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Lapidary / Gemstone Community Forum
April 16, 2014, 04:42:03 pm
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Bumblebee Jasper

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bobby1
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« on: October 03, 2011, 07:49:10 pm »

A fellow named Donald Kasper posted this on Facebook. I found it very interesting.
Bob

   Bumblebee Agate
This material from Indonesia is becoming quite popular. It is sold as Bumblebee Agate or Bumblebee Jasper. Analysis online at a gemmologic web site quotes the miners in correspondence with a contributor. It is mined from sulfur vents. Their speculation on probable composition and my viewing with a microscope shows the following: The material is anhydrite (gypsum), sulfur, hematite, in a matrix of volcanic tuff (welded ash). I also believe it has plumose calcite and ilmenite. While the miners claim they can call it agate because it could have some opaline silica, I would conclude the silica content is negligible so certainly does not qualify as an agate. The material is the most expensive anhydrite-sulfur you can buy at a dollar a gram, watch it decompose and make sulfuric acid to rot your jewelry mounting, and is softer than even travertine making it useless for jewelry. It is all about marketing. Essentially the material is decomposed volcanic ash, which is another name for siliceous mud with sulfur, yet the material is dominated by anhydrite. If it was mostly mud, we would call it Biggs Jasper and charge even more for it. Keep in mind agate forms at a pH greater than 6.5, typically around 8.5 in alkaline conditions, and sulfur forms in extremely acidic conditions of pH 4 or less, so there is no significant silica that can be deposited in these vent conditions. In fact, it would take microscopy to find any silica.

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Taogem
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 01:28:29 am »

Thought I might share an eBay link showing several examples..

Very pretty !
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 04:53:11 am »

Thanks for the post, very interesting.
David
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 06:29:57 am »


Good to know Bob.
Thanks

TOG
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2011, 07:12:40 am »

Pretty cool looking rock, but I have not had the desire to get any!  Now I know why!  I though that yellow looked pretty familiar. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2011, 09:11:59 am »

Has anyone here had first hand experence with this stuff? I agree it is pretty but it sounds like it is very soft but so is a lot of other lapidary material. The problem seems to be in the discription. Rocpup
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Just one more good rock, Please.
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2011, 12:04:10 pm »

Having taken chemistry classes years ago in college and also being one of those nerdy kids growing up who collected rocks and read a lot about them I typically always associate yellow with a high sulfur content.  Other minerals can make yellow compounds as well, but sulfur tends to be more prevalent than the other compounds.

Now my question is, Would this stuff be workable if it were stabilized so the sulfur wouldn't break down? 
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2011, 12:37:49 pm »

I guess it depends on how stable it is, and how quickly it breaks down. The blurb references it forming sulfuric acid, presumably in the presence of humidity. Pyrite will do this too, though elemental sulfur may be significantly less stable. I am sure folks will figure this out rather quickly... Perhaps it could be sealed somehow, but it seems like a lot of hassle for what is already a pretty expensive stone.
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MrsWTownsend
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 01:28:11 pm »

Wow that guy seems like a real hater of bumble bee agate/jasper... 

From the material I have seen first had, I am willing to bet that the cabs you see in the ebay link have indeed been stabilized.  The material I saw, even on the most solid pieces, was still porous; the porosity was what prevented me from buying some.  By the feel of it, I could easily lean toward it being something other than agate, it does seem very soft in comparison.

Regarding the material changing the appearance of the setting it is in, that could be something that is taken advantage of~ after all, sulfer is used to patina silver already so theoretically, the stabilization seals some of the material and the remaining exposure gives a patina look over time.
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2011, 02:14:49 pm »

I made a cab several months ago.  I have been following this stone since it came out.  I got a really nice cab out of it, go check my etsy link to see it.  I thought it would be a bit soft to work, but came out harder than i expected.  I posted a thread on this forum before.  I would go look for the thread but my pain is getting too much to sit here any longer.  Oh the heck, here is the thread: http://gemstone.smfforfree4.com/index.php/topic,7481.0.html

Mark
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MrsWTownsend
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2011, 02:33:00 pm »

Did you stabilize that material Mark?
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2011, 03:35:31 pm »

I picked up a slab this year. I bought a slab to try it out. I really think it is not an agate. I think it could be onyx. The sulfur and other mineral infiltrated it. If you look at other types of layerd onyx, they have a similar look, except the color of course.The touch and feel of the material to me, even says soft onyx. I think they named it an agate, because of marketing reasons. Agate sells better than onyx. I happen like the stuff it's something different. You very rarely see a vibarant yellow like it in the lapidary world. I was very sceptical when I saw the stuff, because it was such a vibrant yellow. I thought it was color enhanced. I was told that it was not.  I come to believe that it is an unusual type of onyx. It even cuts an polishes like a onyx. Ajo.
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 03:52:24 pm »

Have seen this in rough and finished forms, have worked some with out stabilizing and gets a good polish - No pitting etc.   The newest material to come out from indoagate.com seems better then material in the past few years and they have a write up on it here
http://www.indoagate.com/bumblebee.html
Have also been told there is a Cinnabar content, what ever they care to call it has a striking color pattern and does polish and seems stable overall

Paul
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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 06:21:33 pm »

I didn't stabilize mine.  I thought it would be soft to start out with, but it was harder than i thought and polished up pretty good.  The newer stuff on the market now is brighter and more orange and has more pitting.  But it does look good.

Mark
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