Occasionally I come across benitoite specimens that have been etched by someone, but not enough. In fact in the past 6 months I’ve come across about 6 pieces added to my collection that were etched, but not nearly enough. Maybe it’s because the original etcher wasn’t confident enough? Who knows, but the pieces are out there.
Case in point this piece I just picked up at the west coast gem and mineral show the other day. It may be hard to tell from the pictures, but that chunk of natrolite, the white mineral in the center has a large crystal sticking out as well as several smaller ones. On the underside of the specimen is a vein of benitoite just about dead center of the natrolite area. So, we know there are a lot more crystals hiding underneath that natrolite. The problem is you don’t want to etch out all the natrolite because the white contrasts so nicely with the blue benitoite. This is where the skilled etcher can come in and make the piece even more beautiful. I’m not that skilled, but I always try.
So, what I’m doing at the moment is giving it a first run, quick etching to expose more of the larger crystal and to see if any others will pop. From there I’ll have to wax the specimen up, which becomes a pain in the ass if you don’t have the proper set up to remove the wax once your done. I’m hoping to get the center area much cleaner, while leaving the natrolite on the right and left sides as intact as possible. Creating a valley of blue crystals on a white slope.
I’ll update this post as I progress which will probably be a week or so from the time of writing this.
I use John Veevaert’s (Trinity Minerals) guide to etching because he is a boss when it comes to benitoite. You should visit his benitoite site here. Unfortunately I haven’t had the courage to do the last set of soaking it in ammonium bifluoride. It’s just not the kind of stuff you want to play with unless you are a professional and have the area to work with it.
To be continued…