Yeah, I know. I know. Sometimes you just want me to shut up and let you have nice things.
I was offered some ‘Swiss green Opal’ by a seller I’ve dealt with a few times based out of Jaipur, India. I was already buying a few items so figured I’d take a look – but I forgot to do what I normally do, which is ‘have a clue what I’m buying’.
This is a genuinely attractive material, it has an excellent contrast between the dark and light stripes, as well as a minor chatoyance across the light stripes. It reminded me a little of good quality Russian Amazonite, albeit with a darker green colour.
Anyway. It arrived, and I was quite pleased with the appearance, but it didn’t strike me as an Opal of any kind, so I had a quick google… turns out this stuff is apparently Chrysotile in Serpentine. Yes, that Chrysotile.
Without further information or study, its difficult to tell if this stuff is from Canada or Brazil, both of which have very similar looking Chrysotile deposits. Shouldn’t matter too much, to be honest.
It isn’t Swiss, and it isn’t Opal. It IS Asbestos.
I can’t (and won’t!) tell you whether this is definitely and absolutely dangerous, but generally speaking I try to avoid having asbestos around unless its in sealed boxes.
As a sidenote: I do have a collection of ‘dangerous’ minerals, including numerous forms of asbestos, mercury ores, uranium ores. They are stored in sealed boxes – they are not especially dangerous when properly stored.
What makes these pieces worrying is they are cut en cabochon – intended for use in jewellery.
A cursory google search reveals UK sellers selling pendants and jewellery made from this material on Etsy and Ebay, as well as numerous tumbled stones, palmstones, etc.
It is possible that in its cut and polished state, it is relatively safe. I do not know enough about asbestos to be qualified to comment on that.
However, even if it did turn out to be relatively safe, have you honestly never known a customer to break a stone or a piece of jewellery?
I don’t think its worth the risk.
In addition, if this is genuinely Chrysotile it is possibly illegal to sell in the UK. Unfortunately, I do not have access to anything with enough magnification to properly examine this specimen – if any gemologist or research happens to read this and does, please feel free to email me and I’ll send a piece to you.