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By Peter G. Read

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Extra resources for Beginner's Guide to Gemmology

Example text

Despite its hardness, d i a m o n d is n o t , however, i n d e s t r u c t i b l e . In t h e early days of d i a m o n d p r o s p e c t i n g in S o u t h Africa t h e r e were very few people w h o were experienced e n o u g h t o identify d i a m o n d from o t h e r stones. Because of this m a n y p r o s p e c t o r s based their test for d i a m o n d o n t h e m i s t a k e n belief t h a t it was t h e only mineral w h i c h could survive a b l o w from a sledge­ h a m m e r . ) As a result, m a n y fine d i a m o n d s were d e s t r o y e d by this m o s t rigorous of all hardness 'tests'.

In zircon this is b r o u g h t a b o u t by t h e presence of m i n u t e quantities of radio­ active u r a n i u m and t h o r i u m . In t h e so-called ' l o w ' green and b r o w n zircons, alpha-particle b o m b a r d m e n t from these elements has almost c o m p l e t e l y b r o k e n d o w n t h e internal crystalline s t r u c t u r e , and t h e s t o n e is described as a metamict zircon. O t h e r properties of t h e low zircons are also affected b y t h e b r e a k d o w n in crystalline s t r u c t u r e .

In a basal pinacoid, t h e faces are parallel t o t h e crystal's lateral axes, and often form t h e CRYSTALLOGRAPHY Prism Pseudomorph Scalenohedron Striations Tabular Termination 49 t e r m i n a t i n g faces of a prism. M O CAO and brachy pinacoids are parallel t o t h e crystal's principal axis. T h e m a c r o pinacoid is c u t b y t h e longer ( m a c r o ) axis, and t h e b r a c h y pinacoid is cut by t h e s h o r t e r ( b r a c h y ) axis. A crystal form w h o s e faces are parallel t o t h e principal axis and are c u t by t h e lateral axes.

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