Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The SS Gairsoppa silver hoard - Update

Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered 61 tons of bullion this month, 1,574 precious bars, from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412ft (126m) British cargo ship that went down in February 1941 about 300 miles off Ireland in international waters.

Odyssey Marine, pioneers in the field of deep water treasure hunting, exploration and salvage, have taken about 99% of the insured silver from the ship. Greg Stemm, Odyssey's chief executive, said the recovery has been an extremely complex operation, adding: "To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access."

In total, Odyssey has taken 2,792 silver bars from the ship, including the latest haul of ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each or almost 1.8 million troy ounces. Last year's payload of 1,218 bars was valued at £25m as silver prices were higher then. In the latest haul, 462 bars were of very high purity silver, .999 silver, and stamped with the brand HM Mint Bombay.

The precious metal - a world record recovery because of the depth and size - was taken ashore in Bristol and sent to a secure location in the UK. It will be analysed and refined before being sold.
In July 2012 news surfaced of the SS Gairsoppa.

The 412-foot British ship was shipping a cargo of silver when she was sunk by a single German torpedo on February 17, 1941 about 300 miles south-west of Galway, Ireland. The ship had a crew of 85 but only one man survived.

The Gairsoppa rests about 3 miles below the surface, and the operation to retrieve her cargo is said to be the deepest and largest precious metal recovery ever.

The salvage of 48 tons or 1.4 million ounces of silver in 1,203 bars is about 20% of what the Gairsoppa had in her hold. Bad weather halted the recovery effort.

The rest remains 15,420 feet deep in the North Atlantic. Another expedition is planned for mid-2013.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Lost Crown Jewels of King John

In 1216 King John travelled to Bishops Lynn in Norfolk where he arrived on the 9th October. The area is aptly named The Wash as it was once huge expanses of marshes and dangerous mud flats.

At Bishop's Lynn King John fell ill with dysentery and decided to return to Newark Castle via Wisbech. He took the slower and safer route around The Wash. However, his soldiers and carts full of his personal possessions, including the crown jewels he had inherited from his grandmother the Empress of Germany, took the shorter route through the marshes.
Trapped by the tide they were drowned - possibly close to Sutton Bridge. The treasure carts were lost and never recovered. King John died a few days later on the 18th October 1216.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Expensive Gemstones redux

Red Beryl Emerald is found in the Thomas Range and the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah. It occurs on rhyolite where it crystallizes under low pressure and high temperature along fractures or cavities of volcanic rhyolitic magma. Very few cut specimens exist.
Musgravite is a silicate mineral whose 3 main ingredients are beryllium (Be), magnesium (Mg) and aluminum (Al).

It was first found in the Musgrave area in Australia in 1993. Musgravite has been found in Greenland and Madagascar, but neither produces gem quality material. Two pieces of faceted gem-quality musgravite came from Sri Lanka in the mid 90s.
Grandidierite is a bluish green mineral found primarily in Madagascar. The first faceted specimen came from Sri Lanka.

The crystal is trichroic, transmitting blue, green and white light.
Painite was first discovered in the early 1950s in Myanmar.(Burma) Before 2005 less than 25 crystals were known, more have been unearthed since.
Garnets are found in many colors including colorless. The rarest of them all is the blue garnet, first seen in the late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar. It changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light due to it's high vanadium content. A 4.2 carat blue garnet gem sold at auction in 2003 for $6.8 Million.
Serendibite is a cyan colored stone that comes from Sri Lanka and Burma exclusively. It is composed of a complex formula of calcium, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, boron and oxygen. There were only three faceted (cut) specimens in existance ... of 0.35 carats, 0.55 carats and 0.56 carats.
Very few red diamonds have ever been found. One in every hundred million diamonds is a natural red colour. The Moussaieff Red is the largest Fancy Red diamond in the world at 5.11 carats. Discovered by a Brazilian farmer in the 1990s, the rough stone weighed 13.9 carats. The triangular brilliant cut stone was sold in 2001 for around $8 million. It is valued today at over $10 million.

The Rob Red Diamond is 0.59 carats and it still holds a special place in the diamond world. Rob Red is rated as the most intense red diamond ever discovered.
Jadeite is found in the Motagua Valley, Guatemala, and was used by the Olmec and Maya. Typically, the most highly valued colors of jadeite are the most intensely green, translucent varieties. The record price for a single piece of jadeite jewelry was set at the November 1997 Christie’s Hong Kong auction. The “Doubly Fortunate” necklace of 27 .5 mm jadeite beads sold for US$9.3 million.

Counsel Corporation - CXS.t

Counsel Corporation - CXS.t is a financial services company operating in residential mortgage lending through its wholly owned subsidiary Street Capital Financial Corporation, one of the largest non-bank mortgage lenders in Canada.

On May 27, 2013 the company reported News

"Counsel Corporation (“Counsel” or the “Company”) (TSX: CXS), a financial services company, today announced that its residential mortgage lending business, Street Capital Financial Corporation (“Street Capital”), has received approvals from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to be an approved issuer of National Housing Act mortgage backed securities (“NHA MBS”) and an approved seller under the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) program.

“This is an important milestone for Street Capital,” said Allan Silber, Chairman and CEO of Counsel. “These approvals will enable the business to access an additional source of liquidity for the mortgages it originates and renews, and to be an approved seller into the CMB program.”

Street Capital, sources single-family residential mortgages solely through a network of independent, high quality mortgage brokers across Canada with whom it has built relationships. The company offers a broad lineup of high ratio and conventional mortgages, predominantly to prime borrowers.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Famous Diamonds III

The Blue Heart weighs 30.82 carats finished and was first recorded around 1900. The stone changed hands several times until it was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. where it remains to this day.
The Ashberg diamond is one of the first diamonds discovered in South Africa in the mid 1860s and used to be part of the Russian Crown Jewels, a collection that started in 1719. After the 1920s, the Crown Jewels were transferred to the Kremlin Diamond Fund. In 1934 a Russian trade delegation sold the diamond to Mr. Ashberg.
The stone is 102.48 carats and is amber or brownish yellow with a glance of orange. (type Ib)
The DeYoung Red Diamond is one of the largest known natural fancy dark red diamonds. It is a modified round brilliant cut diamond that has a clarity grade of VS-2 and weighs 5.03 carats. The diamond was acquired by S. Sydney DeYoung, a Boston jeweler, as part of a collection of estate jewelry in which it was wrongly identified as a garnet. It was gifted to the National Gem Collection by Mr. DeYoung in 1987.
The Sancy weighs 55 carats and is a pear shape. It was first owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost it in battle in 1477. The stone is named after a later owner, Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey in the late 16th century. He loaned it to the French king, Henry III, who wore it in the cap with which he concealed his baldness. Henry IV of France also borrowed the stone from Sancy, but it was sold in 1664 to James I of England. In 1688, James II, last of the Stuart kings of England, fled with it to Paris. It disappeared during the French Revolution. It reappeared in 1828. In 1867 it was displayed at the Paris Exposition. The Sancy surfaced in 1906 when bought by William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor. The family possessed it for 72 years until the 4th Viscount Astor sold it to the Louvre for $1 million in 1978. The Sancy now rests in the Apollo Gallery.
The Koh-i-Noor, ("Mountain of Lights"), is a 105.6 carat diamond, believed to have originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India around 1300. It has been said that whoever owned the Koh-I-Noor ruled the world.

In 1850, the diamond was confiscated from Duleep Singh by the British East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. The diamond is currently set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth and is on display at the Tower of London.
The Steinmetz Sirius is a 103.83 carat D IF cushion shaped diamond mined from the Premier mine in South Africa.

This legendary cushion shaped stone is claimed to be one of the largest D colored, internally flawless diamonds to ever appear at auction and is only the fourth of its kind (over 100 carat) to be sold at auction.
The Steinmetz Pink is 59.60 carats and rated in color as Fancy Vivid Pink by the Gemological Institute of America. The Steinmetz Pink is the largest known diamond having been rated Vivid Pink. The Steinmetz Group took a cautious 20 months to cut the Pink. Its origin and history is unknown.
The Kimberley Diamond gets its name from the mine in South Africa where it was found sometime before 1868. It was cut from a 490-carat stone. It was turned into a 70-carat gem in 1921 and recut to its present form in 1958 to improve its brilliance and proportions.