Named The Empress of Uruguay, this is the largest Amethyst Geode in the world. Standing a staggering 3.27 meters tall, the geode weighs 2.5 tonne! Each of the thousands of perfect crystals was formed inside the geode exactly as you see them now, 130 millions years ago.

Discovered in 2007, it took 3 months to extract the geode from the solid basalt which surrounded it. Fortunately it was offered to René as soon as it was excavated otherwise it may have been snapped up by an international natural history museum elsewhere in the world. When you stand before her and gaze upon the deep purple crystals, you will understand why René did not hesitate for a moment to add this world class specimen to his already impressive collection. It took a further 2 months to carefully remove small sections of crystals and polish the edge to reveal the opening. Each piece of the Empress was shipped to Atherton and sold in the gift shop.

standing 3.2 metres tall

Standing 3.2 meters tall

What is a geode?

Millions of years ago, the earth was trembling, volcanos erupting and hot glowing molten rock flowed over the earth’s surface. As the lava started to cool, bubbles became trapped beneath the surface crust. Subsequently water containing silica and other minerals found its way inside these cavities and formed crystals over a very long period of time. Most of the crystals found inside geodes are of the quartz variety such as Clear Quartz, Smoky Quartz or Amethyst. Other common crystals include Calcite and a variety of very delicate iron formations. Citrine is never found inside a geode naturally, however, it is standard practice to cook or burn Amethyst to create Citrine.

incudes calcite crystals

The edge of a geode is often solid agate, also a silicate. The Australian version of the geode is a Thunderegg or solid Agate nodule which display striking bands of colour but rarely an opening of crystals.

In the Southern parts of Brazil and into Uruguay, enormous basalt fields and mountains were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. Miners tunnel their way into the hard basalt using explosives, hammer and chisel and the occasional jackhammer to extract the spectacular Amethyst Geodes.

In the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, several mines extract perfectly round geodes known as coconuts from a soft clay known as sodium bentonite. These small hollow geodes have a much thinner edge and can be cracked open relatively easily using a purpose built pipe cutter.

Possibly the most spectacular geode is so massive that it is referred to as a cave. The Crystal Cave in Naica was formed when magma was forced up to the surface and the crevice created subsequently filled with 170 giant, luminous selenite crystals – the biggest is 11 meters long.

Extracting the geode from solid basalt

Extracting the geode from solid basalt

get up close and personal

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