Piece of aluminium ore

It’s unique, it’s spectacular and it’s only found in Turkey. Unless you’re pretty clued up on the world of gemstones, are a geologist, or involved in mining bauxite you’ve likely never heard of diaspore. Diaspore goes by several other names. Namely diasporite, empholite, kayserite, or tanatarite. It’s a basic aluminium oxide and one of the three main components of bauxite, the ore from which aluminium is produced.

Diaspore was first discovered and identified at a deposit in the Middle Urals in Russia in 1801. Since then other deposits have been found in Argentina, Brazil, China, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey, the UK and the USA.   With a hardness rating of 6.5 to 7 (diamonds are 10), diaspore also breaks down when subjected to heat. It gets its name from the Greek word for scatter “diaspora” for this reason. However, another version would have it that the name alludes to the way it ‘scatters’ light rays passing through it.

The Uniqueness Of Colour Changing Gems

Gemstones with this ability to scatter light and change colour depending on what type of light they’re exposed to are referred to as colour change gemstones. Other notable colour change gemstones are garnets, sapphires and alexandrite. The opal, another type of gemstone, also changes colour when moved around in light but this is the famous play of light and is caused by white light diffracting and refracting through its layered hexagonal microstructure.

Smallish crystals of diaspore that change from green to purple are found in bauxite deposits in Norway. Darker green crystals come from a deposit at Sarany in the Ural Mountains. Several mines in South Africa produce a pink or reddish type of diaspore crystal.   Apart from these, most diaspore is remarkably unspectacular and certainly would not generally be considered a gemstone. Its economic value traditionally, and why it’s mined, is to produce aluminium.

Unique Turkish Diaspore

In the 1970’s a bauxite mine in the İlbir Mountains of southwest Turkey started uncovering much larger crystals of diaspore. These crystals were unique.   Not only were they much larger than those found in any other bauxite deposit, they also possessed at least 3 different colour changes. Most diaspore crystals only exhibit two. Their quality was such that suddenly this precursor to aluminium also, in rare circumstances, became a gemstone. But only diaspore mined from this one single deposit. To date no other bauxite deposit anywhere else in the world has uncovered the same gem quality diaspore.

For the next 30 years, the occasional gemstone quality crystal was cut for collectors but that was about it. The primary economic purpose of the mine was producing bauxite ore for aluminium. In the late 1990’s the owner of the mine decided that his gemstone quality diaspore deserved its own unique name to differentiate it from other grades of diaspore. He coined the brand name Zultanite in honour of Turkey’s Ottoman sultans and trade marked it accordingly.   In 1997 the first gemstone quality piece of diaspore officially called Zultanite® was produced. In 2005 the name was publicly announced and in 2006 the mine began to be mined exclusively for gemstone quality diaspore to be marketed and sold under the brand name of Zultanite®.

Unfortunately though the name never really took off commercially and in 2012 it was dropped. A new marketing strategy coined and trademarked the name Csarite®. They also came up with Gem Diaspore and these are the names now used to market the gem quality diaspore cut exclusively from this mine. The name of the company promoting Zultanite® gems, Zultanite Gems LLC also changed and is now Milenyum Mining Ltd.

Regardless of its marketing name, the fact remains that the quality and beauty of the unique and rare diaspore gemstones from this particular bauxite deposit in Turkey is unparalleled. Its colour changing abilities – it has a high refractive index – are more light sensitive than those found in other colour changing gemstones and even in diaspore crystals from other locations.   A Csarite® diaspore gem can change colour from a yellowy kiwi green in daylight to light gold / champagne colours in fluorescent light and purply pink hues in candlelight.

The gemstone has also moved out of the realms of being a collectors item to being sought after for fine jewellery.   Mounting the stones enhances their unique qualities. If you’re in Turkey for a hair transplant or just visiting, why not check out this unique Turkish gemstone.

Sustainably Operated Csarite® Mine

The mine in the mountains of Anatolia is mined sustainably in an environmentally friendly and ethical way.   Any trees that need to be removed are cut down by the government and the mine’s owners pay a fee that ensures 10 new trees are planted for every tree that has to be removed. Because the closest village is 7 kilometres away, miners and their families are housed onsite. But even here everything is sustainable. All wastewater from the camp, and the mine, is collected and transported off site to be treated and disposed of correctly. Wherever possible, labour is sourced locally as are camp supplies. The mining itself is done on manually on a small scale with minimal mechanisation.   This not only ensures environmental impact is limited; it also limits supply of the gemstone which in turn increases its rarity and value.

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