SUGILITE (‘ROYAL AZEL’) CABOCHON (Africa) – 16.43 ct.
Sugilite, also trade named “Royal Azel” and “Royal Lavulite,” is a relative newcomer to the gem scene. The mineral was named after its Japanese discoverer but gem quality material was unknown until a manganese mine in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert encountered a small deposit nearly a mile beneath the earth’s surface in the late 1970s. Very little quality material now comes to market and good material has always been costly. I was fortunate to find some excellent rough in the 1990s but tucked it away because I couldn’t polish it satisfactorily. I’ve recently learned “the secret” and am now able to offer a few fine stones from that old stock. This is a large purple-violet oval, 16.7 x 24 x 4.45 mm. Nice solid stone, no cracks or fissures, with some dark jasper matrix. Fine polish front and back. (All uses, N)