treeMount Antero Gemstones and Minerals

Mount Antero has long been known to collectors as the best American locality for the gemstone aquamarine, phenakite, bertrandite and other blue Beryl gems such as topaz . Some of the finest smoky quartz crystals in Colorado have also been found in this area. The aquamarines are found above tree line in the alpine tundra of Colorado's famed Collegiate Range. Relatively few collectors outside of Colorado are aware of the mineral discoveries that have been made on Mount Antero. The south peak is a rich source of gemstones dating back to 1884, When Nathaniel Wanemaker discovered a number of blue aquamarines near the south knob & lower slopes. Since that time, Mt. Antero has proved an extraordinary source of aquamarines, topaz and clear and smoky quartz crystals. Some of the clear crystals have been huge and common smoky quartz crystals have weighed as much as fifty pounds.

berylAquamarine is a member of the beryl family, as is emerald, Aqua is known for its blue or blue green coloring, which accounts for its name. The legends behind aquamarine all have to do with the sea and water. The Romans wore them into battle in hopes of good fortune and protection. Aquamarine is also the birthstone for March. It is a popular gem that wears well in all circles of fashion and moderately priced.

The price of aquamarine does not vary in sizes above one carat, thus a 50-carat aqua would be the same price per carat as a one-carat gem of equal quality. The price is dependant on its clarity, the depth of color and to a lesser extent the purity of color. Another interesting feature of this gem is the inclusions. Beryls, and aquamarine in particular, are known for having long, hollow tubes. This is a distinctive feature and will identify a gem as a member of the beryl family. If there are enough of these hollow tubes, cat's eyes or stars can be produced with proper cutting. A cat's eye aquamarine is a thing of beauty and prized by collectors. The star aquamarine is even more rare than a cat's eye and can demand a premium price.

  miningThis beautiful gem receives it's coloring from a trace amount of iron. The color can be very light to moderately dark. You will rarely see an aqua that is darker than a Swiss blue topaz and when you do, the color is usually enhanced by the way they are cut. You can distinguish the irradiated product from a natural aquamarine by it's pleochroism and its spectrum. In natural aquamarine there is a distinct blue and colorless dichroism. The irradiated aqua stone has no pleochroism and is blue in every direction.
  When cutting aquamarine, depth and color is usually the primary factor to be considered. Deep designs, like barions and emerald cuts are usually preferred. Faceters should use 43-degree pavilion mains on aquamarine for the highest brilliance. Low crown angles will produce brilliance, but higher crowns are often used to deepen the color.
  jewelryBeryls are some of the easiest gems to polish, with diamond being the most common method. It is probably the high quality of polish that gives light aquamarine or goshenite such great brilliance they are confused with higher RI gems. While they just have moderate dispersion of .014, light stones with high crown angles will show their spectral colors well. This makes for an outstanding gemstone. While the highest values go to the richer colors, a well cut, light Antero aquamarine is one of the most spectacular examples of the gem world. Our stones have been compared to the finest Brazilian stones and our world-class minerals are on display at such institutions as the Smithsonian Institute and the Denver Museum of Natural Science.
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