Giant quartz unque minerals

Giant quartz unque minerals

Rock crystal and smoky quartz crystals from Nikola Manev’s Art Museum in Chirpan (photo by R. I. Kostov).

Giant quartz unque minerals in world museums

Crystal after crystal, year after year, Ilia Deleff collected patiently and with great care all those giants that were in danger of crumbling, to be used for various industrial purposes. When in 1974 a French delegation visited Ilia Deleff’s yard and warehouse in Governador Valadares, the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, its members were struck by the large quantity of giant crystals. Such a sight could not be seen anywhere else in the world.
The French national collection that we purchased from Ilia Deleff contains exceptional samples and is perhaps the most attractive one in the world. Ilia Deleff’s thirty years of collector’s activities in Brazil preserved for the world a unique natural treasure.

History will confirm that he had good reasons to insist for this fantastic collection to be preserved and to require that it should be displayed in its entirety – for the joy and admiration of the two million visitors that have already seen it in our museum.

Giant quartz unque minerals

The San Gabriel amethyst mine in the basalts of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.


The exhibition of giant crystals in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris was initially organized in a large building adjacent to the Gallery of Mineralogy.
Three months were necessary for the arrangement and appropriate exhibiting of the samples from the collection – with the united efforts of many specialists, architects and different masters of applied art and decoration. There were also many students who helped as volunteers. Different industrial enterprises and institutes readily collaborated with materials and finances. Sponsors appeared too, and large amounts of money were spent for arranging the exhibits in an esthetic style corresponding to their beauty. The citizens of Paris showed their sophisticated taste and their respect towards art and perfection here too, without sparing any material means for reaching the target set.
Many newspapers and magazines started to report about the exhibition, and people looked forward impatiently to its opening. The interest to the collection was so great that even some ministers came to see it without being able to wait until its opening that took place on 23 March, 1983. Paris celebrated the event and covered it extensively. The whole press, the radio, the television, made a large information campaign. Everywhere people talked and wrote about the collection exhibited in the National Museum of Natural History, showing fantastic crystals, each one of them weighing tons, of incredible beauty and grandeur. Many people from different parts of the world came to see and film these unique exhibits. Mineralogists tried to underline the scientific value of the collection in connection with the special crystallogenesis of giant crystals (De Latil, 1983, Escalier des Orres, 1983; Exposition…, 1983; Haccard, 1987; Schubnel, 1987; Deleff, 1995). Many of them had until that time ignored and denied the existence of such large crystals but now both specialists and ordinary people, standing before these rare phenomena, remained captured by their size and grandeur. And the children – they rushed, as if under a spell, from one to another crystal, caressing them and trying to embrace them! The French television showed the official opening of the exhibition and invited me to give a special interview.

Giant quartz unque minerals

An amethyst geode with a height of 2.5 m (305 kg) from the state of Rio Grande do Sul; the Deleff Collection.

During the ceremonial opening of the exhibition in France, followed by a cocktail party, I invited the Bulgarian Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris and the embassy people to come and see the contribution of their compatriot Ilia Deleff to world culture. As I already mentioned, at the opening of the exhibition one of France’s highest awards was given to me by the French government, for a contribution in the field of culture. Fortunately, this event coincided with the presence in Paris of a large delegation from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences whose members also attended the opening of the exhibition. At the cocktail party they all wished to speak with me and to congratulate me on the great success. Questions and congratulations rained on me. Everyone wanted to know more about how I found these phenomenal crystals and how I managed to bring them to Paris.
It was from then on that my association and friendly relations with high-ranking officials in Sofia and diplomats in Paris started. The Paris exhibition intrigued and moved some Bulgarian representatives and they started to ask me often whether I could not possibly make such an exhibition in Sofia. My talks on this subject with Bulgarian diplomatic representatives became even more frequent.
Thus, gradually my long-time idea was brought back to life in me once again: to make a donation to Bulgaria in the form of one of my collections. But I was waiting for an appropriate moment. I continued my contacts with the Bulgarian Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris, and I also established contacts with the Ministry of Culture in Sofia. Meanwhile, in 1983 I gave a prehistoric musical instrument to “Ljudmila Zhivkova” Foundation as a present.
In all my conversations and meetings with diplomats or other representatives of Bulgaria,
I felt I was respected and the attitude towards me was good. This made me feel even more predisposed and increased my desire to speed up my decision to make a donation to Bulgaria. In 1984 I started a correspondence with the then Minister of Culture Mr Georgi Jordanov, with whom we discussed all the details of the donation of two of my collections of giant crystals, 93 pieces of samples in all.
These two collections, containing inimitable creations of nature, have a high scientific value for mineralogy because they display a richness of varieties and types of crystals from the quartz family. Of special interest and significance are their crystallography and genesis.

Thanks to the donation of my collections, the foundation of the “Earth and Man” National Museum in Sofia was materialized. It was opened on 19 June, 1987. Here I am tempted to quote some passages from the article published on the occasion in the Narodna kultura newspaper from 26 June of the same year, under the heading “This house of harmony”. It reads: “You have a collection. The beginning of a collection that a Bulgarian, Ilia Deleff – may his name be remembered (!), from distant Brazil, gives as a present to his people”.
The then Minister of culture Mr Georgi Jordanov, in his speech during the opening of the Museum said: “It is from now on that the “Earth and Man” National Museum in Sofia will make history … But it is my duty to open some pages of its remarkable beginning. Several years ago our compatriot Ilia Deleff made a present through the Thirteen Centuries Bulgaria Fund – a collection of about 50 rare natural crystals of giant sizes, collected and preserved by him with anxiety and love in the course of a quarter of a century. A little earlier he had already given another 43 crystals to “Ljudmila Zhivkova” International Foundation. With this gesture of a good son to his country, Deleff personified his dream to plant the root of a unique medium for spreading knowledge on the Earth. This is a moving example of the vitality and nobleness of generosity”.
Shortly after the opening of the Museum it turned into one of the landmarks of the capital Sofia (Fig. 42-48). This is evidenced also by the numerous opinions given by specialists and ordinary people, different in age and nationality, covered in the museum’s book for impressions or reaching me directly or indirectly. It was a pleasure for me to learn from Professor Dr Henri- Jean Schubnel – then director of the Paris Museum of Mineralogy, that a prominent Moscow mineralogist, during a meeting with him in Paris had expressed his deep admiration and his surprise that in such a small country like Bulgaria he could see such an interesting, prestigious and unique collection of giant crystals. Indeed, Bulgaria is a small country but it has a long and ancient history during which remarkable achievements were made.
Two years after the opening of the “Earth and Man” National Museum in Sofia I decided to put forward to the Ministry of Culture a new plan for the replenishment and enrichment of the collections of the museum. My idea was received in a positive way, as it concerned new collections of samples of extremely high quality, rarity and enormous value. Again I made a donation of two thirds of the value of the new collections that three lorries, full to the top, brought to Sofia in the autumn of 1988. Thus, the “Earth and Man” National Museum became the owner of one of the fullest and richest collections of mineral varieties of the group of quartz in the world, as well as of other rare mineral species. This truth has been categorically corroborated. Bulgaria can take pride in this museum whose exhibits are eternal and will serve for the education of the people. These mineral phenomena are of significance not only with respect to their scientific value; they develop the esthetic feelings of the people and arouse respect towards the perfection of natural creations. Among the unique samples are a spinel crystal from Madagscar with a 30 cm height and a giant cprundum crystal from India (35 kg) with a height of 65 cm. No doubt, the influence that the inimitable creations of nature have on people is many-sided and they are attracted over and over again to visit the museum, to enjoy and admire it.
One of the valuable crystal samples which went with my latest donation was a group of white and transparent quartz – a twin crystal weighing 140 kg with the shape of the Latin letter V. This group was the main “hero” in a film with a fantastic, fairy-tale plot that won a prize in Rio de Janeiro and the press wrote a lot about it (Fig. 47). In the film, the crystal was represented as a source of energy through which it does wonders. And perhaps one day science will prove that this was not only fiction?

Giant quartz unque minerals

A rarely large, transparent and pure group of quartz crystals with the shape of a gothic cathedral, 116 kg; the Deleff Collection

In 1996, after a long absence, I visited Bulgaria again. During this visit I established many contacts with colleagues – mineralogists, specialists, researchers and prominent scientists.
I was invited by Professor Dr Kiriak Kovachev, Rector of “St. Ivan Rilski” University of Mining and Geology in Sofia, to give a lecture before the professors, specialists and the students of the university. This meeting was very successful and left many pleasant impressions in me.
Shortly after returning home, I made a decision to make a donation for the museum at the university – a collection of mine of natural minerals, originating from Brazilian deposits, various in genesis and location.
In the following year, 1997, on the basis of a decision made by the Academic Council of “St. Ivan Rilski” University of Mining and Geology I was given the honorary title Doctor Honoris Causa, awarded to me for exceptional merit for the preservation of the mineral richness of the planet. Before the official ceremony of awarding the title I had the pleasure to present personally my donation to the university Museum of Mineralogy, Petrography and Mineral Resources.
The basic part of the donated collection contains different varieties of quartz, among which there is one amethyst geode, exceptional in the intensity of its colouring and the perfection of crystals, weighing 83 kilograms, an aggregate of rock crystal weighing 50 kilograms, as well as a special collection of almost 100 samples of rock crystal with perfect and rare crystal shapes that constitute a large scientific interest (Kostov, 2000). Apart from quartz crystals, the collection also included sapphires, jewelry topaz, multicoloured tourmaline, mica and other rare minerals.
I am glad and happy that this collection of mine, having a large scientific value, can serve as an object of research for the specialists and the students. Recently, a publication of mine appeared, co-authored, dealing with quartz pseudocrystal epimorphs from Brazil, very interesting with their shapes, that were also included in the donation for the museum (Deleff, Kostov, 1997).
In the course of time my contacts with this university in Sofia developed further and deepened. Thus in 2003, in connection with the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the University, I decided to make a second donation for its mineralogical museum. The focus in this donation is a giant beryl crystal weighing 200 kilograms. Apart from it, this collection includes about 100 mineral samples from Brazil, smaller in size, among which quartz (rock crystal, amethyst and pink quartz), gem topaz, gem beryl, tourmaline and rarer or morphologically interesting minerals such as albite (cleavelandite), kyanite, fluorite and childrenite, as well as many small precious minerals that will be used in university classes in gemology.
Bulgaria also possesses another of my mineralogical collections, smallish but very attractive, mainly consisting of varieties of quartz crystals that I gave as a donation in 2001 to Nikola Manev’s Museum House in the town of Chirpan. The artist Mr Nikola Manev, who was born in this town, is a remarkable Bulgarian living and working for a long time in Paris who contributed to his country’s fame through his remarkable pictures. The collection includes mainly samples of rock crystal and parts of amethyst geodes.
I am happy for the fact that in this museum, although small, the inimitable crystal masterpieces of nature are present in full harmony with the marvellous creations of Man’s hand, and the esthetic impact of this combination brings joy and admiration to everyone who has come to observe them.

Giant quartz unque minerals

A quartz crystal (1 600 kg); the Deleff Collection – Giant Crystals, the “Earth and Man” National Museum in Sofia.

As I mentioned earlier, during the many years of travelling around the different mines in Brazil, especially in the state of Minas Gerais, I became rather popular among the miners as a man who stopped at nothing in his desire to acquire all kinds of mineral samples, without any consideration of their price. Thus gradually the miners themselves started coming to me to offer me everything interesting that they found, and thus, in the course of time, I managed to gather together a large quantity of crystals, exceeding 400 tons. “Giants” among these were approximately 200 pieces, the crystals of average size were numerous, and the smallest ones were in great supply. Many crystals resembled each other in their qualities and dimensions. My fund of mineral samples, rich in the variety and uniqueness of the crystals, became so full and large that it allowed me to make three of four large collections. At first I made two sets of collections, each of them having several vedeti, i.e. several extremely interesting individuals.
In the collection that I set aside for the Paris Museum many monumental crystals were included that cause amazement and reverence for nature – with their giant size and grandeur.
The exhibition of my collection in the Paris Museum aroused a great interest towards giant crystals among other museums in Europe. I received letters from many countries asking me whether I could supply their museums with such giant crystals, the possession of which had meanwhile turned into a fashion.
One day Mr Hubert Bari, manager of the Mineralogical Museum in Strasbourg, came to me. He said he wanted to purchase a collection of giant crystals for their museum, but he did not conceal the fact that their finances were scanty and suggested to me, if I accepted to help them by supplying them with one such collection, but on credit for two years. After long and detailed talks, and only after I was convinced in his sincere intentions and his great desire, did I decide to help them and accepted the conditions offered to me for the credit. I supplied the museum with 30 giant crystals, among which an amethyst geode weighing 2 tons, resembling an ancient ship, and of very high quality. Mr Bari organized a very modern exhibition in Strasbourg that had a great success and attracted the attention not only of the French press but also of the European one.
During the time of my activities I never stopped taking an interest in everything remarkable and valuable among the representatives of the world of stones and never stopped collecting these. Thus in the recent years I managed to enrich my fund with exceptionally beautiful and very valuable crystals. For this reason I initiated the formation of a fourth collection of “giants” that I reckoned it should go to the town of Borculo in the Netherlands. A young and industrious Dutchman, Mr Benjamin de Wit, manager of a small museum in this town, had visited the exhibitions with my collections in Paris and in Sofia. Very enthusiastic, delighted, he had a meeting with me and expressed a strong desire to buy off my fourth collection, but with a request for longer credit terms. The good conditions that he offered to me, as well as some other favourable circumstances enabled the conclusion of this contract. Thanks to my collection, Mr de Wit managed to purchase, also on credit, the old mayor’s building in the town as well and to turn it into a modern and prestigious museum, an interesting sight for every tourist visiting the town of Borculo, which is a tourist place in the Netherlands. I feel happy that, thanks to my will and my desire to create yet another cultural centre, all the visitors of the museum in this town have the opportunity to admire the spectacular breath-taking giant crystals.

Giant quartz unque minerals

A Quartz Altar of crystals of rock quartz the large crystal (87 kg) with many colour iridescences, 6 crystals 10 to 14 kg are situated around it, the Deleff Collection.

A good collector gathers, enriches and improves his collection for the whole of his life. This is so especially in mineralogy because permanently new minerals and precious stones are being found, and every time new and more interesting and more beautiful samples appear.
It was since 1957 that I had started to dream of making up a prestigious collection but this dream of mine was gradually realized later, in the course of several decades. At the very beginning I could not afford to keep everything interesting that came into my hands. I had to sell samples that I cried for when I had to part with them! I had to make my living! Still, in those thirty-six years an enormous number of mineral samples passed through my hands and, whenever I had the opportunity to afford this, I put aside everything that I considered very interesting, rare and beautiful.
With the passage of time, and imperceptibly for me, my personal collection became huge. During the last ten years I had the chance to acquire mineral samples with exceptional qualities – unseen so far for their rareness and beauty. They all cost a lot to me but I am very glad and even happy that I can possess them as they are an example of the ideal qualities of the crystals of the mineral kingdom.
This collection, gathered for the longest time, is the latest in my life. It consists of eighty pieces of exceptionally rare crystals, of extremely high quality, that I kept passionately and with much love, as I could not imagine that I could ever part with them. I had the opportunity to prepare and adjust them precisely for what I dreamed and imagined for a long time.
My idea is for something grandiose in the stone world to be built up that could be called the “Pantheon of Mega-Quartz Crystals”.
I imagine these magic crystals gathered in one place, monumentally and esthetically exhibited, suggesting the idea of a real pantheon where the remains of eminent personalities are kept, or a temple of mythological gods. Thus we, the people, will pay respect to and glorify these perfect mineral phenomena that mother Nature created and offered to us, so that we can admire them forever.
One of the giants of this collection is a quartz crystal – morion, the most expensive stone of dark fiery colour, ideal for polishing. This large stone could yield 180 000 carats of gem stones. There are also other quartz crystals, white, transparent and pure like gold, others are large and shaped like gothic churches. Amethyst geodes have very beautiful shapes and colours. Especially interesting is one very large geode of gypsum crystals, transparent and pure like the water of a mountain stream and very fine and beautiful. The collection also contains many other large samples of precious minerals – aquamarine, precious topaz, different green and red tourmalines, spodumene, rutile and many other minerals, drawn from pegmatite deposits in Brazil.
This personal collection of mine is different from any other I have ever made, for the fact that it was gathered for a long time and I invested in it great interest and a lot of skill. To possess these fairy-tale crystals, I spent a lot of money and time and did a lot of work, gathering them without rest and with a great desire for the enrichment of my favourite collection that really gives me happy moments of joy, pleasure and deep satisfaction. I must admit that the creation of this collection took almost half of my lifetime, because of which there are certain profound feelings relating me to it. Its natural beauty as well as its scientific and material value are of a very high level indeed.

Giant quartz unque minerals

A general view of the exhibition of the Deleff Collection – Giant Crystals; National Museum of Natural History, Paris

A typical feature of mine is to dream of something and to try persistently to make it happen – even when achieving the dream appears to be something impossible. I managed to realize some of my dreams, thanks to serious and constant work, stimulated by my strong belief in the future success.
As a young man I dreamed of reaching the fairy-tale Amazonia. I managed to realize this dream. Then I started dreaming of making a large fantastic collection of unique giant crystals. Fortunately, this dream, too, came true. But I continue to dream… My ideas and my piety to the beauty of the mineral world open up new vistas for my imagination.
In my professional activities, I managed to master the art of praparing mineral samples, i.e. their processing and shaping in a most refined and esthetic manner, so that they should be interesting and attractive while being shown in exhibitions. However, as I always strove to think up something new and sufficiently worthy – such that it should underline the beauty of my favourites, I conceived the idea to make a planetarium in which the planets would be spheres made of natural mineral matter – precious and decorative minerals!
I had visited different planetariums where the stars in space were represented through light images. And my idea was to present a model of the Solar system made by minerals. I found the necessary literature in astronomy as well as the information on the planets of the Solar system that had been obtained by the Voyager II probe, and I started studying the characteristics of the separate planets. Naturally, more knowledge was necessary for me to be able to realize my project in a perfect fashion. After this preparation, I took upon myself the very heavy task of finding the corresponding minerals, the raw materials meeting the requirments for size and colour. I found the only person in Brazil who could make, through special processing and polishing, these colossal spheres, nine in number.
Each sphere (Fig. 57-58) represents one planet of the Solar system and corresponds in colour and size to the particular planet. For example, the Jupiter sphere weighs 1 500 kilograms. It has different colours, long stripes, spots and other features that provide an ideal image of the real planet. Its size and beauty arouse amazement. It would be best for all these spheres to be installed in a round room, corresponding in size, with a spherical vault. Each sphere would be placed on a mechanical axis that would rotate.
The position of the spheres would correspond to the actual position of the planets in the Solar system. There will be a special illumination directed to the spheres, and the spheres will be installed high in the planetarium, so that the relative distances between them would be in agreement in the necessary proportions, especially with respect to the Sun. The colours of the spheres are: blue, marine blue, brown, greyish, yellow, lilac-red, etc., depending on the colour of the decorative precious stone of which the separate sphere is made.
My idea is for these nine spheres, the planets of the Solar system, to be installed in a darkened room, discreetly lit, and for each one of these to revolve with a slow motion around its axis, showing its beautiful colours and the shining of its rings. This could be a fantastic cosmic show where the spectators “will feel high in space and very close to the planets!” In its originality, this will indeed be the unique planetarium of the world!


Brazil is situated on the ancient Precambrian foundation building up the South American platform. Three shields are represented on it, Guinean, Central Brazilian (Western Brazilian) and Eastern Brazilian. In this foundation, various metamorphic rocks are represented, as well as igneous rocks intruded into them. Located on it is a mighty sediment complex in which the oldest rocks, represented by conglomerates and sandstones of the Roraima series, are of the Proterozoic Era. A meridional zone of depressions divides the Western Brazilian from the Eastern Brazilian shield. In the base of the latter, the Minas iron-ore series is located, represented by rich iron ores, called itabirites (an internationally recognized designation of jaspilites) – after the name of the town of Itabira. At the borderline between Precambrian and Cambrian time within the limits of the Eastern Brazilian system, granitoid intrusions formed as well as pegmatites associated with them, rich in precious minerals (Fig. 59-60) and rare metals (beryllium, tantalum, niobium). Developed in some grabens are also sediment complexes, up to
4 000 m strong, of a younger age. During the Jurassic and the Early Cretaceous Period, basalts flowed within the trapps of Parana, and different intrusive rocks formed.
Brazil leads the world list in the extraction of a large number of ores and minerals, among which iron and manganese ores can be mentioned, beryllium and niobium-tantalum bearing minerals (Fig. 61-62), as well as quartz for piezoindustry. Rich are Brazil’s deposits of bauxites and industrial minerals like kyanite, apatite (phosphorite), graphite, chrysotile asbestos, talc, kaolinite, fluorite and barite. Zircon, monacite, ilmenite and rutile are mined from coastal zones and alluvial placers in the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Goias and Mato Grosso. Registered on the territory of the country are different genetic deposits of uranium, tungsten, tin, gold, lead- zinc, nickel and copper ores.
Known are some deposits of energy raw materials such as oil, natural gas and coal, but of greatest significance are bituminous schists. Among pegmatites, apart from quartz, feldspar and mica as a raw material for different industrial purposes, various precious minerals are mined: emerald, aquamarine, chrysoberyl, topaz, tourmaline, kunzite and the varieties of quartz. On the territory of the country, diamonds from placer deposits have been known since the XVIII century.
Iron ores, that are mainly represented by hematite are situated in the so-called Quadrilatero Ferrifero of the state of Minas Gerais, with reserves of over 1 billion tons (Franco et al., 1972). Apart from being in the content of itabirites, hematite is also common in the form of fragile sandy rock – “jacutinga”. Manganese ores are built up mainly from the mineral pyrolusite, with representative deposits near Serro de Navio in the federal territory of Amapa.
Situated on the territory of Brazil is one of the deepest gold-bearing mines in the world – Morro Velho, in the state of Minas Gerais (3 000 m). It has a history of more than 140 years (Fig. 63). Today it is a modern mechanized mine. The horizontal gold-bearing vein at this depth has a length of 7 500 m. Apart from placer gold, reported in the country are also crystals with octahedral and, more rarely, cubic forms (the Serro do Lenheiro deposit in the state of Minas Gerais).
Of the lead deposits, the one in Serra da Boquira can be pointed out – in the state of Bahia, where anglesite, cerussite and pyromorphite can be found in the oxygenation zone. As a byproduct in the lead deposits, silver is also extracted. Large cinnabar crystals, 26 cm in size, have been reported from Antonio Pereira, Ouro Preto in the state of Minas Gerais, and molybdenite with crystals sized up to 14 cm, was found near Serra de Timba6ba, Picui in the state of Paraiba (Franco et al., 1972). A large cassiterite crystal with a mass of 2 kg is described from Encruzilhada in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and another large crystal is exhibited in the Deleff Collection in the Paris Museum of Natural History. Large scheelite crystals of red colour are known from the Morro Velho deposit.

Giant crystals of quartz, feldspar, beryl and other precious minerals in Brazil are related in their genesis mainly to pegmatites. These are macroblock and coarse-grained in texture vein rocks that are genetically related to some intrusive body. Worldwide, most commonly represented are granite pegmatites. They develop both within local granite plutons and in their metamorphic environment. During the intrusion of magma in the upper parts of the Earth’s crust, it gradually crystalizes, whereby some intrusive bodies form. Later, after the crystalization of the magma, the residual melt enriched in volatile components penetrates fissures in the host rocks and forms pegmatites. These fill in empty spaces in and out of the plutons. Pegmatite fields may occupy large areas of hundreds of square kilometers. The commonest pegmatitic minerals are feldspars, quartz and muscovite. Despite Si, Al and Ca as main constituent elements, pegmatites are enriched in elements such as Li, Be, B, F, Rb and Cs, as well as in certain cases in rare earth elements – Mo, Zr, Hf, Ta, Nb, Th and U.
Of extreme importance for the formation of giant crystals is the presence of well- differentiated zones in the pegmatites with the formation of large cavities in the central zones, where conditions for growth of giant crystals should be created both from the major rock- forming minerals and from a large number secondary and accessory minerals, many of which also have precious colour varieties.
The Precambrian crystalline shields of South America are enormous stabilized areas, built up of granites, gneisses and schists that fall within the territory of Brazil. In the meridional direction from the north to the south, the major regions of distribution of pegmatite fields can be followed up in these ancient shields – from the state of Ceara (with the regions of Cristais and Cachoeira), the state of Paraiba (Picui), the state of Bahia (Vitorio da Conquista), the state of Minas Gerais (between Governador Valadares and Conseilheiro Pena) to the south up to the surroundings of Sao Paulo in the same state.
In many cases the pegmatites, because of denudation processes and due to the peculiarities of the local climate, are decomposed, whereby many of the rock-forming minerals are strongly changed (feldspar turns into clayey minerals). Durable and hard minerals (many of which are precious) are accumulated in different eluvial and alluvial depositions, as well as in the soil.
The problem of the dimensions of crystals has been dealt with by scientists, who tried to describe the conditions of their formation (Metz, 1964; Rickwood, 1981). One of the largest crystals is taken to be a beryl from Malakialina in the Malagasy Republic with dimensions of 18 m length and 3.5 m in diameter. It was found in a pegmatite and is assessed in volume at 143 m3 and a mass of 380 tons.

Some of the first descriptions of the gold-bearing and diamond-bearing deposits of Brazil appeared as early as the beginning of the 19th century (Mawe, 1812; Eschwege, 1833). Generalizing data on the precious and decorative minerals of Brazil can be found in some scientific monographs or articles (Calmbach, 1938; Diniz Gonsalves, 1949; Putzer, 1956; Franco et al., 1972; Franco, 1981; Sauer, 1982; Bancroft, 1984; Delaney, 1996). In the granite pegmatites from Minas Gerais, a number of minerals with jewelry qualities are reported, such as tourmaline, topaz, lepidolite, petalite, spodumene, morganite, amblygonite, pollucite and quartz (Ralls, 1967; Bank, 1970a; Chermette, 1977; Proctor, 1984; 1985; Cesar-Mendes, Gandini, 2000; Pardon, 2001). The state of Minas Gerais contains one of the world’s most important pegmatitic fields yielding a lot of superb gem quality minerals.
The precious minerals of Brazil in unprocessed and processed state were depicted in stamps from 1974, 1977 (emerald, topaz and aquamarine), 1989 (tourmaline and amethyst) and 1998 (alexandrite, chrysoberyl and indigolite). For the 31st International Geological Congress that took place in 2000 in Rio de Janeiro, a special philately sheet was issued.
The first diamond was found in Brazil in 1725, during the washing of river sand in search for gold near Diamantina in the state of Minas Gerais. The extraction of diamonds increased after 1844, when rich diamond-bearing placers were also found in the neighbouring state of Bahia. Today diamonds are found in placers and in host rocks in most of the Brazilian states, but mainly in the states of Mato Grosso (according to some estimates – up to 40-50% of the extraction in separate years), Minas Gerais (up to 20-25% of the extraction in separate years) and Bahia (Draper, 1950; Cassedanne, 1989a; Gonsaga et al., 1994; Karfunkel et al., 1996; Kaminsky et al., 2001). It is assumed that almost 50% of the raw material is of gem quality. Diamonds of highest quality are found in the western part of the state of Minas Gerais (the regions of Bagagem, Coromandel and Diamantina). Most diamonds are small;
diamonds of up to 7-10 carats are rare. The largest diamonds from Brazil, led by the “President Vargas” diamond (726.6 carats) are listed in table 1 (after Reis, 1959; with additions). Morphologically, rounded rhombic dodecahedra and more rarely cuboids and hexatetrahedra prevail. The crystallography of many diamond crystals from Brazilian locations is described in the classical work “Der Diamant” (Fersmann, Goldschmidt, 1911). Nearly 40% of Brazilian crystals are transparent and the rest are matte-white to colourless, bluish, yellow, brown and green. During the 80s, the yearly extraction of diamonds in Brazil was about 250 000 – 300 000 carats. In Brazil the diamond carbonado can be found, representing oval aggregates of irregular shape and admixtures of graphite. The largest individual, the “Carbonado do Sergio” carbonado, found in 1905 near Lengois in the state of Bahia, had a mass of 3 167 carats.

The basic source of diamonds are river-bed and terrace placers of the contemporary river network and more rarely ancient alluvial placers or conglomerates. Brazilian geologists describe the so-called diamond-bearing phyllites as the basic source of diamonds in the country. These represent considerably changed schistous rocks of white, greyish and pink colour, split by multitudinous quartz veinlets. At places the “phyllites” have a layer structure and are enriched in separate places in hematitic, manganese-containing and, more rarely, phosphoritic concretions. These rocks are regarded as changed initial basic effusive rocks. To the southeast from Coromandel, the first diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe Vargem in Brazil is reported (Svisero et al., 1977), followed by findings of other kimberlite pipes and dykes.
The diamonds in the western part of the state of Minas Gerais from alluvial and colluvial sediments are of glacial origin, brought by the Sao Francisco craton and are related to the 700-450-million-year ancient Brasilia orogenic belt. In the region, conglomerates and ultrabasic alkaline rocks are found, and in their petrographic composition the rocks described as kimberlites are regarded as similar to kamafugites (Gonzaga et al., 1994). After a diamond from kimberlites was found in the state of Mato Grosso – 20 km from the town of Julina, the estimated extraction is of 300 000 carats per year (Koivula, 1987a).
Investigated were about 1 000 diamonds from the basins of Rio Sao Francisco and Rio Paranaiba in the Coromandel area, Minas Gerais (Kaminsky et al., 2001). Their morphology is primarily distinguished by the rounded rhombic dodecahedra, brown pigmentation spots and traces of mechanic erosion. In diamond crystals, olivine, enstatite, pyrope, chrome-spinel and sulfides are registered as major mineral inclusions, corresponding to kimberlite magma from a 150-200 km depth source.
The reason for the colouring of some green and brown diamonds from southeastern Brazil (Espinhaco Range in Minas Gerais) is associated with both radiation centres and diffusion of admixture elements in the external parts (Chaves et al., 2001).

Giant quartz unque minerals

A fragment (450 kg) of a 13-tons quartz crystal from the Golcunda mine in the state of Minas Gerais with inclusions of long tourmaline needles; exhibition of the Deleff Collection – Giant Crystals, National Museum of Natural History, Paris.

Ruby is known from the region of Rio Gurupi in the state of Para (Franco et al., 1972), and also in the state of Bahia.
The Indaia deposits of sapphire in the state of Minas Gerais are situated about 30 km southeast from the town of Ipatinga – the dimensions of the crystals are 0.5-2 carats at the average, and their colour is usually violet or purple (Cesar-Mendes et al., 1994; Epstein et al., 1994). Sapphire is extracted mainly from alluvial placers along the Pedrosa Creek and the Macuco Creek.
In 1979 in the state of Mato Grosso near the Andes, a deposit of blue corundum (sapphire) was found, with hundreds of kilograms of crystals, but with no jewelry quality. I had the opportunity to inspect this large amount of blue corundum and I found 12 pieces of large crystals containing in their inner part hexagonal “phantoms” from zones of growth, many of which I keep in my private collection
Early reports on emeralds from Brazil go back to the XVI century (review in Sinkankas, 1981). The deposits and the chemical peculiarities of emeralds are described from different Brazilian regions and states, but mainly in Bahia (Carnaiba, Salininha – in the Campo Formoso district), Goias (Serra das Lages or Itaberai; Sarandy) and Minas Gerais (Nova Era region – Capoeirana, Pitieras, Belmont) (Da Cunha, 1961; Draper, 1963; Bastos, 1965; Pough, 1968a; Almeida Rolff,
1970; Cotton, 1970; Barbosa, 1973; Sinkankas, 1981; Cassedanne, Sauer, 1984; Cassedanne, Barros, 1986; Hanni et al., 1987; Souza et al., 1987; Cesar-Mendes et al., 1989; 1992; 2002a; 2003; Schwarz, Hanni, 1988; Epstein, 1989b; Giuliani et al., 1990; Schwarz, 1990; Schwarz et al., 1990; Souza, 1990; Sauer, 1992; Putz et al., 1998a; 1998b). As of 1969, the Carnaiba emerald “rush” has been involved by about 6 000 garimpeiros and camp followers (Sinkankas, 1981). Emerald occurrences of less importance are also known near Ferros and Teofilo Otoni in the state of Minas Gerais (Almeida Rolff, 1968) and Bom Jesus dos Meiras in the Brumado district in the state of Bahia (Seidel, 1914; Just, 1926). Emeralds in Brazil are mainly related to two different genetic types – in metamorphic rocks (mica schists and in cases – in dolomitic marbles) and in pegmatites. In my collection I have about ten rare and beautiful emerald aggregates from these mines.
Thus, for example, from the Socoto deposit in the state of Bahia, 25 km to the northeast of Campo Fornoso, emeralds for up to 1 million dollars yearly were extracted (data for 1984). The host rocks are granite pegmatites, embedded in serpentinized ultrabasic rocks. Recently emeralds have also been found in Pirenopolis, Goias State (Da Brum et al., 2002). The emeralds at the Capoeirana farm and at the nearby Belmont mine near Nova Era in the State of Minas Gerais are found in quartz veins cutting ultramafic biotite schists (Cesar-Mendes, 2000).
The most famous mines for aquamarine in Brazil are those near Espirito Santo, Marta Rochia (after the name of beauty queen Miss Brazil 1954), Fortaleza and Marambaia in the state of Minas Gerais (Bastos, 1964; Almeida Rolff, 1968; Pough, 1968b; Sinkankas, 1981; Proctor, 1984; Cassedanne, Alves, 1991b; Cesar-Mendes et al., 2001; Pardon, 2001). In the latter mine in 1910, one of the largest aquamarines in Brazil was found – a zonally coloured crystal with a mass of 110.5 kg (sized 50 cm in height and 40 cm in width) with an external green zone, a middle yellow-green part and a central blue part. In the Marta Rochia deposit, a crystal weighing 34 kg was found, given the same name, and again from that place is probably the largest processed aquamarine (kept in a bank safe), cut off from a 24-kg crystal named Dom Pedro. Aquamarine with a mass of 22 kg and a 90% jewelry volume of the crystal is known from the mine Taquara (Miglios), northeast of Teofilo Otoni (together with Marambaia, Catugi). Another crystal with a mass of 23.3 kg is owned by the Brazilian government.
In 1979, a slightly perished large aquamarine crystal sized 59 cm in height and 38 cm in width and a mass of 19 kg was found near Jaqueto in the municipality of Miraja in the state of Bahia (Sinkankas, 1981). Nice aquamarine crystals sized up to 15 cm in diameter, are known from Virgem da Lapa near Aracuai in the state of Minas Gerais.
Aquamarine is also known from the state of Rio Grande do Norte (Sao Tome, Acari, Lages Pintadas), the state of Paraiba (Serido, Pedra Lavada, Sao Mamede), the state of Piaui, the state of Bahia (from Rio Pardo, Itambre) and Rio de Janeiro (Itabapoana). Among the various nuances of aquamarines, especially rare are the deep blue individuals, but these rarely exceed 2 carats. Such individuals are known from the well-known Santa Maria de Itabira mine in the state of Minas Gerais. The dark blue colour of aquamarine is due to relatively low Fe3+ content in octahedral positions in the structure and the greenish hue – to a higher Fe3+ and a lower Fe2+ content (Viana et al., 2002).
The famous Brazilian lapidary of precious stones Manoel Bento dos Santos bought on credit in 1971 at the stock exchange in the town of Governador Valadares a large beryl crystal weighing 116 kg at a high price, supposing that its internal part would be suitable for processing. Later, in detailed investigations, it turned out that the crystal did not live up to the expectations and Mr Manoel’s distress at this loss was great. To pay back part of the credit during the purchase, Mr Manoel was forced to sell a processed emerald with an exceptional colour that he had shown at the exhibition and had received the first award for it.
Brazil is also famous for the “type” Maxixe deposit in the Piaui valley in the state of Minas Gerais of the so-called maxixe beryl (usually corroded crystals with strong reverse to the normal pattern dichroism) that is blue but loses its colour in exposure to sunlight (Sinkankas, 1981; Nassau, 1996). Other gem beryl varieties include pale green, grass-green beryl and yellow (golden) beryl crystals.

Giant quartz unque minerals

Blue corundum, tourmaline, topaz, mica and other minerals, part of the Deleff Collection in the Museum of Mineralogy, Petrography and Mineral Resources, “St. Ivan Rilski” University of Mining and Geology, Sofia (photo by R. I. Kostov).

The largest and most famous deposit Itatiaia of pink beryl is in the region of Vale do Rio Doce, near the town of Conseilheiro Pena in the state of Minas Gerais. I had the opportunity to acquire three crystals of morganite from this mine, equal in size, each one 25 cm thick. These were probably parts of one larger oval 65-75 kg whole crystal, which split in three for tectonic reasons or because it contained admixture mineral phases. These three pieces were ideal for jewelry purposes and I showed them in exhibitions in Geneva in 1977 and in Paris in 1978 (at Montparnasse, sponsored together by Societe Frangais de Mineraux et Metaux and Societe de Rotschild). Among the samples of the collection given by me to the Museum of Natural History in Paris is a morganite crystal with a mass of 280 kg, found in 1973 in Conseilheiro Pena, Minas Gerais.
A morganite, processed in a square, with a mass of 278.25 carats from Minas Gerais, is kept at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (Harlow, Peters, 1994). Pink beryl is also described from the pegmatites to the north near Araguai in the state of Minas Gerais (Karfunkel et al., 2002).
Preserved in my personal collection are also large platy crystals of colourless jewelry goshenite (Fig. 67-68). Usually these crystals are of a platy and not of a long prismatic habit.
Brazil is a leading country in the extraction of beryl (Dias, 1973). Large and non-transparent crystals of beryl can reach a mass of several tons. A giant beryl of 69 metric tons was found in the Alto Boqueirao, near Parelhas, a 50-100 ton individual was reported in Alto Serra Branca in the state of Paraiba, and a 200 ton pinkish crystal has been mined from the Serra Branca mine (cit. after Sinkankas, 1981). The mineral is a source of the element beryllium which is used as a strategic raw material in different products for the elimination of radiation in nuclear reactors.
In 1976 in a hill not far from the town of Governador Valadares in the state of Minas Gerais, the Panambra S.A. Company found a giant beryl crystal of blue colour. Out of this crystal, after several months of breaking down by compressors, 36 tons of raw material were acquired for industrial purposes. It was a sensational discovery that such a large crystal could exist. The collection I gave to the Paris Museum in 1983 contains a blue beryl crystal weighing 260 kg, with a well-developed hexagonal prismatic form. A beryl crystal with a mass of 200 kg from the state of Minas Gerais is exhibited in the Museum of Mineralogy, Petrography and Mineral Resources of the University of Mining and Geology in Sofia (the Deleff Donation).
Chrysoberyl is known from many granite pegmatites, such as, for example, those near Santa Thereza, the state of Espirito Santo and Teofilo Otoni in the state of Minas Gerais (Franco et al., 1972; Proctor, 1988), as well as in the state of Bahia (Itamaraju, Teixeira de Freitas, Itanhem, Prado). Its jewelry varieties – alexandrite and chrysoberyl cat’s-eye, are described and studied in eluvial, colluvial and alluvial placers, whereby the largest deposits are Corrego do Fogo, Corrego da Faisca and Hematita in the state of Minas Gerais, as well as Corrego Alegre (Colatina) in the state of Espirito Santo (Cassedanne, Roditi, 1993). It is mined as a by-product during the washing of alluvial placers for diamond, aquamarine or andalusite, but in the gravel sediments amethyst, garnet, smoky quartz and topaz are also to be found. In the region of Malacacheta is the Barro Preto chrysoberyl deposit, also known under the name Corrego do Fogo. Red chrysoberyls are common there, and in 1976 a 41-carat twined crystal was described.
In 1970, from the Santa Thereza mine, the largest known chrysoberyl in the world was mined in the shape of the letter V (adhesion) of a green-yellowish colour. During the following year the sample was displayed at the international exhibition in the town of Governador Valadares and later its owner Mr Levon Nercessian showed it in exhibitions in Europe and the USA.
Alexandrite was mentioned for the first time by Aracuai and Minas Novas, and in 1828 some 8-kg chrysoberyl among the treasures of Rio de Janeiro was reported (Bauer, 1904). Yellow, olive-green, golden, brown and ruby-red crystals are found. Cat’s-eye and alexandrite are extracted from alluvial and colluvial placers mainly from the valleys Americana and Santana near Padre Paraiso (Gil – Barro Preto) in the region of distribution of the Otoni-Maramkaia pegmatite field (Proctor, 1988). In the second deposit, findings are reported from as early as 1846. In 1960, a 785-carat chrysoberyl cat’s-eye was reported.
After 1986, taking first place in the quality and volume of extraction of alexandrites in Brazil is the Lavra da Hematita deposit (Nova Era or Itabira) (Koivula, 1987b). The local seekers of minerals improperly call it “crisolita” – after the colour of gem olivine. A settlement of the same name even appeared. A greenish blue alexandrite is also there, known to the diamond seekers under the name “pavao”. Alexandrite occurrences Esmeraldas de Ferros and the nearby Hematita deposit in the state of Minas Gerais yield up to 0.1 carats crystal of good quality, at the average. The samples from the first deposit are often cracked by imposed tectonic processes (Karfunkel, Wegner, 1993).
On the topazes from Brazil, that are bluish, yellowish or colourless, many works have been published (Olsen, 1971; 1972; Rolff, 1971; Fleischer, 1972; Bastos, 1976; Keller, 1983; Cassedanne, Sauer, 1987; Ferreira, 1987; Cassedanne, 1989b; Cesar-Mendes et al., 2002b). The first yellowish to brown topazes in Brazil were found near Dom Bosco and Rodrigo Silva around Ouro Preto in 1735 (Bank, 1971). Topaz is extracted mainly from alluvial placers together with other precious minerals and, more rarely, from the pegmatite veins containing them.
Known from the country are the largest jewelry topaz crystals in the world. A orange-yellow crystal with a mass of 271 kg from the state of Minas Gerais, unique in its quality and dimensions, is kept at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (Sofianides, Harlow, 1990). Preserved in this museum are also the extremely valuable precious bluish Pellman topaz and a pale-blue topaz called Brazilian Princess, processed in the shape of a square cushion with 221 facets with a mass of 21 005 carats and sized 14.5 cm (Harlow, Peters, 1994). Other processed topazes with masses of 7 725 carats and 2 680 carats are known from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and with a mass of 5 800 carats in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (Bariand, Poirot, 1985). A large gem quality topaz (117 kg) from Fazenda do Finil near Santa Maria do Itabira in the state of Minas Gerais is on display in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
A pale-yellow topaz of 1 680 carats from Brazil with the designation Bragance that entered the Portugese regalia, was for a long time considered to be a large diamond.
The largest yellowish precious topaz in the world until the year 1990 with a 93 kg mass was a crystal from my collection – with an ideal jewelry quality. It was found in 1967 in Vale do Rio Doce in the state of Minas Gerais. Later I showed it during the exhibitions of my collections in Geneva in 1976 and in Paris in 1977.
The two largest blue precious topaz crystals with excellent crystal faces in the world are part of my collection in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. One of them weighs 250 kg, the other 200 kg, and they are really vedeti (most perfect). They were found in 1978 in the pegmatites of the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
Orange to pink-yellow “imperial” topaz has been reported to the west from Ouro Preto in the Capao mine, Minas Gerais (Bastos, 1976; Sauer et al., 1996; Schott et al., 2003). This is the oldest and most productive mine for topaz that is mechanized. After thermal processing, the brown samples receive the colour of a “a peach” or become pink. The crystals can be found in kaolinite veins among weathered brown talcized clayish mass. The largest sample had a mass of 1.3 kg. Pink topazes are reported and a transparent clear crystal is depicted with a mass of 36.87 kg. Other deposits in the region around the towns of Dom Bosco and Rodrigo Silva are Corrego do Cipo, Boa Vista and Vermelhao.
Brazil is famous for its tourmalines, various in colour and zonality, extracted mainly from the state of Minas Gerais (Proctor, 1985a; 1985b; Cassedanne, Roditi, 1996; Steger, 1999; Cesar- Mendes et al., 2001). The richest and most famous for their pink tourmaline (rubellite) mines are Itatiaia (Jonas) and Galileia near the town of Conselheiro Pena, Golcunda, Cruzeiro and Virgem da Lapa, not far from the town of Governador Valadares, and in the Araguai-Salinas region (Xanda, Limoeiro, Morro Redondo, Toca do Onga) in the northern part of the state.
The unique Forguete rubellite crystal was found with a lot of the finest rubellites in the Jonas pegmatite not far from Governadoir-Valadares by the garimpeiro Ailton Barbosa (three other giant crystals groups were named Joaninha, Tarugo and Flor-de-Liz with a weight of 225, 80 and 32 kg, respectively. It has been measured 1.07 m high, with a 125 kg mass, and is said to have been sold for $ US 1 000 000 (Cesar-Mendes, 2000).
Jewelry copper-containing elbaite tourmaline was found and described by Sao Jose de Batalha (Mina da Batalha a Nova Era), some 4.5 km northeast of Salgadinho, state of Paraiba (Ferreira et al., 1990; Fritsch et al., 1990; Henn, Bank, 1990; Henn et al., 1990; Rossman et al., 1991; Brandstatter, Niedermayr, 1994; MacDonald, Hawthorn, 1995). It is grayish green to “electric” blue and contains inclusions of native copper and tenorite CuO. Reported in blue tourmalines are admixtures of Mn3+ and/or Cu2+, and in green tourmalines – only admixtures of copper.
Apart from the regions mentioned, jewelry tourmaline is also extracted from the states of Ceara (Solonopole, Quixeramobim, Quixada) and Goias (Managu, Reixe, Formoso, Crixas, Xambioca).
The most famous mines for jewelry spodumene are near Vale do Rio Doce (Fig. 73) in the state of Minas Gerais. Clear bi-coloured kunzite is described from the region of Governador Valadares (Ralls, 1967) and Galileia in the state of Minas Gerais, as well as near Itapuiuna, Juca, the state of Ceara, and green hiddenite – from the states Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais (Franco et al., 1972). Pink spodumene is also described from the pegmatites to the north near Aracuai in the state of Minas Gerais (Karfunkel et al., 2002).
Jair Medeiras was for many years my driver, company and bodyguard. He and I travelled many times around the whole state of Minas Gerais and became acquainted with all the large and small mines. When after a ten-year-long collaboration he mastered my profession, he wished to become an “indenpendant” (an independent seeker of minerals). I gave him my Jeep as a present and a good sum of money to continue his activity. Some time later he found and started to exploit the most famous mine for spodumene in Vale do Rio Doce. There he extracted hundreds of large and small crystals, transparent, pure and of jewelry quality, of different colours, exceeding, in total, a mass of 2 000 kg. After selling them he became very rich. This sounds like a legend but is a real fact.

Brazil is the country with the largest extraction of quartz for industrial purposes in the world (“piezzo-electrico”, “optico” and “lasca”). Since the 40s of the previous century, tens and probably hundreds of tons of quartz have been exploited in order to meet the world’s industrial demands. In the 70s, the yearly extraction of mountainous crystal in Brazil reached 6 000 tons (a maximum of 13 903 tons was extracted in 1968) with the leading participation of the states of Minas Gerais and Santa Catarina (Freitas, 1973; cf. Johnston, Butler, 1946; Karfunkel et al., 1998). Especially rich in quartz is the region of the valley of Rio Doce. Although rarely, common among the samples of rock crystal are Japanese twins, some with rather large dimensions.
Brazil extracts quartz with rutile inclusions that is valuable for various decorative products (Cassedanne, 1981a). Such samples in large quantities are known from the mines around the village of Ibitiara in the state of Bahia.


The major deposits of these colour varieties of quartz are also along the valley of the Rio Doce, Conseilheiro Pena, Baxios, Campo Belo, Governador Valadares and Golcunda. In the 70s, the yearly extraction of citrine in Brazil reached 30 tons (Freitas, 1973). Citrine is also reported from Campo Belo, Minas Gerais (Cassedanne, 1995). Black quartz was described by Vitoria da Conquista (Cassedanne, Cassedanne, 1973).
Brazil is the country with the largest and richest deposits of amethyst, especially from geodes in volcanic rocks. The well-known deposits of amethyst of different genetic types are in the states of Minas Gerais (near Teofilo Otoni, Aracuai, Salinas), Bahia (Montezuma, Coruja, Brejinho, Cabeludos, Grota do Coxo – in the latter deposit with dimensions of the crystals up to 30 cm in height), Goias (Minagu), Piaui (Caldeirao), Ceara (Solonopol, Rusas, Batoc), Para (at Alto Bonito, Pau d’Arco near Maraba with sizes of crystals up to 40 cm in height), Espirito Santo (Santa Maria), Mato Grosso (Coimbia), Santa Catarina (Campos Novos) and Rio Grande do Sul (the region of Palmeira to the south around Irai and the region of Serra to the north and to the south around Soledade) (Brauns, 1919; 1932; Ferreira, 1962; Bank, 1969; 1970b; Cassedanne, 1972; 1986; Castro et al., 1974; Cassedanne, Cassedanne, 1975; 1976; 1977a; 1977b; 1979; Epstein, 1988; 1989a; Kostov, 1992; Lieber, 1994; Preister, 1999; Balzer, 1999). In the 1970s, the yearly extraction of amethyst in Brazil reached 250 tons (Freitas, 1973).
Distinguished are several genetic types of deposits of amethyst: amethyst geodes from toleitic basalts in volcanic trapps; hydrothermal veins in fault zones of crushing; in granite pegmatites; in granitoids with hematite and goethite; in placers of eluvial, colluvial and alluvial nature, including amethyst-bearing conglomerates (Cassedanne, 1988; Kostov, 1992).
Unique is the deposit of crystalized pink quartz Alto da Pitora (Alto Feio) from the region of Governador Valadares in the state of Minas Gerais near Galileia and Sapucaia (Berilo Blanco). Pink crystals develop in the pegmatite built up from white quartz, feldspar and spodumene, late albite and muscovite (Cassedanne, Cassedanne, 1978a; 1980; Cassedanne, Alves, 1991a; Cassedanne, Roditi, 1991). Also established are schorl, cassiterite, niobo-tantalite, beryl and phosphate minerals. Crystals with rutile needles (with a star effect) and tourmaline needles can be found. In my personal collection there are three beautiful geodes of crystallized pink quartz (Fig. 60).
One of the remarkable samples of rose quartz on smoky to citrine quartz, called Van Allen Belt from Lavra Berilo Branco, is kept in the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Massive pink quartz is known from the pegmatites in the state of Ceara (Apuaires, Caninde, Caridade, Independencia, Itaprnna, Russas and Taua), Paraiba (Nova Palmeira and Pedra Lavrada), Minas Gerais (Almenara, Borda da Mata, Divino das Laranjeiras, Itinga, Sao Miguel do Jequitinhonha, Joafma, Mantena, Monte Siao, Ouro Fino, Salinas and Sao Joao do Paradiso) and Sao Paulo (Socorro) (Azambuja, 1974). In the latter state, there is pink quartz at Morro do Gato (near Ariri).


The major deposits and reserves of agate are concentrated in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The major deposits there are Santa Maria, Soledade, Carazinho, Passo Fundo, Lageado, Espumos and Quarai (Mattos, 1974; Preister, 1999). In this state, fire agate has also been reported (Rykart, 1997). Other deposits of agate are known near Roraima, in Northern Brazil, Correntina and Conde6ba in the state of Bahia, Monte Alegre de Minas in the state of Minas Gerais, Tatui and Itapetinga in the state of Sao Paulo, Guarapuava in the state of Parana and Armagem in the state of Santa Catarina (Mattos, 1974). The geometric peculiarities of agate geodes have been described (Cassedanne, 1983). Brazilian agates are distinguished by both their high quality, size and their extreme variety of iterating colour nuances of mainly chalcedony layers.
Polyhedral pseudocrystal agates are reported from the state of Paraiba that developed as quartz (chalcedony) epimorphs. These reach up to 20 cm in length and up to 2 kg in weight. Goniometric investigations show that these are not chalcedony pseudomorphs after a given mineral but specific epimorphs that emerged in the filling up of irregular polyhedral spaces between platy, probably calcite crystals (papierspath) that were, at a later stage, decomposed (Deleff, Kostov, 1997).

The mineral brazilianite (found and named so according to its first finding in Brazil) of yellow to yellow-green colour is a typical pegmatite mineral (Cassedanne, 1981b). Well-known is the deposit of a 64 kg group of brazilianite crystals from Corrego Feio, Galileia in the state of Minas Gerais (Franco et al., 1972). It can also be found near Conselheiro Pena in the state of Minas Gerais and near Pietras Lavradas in the state of Paraiba.
In my personal collection there are three large crystals of amblygonite (~10-15 cm), of jewelry quality. A yellow transparent amblygonite sized 8 cm and a processed sample of 34 carats from Linopolis, Minas Gerais, are exhibited in the American Museum of Natural History in New York (Sofianides, Harlow, 1990; Harlow, Peters, 1994).
Preserved in the Paris Museum of Natural History is transparent vivianite from Conseilheiro Pena, Minas Gerais. Petalite is described from Itinga in the state of Minas Gerais (Cassedanne, Cassedanne, 1978b). Coming from Brazil are also high-quality jewelry euclase of bluish-green colour, and scapolite, different in colour.
Among the samples of my collection in the Paris Museum of Natural History, there is a giant blue apatite crystal weighing 60 kg.
Rhodolite garnet (composed of 26% of pyrope and 66% of almandine) of amethyst colour has been described from placers near Fazenda Balisto, Peixe Municipio some 12 km west of Sao Valeria, Tocantins State (Wegner et al., 1998).
Precious opal of different colour and of good quality, without cracks, is known from placers of the Pedro II mine in the state of Piaui, some 200 km from the capital Terezinha (Sauer, 1982;
Bittencourt Rosa, 1990; Knigge, Milisenda, 1997). Red “fiery” opal was found near Soledade in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Brazil is among the leading countries extracting kyanite, mainly in the state of Minas Gerais (Nova Lima, Gouvea and Mateus Leme) around Belo Horizonte (Barone 1973). Many crystals can be transparent and can have jewelry applications. Transparent orange-brown triphylite with gemological properties has been described from the state of Minas Gerais (Cosar et al., 1990).
Among the decorative gem minerals, jadeite was found near Ibatuba, Sao Paulo, and nephrite – from Amargosa, Bahia (Franco et al., 1972).
Amazonite from granite pegmatite with albite, biotite and quartz has been described on the shore of Corrego do Patrimonio, Fazenda de Geraldo Duarte at about 100 km to the east of Belo Horizonte (Cassedanne, 1994) as well as in many other places in the state of Minas Gerais – Conseilheiro Pena, Santana dos Ferros (Fazenda Providencia), Monlevade and Santa Maria de Itabira.
The Paris Museum of Natural History keeps five of the giants among amazonite crystals from my collection (weighing 680, 450, 190, 170 and 50 kg). These samples are of amazingly high quality and perfection. Alongside amazonite, in pegmatites there are also larger white feldspar (orthoclase) crystals. In the Paris Museum of Natural History in my collection there is a 50 kg orthoclase crystal.
Massive decorative pink rhodonite is known from Conseilheiro Lafaiete in the state of Minas Gerais, bright blue sodalite – from Itabuna (Fazenda Hiassu) in the state of Bahia, and a pale- blue turquoise was found near Remanso (Casa Nova), again in the state of Bahia.
Non-transparent to translucent lazulite from quartzites in the state of Bahia between the valleys of Rio Paramirin and Sao Francisco is offered as a new gemological material (Cassedanne, 1990). The mineral is extracted mainly in the regions Serro and Diamantina of the state of Minas Gerais.
Malachite from hydrothermal veins has been reported near Fundao, Itapeva, Sao Paulo (Franco et al., 1972) and near Serra Verde, Currionopolis, Para (Collyer et al., 1991).
Decorative jasper (quartz-containing aggregates) in gray and red colours are known from Serra do Urucum, Corumba in the state of Mato Grosso, but these have also been described from the states of Piaui and Parana (Franco et al., 1972).
Ilia Deleff est ne en 1921 en Bulgarie. Il quite son pays d’origine apres la Seconde guerre mondiale. Il suit un long chemin, plein d’adventures, de lourdes epreuves et de malchances avant d’arriver a atteindre le pays de ses reves – le Bresil. C’est un specialiste dans le domaine de la geologie et de la mineralogie. Il est laureat de prestigieux prix gouvernementaux frangais et bulgares dans le domaine de la culture et de nombreuses autres distinctions, ainsi que du titre scientifique d’honneur “doctor honoris causa”.
Convaincu que chaque cristal geant est comme un ‘livre de pierre” portant en soi une information scientifique precieuse, il repand avec instance ses idees que les cristaux phenomenaux sont des creations naturelles qui doivent etre sauvegardees et conservees pour l’humanite. La realisation de ce noble but devient la raison de son existence.
Sa passion de collectionneur et son amour infini pour les phenomenaux de cristaux des mineraux sont la source principale de l’energie inepuisable avec laquelle, durant plusiers decennies, il recherche, decouvre et collectionne des cristaux naturels extremement precieux dans le monde entier.
Beaucoup de musees en Europe occidentale possedent des collection precieuses ou differents echantillons de mineraux, fournis par I. Deleff. En 1983 la France devient possesseur d’une de ses remarquables collections de cristaux de quartz geants qui sont exposes dans le Musee national d’histoire naturelle a Paris et en 1985 il fait don a sa patrie la Bulgarie d’un collection particuliere analogue de cristaux geants uniques qui est la partie la plus attractive du Musee national “La Terre et les Hommes” a Sofia.
Dans sons recit captivant l’auteur nous devoile le monde merveilleux des cristaux geants unique et des tresors de mineraux remarquables du Bresil, ainsi que les incroyables aventures et les difficultes ayant accompagne sa vie, consacree aux cristaux phenomenaux des mineraux.
Lilia Petkova