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‘Ridiculously Rare’ Gemstone Discovered on Arctic Island

‘There are few stones that match its intense blue color.’

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When Philippe Belley came to the University of British Columbia to study how gemstones form, he didn’t think he would need to learn how to protect himself from polar bears.

But when some of those precious stones are buried in the Canadian Arctic on Baffin Island, where the world’s largest land predator also roams, sometimes you roll the dice in the name of science.

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“We spotted four polar bears but luckily there were no close encounters,” said Belley, a recent PhD graduate of the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences. “But we did learn a lot about how some unique gems are formed, which will change the way people look for them.”

Belley and UBC mineralogist Lee Groat have published the first scientific study of cobalt-blue spinel in Canada, according to a press release from the university. It’s a mineral that is largely unknown to the general public but produces gems that are coveted by collectors and connoisseurs worldwide.

In an interview with CBC.ca, Belley described cobalt-blue spinel as “a ridiculously rare gemstone.”

Spinel comes in a variety of colors ranging from red and pink to violet and blue and the fine gemstones are prized for their intense natural color and high transparency, both measures of gem quality.

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“There’s considerable interest in cobalt-blue spinel for gems and jewelry,” said Belley. “There are few stones that match its intense blue color.”

Even small stones with good transparency and fine cobalt-blue color can sell for about 10 times the price of a comparable sapphire, the university notes. But supply is an issue and even production from the most significant sorce, Vietnam, is limited and sporadic.

“Exploration for colored gemstones is generally difficult due to challenging terrain or thick vegetation in major gem-producing areas like the Himalayas and Vietnam. Most gemstones are found by accident,” said Belley. “But there’s excellent rock exposure on Baffin Island, which facilitates exploration and the use of more advanced techniques like imaging using drones or satellites.”

The researchers analyzed fourteen occurrences of spinel on Baffin Island, including two occurrences of cobalt-blue spinel, to better understand how it forms.

“It’s a simple recipe but you need to combine the right proportions of chemical ingredients,” said Belley.

On Baffin Island, spinel formed 1.8 billion years ago from sedimentary deposits of dolomitic marls and dolomite-bearing limestones. These sedimentary rocks metamorphosed at temperatures of about 800 C under immense pressure.

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Belley and Groat found that the magic ingredient that produces the distinct blue color – cobalt – was only present in high-enough concentrations to produce gem quality stones in small, localized areas.

“We found that cobalt was added at some point during sediment deposition or up to early metamorphism,” said Groat. “Previous work on other deposits suggested that cobalt was transported during high temperature metamorphism, so our results change the way in which people would explore for cobalt-blue spinel deposits.”

According to Belley, Baffin Island spinel contains up to 500 parts-per-million of cobalt, which gives it a vivid blue color that is comparable to the best sources worldwide.

While accessing the area for scientific study was extremely challenging and involved long boat rides through thick fog in the Hudson Strait, stormy conditions, scouting for polar bears and a lengthy permit process to protect the ecologically sensitive environment, the geology of Baffin Island has been a veritable gem field of scientific discovery for the researchers.

The team has also analyzed Beluga sapphires which were used in the Queen’s sapphire jubilee brooch and an occurrence of lapis lazuli.

“Baffin Island is geologically similar to the Himalayas, where some of the world’s finest gems have been found,” said Belley. “Canada hasn’t been widely recognized as a source for fine, colored gemstones but our research suggests that we have all the right ingredients.”

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Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Burglars Are Cutting Jewelry Stores’ Power Lines to Disable Alarms

It’s happened more than 30 times across the country.

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The Jewelers’ Security Alliance reports that there’s been a nationwide pattern of burglars cutting jewelry stores’ power lines in order to disable alarm systems.

On April 17, JSA issued a crime alert on the burglary of a Laguna Niguel, CA, jewelry store in which the power lines were cut. Burglars came through the roof, cut into a safe and took a large amount of merchandise.

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JSA has now received reports of over 30 cases in which burglars have cut the power lines. It’s happened in Florida, Colorado, California, Indiana, Idaho, Illinois and Utah, as well as in Canada.

The burglars cut the power lines soon after a store has closed for the night, then wait nearby to see the response by the owner or police, according to JSA.

The burglars have not carried out safe burglaries at all of the stores.

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“After cutting the wires, the burglars watch and wait,” JSA stated. “If the burglars feel safe after having witnessed the owner or police response or lack of response to the cut wires, they will break into the store, often by cutting through the roof or sidewall.

“They will then attack the safe, usually cutting into it, and sometimes torching it.”

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Jewelry Chain Looks to Build $13M Headquarters

It will employ about 100 people.

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James Avery, a Texas-based manufacturer that operates 88 stores, is looking to open a second headquarters at a cost of $13 million.

The facility would be located in Cedar Park, TX, KXAN-TV and the Austin Business Journal report.

James Avery Craftsman Inc. is seeking more than $500,000 in economic incentives for the project.

As part of the agreement, the headquarters would need to have a payroll of about $4.9 million by 2025. It would also need to consist of at least 35,000 square feet.

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The Business Journal reports that the facility would have more than 100 employees.

Kerrville-based James Avery, known in part for its Christian-themed jewelry, is particularly popular in its home state of Texas, where it operates 80 stores.

Read more at KXAN-TV

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Video: 3 Millennial Couples Reveal Their True Thoughts On Lab-Grown Diamonds

MVI Marketing has released a new video.

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MVI Marketing has released a new video in which three millennial couples reveal what they think about lab-grown diamonds.

The couples interviewed by MV Eye are all actively shopping for engagement rings.

In the video, which is under three minutes long, they’re asked about topics such as their budget, their shopping preferences and their views on lab-grown diamonds.

Watch the video:


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