Gems & gemmology

Summer 2016 G&G: Diamonds from Diavik, Responsible Sourcing and Fabergé Cossack Figures


Summer 2016 Gems & Gemology Cover
The lead article in this issue examines the discovery and geology of the Diavik diamond mine, as well as the nature of the operations at this remote site in Canada’s Northwest Territories, just 220 km south of the Arctic Circle. The aerial photo on the cover, taken in the summer of 2014, captures Diavik’s isolation and the extent of its operations. Photo by Dave Brosha, courtesy of Diavik Diamond Mine.

Diamonds and coloured stones, carving and mining, historical treasures and the future of the industry are all featured in the latest Gems & Gemology. The Summer 2016 issue leads with the Diavik diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Other articles examine Fabergé figures depicting Russian imperial bodyguards, efforts to bring a sustainable and ethical supply chain to the coloured stone industry, the carving of a large opal rough into a museum-quality piece, and the bygone adventures of mine engineer Peter Rainier at the Colombian emerald mecca of Chivor.

MINING DIAMONDS IN THE CANADIAN ARCTIC: THE DIAVIK MINE

Diavik Foxfire rough diamond
The 187.7 ct “Diavik Foxfire”, discovered in spring 2015, is the largest gem-quality rough diamond found to date at the mine. Photo courtesy of Rio Tinto Diamonds.

Canada’s remote Diavik mine is one of the world’s pre-eminent sources of gem diamonds, producing over 100 million carats since 2003. In the lead article, Dr James Shigley and his team review the discovery, development and operation of the mine, which is expected to produce until 2024, when the land will be restored through reclamation and remediation efforts. The article is accompanied by exclusive videos captured at Diavik.

FABERGÉ COSSACK FIGURES CREATED FROM RUSSIAN GEMSTONES

Fabergé hardstone figure of Kudinov
The Fabergé hardstone figure of Chamber Cossacks A. A. Kudinov, who guarded
Empress Maria Feodorovna from 1878 to 1915. Photo courtesy of Pavlovsk State Museum
and Gafifullin (2014).

Between 1908 and 1916, the Fabergé workshops created approximately 50 hardstone figures representing the Russian people, using Russian gems and precious metals. Timothy Adams and Christel Ludewig McCanless examine two hardstone figures, commissioned by Nicholas II, of Cossack bodyguards who served the Romanov empresses.

THE COLOUR OF RESPONSIBILITY: ETHICAL ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS IN COLOURED GEMSTONES

The mining and processing of coloured stones, a multi-billion-dollar industry, still lacks an ethical and sustainable mine-to-market supply chain. Jennifer-Lynn Archuleta reports on the inherent challenges and the ongoing efforts to bring traceability, transparency and sustainability to the world of coloured stones.

THE CHALLENGES OF CUTTING A LARGE GEM OPAL ROUGH

Colour bars and potch in opal
A side view of the Australian opal rough shows all the colour bars and intervening layers of colourless potch. Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA.

Theodore Grussing explains how he planned and cut a 3,019 ct piece of Australian white opal rough into the Molly Stone, a 1,040 ct museum quality piece with play-of-colour across the entire surface. This article describes the many considerations involved in creating this one-of-a-kind gem. A video showing the creation of the Molly Stone enhances the reader’s understanding of the cutting process.

IN RAINIER’S FOOTSTEPS: JOURNEY TO THE CHIVOR EMERALD MINE

View of El Pulpito
Colombia’s Sinaí Valley, the sandstone monolith of El Pulpito hangs from a steep cliff at the top right. The Chivor mine is just out of view above the rock. Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA.

Robert Weldon and co-authors take readers on a trek through Colombian history as they journey to the world-famous Chivor mine, guided by the memoirs of Peter W. Rainier. The field report is accompanied by historical photos from the mine and video of the authors’ journey.

LAB NOTES

The Lab Notes section reports on a unique drilled emerald, a natural spinel with an unusual yellowish green colour, and the largest blue HPHT synthetic diamonds to date.

MICRO-WORLD

G&G’s photomicrography section features a metal sulphide inclusion in a pink pyrope garnet, a topaz hosting a triplite inclusion, and a stunning aurora effect in an iris agate (with accompanying video).

GEM NEWS INTERNATIONAL

Synthetic moissanite imitating synthetic coloured diamonds
Submitted as synthetic diamonds, the 0.99 ct blue-green emerald step cut (left), 0.85 ct brown-yellow standard round brilliant (centre), and 1.90 ct deep green standard round brilliant (right) were all identified as synthetic moissanite. Photo by Yanjun Song.

Highlights from the GNI section include Chinese amber treated through steam dyeing, the spectral characteristics of P. mazatlanica and P. margaritifera oyster species, synthetic moissanite imitating synthetic coloured diamond, and more entries from the Tucson gem shows.

2016 G&G CHALLENGE

For those interested in testing their knowledge of our 2015 content, the 2016 G&G Challenge will be open until Friday, 12 August. Participants who score 75% or higher will receive a certificate of completion, while respondents who earn a perfect score will be listed in the Autumn 2016 issue of Gems & Gemology.

Jennifer-Lynn Archuleta is the editor of Gems & Gemology.


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