Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gemstone of the Week: Musgravite

(Musgravite image found on multicolour.com)

Musgravite is a very rare and beautiful gemstone.  It was discovered in 1967 and belongs to the Taafeite (pronounced: tar-fight) family of gemstones and can be easily mistaken for Taafeite.  Musgravite is a hardness 8-8.5 and may be light olive green, dark greenish-blue, light to dark violet,  nearly colourless if the piece is thin. They may be transparent or translucent and have a vitreous luster.

 Musgravite was recently renamed Magnesiotaafeite-6N'3S by the IMA (International Mineralogical Association) because of its magnesium content and being so closely related to Taafeite.  In fact, the only way to be sure whether your stone is Taafeite or Musgravite is to have the magnesium content tested.  Musgravite's original name was given it based on the locality of where it was first found: the Musgrave Ranges of South Australia. The "6N'3S" portion of it's new 'official' name is due to it being composed of six Nolanite modules and three Spinel modules. Taafeite and Perhmanite (the third gem in the Taafeite family) have also been renamed by the IMA for, more or less, the same reasons as Musgravite.  They are now known as Magnesiotaafeite-2N'2S (Taafeite) and Ferrotaafeite-6N'3S (Perhmanite).  However, despite the name change and their original names supposed to be used only as trade names they will likely still be called by their original names even within the the gem trade.  

As mentioned earlier, Musgravite is a very rare gemstone and is not only found if small quantities, but in very few locations.  Currently, Musgravite is only known to be found in:  Australia, Antarctica, and France.  Also, because of its rarity, Musgravite tends to be highly expensive with some websites I have looked at suggesting that its per carat cost may even get as high as $35,000;  so if this is a stone you wish to add to your collection or hope to find a piece of jewelry using it, be prepared to spend a lot of money.

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