I do give myself complications.

Based on the success of the “September Spheres”, we invited photos of “royal blue” minerals for our October newsletter. This is because we are featuring Peter’s detailed article on lapis lazuli. Ultramarine is such a rich colour and there are not that many minerals of such a classic blue.

For my contribution, I photographed the few possibilities I had in my mineral cabinet, but thought a bit more. There was an odd offcut of stone in the outside cupboard that had lovely blue patches in the rock. I bought it on a FOSAGAMS field trip to Griquatown many years ago. Piet of Earth Treasures had obviously cut out a core for a sphere and the remainder was left on the junk pile in his stone yard. Philip Alp had his eye on the offcut too, but graciously allowed me to buy it. I’ve dug it out and asked a couple of mineral friends what it might be, but neither are dead certain. I searched Mindat and wondered if it came from the dumortierite deposit on the farm Etemba in the Erongo region of Namibia. Mindat has a photo of a very small piece of rock. That seems the most likely – can anyone verify this, send more photos, or by a remote chance have the finished sphere from this chunk? According to the MinRec of September 2006, there was dumortierite at Etemba and in 1957 it yielded seven tons of material – that was 63 years ago!

Then I remembered I had a piece from Mozambique that came from the late Freddy de Jager. Where was that specimen? On hands and knees and half under the dining room table, I dug it out from dusty oddments at the floor level of my blue lace agate display shelves. The rock is nicely sawn at one end and shows the colour well. 

Mmmm… long ago I went on a club field trip to the Kenhardt/Kakamas area and we visited a dumortierite deposit on the N'Rougas Suid farm. It has been declared a National Monument/Provincial Heritage site as it is so unique. The farm owner allowed us to take one piece each from the furthest outlying areas of the deposit where it was outside the protective fence. Where was my bit now?  …… ah, in the rockery on the front porch. I dug it out too.  I remember John Landon made the farmer a sphere of that same dumortierite as a thank-you gift.

With my cutting and polishing complications now happily over, it has made me realise just how much “from troubles of the world, I turn to ‘rocks’, beautiful ‘eternal’ things…” (with apologies to FW Harvey).   JW

Here are photos of my pieces - now cleaned, worked, and polished, to show their true blue.  


From N’Rougas Suid - before    FOV 150 mm    From N’Rougas Suid – after        From Mozambique

Etemba farm, Namibia – Before                                    After - FOV 180 mm