Painite—The “Holy Grail” of Rare Gemstones

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 8350
Painite—The “Holy Grail” of Rare Gemstones

US$ 5,500 - 7,500
£ 4,000 - 5,500

Natural History

4 Dec 2005, 11:00 PST

Los Angeles

Painite—The “Holy Grail” of Rare Gemstones
Mogok, Kachin State
Myanmar
Faceted by AGTA Spectrum Award Winner Mark Kaufman


Painite, considered the "Holy Grail" of rare gemstones, is one of the rarest minerals on earth. The Guinness Book of World Records has described painite as THE rarest gem mineral. A deep red to brownish red in color, it is very strongly pleochroic (showing different hues from different angles) and it fluoresces a lovely green under short-wave ultraviolet light. Its chemical formula is ideally: CaZrBAl9O18. However, it also contains minor amounts of chromium and vanadium and traces of iron that contribute to the orange-red to brownish-red color of the mineral.

Named after its discoverer, British gemologist Arthur Charles Davy Pain, it was found in Burma in the early 1950s. From 1956 until 1979, only three crystals of this mineral were known to exist! Twenty-two more specimens were discovered after 2001, all numbered and accounted for by researchers at Caltec University. Although it often appears in lists of gemstones, only two faceted gemstones have been reported as of 2004. The discovery of the source of the original stones near Ohngaing, and the very recent find of several new localities in the Mogok area of Myanmar, has led to the retrieval of only a small number of crystals and fragments. Complete crystals remain few in number and facet quality material remains even rarer! This is the first large find of painite crystals ever, a result of years of laborious detective work, long days of digging and mining the few hills, involving sorting each and every crystal and fragment by hand. Given its rarity and the labor intensiveness of its retrieval, it is doubtful that there will be any more painite discovered.

The present oval-cut stone is large, given the size of the rough that has been typically found. It exhibits a rich, deep reddish brown color. The rough specimen exhibits the classic hexagonal structure for which the mineral is known. Weighing approximately 0.93 carats and measuring 7.5 x 4.5 x 3.5mm. The rough specimen weighing approximately 0.82 carats and measuring 7.0 x 2.6mm.
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armor, Coins and Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, Wine & Whisky

27.5% on the first $12,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $12,500 up to and including $600,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $600,000 up to and including $6,000,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of $6,000,000.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card for returning clients only. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

App