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About Minerals

Stones of Mexico

Amethyst: Little or no flawless amethyst occurs in Mexico. However, in the mountains near Taxco (Tass-go)-- a town once famous for its silver mines and now noted for the picturesqueness of its streets and the artistry of its silversmiths--are numerous veins which yield amethyst of fair to excellent color, though almost opaque from numerous flaws. Individual crystals are several inches long and up to an inch in diameter; due to intense inter growth, cementation, and flaws, they do not possess the beauty of comparable specimens from Brazil or Uruguay. Only rarer is a portion of a crystal sufficiently clear to allow the cutting of a flawless stone of more than a few carats weight.

These crystals are shipped from Taxco to Queretaro City, the lapidary center of the nation. Here the amethyst is cut and polished; most is cut en cabochon, but some of the better material is carved into rudimentary figures-- miniature frogs, for example--suitable for a better grade of silver jewelry. Most of the cut stones eventually find their way back to Taxco, where they are mounted.

Amethyst also occurs in Guanajuato (wann-a-watt-to) in some quantity. Although more pleasing as mineral specimens than is the Taxco, Guanajuato amethysts are vastly superior in size, color and transparency.

The author received, on one occasion, some small, flawless pale doubly-terminated amethyst crystals from an unknown locality in Sonora; they greatly resembled Herkimer quartz in appearance. No more is known of this occurrence.

Other Stones: Turquoise occurs in several places in Mexico: Northern Chihuahua; Concepcion del Oro, Zacatecas; Lower California. These deposits have been worked sporadically for the past fifty pears with decreasing success. Turquoise produced tends to be greenish, light in color, small in size, and rather soft.

A flawless one-carat emerald crystals was recently shown the author by a fairly reliable miner. The miner claimed to have discovered it in the State of Oaxaca (wa-ha-ha) in a region known to be hostile to outsiders. (many foreigners do not appreciate that access to certain parts of Mexico is not feasible owing to the presence of actively hostile groups.)

During the war of flourishing business in Oueretaro City was based on the manufacture of colored glass in imitation of precious stones. Magnificent large "Aquamarines", "Amethysts", "Topazes" and "Emeralds" made their appearance, not expertly cut on home-made faceting machines (jam-peg cutting is unknown in Mexico). The glass stones had unpolished girdles, as many think this is the sign of a genuine stone. Rings mounted with these well-authenticated stones were sold widely and some even found their way into the United States. The merchants who supplied the colored glass in sheets received amazing prices for "gem rough" of a particularly choice shade.

via Glacial Drifter 5/98