by Bruce Fry
It all started a long time ago in what would become the magical land of Afghanistan. The continents drifted, drawn by mysterious currents deep in the earth, into collisions that built mighty mountains. As their glowing hearts of molten magma cooled, rare elements collected in the water rich liquid mixtures, that were the most resistant to crystallizing. At just the right depth, temperature and pressure, pockets filled with wonderful crystals of tourmaline grew in pristine splendor.
It took millions of years for gravity and the elements to tear at the rock hard mountains before these pockets became accessible to man. Men that were willing to risk, even their lives, to blast out a fortune of some of the most beautiful tourmaline crystals in the world. More lives were threatened and some lost, as the crystals changed hands both legally and in the darkness of night. So much wealth in such small packages does not bring out the best in men. Still some men take the risks and beat the odds, to grow wealthy, in satisfying the world’s desire for natural beauty in its most arresting form.
And there it lay on the table before me wrapped in layers of adventure I will never know. I did know that I purchased the brilliant and large bi color tourmaline crystal from an American lawyer personally connected with an extended Afghanistan family. The family is one of only two Afghan sources that attempt to supply and exploit well healed, amateur cutters. They handle the best and expect to be paid for it. I was more than willing to pay their price, it had taken me many faults starts, to obtain quality tourmaline rough at any price.
And I knew she was beautiful in her crystal clarity and bright natural surfaces. Many pieces of rough tourmaline spend eons in rivers and streams being ground down after their liberation through erosion. She had been cobbled/clipped at both ends of her generous body to make her pure. The act can leave damage on my intended match, but not this time. Her perfectly balanced volumes of crabgrass green and clear leaded glory had been carefully nurtured.
There was love in the air and my best laps began to spin. There was no question that she should wear the cloths of an emerald cut for all eternity. There were no problems with angles or weak corners. There were no problems with anything until she cracked. It was not at the boundary between the green and clear sections, which is usually weaker then the rest of the crystal, but at the green end. Internal stress from some fault in her birth and development continued to plege my efforts to make her a valued member of my collection.
I sought help from the supplier of rough and was reassured that she had not been heated. Heating is sometimes done to change a tourmaline’s color and can in brittle it. I spent hours using a finer lap than usual to form her rough shape. That went to the point where I purchased a brand new lap just to try and please her. I carried on enough that an experience cutter I ha met volunteered to cut her, but I carried on alone.
As she got smaller with every regrind, the passion I had felt for her grew cooler. I knew that she couldn’t help herself, but my hopes were shattered when her clear end finally broke. It was the first time it had failed and the agony was deeply felt. I knew that it was wrong to try and continue to keep our relationship going under the faults hope that something would come of it.
The decision make, my heart grew cold and I knew there was only one way to keep her lost love from perpetually reminding me of our lose. I usually put the misbegotten on my kitchen windowsill, but even that was not enough in this exceptional case. There end must total.
Without hesitation or undue ceremony I placed her on my cement sidewalk in front of my house and brought the might hammer down. It took a couple of hits and a quick brush off, but my failure would never be seen again by the eyes of man. Does anyone really care if her beauty is gone? I will cut again and bath in the beauty of creation, but she will always be part of the care and feelings I have towards tourmaline.