Famous Australian Gemstones
I’m back from my travels, researching Australian Gemstones. I am going to dive straight in to writing the Gemstone Detective guide to buying gemstones and jewellery in Australia.
This was my second visit to Australia, and I spent it collecting some top tips for tourists to help them buy opals and sapphires. I’m pretty sure it will take a third, perhaps even a fourth, visit to really do Australia justice – it’s such a vast country, full of natural wonders and offers some stunning gemstones.
Heading West from Brisbane, my trip started with Gemfields, in the Central Highlands. Gemfields is renowned for its sapphire, but not just any sapphire: this part of the world produces a very special variety called parti sapphire. Parti sapphire is unusual, because two or three colours can be present in one stone – usually blue, green and yellow.
Other than parti-sapphires, the occasional orange, pink, purple and colour-change sapphires have been found in Gemfields.
From a layman’s point of view, Gemfields stands out because of the sheer size of some of its sapphires. Over the years, Gemfields miners have found gem-quality sapphires weighing hundreds of carats each. Some of these rare and incredibly valuable stones have given rise to their own folklore and legends.
I was lucky enough to meet with Mr Richardson, the owner of some of those famous sapphires and other Australian Gemstones. He showed me his Pride of the Willows, followed by the TomaHawk sapphire found between Rubyvale and Clairmont. Then, out came the yellow 165 carat GlenElva. Next, the 145 carat Eiffle Tower followed by the second most famous sapphire, the Toma Hawk Tiger, found in 1978.
Finally, seen in the picture above, he showed me his most famous sapphire found in 1937, the Stonebridge Green. It’s a whopping 203 carats!
I declined to hold them, as I would have hated to drop them on his concrete floor! That would be more than my life’s worth if I had to pay for damages!
Australia has also produced some huge star sapphires, including ‘the Presidents Heads’. In my next blog, I’ll tell you all about these incredible gems, so stick around!