Micro-World Gems & Gemology, Summer 2018, Vol. 54, No. 2

Mushroom in Copal

Mushroom in Mexican Copal
This copal from Mexico contained a remarkably well-preserved eye-visible mushroom inclusion. Photomicrograph by Nathan Renfro; field of view 9.59 mm.

Copal is widely popular among gem collectors due to its eclectic inclusion scenes. As a fossilized tree resin, copal can contain a wide range of flora, fauna, and inorganic materials. It is not uncommon to find spiders, termites, leaves, and petals inside this resinous gem. In a 19.83 ct brownish orangy yellow copal, the author recently observed a remarkably well-preserved mushroom (see above) that was easily seen with the naked eye and had a cap that was just over 5.5 mm in diameter. Stalks of broken mushrooms, miscellaneous plant materials, and gas bubbles were also found in this specimen. Interestingly, copal was also used for many years by some indigenous peoples in Mexico and Central America as incense for ceremonial purposes such as the sacred mushroom ceremony. The mushroom inclusion in this copal, reportedly from Mexico, may have a more significant meaning for the people of Mesoamerica that goes beyond a gemological standpoint.

Rebecca Tsang is a staff gemologist at GIA in Carlsbad, California.