From the Blog
|Opal fluorite is a very rare stone of aesthetic and colorful patterns. The rarity and value of Opal Fluorite/Tiffany Stone
is a result of its locale. The only location where it has been found is at the Brush Wellman Beryllium Mine in the
Topaz-Spor Mountains of Juab County's Sevier Desert, in Western Utah.
The discovery of bertrandite, a beryllium-bearing ore, in Utah's Topaz-Spor Mountains in the early 1960s opened the
door for Brush Beryllium. Brush bought the right to explore and mine 12,500 publicly owned acres in Utah for $3
million. At the time, company executives weren't even sure that beryllium could economically be culled from
bertrandite. Due to the highly speculative nature of the venture, they initially retained only a 30 percent stake in the
independent company known as Beryllium Resources. Reassured shortly, that their bet was well placed, Brush
Beryllium bought the remaining shares in 1962 and made the operation into the Geological Exploration & Mining
Beryllium, in its natural state is a strong silver-gray, lightweight, hard metallic element. Its modulus of elasticity is about
one third greater than that of steel, it has excellent thermal conductivity, and is non-magnetic. Beryllium is lighter than
aluminum and stronger than steel, making it an excellent alloying element to harden and strengthen other metals.
Brush Wellman is a mine and refining plant located at one of the few sources of concentrated beryllium in the world.
The plant is a mill and finishing facility for beryllium, a high-strength, lightweight metal used in military, aerospace, and
medical industries. The ore for the plant comes from Brush Wellman's mine, located in the Topaz-Spor Mountains, 50
miles west of Delta, Utah, which is North America's only developed source for the metal. The facility is located here
due to the remoteness of the area, as beryllium dust is highly toxic, and their is plenty of power provided by the Inter
Mountain Power Project.
This remote Brush Wellman Mine, which used to be open for collectors, has been closed to the public for many years.
The rarity of Opal Fluorite is caused by the ore crushing extraction process for beryllium which involves crushing large
quantities of material which yield only 1 to 2 percent of Beryllium Ore. They are made even more rare (and
consequently expensive) because so few Opal Fluorites ever survived this extraction process.
Tiffany Stone is composed of predominantly Opalized Fluorite (blues, purples and whites) often mixed with many
other minerals such as quartz, chalcedony, dolomite, rhodonite, manganese oxides (blacks), bertrandite (white,
yellow or pink) that contains the mineral beryllium, which is what the miners were looking for originally to make missile
nose cones since the material does not heat up at high speeds, beryl, solid white or translucent-yellowish opal and
many other surprises. What is called "Old stock" material came from the miners bringing out pieces or from the
people who were allowed to collect the rock off private land. Small amounts of "New stock" material are rarely being
made available by the mine owners.
People use all sorts of different names for it, two of the most common being Opal Fluorite, Tiffany Stone, Bertrandite
and Beryllium ore. Tiffany Stone is the only name that it is known by that is not trying to pin-point what the rock is
comprised of. Some say the name Tiffany Stone came about because the slab slices cut from the nodules reminded
the miners of Tiffany glass lamp shades. Others say the name Tiffany Stone came about because of a miner that
used to pick up the nodules for his daughter Tiffany. In either case, it is a name that people recognize in association
with the nodules. We call it Opal Fluorite
We got our first piece of Opal Fluorite in 2002 from Todd Harris, the "Zion Prospector" in Springdale, Utah. He had a
store full of what he called Tiffany Stone/Opalized Fluorite. His was all "Old Stock", mostly procured from the old mine
workers. It was rather interesting talking with Todd, he was having trouble selling this special stone. He would load it
up, take it to shows and sell very little of it. He was heading to a show in Denver when he decided to place much
higher prices on his Opal Fluorite stones...it started the boom, all of a sudden big name collectors had to have this
expensive stone...the same stone they could have had for much less, but it seems that unless people think a stone is
valuable, they are not interested. History tells the rest of this story, Opal Fluorite/Tiffany Stone became the stone in
demand and as available stock was extremely limited, the prices kept rising. We spoke with Taylor, Todd's son who
was running the store, and he told us Todd has moved his cutting and polishing shop to his house now because it is
very hard to find a lot of quality material to work with. Our last trip to his shop was in the summer of 2012, he had
some of this special stone left. He has a great store with lots of interesting specimens (stop in and visit if you are
travelling around Zion Park) and he no longer sells online.
In case you haven't got the picture yet, this stuff is not coming out of the mines any more, there is no other place on
earth to get it and when it's gone ...It's gone. This is one of those items that you can't wait too long to buy or you might
not get a specimen for your collection. From what we learned and saw, there is precious little of this unique stone left
and sources for new stone are rare if any as mine operations policies have been tightened. We found several
supposed source sellers, who's material turned out to be a really 3rd rate brecciated conglomerate with some purple
color mixed in. Beware of Cheap Imitations!