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Colombian Emeralds

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Trapiche EmeraldTrapiche emeralds are a rare form of emerald found occasionally in certain emerald mines in Colombia. The name trapiche (commonly pronounced tra-peesh in English, tra-pee-chay in Spanish) comes from a grinding wheel used to process sugarcane in Colombia. According to the most readily available information, the only known mines are Muzo, PeƱas Blancas, and Coscuez which are located within a span of about 30 km (20 miles) along the Rio Carare. Trapiche emeralds are green as all emeralds are, but black carbon rays radiate out in a six pointed radial spoke pattern from a center core and colorless beryl or black carbon often surrounds the green emerald areas. The center core may be in a hexagonal shape and contain emerald (green beryl) or colorless beryl or it may not form at all.

Every aspect of the trapiche emerald varies greatly from specimen to specimen. This includes the core shape, alignment of the spoke pattern, green emerald portion and its surrounding material. Often the overall crystal shape is irregular with only the core and sometimes green emerald portion forming the regular hexagonal shape associated with beryl crystals but most often even this is irregular. The green emerald portion may also form in a six-leafed pinwheel or flower pattern when the carbon or other foreign material forms in larger concentrations between the prisms of the green emerald crystal.

Trapiche emeralds are highly valued for jewelry because of their rarity and unique characteristics. But it would be extremely unusual to find a trapiche emerald that is faceted. Trapiches are generally cut to shape or sliced and then cabochoned. Some cabochoned slices can be very irregularly shaped, but skilled jewelers can create very unique one of a kind pieces.


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