COMMENTARY  

     This page is devoted to items of website policy, personal opinion, terminology, and contributions from our viewers. 
 
1: Where is it From?  (Confidence in Origin):  Often, labels on specimens incorrectly identify origins, for a variety of reasons.  For example, some are so old nobody remembers; while others are "lunch pail specimens", secreted out of mines and across many borders before they are bestowed with an origin.   Therefore, we can pass along only a confidence level derived from the credibility of whatever paper trail exists, the reputations of the specimen's previous owners, and our own experience with similar material.  Doubts will be expressed only when they are "significant".
     A second issue is what to use when the locality name changes.  I prefer to use the name that was current when  specimen was collected, or at the time of the earliest label attached to the specimen. This can create some confusion, but it does help preserve the historic information about the locality. When there is a problem, we may also give the present name, parenthetically.
     It gets particularly interesting when the name change is controversial ...
 
2:  "Burma" or "Myanmar"?   Technically, I guess, it is "Myanmar", because the Burmese Government decided it would rather be the Myanmari Government.  However, due to the way it came into power, that Government has some recognition problems (diplomatically); so Worldwide acceptance of the name change was not immediate.  Similarly, I can imagine most jewelers would not be able to get as much money for a Myanmari ruby as they could for a Burmese one.  Geographically, they are the same; and on this site I will use the classical name,  "Burma", for that country until further notice.
 
3:  "CorundumFlyer:  I have had requests to publish the text of the flyer I give out at club talks and shows - here is its latest incarnation:
                                                   CORUNDUM - A VISUAL EXPERIENCE
     The jewelry trade sometimes reserves the name "True Gemstone" for only four species:  Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire.  The last two of these are varieties of the mineral "Corundum".
     In its pure form, corundum is a colorless, transparent form of aluminum oxide, Al2O3.  It is extremely hard (9 on the Mohs scale), and rather dense (specific gravity approximately 4.00).
     Traces of other metallic ("transition") elements in the crystal lattice can produce virtually any color in the rainbow.
     The "pigeon-blood red" of the finest rubies is usually caused by chromium.  Mineralogically speaking, it may be said that any chromium-rich corundum with reddish color is ruby (though jewelers tend to draw the line with less tolerance).
     Titanium and iron are the primary "chromatophores" producing the blue and "fancy-colored" sapphires.  (Any corundum not "ruby" may be called "sapphire" by default; though some jewelers may prefer to call any sub-gem corundum "corundum", if they know what it is).
     Corundum crystallizes in the hexagonal system.  The generic crystal habit is the hexagonal prism, but pyramids and other aesthetic modifications characteristically occur.  Since corundum can occur as a result of  both igneous and metamorphic (metasomatic) processes, there exist chaotic, complex forms of great interest and beauty as well.
     Some corundum crystals can be polished so that they exhibit a six (or rarely, twelve) rayed star.  This "asterism" is usually caused by light from a point source reflecting from regular networks of needle-like inclusions of rutile, a form of titanium oxide,  TiO2.
     Corundums are often "enhanced" by heat treatment (or a variety of other processes), which can clarify "milky" stones and enrich their color; especially when the culprit is rutile!  Most of the faceted corundums on the market today have been heat treated.
     There are also synthetic corundums which are inexpensive to make but which rival the finest natural stones in color and clarity.  A great deal of effort is currently being devoted to the detection of enhanced or synthetic gemstones and determination of origin; as well as to a uniform disclosure policy for sellers of gemstones.
     In addition to "gem grade" crystals and fragments, "sub-gem" corundum occurs in a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes; in association with a host of other minerals; and from literally hundreds of localities around the World.  The specimens shown here were selected from our collection to reflect this diversity.
     This talk represents only one activity of "The Corundum Project"; whose goals, simply stated, are to assemble the greatest possible visual and informational resource and to make it accessible to all who would enjoy it on display or benefit from its use in research.  I hope you will find it both entertaining and informative.
                                                                                                                                                                Will Heierman
                                                                                                                                                               December 25, 2002 
 
4: About the Collector:  Since 1981, when he began seasonally (summerly) prospecting and mining in Montana for gold and sapphires, Will has collected minerals.  A few years ago, he decided to focus on the mineral corundum; and as a result, the "Corundum Project" and this website were born.
     He has been a member, officer, and speaker in gem and mineral clubs in New York, Montana, and Texas.  He has exhibited and given invited addresses in local and regional shows around the United States, and at the Gemological Institute of America in California.  His displays are noted for their striking visual effects, and his talks (once described in his introduction as "interminably long, yet absolutely devoid of content") are regarded as entertaining for people having all levels of familiarity.
      His real job is college math teacher.  After nearly thirty years with the City University of New York and a brief hiatus, he is now back in the classroom in the suburbs of Houston, Texas.
      In 1994 and 1995, he spent a sabbatical leave managing a gold mining concession in Ghana, West Africa, and followed with a trip to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir to inspect the Nangi Mali Ruby mine and acquire specimens from the regional miners and dealers.
      The "Corundum Project" was conceived to provide something cerebral after retirement.  Through special relationships cultivated with miners, dealers, scientists, and litigants he has accumulated not only the collection seen here but also an extensive library of first-hand information; and his plan is to organize it and share the findings through submission of a series of articles on this website and perhaps in more formal publications.
     By collecting and preserving not only the formal but also the anecdotal lore of the localities, he is learning that their history  and associated personalities are often no less colorful than the specimens they produce.
 
5:  On Valuation of Specimens:  I have received several e-mails asking about the value of  one or more specimens.
     We do not discuss values of specimens in the permanent collection, because they are irrelevant.  It's a shame that the rocks are not worthless, because then we could leave them lying around and have nothing to worry about.
     We do have a "CATALOGUE" page, where specimens are offered for sale or trade; but this is for a secondary purpose - to provide resources for refining the collection, travel and research, website maintenance, and other project expenses.                                                                                                                                                
 
 
 
 

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