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The current featured stone:

 

Wulfenite

 

Refractive Index:  2.405-2.283 Crystal Structure: Tetragonal
 

 

 
Hardness:  3 Specific Gravity:  6.50-7
 

 

 
Chemical Composition:
PbMoO4
 
Occurrences:  Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Arizona
Where does one begin with a discussion of Wulfenite as a gem material?  It's a collector's gem to be sure, indeed it's a classic "rare stone" in that it is too fragile to see use in jewelry.  It is also too tempting to resist for those brave souls willing to facet it - the sheer intensity of color and optical properties of Wulfenite make finished gems visual knockouts.  As such, fine examples have been, and continue to be of interest to collectors.

Specimen collector's know Wulfenite well.  As a mineral, it is not terribly uncommon and its thin, tabular crystals are easily spotted at mineral shows the world over.  It is in the nature of these crystals that we have another reason for the rarity of faceted Wulfenite; although sometimes quite gemmy, the crystals are often much too thin for cutting.  Take a look at the photo below for a gem that was to follow the morphology of the typical Wulfenite crystal.

Gems have been cut from Wulfenite crystals from a number of localities.  From Arizona come the intense reddish oranges, the pure oranges are typically Mexican, while the trove of the Tsumeb deposit has given us colorless, light yellow and even blue Wulfenites.  The unusual inky-blue stones were part of an extremely limited find at Tsumeb and, as yet, have not been found elsewhere.
 

The Los Lamentos Mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico have proved to be a decent source of facet grade rough - the crystals from this locality are generally thicker than what is typical.  If not for pieces from this deposit, finished stones would be even more scarce in the market.  

So, you have the high optical properties and a superb range of very saturated colors.  The problem of course is the hardness, at only 3 (at best) on the Moh's scale, we have to move Wulfenite to the collector's cabinet only.  Still, it is hard no to appreciate it as a gem material, albeit a rare and delicate one.

 

 

           

Yellow (Congo) and colorless Wulfenite (Tsumeb) flank an image of Franz Xaver von Wulfen for whom the mineral is named