New Tsumeb Update 01 June 2021

1 June 2021

OVER the past few months we have visited many countries and featured many species groups in our weekly Tuesday and Friday updates. When considering what theme to choose for this week we all agreed we were developing Tsumeb withdrawal symptoms, as here at Crystal Classics we pride ourselves in having a world-class selection of specimens from this most popular of mines.

I find it hard to imagine that for many years I did not know of Tsumeb and on first encountering its name on a specimen of Dioptase, I ternately enquired how to pronounce this mine’s name beginning with the award combination of ‘Tsu’! Little did I realise this mine was to henceforth play a major part in my life due to its amazing mineral specimens and rich history.

In the local Herero language of this region of Namibia the name “Otjisume” was given to the brightly coloured outcrop of the orebody, a name meaning “place of the algae” or possibly “place of the frogs”. The outcrop was fiercely guarded and local smelters processed small quantities of the ore. Famously, on 12th January 1893 mining engineer Mathew Rogers arrived at what he named the “Green Hill” and reported back to London “I have never seen such a sight as was presented before my view at Soomep (now Tsumeb) and I very much doubt if I shall ever see such another in any other locality”. And so the 100 year story of the mine commenced. In the 1977 Mineralogical Record “Tsumeb!” special issue it was heralded as “The World’s Greatest Mineral Locality!”. Read on to see what goodies we have today from this most special of mines.

All of today’s specimens are either miniatures or thumbnails. The first I want to highlight is a fabulous Conichalcite on Malachite with Calcite and Cuprite and I defy anyone to look at this specimen under low magnification and not smile with delight. Dozens of sub-1 mm limey-leaf green Conichalcite spheres are richly scattered over a dome of dark emerald green Malachite crystals giving a splendid contrast in colour, texture and lustre. The Conichalcite has a velvety matt lustre contrasting against the bright glassy primary Malachite. And talking of green minerals, take a look at a Cuprian Smithsonite. Striking minty peppermint green Smithsonite forms sharp rhombic crystals to 8 mm on edge, which are made especially attractive by concentric colour zoning produced by nested rhombohedral phantoms in alternating shades of peppermint cream. This is a terrific specimen.

One specimen which must date to the early mining years is the Linarite with Caledonite, Cerussite and Malachite. Linarite only occurred in the upper parts of the first oxidation zone, including the outcrop, and this specimen is even more special because of the presence of the very rare species Caledonite. Another species found only in the upper levels is Brochantite and our thumbnail specimen is rich in gemmy dark emerald green crystals in an earthy iron-rich matrix of mixed rusty orange and brick red.

Some minerals need little introduction from Tsumeb and the Dolomite cast after Calcite with Duftite is just one. Dolomite forms a thin shell-like sinuous plate whose surfaces are finely detailed with the morphology of former Calcite crystals. Both surfaces of the creamy white Dolomite have a silky texture and a beautiful opalescent lustre. Adding to the aesthetic is a rich coverage of deep apple green globular clusters of the lead-copper arsenate Duftite.

Make sure you see the charming single crystal of emerald green Dioptase on Calcite; a striking Azurite with Cerussite with azurite prisms to 3 cm and a relatively rare Zincian Aragonite, a variety sometimes referred to as Nicholsonite. There is also a hackly mass of crystalline Native Copper attached to a little Calcite and a beautiful Cuprian Smithsonite which forms highly lustrous, zesty bright apple-green translucent crystals over a plate of micro-crystallised creamy Dolomite.

There are many other great specimens to look at and enjoy, but let’s end by giving mention to two Wulfenites. The first is a Wulfenite with the rare hydrated lead arsenate Tsumcorite, named for the TSUMeb CORporation and the second, a striking miniature of distorted tabular Wulfenite crystals which grade to octahedral habit. These have a brilliant glassy lustre which makes them sparkle against the light-absorbing matrix of sooty black sulphides and sulphosalts, likely to be altered Tennantite.

The complex mineralisation at Tsumeb never failed to produce specimens which were to grace museums and collections around the world for the next 120 years. For all of you who adore this amazing locality, keep up the good work because together we act as custodians of the relatively few specimens which evaded the crushers and are not now part of today’s copper pipes, electrical cables and computer processors. Enjoy and we hope you find one or more specimens to include in your Tsumeb Collection.


If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at and we'll be happy to assist you. We endeavour to respond to all enquires within 24 hours during weekdays, however at the weekend it might take us a little longer to respond.


The Crystal Classics Summer Open Day will be taking place on Saturday, June 12.

Our beautiful showroom in East Coker, Somerset will be open from 10am to 5pm and will be packed with thousands of fine and rare minerals. There will be many specimens from new, recently purchased collections as well as many fresh Fluorite finds from our mines in Weardale, County Durham.

A delicious breakfast and lunch will also be provided by The Village Cafe which is located next door to our offices.

To book your place please email Debbie at or by phone 01935 862 673 to register your interest.

COVID-19 guidelines will be in place during the day and the following is expected of all visitors:

- Face masks must be worn at all times
- Social distancing must be carried out
- You must wash your hands upon entry to the showroom (in addition there will be several hand sanitiser dispensers provided throughout the building)

It promises to be a great day and we look forward to welcoming you all.



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Author: JH
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