October 28, 2003
New Gemstone Discovered in Canada
True North Gems, a Canadian mining company, confirmed that a gemstone discovered in Canada's Yukon Territory last August is unique in the world of known gems. Described as a deep blue beryl, this new gem material is said to most closely resemble aquamarine, also a variety of the beryl species. Company officials also likened its deep blue to the rare beryl variety called maxixe. The new material, first found as an item of "curiosity" in 1976, was rediscovered on True North's True Blue property in the Lake Finlayson District of the Yukon Territory.
"Powder X- ray diffraction confirmed it to be a member of the beryl species," says Lee Groat, a professor at the University of British Columbia's Department of Earth and Sciences. Groat performed a series of tests to better understand the new material. A scanning electron microscope determined its trace analysis to contain unusual amounts of sodium, aluminum and iron, which he says might partially explain the saturated colors.
"It is a unique very high iron content," says William Rohtert, consulting gemologist for True North. "In many respects the color resembles that of blue sapphire. This material has a slightly higher refractive index and specific gravity than aquamarine. It is also dichroic in two directions, much like the rare maxixe beryl." For now sample materials yield small but marketable sizes ranging up to near 1.0 carat. Rohtert says the material will make excellent calibrated melee material for use in pavé type settings.
This beryl is not maxixe either. Maxixe's enduring irony is that its beautiful deep blue fades in sunlight. The gem must be irradiated and stored in a dark place for the color to endure. "The True Blue beryl does not fade," Rohtert says. "Material has been lying on the surface for thousands of years and the color has remained strong. So for that and other reasons, it really is a very different kind of beryl."
True North Gems' CEO, Andrew Lee Smith, calls the new deposit a "very significant exploration achievement in Canada." But exploration for the blue beryl is still in its infancy. Company scientists and mining engineers expect to start mapping, trenching and bulk sampling next year.
True North Gems is a pioneer in Canadian colored gemstone mining, having discovered and developed a mine for emeralds (also a beryl) in the Regal Ridge property near Lake Finlayson in Canada's Yukon Territories. It's also developing a second mine for emeralds at its Ghost Lake district in Ontario. Both properties constitute the only known sources for emeralds in Canada.
True North Gems, West Vancouver, BC, Canada; (800) 399-8055.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.