Britain's rarest semi-precious stone

Discover Blue John with free entry to this summer's Antiques for Everyone fair

It is hard not to be beguiled by Derbyshire Blue John, Britain’s rarest semi-precious stone.

Its translucent, marbled quality in rich blues, purples, pale browns and honey yellows has made it one of the country’s most sought-after minerals, which will be most apparent when 50 pieces made from Blue John go on display at this summer’s Antiques for Everyone fair.

Blue John derives from fluorite (the mineral form of calcium fluoride, which is often used in making camera and telescope lenses) and is found exclusively in the Blue John caverns in the Peak District, where it is still mined by hand today.

Although it’s thought that it was originally discovered by the Romans, first mentions of the stone are made in William Adams’ 1843 book Gem of the Peak, a book that may be credited with giving the mineral its air of mystique. The name Blue John, however, is thought to come from the French description of its colour ‘bleu-jaune’.

It became hugely popular during the Regency-era when entrepreneur Matthew Boulton began producing high-wrought ormolu-mounted pieces in his Birmingham factory. The chattering classes bought it as it was the only English mineral that could rival the porphyry, jasper and malachite that they found and admired in Italy when on the Grand Tour.

It is the kind of piece that Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy might have owned, as his house, Pemberley, was based on Chatsworth in Derbyshire, which sits just a few miles from the hills above Castleton where the mineral is found.

The display at Antiques for Everyone is part of a stellar collection of over 250 pieces set to be sold by Fellows auctioneers in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in October. As the largest known single owner collection to come up for auction, and with pieces starting from the modest price of £30, it’s a unique buying opportunity. Scroll down for your first look at some of the pieces on offer.

Antiques for Everyone is also a ripe hunting ground for period and midcentury furniture, folk art, jewellery, sculpture and a host of other antiques. It’s hard to resist buying something for your home, plus experts such as Will Farmer, Judith Miller and art investment specialist Jeremy Thornton will all be giving talks.

Antiques for Everyone is offering Homes & Antiques readers a free ticket to the fair worth £12. To claim your ticket, simply click here.

Antiques for Everyone runs from 23rd to 26th July in Halls 17-19, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, B40 1NT. 0844 581 0827;

The sale of Derbyshire Blue John will be held Fellows Auctioneers, Augusta House, 19 Augusta Street, Birmingham B18 6JA in October 2015. The date is yet to be confirmed.

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