Orpheus Agate Collection - Gem Safari
Orpheus agate is a rare variety of agate that is unique to Bulgaria. Apparently in 2005 at the Munich Agate exhibition it was confirmed as a new and unique occurrence. Orpheus agate is not only unique to Bulgaria, but it occurs in one specific an area less than the size of a football field in the Rhodope Mountains within Kardzhali Province. Very rare indeed!
Orpheus agate is "named after the ancient legendary Greek musical hero who frolicked in the area where the deposit is located." The agate is typically banded with green celadonite and yellow/orange/red/brown jasper with pockets and/or centers of clear to white chalcedony. The chalcedony may contain dendritic moss agate (green) or colored plume inclusions (orange/gold/red). Once one is exposed to Orpheus agate, it is easily and readily identifiable.
Anne and Cortney visited the Orpheus agate field October 6, 2018. Their guide, Ivan, pulled up and parked the van at what looked like a driveway at the edge of a village.
See the photo of what looks like a household debris pile - no way would we have found the spot let alone parked there.
We then walked along a path on the side of the house and followed it for maybe a quarter mile. Here's Ivan leading us along the path.
There were a number of pits dug into the hillside. About 100 yards downhill was the only other person we saw in the field.
And speaking about other people - there were other houses on the hillside and a whole village across the river below.
Note the green rocks behind Ivan. This area also produces a gorgeous moss agate that is somewhat overlooked relative to the Orpheus.
Anne is of course our photographer so photos with her are somewhat limited.
Unfortunately we only spent about 45 minutes collecting. Ivan was ever pushing us to see more and more. We did find a handful of agate pieces and some nice moss agate.
A few days later, as we returned through Plovdiv, we were taken to meet Evgeny Vulev. There we were shown a number of Orpheus agate geode halves and cabochons. We were also shown the book Agate II by Johann Zenz & Rasner Boda which had a 2 page write-up on Evgeny and showed numerous photographs of outstanding specimens of Orpheus agates. We purchased several geode halves and a tray full of cabochons that Evgeny had cut.
Orpheus agate proved more elusive than we thought. We were able to acquire several specimens at Ivan's shop in Sophia, but none of the other dealers we made contact with were able to supply us with any. A couple months later, Ivan was at a mineral show in Sophia and was able to obtain for us a couple of flats of smaller geode halves.