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Color-Change Diaspore


Before it was Zultanite, before master lapidaries like Steven Avery cut it, and before no more than a few stray souls saw any reason for excitement about it, Turkish diaspore caught jewelry artisan Diana Stern’s roving eye at the Tucson gem show and she paid $200 per carat for a 3 carat stone. “It was one of the few good stones they had,” she recalls of the purchase more than a decade ago, “and I knew it was preposterously overpriced. But you know the old story about finding something new that no one else has and wanting to be the first person to own one.”

When Stern first saw the stone, she was impressed by what she describes as its “dusty pink champagne color studded with flecks of scintillation.” Not yet realizing it was a color-change stone, she insists she would have bought it even if it only exhibited one color state. “Remember, this was before we had stones around like sphene that display all those big flashes of color,” Stern says. “I took to the gem’s fireworks.”

Nevertheless, once she saw the gem’s light cypress-green in sunlight, she began to think of it as “Turkish alexandrite,” which is what she likened it to when she sold it mounted in a ring at a crafts fair. “I hated to part with that stone, but I reassured myself I would be able to find another as good.”

A dozen or so years later, at the 2006 Tucson show, she finally did. “I thought I had caught the first wave of supply,” she says with a laugh. “Little did I know I wouldn’t see the second wave for at least a decade.”

Stern was the only person I ever met for whom Turkish diaspore kept the lavish promises made for it when first introduced into America in the mid-1990s. Hailed as a major new phenomenon gem, this magazine devoted a “Gem Profile” to the material, but the article was based on hype and hope. Somehow I was talked into believing this gem would earn the praise its first promoters heaped on it.

Apparently, Stern and myself weren’t the only ones who bought into diaspore’s bright future. Murat Akgun sank much more than $100,000 of his own money into the venture—and had no other way to recoup his investment than by turning his faith in the gem into fact. To do so meant finding new partners and throwing even more money into his dream. Now that dream is beginning to pay off.

ROUGHING IT

Diaspore is a relatively new gem, first faceted in the 1970s—and then mainly as a curiosity. The highest grade deposit known is found 4,000 feet up in the mountainous remotes of Anatolia, Turkey, miles away from the nearest village. When Akgun first became involved with diaspore, he believed his partners owned the mine. They didn’t. And it has taken him years to obtain a lease of his own.

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Diaspore from Turkey, showing its color change from green to pink
Diaspore from Turkey, showing its color change from green to pink.
© courtesy of Zultanite Gems


Diaspore from Turkey, showing its color change from green to pink
Diaspore from Turkey, in green.
© courtesy of Zultanite Gems