Trapiche Emeralds

07.12.2011 § 1 Comment

Mysterious and rather unknown, the peculiar beauty of Trapiche Emeralds lies in their accidental and rare occurrence. Only found occasionally in certain emerald mines in Chivor and Gachalá, Columbia, fine quality trapiche emeralds are very valued.

Trapiche emerald with a beautiful hexagonal shape core at its center and a fine yellowish green color.

The Spanish speakers may know this: the name Trapiche is the Spanish word attributed to the wheels used for milling sugarcane (see the picture below). In gemology, “trapiche” designates the appearance of certain gems resembling these wheels. A quality trapiche emerald presents little inclusions, a well formed hexagonal core and a fine yellowish green color typical for this region of Columbia. The most beautiful trapiche emeralds have been known to come from the Gachalá mine.

This unique trapiche appearance is caused by a very unusual interruption of the crystallization during the formation of an emerald, forcing the emerald to crystallize in two stages: the first where the central hexagonal core is formed, and after an interruption causing a crust to cover the crystal faces, the second stage where crystallization continues into a parallel growth of six prism shaped emerald crystals around the initial central crystal.

Ring from the collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A in 1869 by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend

Isn’t it a beautiful gem? Any worthwhile gem collection should have one! I don’t really know any emerald dealer I could recommend for trapiche emeralds but I will definitely be looking for one to set as an E in my acrostic bracelet, no matter how long it will take to find it, so I’ll probably get to write more about it.

Beware not to have trapiche emeralds confused with imitations (usually beryl sliced and polished to be assembled in a trapiche-like manner). Note that corundum (rubies and sapphires) as well as tourmaline can also be trapiche however, because of their trigonal crystal system, their core (if they have one) will have a triangular shape.

Images: Google, V&A Palabraria

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