Saturday, 31 August 2013

Rare Gemstones IV

Sri Lanka Padparadscha sapphires are a delicate color that is a combination of pink/coral and orange/red.

Padparadscha sapphires are one of the most expensive sapphires, with prices similar to those fetched by fine rubies or emeralds. Prices for padparadscha sapphires are difficult to determine because some value them at the highest range of a pink sapphire at $4,800/carat, while others place them in their own category of up to $30,000/carat. Much depends on the size and quality of the stones.
Benitoite is a rare blue barium titanium silicate mineral, found in hydrothermally altered serpentinite.

It was first described in 1907 by George D. Louderback, who named it benitoite for its occurrence near the headwaters of the San Benito River in San Benito County, California. It is the sole source of gemstone quality material. Benitoite is California's official state gem.
Demantoid garnet was discovered in 1868 in Russia's western central Ural Mountains. Possessing an unusual green color and a dispersion greater than that of diamond, it quickly became a treasured and expensive gemstone. From the time of the demantoids find until about 1919, they were popular in Russia as Fabergé made jewelry with them.

A significant new find of demantoid and andradite took place in Namibia in 1996 at what is now dubbed the "Green Dragon" mine. Around 2009, there was a significant discovery of demantoid and andradite garnet in Madagascar.
Black opal is the rarest and most valuable of all opals. 97% of all opals come from Australia. Opal is Australia's national gemstone.

Opal is unique among gemstones. No two are ever exactly alike and the colours and patterns within each stone can change with the angle of view.
Taaffeite is named after its discoverer Richard Taaffe who found the first cut and polished gem in November 1945.

In 1951, chemical and X-ray analysis confirmed the principal constituents of taaffeite as beryllium, magnesium and aluminium. Taaffeite occurs in carbonate rocks alongside fluorite, mica, spinel and tourmaline. This extremely rare mineral is found in alluvial deposits in Sri Lanka and southern Tanzania.

Friday, 30 August 2013

World's most toxic places

The Aral Sea, located in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, was one of the world's four largest lakes until the waters that fed it were diverted for Soviet Union irrigation projects. By 2007, the Aral Sea shrank to 10% of its original size and split into four basins.

Toxic chemicals from weapons testing, industrial projects, pesticides, and fertilizer have runoff and been swept by winds into surrounding areas. People nearby not only suffer from lack of fresh water but also cancer, lung disease, digestive disorders, antibiotic resistant tuberculosis, liver, eye, and kidney disorders, and unusually high mortality rates. Salt from the lake is not only toxic but has a higher salinity than sea water, with levels from what remains of the South Aral measured in excess of 100g/L versus sea water salinity of 35 g/L. The huge plains of what used to be the waters of the Aral Sea are now exposed, causing toxic dust storms.
La Oroya is a mining town located in the Peruvian Andes. Since 1922, those living in La Oroya have breathed in toxic emissions and lived in toxic waste created by the poly-metallic smelter plant owned by Doe Run Corporation. La Oroya is home to the world's most critical levels of air pollution and the highest lead blood levels known to any children on the planet. An astronomical 99 percent of the children in La Oroya have blood levels which exceed acceptable limits to qualify for lead poisoning.
Dzerzhinsk is located in Nizhy Novgorod Oblast, Russia along the Oka River, about 250 miles east of Moscow.

Dzerzhinsk is the most chemically polluted place on Earth according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Once Russia's primary chemical weapons production site, Dzerzhinsk is now home to approximately 300,000 tons of chemical waste dumped between 1930 until 1998. The Blacksmith Institute found during a 2007 study that the life expectancy for men is 42 years and 47 years for women, compliments of dioxins, sarin, leeisite, sulfur mustard, hydrogen cyanide, phosgene, lead, phenol, and other chemicals in the air and water of the city. Water tests revealed contaminates were 17 million times higher than levels rendered safe by EPA standards.
The Matanza-Riachuelo River in Argentina is 64 kilometers long and home to 3.5 million people. The Matanza is filled with illegal sewage pipes draining directly into the river. Additionally, along Mantanza-Riachuelo's banks are 13 slums and 42 open garbage dumps. Residents and tourists have reported strong odors released from chemical residue and methane gas emitting from the River.
The Kabwe is a mine located in Zambia. Kabwe has long been rendered one of the most toxic places on Earth. Originally a large mining complex, now Kabwe is a barren mess. Once all of the lead, zinc, silver, manganese, cadmium, vanadium, and titanium were extracted, the Blacksmith Institute found Broken Hill to be more than broken. Heavy metal tailings from the mine, primarily zinc and lead, found their way into water supplies, affecting nearly 210,000 people. Additionally, lead and cadmium have been absorbed in areas around the mine, rendering the ground unusable for crops. Blood level lead concentrations in children of Kabwe are up to ten times U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Karachay is a small lake in the Ural mountains in Western Russia. It is home to a nuclear waste dumping site so radioactive it has been declared the most polluted place on the planet. During the early 1950s, the Soviet Union began dumping radioactive waste from Mayak, a nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility in Ozyorsk, into Lake Karachay. Many years later, the Worldwatch Institute on nuclear waste rendered the area "the most polluted spot on Earth." Radiation levels at the lake are so high that one hour of exposure is considered lethal. The accumulated levels of radioactivity are around 4.44 exabequerels (EBq) with 3.6 EBq of Caesium-137 and 0.74 EBq of Strontium-90. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster released between 5 to 12 Ebq of unconcentrated radioactivity.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Yarchagumba prices rising

MYAGDI, June 27, 2013. The price of aphrodisiac herb yarchagumba has increased by up to Rs 500,000 per kilogram this year due to rise in international demand. It is now being traded at Rs 1.55 million per kilogram while its price was Rs 1.03 million last year. “The price has risen due to lower collection than the demand of international companies,” yarchagumba trader Dal Man Pun said.
"Every summer, Himalayan villages empty as locals rush to the mountains of northern Nepal to harvest yarchagumba, a high-altitude wild fungus that is prized for its aphrodisiac qualities.

In recent years, however, the yield has been severely depleted by over-picking and the probable effects of climate change prompting fears about the future of the "Himalayan Viagra" harvest.
This season's crop has been particularly poor, say the villagers who rely on the rare, parasitic fungus to earn money to feed their families.

There are over 680 documented species of the sac fungus genus Ophiocordyceps, and one of the best known of these is Ophiocordyceps sinensis, colloquially known as caterpillar fungus.

Ophiocordyceps sinensis
The fungus is known in Tibetan as yartsa gunbu or yatsa gunbu.

Caterpillar fungi are the result of a parasitic relationship between the fungus and the larva of the ghost moth genus Thitarodes, several species of which live on the Tibetan Plateau. The fungus germinates in living organisms (in some cases larvae), kills and mummifies the insect, and then the fungus grows from the body of the insect."

Year Price/kg (Yuan)
1980s 1,800
1997 8,400
2004 36,000
2005 40,00-60,000

Neighbouring China has a huge appetite for the fungus, pushing prices above $12,500 per pound (450 grams)
There has been a dramatic rises in Yarchagumba prices in both the national and international markets. In 2001, Dolpa harvesters sold the fungus for Rs 20-25 per piece but they received Rs 200-600 per piece in 2011, an increase of 900 to 2,300 per cent, according to the report. The annual production of Yarchagumba in the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau is thought to be around 85-185 tonnes with a current total estimated global market value of $5-11 billion.

Yarchagumba is under severe threat in its natural habitat due to excessive and premature harvesting to meet growing demand and price surges both in the local and global trade regimes, warns the study.
On the good news front ... "Jesus Gabriel was born with a benign tumour that grew to cover the right side of his body from his armpit to his hip, the Associated Press reports.

At the time of surgery on June 14, the tumour weighed more than Jesus, who weighed just 12kg.
"Dr Hernandez said that the operation was the first time Mexican doctors have removed a tumour bigger than the person carrying it."

Friday, 23 August 2013

12 year old finds 5.16 carat diamond

A 12-year-old North Carolina boy has unearthed a 5.16 carat diamond while on vacation with his family at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park. Park officials said Saturday that Michael Dettlaff found the honey brown diamond on July 31 after searching for less than 10 minutes. He named it God's Glory Diamond.
Michael found the gem in an area of the park where the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas diamond was found in 1956. His father was still renting mining equipment when he discovered the diamond.

The diamond is about the size of a jellybean and is the 328th diamond found this year. It is the 27th largest diamond found by a park visitor since the site became a state park in 1972, according to Cox. More than 75,000 diamonds have been found at the site since the first discovery in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who owned the land at the time.

Terry Staggs of Kentucky was visiting the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas on July 4th when he saw something in the dirt sparkle in the sunlight. It turned out to be a 2.95-carat, champagne-colored diamond, according to United Press International. Mr. Staggs has named it the Patriot Diamond in honor of the day it was found.
The Crater of Diamonds is a 911-acre state park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas that contains a 37.5 acre plowed field in which visitors can literally dig for diamonds.
It's the world's only diamond-bearing site that's accessible to the public.

The largest diamond ever discovered in the US, the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, was found there in 1924. It was cut twice, resulting in a final 12.42-carat (2.484 g) M-color, VVS1 clarity emerald-cut diamond. In 1971, the Uncle Sam was sold for $150,000.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Oak Island Money Pit

Oak Island is approximately 140 acres in size and located just off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. It is one of many small islands in the area and is now linked to the mainland via a narrow causeway.
In 1795 Daniel McGinnis and a friend noticed a circular depression as if a pit had been dug and then filled in again. Believing something of value may have been buried there they dug to a depth of 9.1 metres. Initially they discovered a layer of flagstones followed by traces of pickaxes on the rocks.

Some stories say they found platforms of logs approximately every 3 metres. They failed to find anything of value but the story spread and was quickly linked to the missing treasure of Captain Kidd and even the notorious Blackbeard - Edward Thatch (Teach).
Over the following centuries the pit has been excavated many times and prospectors have even included an American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. It has not been an easy task and the pit is claimed to be 'booby trapped" and has regularly flooded. The best clue found so far was a code inscription on a flat stone which, when translated, apparently stated: "Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried."

The deepest excavations reached 72 metres and over the years at least six people have died trying to find whatever is buried on Oak Island.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Gold collection of Nevada recluse auctioned

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The last remnants of a fortune of coins found packed in ammunition boxes in the garage of a recluse who died last summer was auctioned Tuesday for more than $3.1 million

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The final treasures of a quiet man who collected a fortune in gold coins are going on the auction block Tuesday.

The body of Walter Samaszko Jr. was found in his Carson City home in June 2012. After his death, a cleaning crew hired to tidy his modest, ranch style home where he had lived for four decades came upon a stunning discovery -- boxes and boxes full of gold coins and bullion collected over an unassuming lifetime. It was enough to fill two wheelbarrows. One batch, mostly bullion, was sold at auction in February for $3.5 million. Now, more than 2,600 coins are set to be auctioned in six lots Tuesday at the Carson City courthouse.


"A California substitute teacher will inherit over $7 million in gold coins found in her recluse cousin's home after his death.

A Carson City, Nev., judge ruled Tuesday that Arlene Magdanz was Walter Samasko, Jr.'s only cousin and therefore entitled to his fortune, according to the Associated Press.

Samasko, 69, died in May due to heart problems and was not discovered until June when neighbors complained of an odor coming from his house.

When authorities went to clean out his Carson City home, they found boxes of gold coins in his home and garage.

"He was quite a hoarder. He had boxes and boxes and boxes of things," Carson City Clerk Alan Grover told in September. Grover said there were many containers of food and cans. Grover said the coins were in boxes marked "books." There were also coins wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in ammunition boxes. There were Mexican, British and Austrian coins dating as far back as the 1870s. There was so much gold that Grover used a wheelbarrow to carry the fortune to his truck. The coins were first moved to a bank vault and later moved to armored vehicles. Samasko had no will and no immediate relatives. He was cremated and the remains were flown to Chicago to join his mother who died in 1992. Using the funeral attendance list from Samasko's mother's funeral, Grover tracked down Magdanz, Samasko's first cousin in San Rafael, Calif.
Samasko had only $200 in the bank at the time of his death, according to the Las Vegas Sun, but had stock accounts totaling in $165,000 and had been living off of his investments. Grover said one of his first thoughts upon seeing the thousands of coins was, "What was a guy like this doing with his kind of money in just a regular house?"

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Ohio Baseball Card Hoard

Karl Kissner, 51, never knew his grandfather, who passed away in the 1940s, so he had no idea what to expect when he cleaned out the attic at the family’s longtime Ohio home in 2012. What he found sent ripples through the sports memorabilia world — the late Carl Hench had stashed some 700 rare, mint-condition baseball cards, featuring greats like Ty Cobb and Cy Young. In all, the entire collection is valued at around $3 million, according to experts at Professional Sports Authenticator.
The highest grade the company had ever rated a Cobb card in what’s known as the E98 Series is a “7” on a scale of 1-10. According to this memorabilia rating agency, there are 16 Cobb cards alone rated as “9” in Kissner’s collection, with a Honus Wagner card rated a perfect “10.”