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Refractive Index:  1.582-1.584 Crystal Structure: Orthorhombic


Hardness:  6 Specific Gravity:  2.79


Chemical Composition:
Occurrences:  Washington, Tajikistan
Even among collector's of gem rarities, Zektzerite is not widely known.  This despite the fact that the mineral is quite lovely, reasonably durable and is, in fact, an uniquely U.S. gem material.

Perhaps one reason for this is that Zektzerite was only identified as a separate species in the late 1970's.  Upon first encountering the mineral, it was thought (due to the color and apparent habit) to be Beryl.  The locality, in Washington's Golden Horn Batholith, is extremely rugged and even when thoroughly searched, the small pockets containing Zektzerite are few and far between.  So, ultimately, the lack of familiarity with this gem has to do with one simple fact - it's extreme rarity.

Drawing a comparison with another collector's gem may provide some perspective.  Let's use a much more widely known collector's favorite, Benitoite.  Both gems are found in gem grade in just one locality worldwide, both in the western U.S. for that matter.  Both have an attractive color range - these are lovely gems and not deep brown or colorless gems as so many rarities are.  Moreover, in terms of hardness and durability, both Benitoite and Zektzerite are capable of being jewelry stones.  The similarities disappear however when you consider the relative abundance of Benitoite in comparison - think of those huge specimens literally covered with the blue pyramidal crystals of Benitoite.  No such proliferations of Zektzerite exist - crystals are exponentially rarer at their locality. 

Consider then the likelihood of actually having a faceted example of this mineral; quite literally one of the gem world's great rarities.  Unless you happen upon a hidden trove or decide to take a collecting trip yourself, there is not more than a slim chance of finding these in the marketplace.  We assembled a few of this treasures and loaned them to GIA for a recent article - see Gems and Gemology, Spring 2011.