). A lovely piece for any collector, or a wonderful center stone for a pendant or other 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: 7.29 mm (thumbnail)
Specimen Weight: 1.21 cts
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Last updated 3 July 2022.
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