Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From the Vault: Montana Covellite



Once in a while, I plan to post something from the "vault". These are stones that I may never set because they are such great specimens to collect. I collect first for beauty, then rarity, then value. THIS stone is all of the above.

Montana Covellite, like the one I am going to discuss, is a captivating stone. I wanted to share this one because, I believe, that not many people have actually held one in their hand to truly appreciate the unique characteristics of it. I want to walk you through that experience.

When you first pick it up, you notice that it is heavy for it's size. That's because it is a copper mineral. In fact, this piece was found in a copper mine in Montana, USA that has since been closed and filled with water (hence the rarity).

Then you notice the primary color which is almost black, it is so blue. But, as you turn it in your hand and the light catches it at different angles you notice the deeply metallic and reflective, rich indigo blue.

Next, you may see the highly reflective gold pyrite inclusions. These lend a beautiful look to the stone, but too many are too much of a good thing. If the stone is really good, you may see small, thin veins of pyrite. If the stone is perfect, it will have no pyrite, but I prefer a little pyrite. This stone has just a small amount and it resembles gold spiderwebbing.

Just as your curiosity is peaked and your admiration for the stone grows and if you are very lucky- you may notice something very, very rare and stunningly beautiful. You may see a fuchsia rose sheen flow across the face of the stone at certain angles. This sheen is breathtaking!! It is hard to describe and even harder to photograph. It starts out as mere oxidation in the stone and becomes a beautiful, fine network of minuscule needle looking fibers of fuchsia. Of course, the "needles" or crystals or whatever they are were always there, but when conditions are right and they are on the surface where they can oxidize, they culminate in a miraculous display against the dark blue of the stone. The following series of photos, will show you what this looks like. You will have to use your imagination to see it in your hand. :)

This is the sheen, so hard to photograph, that rolls across the stone when the light is right.


The stone pictured, is very large and gemmy. It has one drawback to it and that is the one inclusion of quartz at the bottom tip. It really isn't much of a problem, though.



I've had this a very long time. I don't store it in a ziplock bag, like my other stones, because I want it to oxidize further. I have found, with other stones that I've had, that you can soak it in hot water and OxiClean to oxidize it. That works very well, but I want this one to go naturally, just for my own curiosity. If I were to take a polishing rag to it, it would clean off all the fuchsia!! I know, because I have done it by accident to other stones.



For further reading about the details of this stone see mindat.org which is a good database for the physical characteristics of all stones.

If you are interested in the metaphysical properties of Covellite check out this book at Google books.

This pendant can be seen at JL with more info about the cut and wrap. I recently added the 3 strand necklace.
This gemmy piece can also be found at JL. I added a carved tourmaline to complement the rose sheen.

I hope this has peaked your curiosity about Covellite. If you run across some, make sure it is from Montana and not Peru. The Peruvian isn't as good by a long shot. Covellite can be found in many places, but the best is from Montana. Not all stones exhibit the fuchsia, either, so make sure you ask about it, if you are buying online because it doesn't photograph easily. Also, Montana Covellite cabs usually don't have any pitting; whereas, in other locations it does.

5 comments:

  1. Great to see that you now have a label list, too! ;-) I'm pretty sure it will come in handy when searching your collection of lovely and unusual specimen.

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  2. Yes, I'm still playing around and learning this. :)

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  3. hi! I currently moved to Montana and I FINALLY know what these awesome stones are!! thx...
    I live in Sidney Montana (Gem City) and I cant believe the beautiful stones im collecting. Having been given access to a private gravel pit is exciting and addicting. Are these stones valuable? ive been coming across pockets in the pit where I'll find these beautiful black stones but when you wet them or turn a certain way in the light, they are indeed a deep blue. I could go on and on about the stones I've been finding, the variety is endless and if you have any helpful info you'd like to share, knowledge of what's out there, what's. valuable etc that would be appreciated. I haven't done a whole lot of research and im positive im overlooking stones that I should actually be collecting. thx wendy

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    1. Hi! Congratulations on your new move :)

      I can't help with id's for you, but I can say that YES! lots of cabbing material is very valuable! I don't know what you have, though, so I can't say what yours would be worth.

      As far as I know, Montana covellite was found in only one small area, which is now flooded from when a dam was built.

      I recommend that you join a local lapidary club. I just found this list
      www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/clubs/montana.shtml
      But, you can probably find others.

      There are also sites dedicated to rock collecting where members can help id things for you. I belong to this one http://andy321.proboards.com/ People are very helpful there.

      Have fun!!! I love your enthusiasm! I can tell this is going to be a great hobby for you.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.