I first visited the Tucson shows in 1992. My intention was to buy faceting rough, but there was almost none I could afford, although the rand/dollar exchange rate was 6:1. One day, walking around with my friend and research colleague David Killick from the University of Arizona we wandered around, dazed and bewildered by the spectacular minerals from Afghanistan on display in one of the numerous tented venues. On one table, crowded with Afghan ethnic jewellery, possibly all modern, there sat one specimen of blue lazurite in calcite matrix. David and I had never seen one of these outside of a book illustration, so we oh’d-and-ah’d over it, and the Afghan man tending the table thought he may have a sale. I explained that I wasn’t looking for mineral specimens, and we walked away. Sometime later our wandering brought us back to the table with the lazurite. The specimen had been joined by a few others, so in all innocence we gawked again. Once more we walked away. On our third arrival, the owner got tetchy and pointed out that we obviously were interested and why didn’t we buy. So the haggling started and he brought out a few more specimens, six in total, two quite battered and small, the others rather nice. Eventually he said, “Look, I deal in ethnic jewellery not rocks. I don’t want these. You can have all of them for $300.” Done! So I came home with almost no gem rough but several Afghani lazurites. I gave the smallest ones away, but still have four in their typical calcite matrix. DM


Lazurite (haüyne), Sar-e-Sang, Afghanistan: width of matrix specimens 60–85 mm


The lazurite we love (Na6Ca2(Al6Si6O24)(SO4,S,S2,S3,Cl,OH)2), not to be confused with lazulite (MgAl2(PO4)2(OH)2), appears to be a sulphide-rich variety of haüyne ((Na,K)3(Ca,Na)(Al3Si3O12)(SO4,S,Cl)) and part of the Sodalite Group, according to Mindat (https://www.mindat.org/min-2357.html