It is always a pleasure to introduce a gem to our customers for the first time. With webbing running through the gem reminiscent of the finest Turquoise, Variscite is often confused with its better-known counterpart. Displaying a richer green hue, this is the first time we’ve been able to bring this rare treasure to your screens.
In the late 1930s the famed Clay Canyon mine in Utah delivered the finest grade Variscite the industry had ever seen – two specimens from this location were acquired by the Smithsonian for their collection. This was a rare phosphate mineral that, in top specimens, embodied an unparalleled apple green color. Sadly, after three short years of mining, the supply of this gem dwindled. The Clay Canyon mine became a legendary location for this here and gone stone. Just as many gems become synonymous with one location (Sapphire and Ceylon, for example), Variscite became synonymous with Clay Canyon, so much so that it was also known for a time as Utahlite.
Sadly, this mine had long since been depleted and there had been a notable absence of this material in the market for many years.
However, in 2003 a small pocket was uncovered in the ancient outback of Australia that has brought this beautiful gem back onto the market. Wonderfully, this isn’t a poor-man’s substitute for specimens from Clay Canyon. This Australian source is absolutely deserving of the praise it has garnered in the industry.
We managed to secure this parcel by happenchance at the Tucson Gem Fair. Our Purchasing Director Jake Thompson-Bennett and our resident Gem Expert Dave Troth were scouring the smallest displays scattered over the town of Tucson, determined to find the rarest treasures. Stumbling across this beautiful gem, they were instantly captivated, but had never heard of it. Jake told his team to secure a deal on it on the last day as this would usually give us the best price. Returning to the main halls, they saw a similar green gem from Australia being sold to some of the world’s most luxurious jewelry houses for $3000/per strand of round cuts. Surprised at this, they asked the dealer if the gem was indeed Australian Variscite and was being used by these brands in jewelry. Laughing, the dealer told them his gem was Australian Chrysoprase and that Variscite was ‘far too rare to create a line of jewelry with’. Jake and Dave immediately took a taxi across town to secure the Variscite! Mick, the vendor, told them it had taken him years to put the parcel together. They bought the entire parcel.
In top specimens, the apple color rivals that of Chrysoprase and we have managed to source an exquisite and limited parcel of exceptional examples for our collectors, creating a truly limited edition line of jewelry.
We have chosen to bring you this gem in our exclusive hand-crafted Aryonna collection to best showcase its organic look, as well as the artisanal way this stone is mined.
Mick has told us that since it took him years to source this limited parcel, it would be a real challenge to recreate a collection of this scale again. We wanted to bring back the same grade as the Utah material that so captivated the market. Those original Utah mineral specimens regularly command huge price points at Bonhams when they appear infrequently from private historical collections.