New British Update 11 December 2021

10 December 2021

AT the Crystal Classics Winter Open Day two years ago, we were all in ignorant bliss as to what just lay around the corner in 2020. “Covid” was an unknown word and here in Britain the only thing associated with “19” was Paul Hardcastle’s Number 1 hit single, released in 1985!

But here we are, December 2021 and with careful measures applied, at 10 am Saturday, the showroom doors open to our many visitors with the simultaneous launch of this Bumper British Update. This is our way of trying to include all our customers and new visitors alike who cannot make it to Somerset today. We all know that feeling of not being able to attend a major mineral event and wishing we could just “beam” there and be present, no matter what the distance. Sadly, this remains the exclusive domain of Captains Kirk, Pickard, Janeway et al.

It has become a long-established tradition to feature British minerals in our Open Day updates, be these Summer or Winter. We are well aware British minerals are popular amongst collectors around the world, not just those in the UK. There are 42 to look through and even if you don’t collect British, we hope you find it an educational selection, through which we endeavour to impart various snippets of historical and mineralogical interest. For those of you who do have a British collection, then fingers crossed you find a few suitable candidates worthy of adding to it. Here’s a taster of what’s in store.

We will begin in Scotland at one of my favourite localities, the Leadhills-Wanlockhead ore field, approximately 60 km southeast of Glasgow. We have four specimens, one of which would not look out of place in any great museum, a Sphalerite with Quartz from New Glencrieff mine. Drusy milky Quartz is preferentially draped over superb, coal-black Sphalerite crystals, some measuring to over 6 cm with all faces displaying scale-like growth patterns, micro-stepped textures and a brilliant metallic lustre. The deposition of Quartz clearly indicates the ‘way-up’ of the specimen when in-situ; from one direction only Quartz is visible and from the opposite, only Sphalerite. Also from this mine is a fabulous cluster of cuboctahedral, bright metallic grey Galena crystals, a Wanlockhead classic. The Galena from New Glencrieff always tends to have a smooth and rounded appearance, often with the crystal faces displaying subtle differences in crystallisation indicated by feint boundaries and changes in lustre and patina. Individual crystals measure up to 6.3 cm with faces often displaying hints of peacock iridescence, biased towards steely blues. Also take a look at the lovely Cerussite and a Calcite with Chalcopyrite inclusions, both also from New Glencrieff.

Representing Wales is a fine example of the titanium dioxide polymorph Brookite on Quartz from its type locality at Prenteg in the county of Gwynedd and a beautiful lime-green to light grass-green Pyromorphite from the Quartz breccia in the Upper Adit of Bwlch Glas mine near Talybont, in Ceredigion.

Growing up in Manchester (England), one of my nearest collecting areas was Derbyshire, so I have a natural affinity for its minerals. From Ladywash mine near to the picturesque village of Eyam, there is a nice cabinet specimen displaying two good Sphalerite crystals on a bed of greyish yellow Fluorite crystals, all heavily included with micro-crystals of Pyrite. From Portway mine on Dirtlow Rake, a charming section of stalactitic Baryte displaying depositions of Baryte in shades of cream, light lemon, tan, buff and pale orange. And from the lesser-known Black Ox mine close to Matlock, un unusual transparent, colourless Calcite surrounded by distinct darkened zones of included micro-crystals of brassy Chalcopyrite.

While still in the northern half of England we must give mention to Weardale. We have several specimens well worth a closer look, including a museum-sized specimen of Galena on Fluorite and Chalcopyrite from Blackdene mine by the village of Ireshopeburn and a fabulous emerald green Fluorite from Rogerley mine near Frosterley. This exhibits magnificent daylight fluorescence. Also amongst our Weardale selection are two of the rarer coloured Fluorites for their specific localities, a lilac Fluorite from Heights mine (normally green) and a green Fluorite from Frazer's Hush mine (normally purple). The latter is a beautifully faceted cut stone weighing in at 6.25 carats.

Any mention of Cornwall, you muse! OK then, there are a good few including five from the arsenic-rich mining regions in the parishes of Carharrack and Gwennap, both east of Redruth: Azurite with Malachite, Clinoclase with Olivenite, Olivenite, Cuprite with Chlorite and Mimetite with Brochantite on Quartz from Wheal Unity. Common Opal was often found in the China clay pits at St Austell. Do look at the specimen we have from Gunheath CCP at Stenalees, it really is a superb cabinet specimen and was collected by the late Maurice Grigg whom many UK collectors will so fondly remember. Specimens from the Caradon Mines at St Cleer in the Liskeard District are seldomly seen, making this museum quality (and size) specimen a very special item. Measuring to almost 23 cm long, Chalcopyrite crystals to 1.2 cm are richly clustered over creamy opaque, milky white Quartz crystals. One area displays Chalcopyrite crystals partly altered to metallic blueish Bornite. And if your penchant is Cassiterite, we have two, one from Wheal Maudlin by Lostwithiel, the other from Wheal Owla (aka Wheal Owls) at St Agnes.

I forgot to mention three beautiful specimens from West Cumbria: an Aragonite from Parkhouse quarry, a Baryte on Dolomite from Frizington and a gorgeous hedgehog-like Calcite whose tips are stained red with Hematite. The Aragonite is sensational with well formed crystals and measuring over 17 cm tall.

By now the East Coker Showroom will be buzzing with resolute collectors busy beavering away in those much-loved cabinets and drawers. With a bit of luck you may be able to join us for some future Open Day, but for today we hope you find solace in our mega British update. Enjoy and happy hunting! PT

Here is what you have to look forward to in next week's update:

Tuesday 14th December - Phil's Picks

Friday 14th December - Christmas


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.



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Author: JH
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