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heliodor from tajikistan

Posted by bob kerr  
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
February 16, 2012 06:03PM
That's another one on the lists of minerals not to bother with then as it sounds impossible to tell if they are genuine or not. Tjis got my attention as I have been thinking about getting a Heliodor as I want to complete the Beryl set, I have goshenite, aquamarine, emerald and red beryl and i have a fragment of what was sold as golden beryl (i dont really distinguish golden beryl from heliodor, but i think helidor is more a greenish yellow?) but its possible my fragment is one of those treated ones. I wanted to get a complete crystal but I am discouraged now as it seems there are a lot of fakes out there, same with Citrine I have given up on getting genuine citrine as i think i can now tell what the heat treated stuff is but citrine with iron coatings i cannot tell, apparently even soaking them in muriatic acid might not remove the iron as it can be trapped inside the crystal. Thanks for raising this issue becuase if i had not seen it i was thinking of getting one or a few as there is lots on eBay (mostly saying from Vietnam) such as this

Although they are not from Tadzhikistan I am now suspicious of all helidor.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/16/2012 06:06PM by Jason Evans.
Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 17, 2012 09:52PM
There are three issues here: one, the mine locality. two, the theory that it has been irradiated. And three, the theory that it has been heat treated.

Regarding the mine locality, here's what I was told by a gem dealer who brought some of this material to Tucson in 2008: The mine is located in the Pamir Mountains (which are part of the Himalayas) at an elevation of 14,000 feet. The harsh weather conditions and extreme mountainous terrain make the site nearly inaccessible. To be precise, the location is in the south central part of Tajikistan, in the mountainous province Kuhistoni-Badakhshon, somewhere to the south of Kalaikhum. However, due to the severe terrain, the mine is not accessible from the Tajikistan side of the border at all (which is why no one in Tajikistan has heard of the mine). It can only be reached from Afghanistan, through the far-northern province of Badakhshan, and only during the summer months when the weather is (relatively) good. All mining supplies must be carried by mule to the mine, and the crystals are carried out the same way. I haven't seen any new crystals from the Zeylotoya Vada Mine since 2009, so I assume it is now closed, making pinpointing the locality even more difficult. I've also heard reports that the mine doesn't show up where its "supposed" to be on satellite photos. If it's snow free only 2 months of the year, perhaps this is just a matter of timing? This is a vast area, thousands of square miles of high mountains - if you're looking for a mine that is a small pit, it's worse than finding a needle in a haystack. Also, someone wrote that it's been 20 years since these appeared and still no one knows where they are from. Really? I didn't see any of these until Tucson 2007. That's 4+ years ago, not 20.

The second issue is irradiation. As discussed already, clearly the claims that the material has been irradiated are bogus. To my knowledge, no one has produced a sample of low grade aqua that has been irradiated in some unique, specialized way that comes close to the color of these crystals. When/if they do, I'll shut up!

As for heat treatment, here's what Barbara Voltaire wrote in the GIA gemology forum: "Aquamarine often has a residual greenish tone until it's heated. Why? Beryl is a beryllium aluminum silicate. Yet, none of those elemental constituents are able to cause color. Iron is responsible for golden yellow, golden green, green and blue beryl. In order to understand how minor amounts of iron impart various colors we need to know: 1. where within the atomic structure of the beryl the iron is located 2. the oxidization state of the iron. The blue and yellow color seen in beryl results from small amounts of iron situated in the channels formed by silicate ions, running parallel to the "c" axis of the crystal. If the iron present is in the 2+ oxidation state, the color is blue. If it is in the 3+ oxidation state the color is golden yellow. Combinations of oxidation states impart intermediate colors. When you heat greenish blue beryl to 450 degrees C, it reduces the iron from 3+ to 2+, therefore eliminating the yellowish cast." So, aquamarine that is heat treated will not turn yellow - it will lose whatever yellow color it has and turn blue. This fact rules out the hypothesis that the heliodor from Tajikistan has been heat treated to turn it yellow.

We haven't thrown all Tsumeb specimens in the trash simply because there are fakes out there. We also didn't reject the early Chinese specimens which were attributed to incorrect mines in the wrong province, which happened because the wholesale dealers guarded their secret sources jealously. And the theories about treatment (heat or irradiation or any other method known to the GIA) have failed to survive serious scrutiny, too.

I say, it's time to lift the ban on showing these crystals on mindat.

Eric Greene

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/17/2012 10:06PM by Jolyon Ralph.
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 17, 2012 10:05PM
Until someone can give us some good evidence that these are genuine (for example, a photo from the mythical 'Zeylotoya Mine') then it's still a myth as far as I'm concerned - there is absolutely no evidence to support their natural origin, and a LOT of suspicion from a great deal of experts. Talk to any of the experts in either Soviet Union minerals OR afghanistan/pakistan minerals - they are all pretty much in agreement that these are fake.

Do you have any evidence that can be corroborated? A tale from an unnamed gem dealer (along with the helpful comment that the mine doesn't show up on aerial photos) doesn't really inspire any confidence from me.

As for irradition, it has been clearly proven that Pakistani aquamarine can irradiate to exactly the same colour as the 'Zeylotoya' stuff. I have seen plenty that has. Talk to Rocksaholics in Texas, they accidentally discovered the technique for turning Pakistani aquamarine into Heliodor in the late 1980s - I'm sure they'll make up a bunch for you if you want it.

I purchased one of these crystals (which I still own) from ebay in around 2000-2001, so they certainly go back some way, and as Dmitry Belakofsky's article in the 'Beryl' book from Lithographie states, he saw them in the mid 1990s. It's strange that you didn't notice them before 2007, but they were certainly around.

Finally, I note from your website that you have examples of this material for sale. Maybe it would have been more honest to have disclosed this fact in your posting.

avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 17, 2012 10:08PM
On a more positive note, we do not have a ban on uploading photos of these - they simply cannot be added to a gallery for 'Tadjikistan' - so you can add them to your personal gallery viewable from your home page without any issues. They just won't show in the main site pages for obvious reasons.

Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 17, 2012 10:20PM
The story about reaching the mine only from the Afghani side of the border has a major flaw: Who is crossing the border there? Presumably Afghani miners? Why would an Afghani miner cross the border into Tadzhikistan, dig a hole and then give his hole a Russian name?
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 19, 2012 03:13PM
Well, I'd say that the matter is 'Not Proven' - either way. That said, I don't think Alfredo's point stands in the face of a detailed sat map recce and some history. The political geography and history of the area concerned are quite unusual. There is a finger of land, some 150 miles long that runs approximately due east from Afghanistan proper to the Chinese border and with Tadjikistan forming the northern border and Pakistan the southern.. This corridor is only about 10 miles wide for a fair part of its length and consists mainly of a valley floor and mountain side. It was created not by pressures of ethnicity or trade but, in the days of imperial rivalries, to keep Russian troops from confronting British troops and vice versa. Europeans, thousands of miles away drew lines on maps to create this 'buffer zone' to obviate the escalatory risk from overly enthusiastic activities at a junior level of military command in a wild terrain to and from which communications was slow and less than certain.

This imperialist 'great game' had little to no effect on the small local population which would have continued to love, fight and trade according to their own causes, regardless of whether they were labelled Tadjik, Afghan, Indian (since there was no Pakistan at the time of which we speak) - or even Chinese. At the political level, there are still hundreds of miles of other ‘border' in the general area that are still disputed between the neighbouring countries.

Entry to this 'Afghan' corridor from the Tadjik side is, at the Eastern end, easy and the notional border entirely permeable other than at the main crossing point for goods into China. *If* there was any mining on much of the southern faces of the Pamirs, an approach from the Afghan corridor would seem the obvious one and also (on into Pakistan) the most likely route out for the (illicit?) produce.

As for the use of the Russian language, Tadikistan was in the Russian sphere of influence for a couple of hundred hears and was an integral part of the USSR for over 60 years. Afghanistan was also in the Soviet sphere of influence in the decades leading up to the ‘discovery’ of this Heliodor. The use of ‘ethnic minority’ languages was discouraged in the USSR with most of its ethnic groups being bi-lingual; schooling was in Russian as was universal military service and the local language was commonly restricted to hearth and bed.

I have the following queries still unresolved in this matter and as they bear particularly on my own little Heliodor on Albite sample:

1. Whilst I think it's a pretty little thumbnail, its value as a well-included Heliodor crystal would not seem sufficiently enhanced to make, compellingly, it worth the trouble and expense of irradiation.

2. Though much is known, these days, about the minerals at most areas of gem mining in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have yet to learn of a source where a comparable combination of protogenetic and syngenetic inclusions are to be found in any Beryl host crystal. I'm still reading..

3. The exposed faces on my elongated, hexagonal prismatic crystal with a pinacoid basal termination have a general planar smoothness I have not yet seen in any Aquamarine natural crystal. This is no proof of anything but it's surely not a commonplace and should further help narrow the options for any recorded source of origin.

4. So I have read, the irradiation of Aquamarine to produce Heliodor is an unstable change, being reversed by prolonged exposure to sunlight. My crystal came to me through a dealer from a substantial US collection last year. Since I have owned it, it has been exposed to sunlight every day and I have detected no colour change so far.

5. If there has been irradiation and the change proves permanent then what I have is a synthetic Heliodor which cannot be identified as such?

There is probably still as much or even more that we don't know than we do know about sources of gem minerals in terms of their number and location. I had a great-uncle by marriage who discovered what was claimed to be the largest site of placer gold on the world (in Bolivia!). The difficulty was in the capital and operating cost to exploit the site securely, it needing a very large dredge to be broken down, carried into the high Andes on mule-back, assembled and operated in a fairly lawless area. Through endless revolutions, local 'deals' and failed sets of financing and re-financing, he kept his claim alive over some 30 years before, finally, his claim was expropriated by a Bolivian govt of the day. Enormous compendium of knowledge and resource that Mindat is, I don't think that it records this site either.

But to return to 'Tadjik Heliodor'. This stuff is not appearing newly on the market any more, with only a small quantity of 25 year old stuff remaining in circulation. Either we have a scam which proved unprofitable and was folded - or else there was a small pocket discovery that was quite quickly (and illicitly?) worked out. People may believe as they will but, with respect to my little specimen, I'll be convinced when its quite particular combination of characteristics can be tied to some known Beryl source: until then, for me, it remains an open question.

Here are a couple more pics of my specimen. It is *not* for sale but for any interested to take a personal look over a glass of wine, I'll bring it with me to SMM winking smiley
open | download - IMG_1269A.jpg (608.6 KB)
open | download - IMG_1272A.jpg (450.6 KB)
open | download - IMG_1273A.jpg (555.9 KB)
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 19, 2012 03:54PM
your photos is a good example... Classic specimen from Pakistan - typical for aquas from there inclusions and association with albite.
As I told before people from our team visited Tajikistan and verified in person that this locality do not exist. Also local people from university confirmed that.
BTW see me aqua smiling smiley

"Spirifer" Geological Society
open | download - aqua.jpg (272.2 KB)
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 19, 2012 06:45PM
Does anyone who does NOT have one of these specimens or is NOT trying to sell them actually believe them to be genuine?

Just curious...

avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 19, 2012 11:17PM
Tomasz Praszkier Wrote:
> Owen,
> your photos is a good example... Classic specimen
> from Pakistan - typical for aquas from there
> inclusions and association with albite.
> As I told before people from our team visited
> Tajikistan and verified in person that this
> locality do not exist. Also local people from
> university confirmed that.
> BTW see me aqua smiling smiley
> Tomek


Thanks for that. It triggered a trawl through some couple of thousand images of Beryl - including yours winking smiley There are (at least) 13 countries from which are produced aqua specimens with smooth planes. Of those 13, there are 3 immediately adjacent to each other (Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Xianjiang province of China). The relevant parts of these and also of Tadjikistan all fall in side a circle of about 100 miles radius.

As you suggested, the closest published match of matrix and inclusions in the Beryl to my specimen come from the Skardu district of Pakistan. Of six mineral associations noted in my specimen, there are three of these to be seen instanced in Aquamarine specimens from Skardu, though with not more than 2/6 shown as occurring in any one single crystal. A loose fit then but not a tight one. But nothing else comes anywhere near as close.

If one looks at the pretty crystals of Aquamarine on Albite from Skardu, selling now for around USD 1,000 a time, one wonders again why anyone should wish to irradiate them and sell them as Heliodor specimens with a very 'iffy' provenance? Where's the extra margin for the trouble and expense?

Rod Lavinsky has an archived photo of a mainly Heliodor crystal with and Aqua tip. This too makes me want to know more about the trigger for a blue/yellow a colour change.
Re: heliodor from tajikistan
April 20, 2012 01:29AM
Jolyon is right that these specimens have been around for quite some time. I bought a couple of these "Tadjik Heliodor" specimens (single crystals with no matrix) at the Tucson show in the mid 1990's. To me, they look identical to the single Aquamarine crystals from the Skardu-Gilgit area except for the color. The vendor was selling Heliodor jewellery, loose cut stones, and had some loose crystals all claimed to be from Tadjikistan. John S.
Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 25, 2012 11:13PM
The GIA keeps on top of gem enhancements and does a hell of a lot of good research. Anybody here with connections to a beryl expert at the GIA? I could research this, I'm VERY sure the industry would be aware of this, but meh.

Personally, that weird over-strong yellow color, and the fact that habit, matrix, associations, and inclusions are IDENTICAL to Pakistani aquas... and the ubiquity and ease of gem treatment, even at the source... I sure wouldn't pay more than ten bucks for one.
Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 26, 2012 02:31AM

I have a miniature of one of these on matrix and I find it captivating, real or fake. I already bought and paid for it years ago so there is nothing I can do about it except change the label to state: "Beryl, possibly treated to change color, locality undetermined, possibly an enhanced and treated beryl from Pakistan". Or how about this which is just as plausable: found in a construction dumpster which was adjacent to a construction site at the corner of 47th Street and Broadway in New York City very near the site at which the famous "Subway Garnet" was found.

Just kidding; have a nice weekend.


avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 26, 2012 05:24PM
Tim Jokela Jr Wrote:
> Personally, that weird over-strong yellow color,
> and the fact that habit, matrix, associations, and
> inclusions are IDENTICAL to Pakistani aquas... and
> the ubiquity and ease of gem treatment, even at
> the source... I sure wouldn't pay more than ten
> bucks for one.

smiling smiley

Have you ever handled one?

The colour is not 'over-strong' Indeed from photos pubished there is a range of color saturation and at least two crystal habits that are 'attributed' to Tadjikistan.

No two crystals are ever 'IDENTICAL'. That *my* specimen has fair similarities in form, matrix and 2/6 inclusion types to some Aquamarine Beryl from Pakistan is true. Have you looked at satellite imagery and the political geography? In a single geological region, and within tens of miles of each other (and sometimes without certain political borders) you have China, Afghanistan, Tadjikistan and Pakistan). That crystals formed in this geological and political cauldron have similarities speaks more to probability of an origin within that general area that it does their formation under any particular political jurisdiction.

The possiblity (probability?) that these crystals are Aquamarines irradiation treated in Pakistan can't be ruled out but neither has it been shown to be so. One has only 'proof by repetitious allegation'. There is, AFAIK, not one shred of evidence.

I confess to finding the argument 'Big Endian/Little Endian' There are some very handsome Beryl specimens. That they attained their colouration through the intervention of Man remains - after more than 20 years! - only allegation. That their actual source point(s) in the ground has never been established is also true.

If it is so, that they are irradiated high quality Pakistani stones, I do ask myself why. Would they be worth less had the origin been claimed as Pakistan or any of the other of the four adjacent countries? Given the good prices fetched by high quality Aquamarine specimens from Pakistan, where's the evidence that the 'Tadjik Heliodor' is sold for a premium over it? Treatments are normally applied to make the unsaleably bad 'commercial. Or to to improve the value of a poor stone by at least several multiples or perhaps even more.

I'm happy enough to enjoy mine for what it is and for the pleasue it gives me. Still not fading BTW winking smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/2012 03:04AM by Owen Lewis (2).
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 27, 2012 05:59PM
Tomasz makes a good example of having boots on the ground(ever seen his sweet fieldtrip reports) and talking to locals and still nothing materializes. There is no Tajikistan heliodor mine. It's all irradiated stuff from other locations.

One of the most common stones to be irradiated is beryl. Morganite and yellow(heliodor) being the main ones. At the Embrarad in Brazil they do it every day with material all over the world. Mauricio Favacho, who was the chief officer at Embrarad's Gamma ray(cobalt-60) gems lab, even states they got much of their beryl from the pakistan/afghanistan area to irradiate.(he was speaking in regards to morganite but heliodor would apply as well)

There lab quotes..."Is the CBE-Embrarad gamma(60Co) facilities processing tourmalines, kunzites, and beryls colors?

"The gamma process have been succesfully applied in morganites, Heliodors, and green beryls,and a special kind of topaz from pegmatitic origin, for decades."

Vietnamese aquamarines and heliodor....same crystals just one has been irradiated!

Here is a picture of some irradiated heliodor from Embrarad

Each one of their gamma ray facilities can process 200 million carats a year of irradiated material. They have 4 of them(800 millioncts.) They have been doing it for decades. They can do crystals!

Goshenite, when irradiated to yellow or gold, is color stable!
If I am not mistaken, natural yellow bery/heliodor WILL fade when exposed to long periods of sunlight.
So by your crystal not fading that would be more indicitive of a irradiated heliodor!
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 27, 2012 09:31PM
Finally!!!! Thank you Jason. Gamma radiation is the "heating".
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 28, 2012 01:28AM
Yes, thanks Jason. That was an informative and useful post. But we still deal only with proof by assertion. Please bear with me a little longer over the following :

1. A small team of knowledgeable minerologists visits a huge, wild, remote and substantially unpopulated area and talks to a number of persons well established in the gem trade, none of whom indicate to them knowledge of a mine in Tadikstan where Heliodor exists or existed. This is way short of proof that no such mine ever existed. Proving a negative is notoriously difficult and very often impossible. It is equally clear that in over 25 years, no trail to the perpetrators of a fraud exists. The reasons why are quite likely to be the same in either case:
- That persons with knowledge of the one situation or the other have either not been interviewed
- That persons interviewed found it not in their interest to provide truthful answers. It is not an uncommon situation that truth (or the whole truth) frequently not to be told and most frequently not to interlopers from an alien culture.

The only certainties seem to be that:
- There is no proof of any source of Heliodor having existed within the generally accepted borders of Tadjikstan.
- There is no proof that a fraud has been perpetrated despite some 25 years of enquiry into the possibility.

2. As you show in you post, Jason, and in the writings of others too, here and elsewhere. There is clear evidence that Aquamarine can be altered into Heliodor by irradiation. The science behind this is easy to accept since all that is required, AFAIK, is a change in the ionic charge of the same chromophore atom (Fe) present in both varieties of Beryl. However, I have not learned of an explanation of how Beryl, var Goshenite (colourless) can be coloured yellow by irradiation. What is the explanation for this? If any gathering here have such knowledge and would care to put it here, that could only be helpful and I, for one, would be better informed and obliged for it. Besides, others have argued here that the source material must be Aquamarine from Pakistan. So which is it?

3. In either option outlined at 2. above, there is no evidence that any such thing has been done in the case of those specimens originally claimed to have originated in Tadjikistan. That something *can* be done, may be beyond doubt. That it *has* been done in the case of the 'Tadjik' Heliodor is a separate issue and, as yet, there is (AFAIK) no evidence that it has been so.

There's no 'axe to grind' here, Only curiosity and a search for sure knowledge in the pursuit of truth.

As matters presently are, they have something of the feel of the Ametrine history. Because the locality of any mine producing Ametrine was unproven and with the knowledge that it could be artificially produced by differentially heat-treatng Amethyst (which itself may be synthetic), some pronounced that all Ametrine must be treated Amethyst. We now know that this is not the case. Given that 'Tadjik' Heliodor ihas not been, for a long while, brought freshly to market, it seems unlikely now that there can ever an absolute resolution of this new but similar controversy . Proof by assertion will not do it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/28/2012 01:46AM by Owen Lewis (2).
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 28, 2012 01:36AM
Owen, It sure sounds like you have an "axe to grind".

Some aquas are so pale they could be called Goshenite and they might have enough Fe for the colour change.
Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 28, 2012 01:44AM
But. Owen, the burden of proof is on those who believe, not those who disbelieve. The suspicions about ametrine were resolved when detailed studies were published on the locality. There have been no such studies about the alleged "Zelatoya Vada" locality, nor any possible reason given about why Afghani or Pakistani miners sneaking across the border into Tadzhikistan would baptise their mine with a Russian name. The relative probabilities of truth or fakery in this case should be fairly obvious.
avatar Re: heliodor from tajikistan
May 28, 2012 03:23AM
Rob Woodside Wrote:
> Owen, It sure sounds like you have an "axe to
> grind".
> Some aquas are so pale they could be called
> Goshenite and they might have enough Fe for the
> colour change.


I'm as content whether this matter is decided one way or the other or left unresolved. I merely point out that those who would claim categorically (from either of the opposite views) that the matter has been properly proved must be mistaken in that certainty. However, proof and belief are two different things. All are free to believe as they choose but we should not confuse our belief with a proven case. In so far as there is value in this discussion it is because of this broad point, much broader in its import and application than this little issue.

Pale Aquas...... This is another way of saying that there is only a change Aquamarine to Heliodor by varying the ionic charge in whatever little Fe is present? And nothing to say on the claim that permanency is only attained by the near or complete absence Fe?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/28/2012 05:34AM by Owen Lewis (2).
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