Known by miners in Pakistan as the “Mountain fire” gemstone.
If it wasn’t for my friend Shawn, here is another gemstone I would not have been able to acquire. Even though Shawn was born in Pakistan and is pretty much a local, in these current troubled times he faced many dangers when travelling to the remote locations of the Pamir Mountain in Tajikistan, where this extremely rare and valuable gem was discovered.
With an appearance similar to that of a mineral crossbreed of Hessonite Garnet and Sphalerite, Clinohumite is a delightful, bright yellowish through to orange gemstone. It is a fluorescent mineral and will glow a tan to yellowish orange colour when under a shortwave UV light.
Clinohumite is a real must-have for gem collectors. It is a member of the Humite family of minerals (named after the English gem collector Sir Abraham Hume) and is closely related to the more common Chondrodite.
It is said to have first been discovered in 1876 in limestone blocks ejected from Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Italy.
In addition to the glorious yellowish orange gems coming from Tajikistan (which were only first discovered in the 1980s), there has more recently been a small deposit discovered in northern Siberia. However, the gems from this region tend to be a far darker reddish brown and they are slightly softer on the mohs scale. From our extensive research into this gem, we believe that to-date there has been no more than a couple of thousand carats ever faceted!
In addition to the tiny pockets unearthed in Tajikistan and Siberia, there have also been small discoveries of Clinohumite in such countries as Tasmania, Austria, Brazil and Canada: however none of these have yet to yield any gem grade material.
When yellow, the hue is very pure, and when orange, its colour can be a blend of yellow, and light and dark orange. Its key colour (the colour of its brilliance) is always lighter than its body colour and as you rotate the gem back and forwards its pleochroism can be mesmerising. Some of the pieces we have set into jewellery recently have resembled the array of warm, glowing colours you will see in the bottom of a roaring fireplace. The gem is normally included, but due to its incredible rarity and breathtaking colour, its inclusions are easily forgiven.
In some pieces the inclusions are microscopic and run throughout the entire piece. When this is the case, the gem becomes translucent rather than transparent. Although these are slightly less expensive than transparent pieces, they are still highly collectable.
In terms of carat weights, most pieces that we have sourced are less than half a carat; however we recently sold one piece that was 8.2 carats.
Clinohumite is a fine example of how indigenous people from different regions around the world know the same gemstones by different names. Locals in the Pamir mountains say they have been collecting “The Mountain Fire” (Clinohumite) for thousands of years.
Gemologist Yuri Zhukov tells a story of how on a visit to Tajik Pamir he came across an elderly gentleman who claimed to be 114 years old. He offered to give away a 44 gram (220 carat) piece of Clinohumite as he wanted it to carry on bringing good luck to those who held it and that he didn’t want to take this piece of the sun to his grave. The stone had been in his family for over 400 years, but he was convinced that on his death his children, against his wishes, would bury the gemstone alongside him.