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Victoria Stone - Series Part 1

Dr. Iimori’s Quest to Synthesize Artificial Gemstones

In 1936 Dr. Iimori was conducting his scientific study on the chemical analysis of rare minerals. While doing field work in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan he picked up a piece of actinolite, a fibrous mineral that can exhibit gemlike chatoyancy. That piece of actinolite was placed on his desk where it remained as a keepsake until being lost during the allied bombing campaign of Japan in World War II. It is thought that this lost piece of actinolite played an inspirational role in Dr. Iimori’s quest to create artificial gemstones.

Actinolite is a mineral that occurs in many forms, including some gem varieties such as cat’s-eye actinolite and the nephrite form of jade. Its name, derived from the Greek word “aktina” meaning “ray and “lithos” meaning “stone”, was meant to describe fibrous makeup and visual appearance of the mineral. The nephrite form of jade is calcium and magnesium rich amphibole form of actinolite. Amphibole is generally a dark colored group of inosilicate (silicate) minerals with prism or needlelike crystals.

Dr. Iimori began working on his process to synthesize imitation gemstones after his retirement from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) in 1952. His initial effort focused on synthesizing a microcrystalline form of jade, perhaps because of the piece of actinolite he lost in the war, or perhaps because jade had been a symbol of good luck in Asia since ancient times. After repeated attempts he was successful in creating an artificial jade gemstone material. It was a very good imitation with a semi-transparent to transparent composition similar to jade of the pyroxene group, called jadeite (or precious jade). Dr. Iimori’s artificial jade gemstone was named Meta-Jade. It is still considered to be an excellent imitation of jadeite.

The article shown below describes Meta-Jade and its close IL-Stone family member Victoria Stone; it is a reprint of a section on Meta-jade that appeared in the Connecticut Jewelers Association website article “Hints on Identifying Synthetics and Substitutes”. It is unclear how old this article is but you can assume that it is dated since it is written in the present tense. The entire article can be accessed using the following URL:

http://ctjewelers.org/articles/hintsonidentifying2

… Start of Connecticut Jewelers Association article…
Raw Meta-jade
'META-JADE', VICTORIA GLASS AND IMORI GLASS - A Laboratory in Japan is producing a particular type of glass that is partially crystallized and provides an excellent substitute for fine green jadeite. This material is so natural looking that most people don't even consider suspecting its origin. If one is aware of it, the identification is quite simple using very ordinary gemological testing procedures. The refractive index and specific gravity of this particular glass is usually around 1.51 and 2.65 respectively, nowhere near the properties for either jadeite or nephrite. Magnification will reveal many gas bubbles (quite spherical but of low relief) and a characteristic structure that is not unlike the appearance of galvanized steel. The fashioned pieces are usually quite thin.

This Imori laboratory is also manufacturing other glasses that are "cat's eye" imitations. For the most part, the colors are quite unnatural, for instance, "turquoise cat's eye" imitation, etc. However, there is one variety that lends itself to an excellent substitution for chrysoberyl cat's eye, especially in smaller sizes. It has an excellent opening and closing of the eye and fine milk and honey effect. However, its RI and SG will separate it easily from chrysoberyl.

… End of Connecticut Jewelers Association article …

Once Meta-jade was created Dr. Iimori had the base component for his next creations, synthetic Cat’s Eye and Victoria Stone. Dr. Iimori found that he could add a crystallization agent to the mineral mix of Meta-jade and accelerate the crystallization of the fibers it contained. This produced the crystal fan shapes and chatoyant appearance that has become associated with Victoria Stone. By cutting the crystallized material in the proper way he was able to produce a synthetic Cat’s Eye. Dr. Iimori also started to experiment with different metallic compounds to give his synthesized stone a variety of colors.


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Page last updated: October 11, 2014

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