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July-August 2013

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The Curious Tale of the Lost Liddicoatite Crystals: How a Long-Misplaced Lot of Gem Liddicoatite Crystals from Madagascar Was Rediscovered after Some Thirty-five Years

WESTHOFF, a mineral collector from Virginia who specializes in lapidary work, said he had “inherited” a group of large “liddicoatite” crystals (see the Connoisseur's Choice column by Robert B. Cook in this issue for a discussion of liddicoatite terminology). There are more than a dozen species recognized in what is now the tourmaline supergroup, including elbaite, dravite, and schorl. Liddicoatite, first recognized as a tourmaline species in 1977, is the rare, calcium-rich analogue of elbaite that was named in honor of Richard Liddicoat, the Gemological Institute of America gemologist who invented the diamond grading system. Recently, holotype liddicoatite was reexamined and renamed fluor-liddicoatite (Henry et al. 2011). Almost everyone interested in minerals and gemstones has seen and admired these precious tourmaline gemstone slices in eye-catching reds, vivid blues, glowing golds, and rich greens.

Eric S. Greene is president of, an Internet mineral dealership specializing in fine mineral specimens. His most recent article for Rocks & Minerals was titled “The Surprise Pocket, Gilman Notch, Center Ossipee, Carroll County, New Hampshire” and appeared in the March/April 2011 issue (pages 168–172).

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