‘Rare’, ‘stunningly beautiful’ and ‘a real collector’s gemstone’, are the first things that pop into my head when I am asked about Axinite.
There are two principle sources of this highly collectable gemstone: one in the Baltistan Valley in Northern Pakistan; and one very near to K2 (the second largest mountain in the world).
Due to the difficult weather and terrain in the region, it is only possible to operate these Axinite mines for a couple of months every year. The first parcel is from a well established mine that has been producing Axinte for around 15 years.
Its colour is a breathtaking dark brown with areas of lilac when viewed from different angles: this material does have inclusions, but this allows the gem to change colour to an almost deep reddish, purple colour. The second parcel is from a fairly new mine: it is a slightly lighter brown with amazing transparency. This parcel was very difficult to get hold of as it is mined in the tribal areas along the undefined border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and my friend Shawn went to great lengths and faced real dangers in order to obtain it for me.
Discovered at the end of the 1700s, Axinite receives its name from the fact that its unusual spatula-shaped crystals are often shaped like an axe!