I hand cut this heart shaped focal bead with a polished finish and a 2.25mm side drill hole. I have really nice focal beads in this material. NOTE: If you set this material with silver, the sulfurs in it will increase oxidation rate (tarnishing) of the silver.
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I first saw this rough material when I was in Tucson in February 2008 and it had only recently been brought to market at that time. It takes a nice polished finish. Not a true jasper, but everyone calls this Bumble Bee Jasper and a few people call it Eclipse Stone as well. It formed in a fumarole at the base of a volcano in Java and is evidently a mixture of gypsum, aragonite, sulfur, hematite, volcanic tuff (welded ash), calcite, and other minerals. I would consider it to be mostly TRAVERTINE, which forms from hot springs. The orange, when present, is probably realgar or orpiment mixed with the gypsum. It stays together nicely, although some of the orange can be softer than the rest. I can understand why a person might mistake this for dyed Crazy Lace agate, but it's NOT. Totally natural, not dyed or stabilized with resin. There may be a few small pits in the piece, which are common in this rough, but they don't detract from the striking beauty and colors of this one of a kind gemstone! About the same hardness as Picasso Jasper (which is a marble and not a true jasper either!) and this material takes a good polish. Still, it's not a really hard stone, so treat it the way you would opal.
I just got a few pounds of this material and I am loving cutting it. My supplier has been buying most of the entire supply of lapidary material from the mine for the last several years and he told me recently that the mine is now closed, due to being flooded with hot water, and it is unlikely to reopen. Nearby deposits are mined commercially for raw materials (sulfur and orpiment) for industrial purposes with the entire production being shipped to China.
There are a number of metaphysical properties associated with sulfur, and according to some, it is good for "assisting one in the removal of negative willfulness and in the elimation of distractng intellectual thoughts and emotions"..."it tends to promote and abundance of energy, flashes of inspiration"..."it can help to gently melt the barriers blocking progress"..."it is said to bring together the synthesis of the four directions, Mother Earth, and Father Sky."