Thursday, March 13, 2014

#TucsonGemShow - Master Cutter and a "Prospector" on the Weather Channel Display Record Topaz in Tucson

One of TV's "Prospectors", Richard Fretterd,
 Shows Record Topaz in Tucson

by Christine Ford

A Woodland Park prospector and a Sedona gemologist set the gem and mineral world to talking at the recent Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Richard Fretterd displayed some of his rare apricot-peach colored topaz crystal specimens from his "Angus Dei Tribute Pocket". The biggest one, cut and faceted without computer assistance by gemologist Stephen Kotlowski of Sedona, is the largest faceted topaz from Colorado by 3 times. 

The finished stone, called "The Agnus Dei Tribute Topaz", weighs 1,345.15 carats or just over half a pound. Fretterd says Agnus Dei is a Biblical reference to John 1:29, and is "a tribute to the Lamb of God." It originally came out of the pocket at just over 1.5 pounds, or 3,634 carats, according to Kotlowski. That's a 37% recovery from the original topaz, he said. 

The crystal is now a very deep oval shape and took Kotlowski about 120 to 140 hours of labor to complete. It is finished to the highest possible polish and meets the criteria for a competition type stone, where judging is typically done using a 10x loupe. It has a total of 275 facets.

Only the most experienced of gemologists could create this type of faceting by hand and eye or " on the fly" as Kotlowski described it, without assistance from GemCad or any other preset computer design. He has been faceting colored stones since he was a teenager " back in 1969," he said, and has done it professionally since the early 1980's. He received his Graduate Gemologist degree, in residence at GIA in New York in 1984 and received "Certified Supreme Master Cutter" status from the American Society of Gem Cutters in 1989. He has also won numerous awards, including several AGTA Spectrum " Cutting Edge" awards.
The "Angel" is 171.77 carats and the reflection of the facets
when viewed face on with the narrow end up resembles an angel.
The Tucson show was the Tribute gems' first public appearance. It created a sensation, and is even being considered for acquisition by the Smithsonian, according to Fretterd, who said he would prefer to see it stay in Colorado, perhaps at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Fretterd recently donated a 345 pound smoky quartz from the Lake George/ Florissant area to the Pikes Peak Historical Society Museum in Florissant, in memory of his late brother Vincent, joining a 439 pound smoky he donated some years previously. Fretterd is deeply spiritual and shows it by his generous nature, including his willingness to support local venues. He hopes to see the PPHS museum expanded to include a gem and mineral "Hall" of local specimens. 

Kotlowski surprised Fretterd at the Tucson show by bringing another specimen of Rich's which he was not expecting to be ready. The "Angel" is 171.77 carats and the reflection of the facets when viewed face on with the narrow end up resembles an angel. Turned in certain lights, it appears the angel moves its wings. Kotlowski took the original 450 carat rough crystal and created a custom blunted triangle from it. It is also apricot-peach in color and from the same pocket in El Paso county. 

It just goes to show, says Fretterd, that "the U.S. has wonderful minerals. too"

 "And gems!" added Kotlowski.

Photo Credit: Stephen Kotlowski

About Christine:Christine Ford lives near Lake George, Colorado. Hard rock mining in her family goes back at least four generations, from the ore mines of Michigan's UP to Austria in the 1800's. Nowadays, she calls herself a rock hound. She grew up in Wisconsin and raised her two children in Alaska. Christine was a member of the Chugach Gem and Mineral Society; she spent one summer prospecting the Yukon alone.

Ms. Ford has been an occasional contributing writer for several local publications, including newspapers and tourist guides, since 2005. She recently wrote a two part series on The Weather Channel's reality TV show, Prospectors. Ms. Ford is also an accomplished photographer, her photos can be seen at Ford

Christine has been disabled since 2000 by degenerative disk disease, 3 spinal fusions and fibromyalgia, but continues to expand her world whenever possible.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

#TucsonGemShow - JTV Talks Tucson Finds - The Rare & The Beautiful

Jewelry Television Announces Key Finds from the Tucson Gem, Fossil & Mineral Show

JTV showcases upcoming trends from 'Rock Center'

Jewelry Television (JTV) announced key trends and product acquisitions made recently at the largest gemstone event in the world, the Tucson Gem, Fossil & Jewelry Show in Arizona. As one of the largest retailers of gemstones in the world, JTV scours the show each year searching for new gemstone materials and unique stones to bring back to eager collectors.
Key gemstone buys included: 
  • Sphalerite – this gem has four times the light dispersion of a diamond and it comes from a famous Spanish mine originally sealed in 1989.
  • Colombian Emerald – this emerald sets the standards to which all other emeralds are measured. As it has become more difficult to source, JTV was pleased to find this gemstone available.
  • Bixbite – An all-American beauty and one of the rarest gems in the world, bixbite is always difficult to attain. Found only in the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah, it is estimated that only one blood-red bixbite crystal is found for every 150,000 diamonds.
  • Chromium Kyanite – With color and rarity rivaling blue alexandrite in daylight, the chromium kyanite gems come from Orissa, India. This natural untreated gem’s unique color is due to a rare combination of trace elements and is sure to excite collectors.
  • Bixbite from
  • Purple and Blue Spinel – Nicknamed "Gem Island," Sri Lanka is a natural treasure trove of gemological wonders and our buyers discovered rare, untreated purple and blue spinel from this storied locale. The exceptional brilliance, paired with highly saturated hues, set them apart from all other gems on the planet today.
“Our buyers noted that worldwide demand for colored gemstones is on the rise,” said Jill Johnson, vp of marketing at JTV. “We canvas the world to stay on top of emerging trends, discover rare gemstones, and make them accessible to anyone who love to collect or create their own jewelry masterpieces.”
For more specific information on the gemstones cited above, refer to JTV’s extensive online Learning Library.
JTV offers more ways to shop. Check your local television listings, shop online at or download free mobile shopping apps for the iPhone, Android, and iPad.

About Jewelry Television®
Jewelry Television® (JTV) is one of the largest multichannel retailers of jewelry and gemstones in the U.S. appealing to fashion-conscious women, jewelry-making enthusiasts and private collectors. The privately-held shopping network broadcasts high definition programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to more than 80 million U.S. households. Committed to consumer education, the network employs numerous Graduate Gemologists and Accredited Jewelry Professionals. offers the most comprehensive jewelry and gemstone Learning Library on the internet, and is the third largest jewelry website according to Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide for 2012

Friday, March 7, 2014

Milenyum Mining Makes Csarite™ Donation to Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection

Milenyum Mining Donates Important Csarite™ Gemstones 
to the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Gem Collection, housed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. is the new home to two rare and significant Csarite™ gemstones, after a donation by ilenyum Mining, Ltd. Csarite™ is an unusual gem quality, color-change diaspore actively mined at only one global source in the Anatolia Mountains of Turkey. The donation was presented at the AGTA Tucson GemFair and accepted by Dr. Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection.

Dr. Jeffrey Post, Curator and Russell Feather, Gem Collection Manager, accepting the donation of Csarite™ gemstones to the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection during the AGTA GemFair in Tucson, February 2014.

“Large color-change diaspore gemstones are rare, indeed,” stated Post. “The 159.33 carat cats eye cabochon and 44.48 carat faceted oval are both significant upgrades to the collection, so we are very appreciative of the contribution.”

Murat Akgun, president of Milenyum Mining adds “To our knowledge, currently there are fewer than twenty faceted Csarite™ gemstones in the world that have a weight of 40 carats and above. Given the rarity of this unusual gem, we feel the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection is a fitting home for two of the few examples available in this size and quality.”

MML is the world’s only actively-mining source supply of Turkish diaspore, a natural, unenhanced colored gemstone. Responsible for cutting and marketing of this phenomenal gemstone, MML’s mission is to introduce gem and jewelry connoisseurs around the globe to Turkish diaspore’s unique beauty and rarity. MML is a member of The International Colored Gemstone Association.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Gem and Mineral Collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is the home of the Hope Diamond, one of the most visited museum objects in the world.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In "Honoring Scruff" Guest Author Christine Ford Talks Moving Richard Fretterd's 300+lb Smoky

This year at Tucson we had the pleasure of meeting some of our favorite "Prospectors" from The Weather Channel program of the same name - Guest Writer Christine Ford writes about the donation and move of Richard Fretterd's 300 + lb Smoky and in Part II will touch on Richard's participation at the Tucson Gem Show...stay tuned!

Honoring " Scruff"

by Christine Ford

It took five strong men and a hoist, but Richard Fretterd's dream of a memorial to his late brother and mining partner, Vincent, known as Scruff locally, finally became a reality Saturday morning. As an excited group of Pikes Peak Historical Society members recorded the event for posterity, the crew installed the four foot three inch smoky quartz crystal, weighing 345 pounds, on the stained and trimmed tree stump base prepared for it at their Museum. A brass plaque with a poem is being prepared for attachment to this base.

The quartz crystal joins Richards other 439 lb. crystal, also donated to the Museum in Florissant, which he found just five feet away from the first, on Vincent's day of birth. He called the location the "Holy Moses" pocket system, a series of eleven chambers collectively known as the "God Send" claim. "These are the two largest smoky quartz crystals in North America. They make our museum a national treasure," said the Society President, Celinda Reynolds Kaelin.

"Now it's finally home, right where it belongs," said Fretterd, who could not keep the smile from his face as he worked. He said it took him 6 months to clean the crystal, employing a used hot tub, fish tank aerators and a tarp. He also would periodically spray it with a water gun to remove iron deposits. He was not able to take the piece whole from the pocket; a small corner was already detached; they removed it first in order to slide out the remainder, then later repaired it."I thought at first it was coke bottle size," said Fretterd, shaking his head in amazement. He has previously displayed the stone at shows like the annual Lake George Gem and Mineral show.

Once the stone was safely placed in the stand at the Museum, Fretterd relaxed and enjoyed the moment, reflecting on the brothers shared history. "We were inseparable', said Fretterd. '' We went through so much together." To have the stones next to each other again, nearly as they were in nature, " has great spiritual significance," he said.
6 lucky people will win a " Dig with Rich"
at the Chautauqua on May 11th.
The Pikes Peak Historical Society Museum, located at 18033 Teller County One, is open President's Day to Memorial Day, Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm, and Memorial Day to Labor Day Friday, Saturday, and Monday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm. 

Open year round, it is free to the public. It includes exhibits on the areas' history, geology, Native peoples, railroads and mountain men. The website is also a great place to visit and includes Native tales as told to President Celinda Reynolds Kaelin by the Ute elders, as well as some of her excellent articles and excerpts from her books on the area's history.

Rich Fretterd will be speaking about his mining experiences and his prominent role on the TV reality show Prospectors, shown on The Weather Channel, at the Historical Society Chautauqua on Sunday, May 11th, 2014, at the Florissant Library, 334 Circle Drive, at 2:00 p.m..

Photo credit: courtesy of Christine Ford


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