Colombianites

Sorry, entire inventory currently sold out


Colombianites

These materials have had a contentious history. Found in the vicinity of Cali, Colombia, the skin ornamentation encouraged many to believe that these were a new class of tektite. The hard data are now voting quite clearly: these are terrestrial obsidian (along with the Arizona specimens recently being offered as "possible tektites" by those operating in the dark end of the ethical gray zone).


Nevertheless, Amerikanites still have a proper place in fine collections. Aside from their historic inclusion in tektite treatises, their skin is still an issue. There has been a lengthy debate regarding tektite ornamentation. Clearly, some of the pits are related to ablation early in flight (as demonstrated unequivocally by Nininger's and our stretch tektites). Other features are certainly related to frictional heating during thick atmospheric transit (Australite buttons and cores). But it is ALSO true that terrestrial corrosion has played its part (in this case best supported by Robert Haag's celebrated nicely ornamented, but weirdly colored moldavite that proved to be ancient man-made glass). So, perhaps everyone was right, but insofar as they fought for only one story, they were also all wrong. Amerikanites have features that are very much like features found on tektites.


That artificial and terrestrial glasses can corrode into tektite-like forms is no real surprise. Any (and ultimately, every) chunk of glass
will corrode here on earth. Glass is not geologically stable. Give it a few tens of millions of years and it's gone. In the meantime, it can look like a fine tektite to a greater or lesser degree.


The collectable part of this story is that the argument continues. There is no doubt that by most standards, Colombianites test out as terrestrial volcanic glass. But when you hold one and study the skin character and color, you'll wonder! It is one of those circumstances where you find it hard to accept the party line. And who knows?? We've been wrong about other things before. Be really cool and have examples of all parts of the debate ready to trot out. Then go through this story and wow the whole cocktail party.

Amerikanites, sometimes termed Colombianites (not Columbianites!) , often have a beautiful pale lavender color in transmitted (sun)light. The photos look brown-gray due to an artificial light source, but the subtle purple tones are unmistakable in real life.


The following photo shows some extremely tektite-like specimens!


Any of the following images can be clicked to obtain an enlarged version. Close the resulting window to return to this page.


Here are some micrographs to illustrate the characteristics of Colombianite skin ornamentation. You'll see breadcrust cracks, U-grooves, hemispheric pits, and delicate lizard-skin beading---all on (what we think is) terrestrial obsidian!

25.0 gms Another fine example, included here to show some of the incredibly tektite-like features in these guys.

Our specimens are all exceptionally well-documented material collected by the Muisca Indians in the headwaters region of the Orinoco River, Boyaca and Casanare States, Colombia. We know every name in the chain of custody leading to us (then you!) There's plenty of fodder for debate concerning Colombianites without having to worry about the real source of the specimens in question. This material has the best chain of custody pedigree that we have ever seen! You can fight over the propriety of the "tektite" label, but have no doubts, these are from the Colombian Cordillera Oriental!

These two images are of the same specimen, viewed in transmitted light. Not surprisingly, what you see varies with the light source. the left images utilizes an LED light background, while the right is photographed against direct sunlight. The latter yields the classic smoky-lavender color for which Colombianites are famous (and quite unusual in the world of volcanic obsidians!).


NEW TABLE May 11, 2015

This Table now sold out. Sorry!

515_7.0 gms, reverse side is a satiny fracture surface. Good internal clarity. $70 Sold
515_6.36 gms. Deep ornamentation, good internal clarity. $65Sold
515_5.13 gms. Somewhat tooth-shaped. Gemmy clarity. Several prismatic faces consist of old satiny fracture surfaces. $55 Sold
515_5.0 gms. An exceptionally beautiful and gemmy piece! $75 Sold
515_4.93 gms. A perfect little jelly bean with excellent skin ornamentation and internal clarity. $100 payment pending
515_4.32 gms. Another jelly bean, but the reverse surface consists of old, satiny fracture faces. $45 Sold
515_3.95 gms. One of the most attractive of this lot. Plano-convex geometry, excellent skin ornamentation and internal clarity. $75 Sold
515_3.50 gms A prismatic piece, entirely bounded by old satiny fracture surfaces. No skin-pitting ornamentation. $35 Sold
515_3.29 gms. A nice little losenge-shape cut be a planar bubble train. $45 Sold
515_2.56 gms. A sweet little gem with a glowing heart. $35 Sold
515_2.30 gms. Deeply ornamented skin. The back surface is a glassy conchoidal fracture face. $25 Sold

This table has been stubborn and has resisted my attempts at friendlier formatting. Sorry. Scroll down a ways to see a reflected light view of all of these side by side on the left. The individual images on the right are in transmitted sunlight.

(Composite reflected-light table below)

Individual images in next column to the right are photographed backlit in direct sunlight.





If you have time, please let me take you on a little journey that might help you to appreciate Colombianites, complete with their occasional glassy chips---:

(Story based on T1, 12.5 gms)

On first glance, this specimen looks a little beat up,

but when you see that even the chips are part of the life story of this bit of glass,--- not a detraction from its value, but rather clues that provide further elaboration on the grand tale of this stone, a story much longer than all the times of men, expanding into the final chapters of its recent days leading even to a place in your hands!

It must have been deeply bladed, incised by corrosive forces of some sort, a part of the story requiring a very long period of corrosive rest, carving edges thinner than a razor-blade, with adjacent deeps proportionate to the Grand Canyon!.

Then came the day that something changed. There was motion and collision. Earthquake? Landslide? Down-slope creep? The delicate blades recorded every hit and clink. They chipped in potentially many discrete events, each suggested by variations in the relative hydrational dulling of the broken faces. What were these events when the earth shuddered and its pebbles rotated?

And those brightest, shiniest gleaming chips?

These stones were picked up in dark tropical jungles while washing for emeralds, and were carried for many long kilometers in the shoulder bags of the Muisca Indians that found them. They journeyed through the jungles of Colombia, to sell them (in addition to their primary business of marketing their emeralds) to an emerald-buyer in Bogota , who having purchased many, sold them on to a private collector, then on to another, then to me. We have all the names involved.

It is those we can name by name that had custody of these stones and were responsible for every new clink and chip, unto this day. This is wonderful provenance data which allows you, with a bit of poetic license, to read the life of this magical bit of glass like a novel, replete (and only complete) with all its joys and pains.

At the ultimate summit of comprehension and appreciation, it is left to the few who can truly see to read and hear the freshest memories of this special stone. These are the memories still reverbrating in the sparkles at the tips of yesterday's chips! You cannot read a biography and ignore its final lines!

This stone is an heroic survivor! It is my sincere pleasure to address it as "Friend!"

I have heard your story, my friend---

I have done my best to tell it.

I cannot speak further.


The image below provides a good idea of overall morphology and relative size. The individual images to the right are in transmitted sunlight.



T1, 25.0 gms . A whopping monster just liberated from our private collection.It has glossy ridges with frosted and finely beaded intervening pits and pronounced breadcrust grooves. Quite dark internally due to exceptional thickness, but looks to be high purity. It has a lunate glassy chip and an affixed label marked "Cali". The biggest Colombianite we've handled. $300 sold
T1, 18.02 gms. Coarsely frosted, but somewhat glossy beaded skin. Looks to be of high clarity internally. Could facet a very big jewel. Has a shallow 1 cm diameter glassy chip. $250sold
T1, 15.27 gms. A stunning, brightly glossy, finely dimpled lozenge with a crystal pure interior. End breaks are quite old and dull. $300 Sold
T1, 12.35 gms. A little 2 to 2.5 cm sphere with an unusual wedge-cut slot extending clear to the stone's midline, like an apple with a missing longitudinal slice. The coarsely bladed surface has endured several phases of relatively recent chipping, some spallate surfaces soft and gray, followed at intervals by times of chipping up to the latest shiny conchoidal chips. S100 Sold(See the prosy story down a ways in the left column of this table---)
T1, 11.54 gms. A whale-head with two deep furrows, wonderfully dimpled skin, and great internal clarity. The darker region reflects an area of greater thickness bulging out on the back side. A superb stone. $200 

Sold
T1, 9.54 gms. A fine specimen, internally crystal clear with great and varied skin ornamentation. Has a glassy chip along the upper-right skyline in the image. S150 Sold
T1, 9.40 gms. A flawless losenge---they really don't get much better than this. No significant chips or dings. This one should be one of our keepers, but if you really, really want a superb piece, I would let you give it a great home for S250--- sold
T1, 9.05 gms. Delicately ornamented skin, high internal clarity. A couple of ancient conchoidal facets also show some significant etching suggesting that they are part of an old chapter in its history. $100 Sold
T1, 8.50A. Nice symmetrical losenge. In reflected light, this has a silvery sheen suggesting lots of internal tiny bubble curtains. $85 Sold
T1, 8.50b. How bright is this? The darker tinted band just above center reflects a thicker triangular shape in the third dimension. Beautifully dimplemented overall (wow! that's a new word. I meant to say "dimpled", but I like the new word---). Very glossy on all surfaces. No chips or dings. Very nice piece. $100 Sold
 T1, 8.48. Here's an odd morphology! Highly transparent with glossy skin. There are some recent glassy chips along the face of the concave region at the upper right (but the do not account for the shape. $75 Sold
 T1, 7.45 gms. Bright and clear inside, this one has a duller, somewhat matte skin. There are several very small glassy dings. Surface etching reveals some thin laminations, but these don't seem to be apparent in transmitted light. $60 Sold
 T1, 7.29 gms. Exceptionally bright and crystal-clear, anyone looking for a piece to facet might want to consider this. There are several interesting vermiform "U" gouges. Glossy skin. $75 Sold
 T1, 6.72 gms. Oh my! This dimpled hemisphere of brilliant clarity is more than just beautiful. On the reverse side is a surface ornamented with a series of subparallel "U"-profiled grooves, and in one area, they are seen to merge into cylindrical tubes. The U-grooves are the bottom halves of mostly eroded tubes! I have never seen anything like this. For now, we are keeping this for further documentation and research. Sorry, it is not currently for sale.
T1, 6.69 gms. A beautifully dimpled little pellet with a pronounced silky chatoyance, like that sometimes seen in Libyan Desert Glass with laminar arrays of flattened shiny bubbles. Viewed in some directions, they are invisible, but at certain orientations one sees the silky sheen prominently developed in synthetic fiber-optic glass. The dark arc is a deep transverse U-gouge (see the reflected light image). Moderately glossy skin. A most peculiar stone! $125 Sold
 T1, 6.46 gms. Here's an odd one. The hemispheric pits visible in the image, are, in this case, not to dimpling of corrosion, but are actual gas vesicles (bubbles). The stone is internally very bright and clear, and more fully enclosed bubbles dot the interior. The skin has a finely beaded appearance. A glassy recent chip is present, which serves to expose some internal bubble cavities, which are bright and uncorroded providing unequivocal testimony that the pits on this stone are vesicles, not corrosion pits. $85Sold
 T1, 6.25. A finely laminated specimen with alternating bans of crystal clarity and hazy gray planes (magnetite dust?). The image is oriented at right angles to these planes such that the darker gray area is just a thicker region in this specimen's triangular profile where more of the gray lamination are stacked. Glossy skin with varied ornamentation , including grooves and breached mini-vesicles. $ 65 Sold
 T1, 6.08 gms. A wonderful thin plate with highly tektite-like dimples and grooving. Importantly, note that the delicate transverse laminations completely disregard the overall morphology of the stone. In a splashform tektite, the morphology is primary, and any internal banding or schlieren that may be present must respect the boundaries of the body. If something like this specimen represents a corrosional remnant of somethin more extensive (like an obsidian flow/dome), the relationship of internal banding to overall external form will be largely coincidental. This gloriously tektite-like piece, in terms of form and ornamentation, carries what I hold to be clear evidence that it is not a tektite. Very instructive. $125 Sold
 T1, 5.67 gms. The back side of this longitudinally laminated and nicely dimpled piece is a relatively smooth, arcuate surface that my supplier considers to be the inner surface of a bubble shard, such as are common in Indochinites. I consider it an old conchoidal fracture face, and somewhat akin to 6.08 above, find the right-angle intersection of laminations with the arcuate surface to rule out the big bubble interpretation. A bubble deforms the surrounding capsule into general conformity with itself. Another instructive piece. There are some tiny glassy chips along the thin right edge. $85Sold
 T1, 5.40 gms. Dozen of delicate laminations at right angles to the photo point of view extend to the limits of this teardrop-nose geometry, which like the preceeding two specimens, argues that this was not a primary splashform morphology but an corrosional/erosional remnant of something more extensive. Nicely dimpled except for the flat bottom surface against my thumb which accentuates the laminated character. $75sold
 T1, 5.07 gms. Contorted laminations and mostly hazy gray interior make this quite an odd specimen. If one were to try to shoe-horn this into the tektite world, you would have to suggest Muong-Nong affinities. This is shaped something like the tip of an index finger with the curved pad nicely dimpled. S50Sold
 T1, 4.64 gms. Quite a pleasing dimpled piece of very high clarity, the corrosion pits on this specimen have duller interiors and glossier intervening ridges. A gemmy little piece. $65sold
 T1, 4.29 gms. A thin plate (flake?) with delicate laminations running between my fingers and across the thin-dimension of the plate. Nicely dimpled, with local corrosionally-enhanced laminae. Several tiny glassy chips along the lower right edge (in the pic). A pretty specimen. $60sold
T1, 3.35 gms. Quite a cute pebble with a smoky ghost in its heart, nice dimpling, and a deeper "saw-cut" like groove. A sweetie. $45Sold

All Sold, for your viewing pleasure only---

Sorry, These are ALL gone ; I'm leaving the pics up so you can see what nice Colombianites look like---


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