The Chinese Red Feldspar Controversy: Chronology of Research Through July 2009
Red copper-containing plagioclase feldspar from Oregon has been available for over a century. In the early 2000s, new localities for copper-bearing feldspar were reported from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Tibet or an unspecified locality in China. The new material has been the subject of widespread concerns about its geographic origin and natural color. In fact, extensive studies of its composition, spectroscopy, physical appearance, and isotopic properties suggest that much of the red andesine on the market is the product of laboratory diffusion of copper into pale yellow andesine from Inner Mongolia. All samples initially subjected to testing as part of this study gave strong evidence or suggestions of treatment. Traces of copper-containing fluxes found on rough stones, and measurements of argon isotopic composition in particular, demonstrate that the tested material was recently heated to high temperatures under conditions where copper diffusion could occur. These results apply to samples that were obtained through July 2009, but do not include samples from expeditions to Tibet in 2010.