I hadn’t been fossicking for more than a few weeks around Glen Innes when I found my first small pink gemstone. It was nothing like the colour of the local zircon or garnet and at first I thought it might be spinel.
|Group of Glen Innes pink sapphires|
Hylda Bracewell, a well regarded gemmologist who was living in Torrington at the time, conducted some tests on specimens and advised me that it was actually pink sapphire, which I knew was a possibility.
It is rarely found and most casual gem hunters never find a piece or are even aware of its existence. However, it has turned up in all my regular fossicking spots – Yarrow Creek, Pretty Valley, Rainy Swamp and Back Creek (at Pinkett, rather appropriately). I saw one found at Scrubby Gully, Torrington, on one occasion and I am sure they are found in all the local sapphire localities.
|1cm dog's tooth from Pretty Valley|
The gemstone differs from the more typical blue and yellow gems in a number of ways. Firstly, the stones are always small, rarely more than 2 carats. Secondly, they hardly ever show even a trace of crystal faces and only once a dog’s tooth crystal turned up (at Pretty Valley). Even this is very pale and unlike the normal colour of the gem.
Thirdly, the colour is constant in any one stone, i.e. there are no particoloured stones, although just once I found a blue gem with a pink end (again at Pretty Valley).
Naturally there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not these stones are really pale rubies. Everyone wants them to be, but the truth is that their colour is quite distinct from the true ruby colour. I have found a genuine ruby only once (in Yarrow Creek) which was confirmed by the respected local cutter Sorn Lim. The photograph doesn’t do the colour justice, unfortunately. Subsequently I was shown another from the same creek.
|0.33 carat ruby from Yarrow Creek|
|0.5 carat pink from Yarrow Creek|
Pink sapphire cutters are rare in New England. I have had 2 from Yarrow and 1 from Back Creek. All three, and the ruby, range from 0.3 to 0.7 carats cut.
|3 pinks from 0.3 - 0.6 carats|
To conclude, mention must be made of the Aurora Sapphire, which was found in the Glen Innes district around 1988. I suspect it came from Yarrow Creek at “Dwyer’s”. In the Australian Journal of Mineralogy, Volume 4 Number 2 (1996), Webb and Sutherland made this statement: “The original 48 carat sapphire cut a 17 carat red stone, a 9 carat blue and 2 carat pink stones”. In this case, the red corundum was surrounded by an outer zone of blue. The authors were careful not to call the red stone a ruby and we should likewise be cautious.
Why not check out my You Tube channel here. There are quite a few videos on local gem fossicking.