Locality - Sakoany deposit, Katsepy Commune, Mitsinjo District, Boeny Region, Mahajanga Province (Majunga), Madagascar Size – 76 x 51 x 51mm Weight – 360g
This celestine geode has been expertly carved to an egg form with a central, open geode filled with well-formed, highly lustrous, icy blue crystals and a nicely polished 'shell' matrix. It is an excellent example of both lapidary skill and fantastic natural crystalline structure, ideal as a natural decor piece or for a fantasy-themed display.
Celestine (also known as 'celestite') is strontium sulphate, a member of the baryte group. It has a glassy lustre and chonchoidal fracture, with a hardness of 3-3.5. At Sakoany, celestine is found as transparent to translucent gemmy crystals that are coloured sky-blue; this colour has been attributed to the presence of minute amounts of gold. They occur as tabular and prismatic, also in compact massive and fibrous forms or as numerous crystals lining cavities in sandstone. Sakoany celestine is a favourite among mineral collectors due to attractive colouration, good lustre and excellent crystalline structures, and this locality undoubtedly produces the worlds finest examples of the species.
Celestine in History
Celestine was named in 1799 by Abraham Gottlieb Werner after the Latin 'caelestis' - of the sky - in reference to the sky-blue colour of the original specimen. More specifically, the Sakoany deposit was first discovered by a cattle herder who found some weathered crystals close to the shore of the bay. In 1967, villagers started mining the deposit and continued into the 1970s. Mining apparently stopped then for about 10 years and didn't resume until the early 1980s, and ever since, there has been a steady supply of these superb crystals.
Due to its low hardness of 3-3.5, celestine is very fragile and easy to scratch so should only be used for ornamental purposes and handled with great care only when needed, such as for cleaning or moving. To clean a celestine geode, run it under cold water and gently dry with a soft cloth or tissue. For storing and moving, wrap it in multiple layers of soft tissue and when unpacking, unwrap it with great care. Similar to amethyst it is light-sensitive, and intense-blue specimens may fade slightly when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, so are best kept out of direct sunlight. Care for your crystals well, and these natural treasures can last a lifetime (and more)!