La Toma-Argentina

On the trail of Esperanza Fluorite – An unexpected encounter

Esperanza Fluorite is one of my most beloved gemstones. I recently travelled to Argentina where the rare Esperanza Fluorite is found. Of course, this inspired me to visit  La Toma, the exact area where this gem comes from.  La Toma is located in the province of San Luís in Central Argentina.

I was travelling from Córdoba City. In order to get to La Toma, I had to drive five hours by car and cross the “Camino de las Altas Cumbres” (the path over the high peaks) at an altitude of about 2300 metres. The snake-like path was breathtakingly beautiful! After we left the mountains behind us, a highway, through seemingly endless flat-lands was waiting for us. On the horizon, as a beautiful backdrop, we saw the silhouettes of the blue mountains that we passed through an hour before.

Cuini-to-2,200-meters-on-the-Way-to- the High-Peaks

Cuini-to-2,200-meters altitude-on the way to La Tomas

La Toma is a very picturesque village. Tree-lined streets and old houses dominate the landscape. A small lake at the edge of the village bathed in sunshine made it idyllic. The main street is called “Avenida del Mármol Onix” (Marble-Onyx-Avenue). It should be remembered that La Toma is located in a region rich in Marble; Onyx, Rose Quartz, Rock Crystal, Fluorite and other minerals. These gems are seen in the display windows of the small shops on the big avenue. But to my astonishment, I see very little Flourite… and no Esperanza Fluorite! I asked around a bit: Some shopkeepers mentioned a Fluorite mine nearby, but nobody knew anything about what I was looking for, specifically Esperanza Fluorite. This gemstone shows a perfect crystallization and has an exquisite green colour. When my last interlocutor saw the disappointment on my face, he told me to talk to a person in the village: Don Armando Gil. “If he doesn’t know what you’re looking for, it’s a lost cause,” said the salesman. He showed me where I could find Don Armando and wished me good luck.

Armondo with Flourite Esperanza

Armando with Flourite Esperanza

Don Armando seemed very cheerful. He answered a little shyly: “Yes, I am him” when I asked if I could talk to Armando Gil. But when I asked about the Esperanza fluorite, he beamed and replied, “Where did you hear about that gem?!” He took a small sculpture of Fluorite in the shape of a swan from the shelf and gave it to me. The material showed a small vein of intense green colour.

Don Armando: “This little emerald green vein is Esperanza Fluorite!”

And indeed, the colour of the vein differed greatly from the other colour nuances that could be seen in the piece of Fluorite.

Don Armando: “It was several years ago that I found a Fluorite of this colour. But there was very little material. The quality was exceptionally good. It was all sold at once. The buyers came from abroad and therefore this gemstone is hardly known here.

Cuini: “Do you remember who bought the material?”

Don Armando: “Yes, because it was a buyer who had bought something from me several times before: an American… what was his name…?”

Cuini:“Was his name Don Kogen?”

Don Armando: “Exactly! Don Kogen! I remember him very well because he only wanted premium quality. All the gems he took had a perfect crystallization and a wonderful colour. He was very demanding. “If a gem showed minimal changes in colour nuances, it immediately ruled that out.”

Cuini: “Can we still find Esperanza Fluorite?”

Don Armando: “It’s very difficult… this kind of Fluorite is very rare. The mine where we found the material was difficult to manage….. The promotion is very laborious and not without risk.”

Cuini: “Then one could say that Esperanza Fluorite is a very rare gemstone?

Don Armando: “Indeed. He’s very difficult to get. Besides, the veins with this colour are only very small, out of 100 kilos you can get one kilo of material that can be ground at all… and we are talking about raw material… when comes the cutting and the grinding there is even less left”.

Armando and Cuini

Armando and Cuini

I was really moved to meet the man who found our Esperanza fluorites. I don’t know what to say. I take pictures of the place where we are – there are stones everywhere! I would also like to document our meeting with a photo. Don Armando doesn’t mind. He smiles amused and patient.

I’m looking at a ring with a very beautiful gemstone. It is red-pink and has a perfect crystallization.

Armando explains to me that it is a Rhodochrositethe national gemstone of Argentina. He tells me that there are even nicer specimens, but that he hasn’t seen one in this quality for a long time.

I leave La Toma and its beautiful surroundings. I feel deep gratitude for the generosity of my host and the kindness with which I was received.

I hope you enjoyed this little report. I keep within me the secret hope of a return!