Rock stars: Giant emeralds to be raffled at gem show
Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Thomas Ellison holds a 1,650-carat emerald that will be raffled off at the gem show in Port Angeles next weekend.
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The rock show, which will focus on the science of emeralds, will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.
Admission will be free to the show being sponsored by the Clallam County Gem and Mineral Society, which will have about 30 vendors and demonstrations.
“They'll be selling everything from tools to opals,” said Thomas Ellison, show chairman and master facetier.
Two giant, rare emerald gemstones weighing in at 1,650 and 1,418 carats each — as well as a collection of 35 jewelry-size emeralds — will be the grand prizes in three $10-per-ticket raffles to raise funds for science scholarships for Clallam County students, Ellison said.
Each of the large emeralds and the collection of smaller gems has been appraised in the $50,000 range or more.
The smaller of the two fist-sized stones was appraised by the Gemological Institute of America — GIA — as being worth $49,656 and comes with a certificate of appraisal.
The larger stone was sent to GIA this week for a preshow appraisal after being recut, Ellison said.
The collection of 35 smaller gems was appraised at $58,784.
The values of the stones being auctioned is based on their dark coloring and their rare, large size, Ellison said.
A $1-per-ticket raffle will give winners a choice between 100 smaller stones, strings of stones carved into beads or small gem collections.
During the show, Puget Sound Knappers and the Tacoma Facetiers' Guild will offer demonstrations, and a gemologist will be available to examine guests' rocks, gems and jewelry.
Jewelry-making demonstrations also will be available.
Most emeralds are not classic, clear green gems.
When worked, most emeralds are smooth green stones spiderwebbed with decorative lines of deeper or lighter green and superficially resemble a dark-green jade.
“Mother Nature is absolutely pretty cool. She can produce things that look the same but have different chemical makeup,” Ellison said.
Emeralds are a beryl, Ellison explained, and the color depends on what minerals they were exposed to as they formed.
The green emerald color comes from exposure to chromium, he said.
When a beryl is gold, it is called a heliodor, and when it is blue, it is an aquamarine.
Truly clear emeralds are very rare, though many high-quality stones can be treated in a laboratory to appear to be a clear green, he said.
Ellison explained that with age and exposure to the elements, the interior fractures will increase, and “eventually, all emeralds will disintegrate into piles of green stone dust.”
The assessed value of an emerald or other stones is purely for insurance purposes, Ellison said.
Typically, collectors pay about half of the appraised value for a finished stone, he said.
Ellison said that over the years, emeralds of all qualities have increased in rarity, which is what makes the large, good-quality stones so valuable.
“When I started, I could buy a wheelbarrow of these for $4 or $5. Now, you can pay $1,000 for a rough stone,” Ellison said.
Raffle money will be donated to the Port Angeles and Sequim education foundations and to Crescent, Clallam Bay and Quillayute Valley school districts to fund scholarships for students intending to study earth sciences.
Each vendor in the show donated a minimum of a $20-value item for the raffle, Ellison said.
A full schedule of events is at www.olympicrocks.com.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 02. 2012 6:11PM