Friday, May 2, 2014


Some people may be sitting on a gold mine – literally. I’m acquainted with some once-hard-scrabble ranchers in Arizona whose lands sat atop what would eventually become a gold or copper mine. They live in large houses and drive late-model pickups now. Other people may have stumbled on a rare fossil (a woman in Montana accidentally stumbled onto what turned out to be the most complete T Rex fossil ever found), or a rock that turns out to be a gem in more ways than one. 

Q: I have an aqua marine stone, approx 15 pounds . I would like to know it's value.
- Terry M

A: If you mean "aquamarine", then there are several possibilities:
a. a pale blue or greenish gem variety of beryl,
b. an aquamarine sapphire,
c. an aquamarine topaz, or
d. an aquamarine tourmaline.

15 pounds of any of these would be worth quite a bit, depending on the grade and quality. However, in the US Geological Survey we do highly applied research in geology and geophysics (some field offices work on ecosystems and biology). We have very specific line-item assignments in this agency, assignments set by Congress, and they do not include dealing with gem stones. As a result, we have never hired a gemologist per se as far as I know. 

I wish I could provide more help, because this is fascinating to me. In Bangkok, Thailand, there is a Wat (temple) that houses something called the "Emerald Buddha" that is apparently a carved statue of rough-grade emerald. In several senses of the word, this is a priceless artifact. Your stone would not be on par with this (it's not carved or sculpted I assume), but it is still worth something - if only as a source of material that gemologists can cut/extract high-quality raw gems from. 

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