The Tucson Gem Shows always amaze me for the wonderful people and gemstones I find every year. One story that always stands out is the story of the Anthill Garnets that I learned about from the wonderful folks at the Sid Tucker LLC booth at the GJX Show. Alan Hodgkinson told me I had to go see them, and I found out later it was for both their Ant Hill Garnet and the amazing homemade cookies that they offered. (thank you, Cookie Mama!) For now, we will talk about the garnets.
Out in the Arizona desert lands there exists, in fairly shallow deposits, beautiful pyrope garnets that are small enough to be carried to the surface by ants who are digging out new tunnels through the ground.
According to the good folks at Sid Tucker, the deposits of Anthill Garnets are not mined commercially since they are on restricted land, but are gathered from the tops of the desert ant hills by Native American women who go out and collect them. Here you see a collection of ant hill rough pebbles donated to us by Sid Tucker. In the photo, this material does not instill much confidence in producing fine quality garnet. But when you view this same pile with back lighting, the issue becomes far more clear.
When you spread the material out and back light the parcel, you quickly see the red colors of the pyrope garnets that the ants brought up out of the ground. All things considered, there are actually quite a few garnets in the mix as we put several parcels of rough together to make the image at right and below.
Now, I know what you are thinking: These ants are small, so just how big can these garnets be if the ants carry them to the surface? Well, the answer may surprise you…
I purchased the three Anthill Garnets you see at right and they range in size from .91 carat to 1.55 carats. Now those are some pretty gosh-darned strong ants! Am I right? Yikes!
And the colors! From an intense purple/red to sunset orange color. Just amazing and beautiful, and a lot of other descriptive terms that could be used to describe these wonderful garnets and the even-more amazing story they tell. Below this image is a color image of the master color set that I photographed at the Sid Tucker booth.
But we are not done with this amazing story just yet. There are also color change Anthill Garnets! Due to the size of these stones the color change is difficult to photograph, but using our Meiji Techno microscope I was able to capture the beautiful color change of two specimens of Anthill Garnet that I obtained from the Tuckers. Below you see that pronounced color change effect and the amazing colors available from these same two garnets seen below left and right.
And of course, no story of Anthill Garnet would be complete without the finished product, and the people who produce it. Below left is a beautiful ring set with Anthill Garnets, and below right are the Tuckers. Wonderful people with an amazing story of an amazing gemstone. And the cookies! They have amazing cookies that make the trip to their booth even more exciting! Go for the peanut butter cookies – or maybe not. Leave those for me!
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Sid Tucker’s Anthill Garnet. Anthill Garnet is a highly profitable revenue stream that should be of great interest to jewelers everywhere. All natural and with a story that is totally unique, this is a gemstone for the future.
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