Ask the Experts: Mystery ‘gem’ needs hands-on inspection

Complimentary antique appraisals (for entertainment purposes only) from the Antique Trader staff of appraisers is a service reserved exclusively for Antique Trader magazine subscribers.
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Appraisals by Dr. Anthony J. Cavo

Appraisal Inquiry

Green mystery gem

Green mystery gem

This is a 341.98 carat emerald. There are undiscovered Precambrian critters, the Vail’s are magnificent. It’s not glass; with a magnifying glass you can see other micro critters ... hundreds in this thing, it looks like the critters are at war. It’s unexplainable! It will change science, and make history. It has another surprise truth: Our daughter died the same day we found it. We call it the miracle stone. We went looking for gold to make it better for our families and we found this instead.

It has 4 letters in it from the blurriness transpired in the stone in one pic, it’s at the bottom. The letters IRNI, I have no idea what’s going on, it’s there to the eye also. I need your help.

We think that this is the greatest find ever, we can prove this too. There is more to the story: A year before this, we found diamonds, gems, gold only we were robbed on Sacramento Bay. We fell asleep and someone stole our bags. We came back home said we’re going to do this again. That was last year, and it’s good we did because we found better. We are ecstatic.

Thank you so much for your time reading this.

—Name Withheld

Appraisal

Green mystery gem

Green mystery gem

You certainly have come across something interesting. Looking at the photographs, the first thing that comes to mind is amber, however, green amber is quite rare, accounting for about 2% of all amber. You mentioned your piece was found in the ocean off the coast of Oregon, which is also a mystery if it is indeed amber; green amber is found in two places: the Baltic and Dominican Republic.

That being said, nature is dynamic and things move over millions of years so I cannot definitively say it cannot be green amber because it was not found in the Baltic or off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

Amber is tree resin that has fossilized and very often contains inclusions such as vegetation, insects and even small animals. It has been prized as a gemstone since the stone age and has also been used in folk medicine.

I have reached out to a number of experts on amber and shared your photographs. I have received responses identifying it as everything from glass to possible amber. I will share the response that seems the most likely barring a hands-on examination by an expert in minerology. Dr. George Poinar Jr., Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Oregon was kind enough to review the photographs and offer his opinion.

Green mystery gem

Green mystery gem

Dr. Poinar Jr. is a highly respected educator, writer and entomologist. He is best known for his ideas about extracting DNA from insects that have been fossilized within amber – an idea that was the basis of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Dr. Poinar suggested that you may have a mineral such as a partially clear form of ammolite.

Whatever it is, everyone agrees that it deserves further in-person, hands-on investigation by an expert in the field of minerology or entomology. My advice is to contact someone in the science department at the nearest university. I am sure someone would be quite happy for the opportunity to help you identify your mystery stone. If you do so, please let us and our readers know the results of your query.

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