A Closer Look at Malysheva Emeralds
In July 2006, at the invitation of Canada's Tsar Emerald Corp., the
AGTA GTC's Richard Hughes visited the famous Malysheva emerald and alexandrite deposit
outside Yekaterinburg, Russia. Following that visit, Tsar Emerald provided the AGTA GTC
with a number of both rough and cut emerald specimens for complete gemological examination.
What follows are some brief preliminary findings.
A group of emerald crystals from Russia's Malysheva emerald mine. Specimens courtesy
of Tsar Emeralds Corp.; photo: Wimon Manorotkul/Pala International.
The Malysheva emerald mine has been mined
since 1831, principally for the element beryllium, with the gem emerald and alexandrite
being a byproduct of that mining.
We found the gemological features of the current production to be
consistent with those previously reported in the gemological literature (see Schmetzer, 1991).
Below are a few photomicrographs that illustrate the major inclusion features. A full article
on the deposit will be forthcoming.
Lathe-shaped flakes of phlogopite mica spin through the green depths of a Malysheva
emerald. Specimen courtesy of Tsar Emeralds Corp.;
photo: John Koivula
While comparatively rare, amphibole needles are a feature of some Malysheva emeralds,
as shown in this photomicrograph produced in polarized light. Specimen courtesy
of Tsar Emeralds Corp.; photo: John Koivula
One of the most diagnostic features seen was thin liquid films lying on the basal
plane, seen here with both reflected and transmitted light. Specimen courtesy of Tsar
Emeralds Corp.; photo: John Koivula
- Laskovenkov, A.F. and Zhernakov, V.I. (1995) An update on the Ural
emerald mines. Gems & Gemology, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 106–113.
- Schmetzer, K., Bernhardt, H.-J., Biehler, R. (1991) Emeralds from
the Ural Mountains, USSR. Gems & Gemology, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 86–99.
John I. Koivula is one of the world's most famous gemologists and photomicrographers. Author of several books, he was also the scientific advisor to the famous MacGyver television series.
Richard Hughes (left) is
the author of the classic Ruby & Sapphire and over 100 articles on various aspects of gemology. Many of his writings can be found at www.ruby-sapphire.com.
First published in September 2006, while John and I were at the AGTA GTC. Working with John was one of the greatest pleasures of my life, sadly far too brief. Looking back, I can only wonder what might have been…
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Posted 14 October, 2011; last updated
7 March, 2013