|Do you want to cook it or cut it?
I admit that when I first saw this slab in Quartzsite, my first impression was that a strip of nice, fatty Wygyu beef had gotten lost. (If you haven't already noticed, I often "see" food in rocks which has led to some very interesting projects).
When I picked it up, it was obviously solid, but it didn't feel like a jasper, it felt smooth and if you will, creamy.It turned out to be Alunite--a mineral I'd never heard of. It is mined and processed to become potash alum which is then used as an astringent medically and and some food preservation including pickles--and, of course, it's used in lapidary!
|Heart on Fire
It occurred to me that there might be a Heart on Fire hiding in the slab. So after I got home from Quartzsite, I got to work.
Alunite, it turns out, is pretty soft, only about 3.5-4 on the Mohs scale, so it quickly became apparent that I'd have to be very careful not to gouge it. However,
I found the softness to be a benefit while I was working the bumps at the top of the heart. Also, because of its soft nature, it took more of a luster than a shine. It will reflect bright light a bit, but even polishing it with a 50,000 grit wheel, it never became truly shiny.
When I finished, it looked to me like it could be a Heart on Fire, but it could also be a Bleeding Heart. Figuring no one would vote for a Bleeding Heart at Valentine's Day, I submitted it as Heart on Fire.
Even though it was a relatively small slab, I was also able to get the pillow-top and egg-shaped cabochons out of this stone. I'd like to use the pillow-shaped one for a ring, because it is fascinating to look at the random pattern. It's easily my favorite of the three cabs I was able to make from this slab.
NAME THIS ROCK! PLEASE!
I played with an edge on my Genie and found it somewhere between jasper and agate in terms of working it as a stone.
My first thought was some sort of petrified wood, but yet . . .
Do you have any sense of what it is? I'd love to know what you think. Best guesses will be published in a future LapidaryWhisperer.
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Check back on March 29 for more musings by your Lapidary Whisperer. Since it's spring, think pink!
See you next time, your Lapidary Whisperer,