New Europe Update 11 January 2022

11 January 2022

TODAY’S update concentrates on European countries, offering a varied selection of specimens which include many aesthetic and several rarer species.

As well as familiar localities such as Panasqueira, Les Farges and Cavnic, we venture into some new territories, for example Høydalen and Kragerø in Norway and the tiny Cyclopean Islands, just a five-minutes sail from the east coast of Sicily. So, enough of introductions, let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

We seldom feature Scandinavian countries but today we have material from both Norway and Sweden. Norway offers a fine Gadolinite-(Y) crystal from Høydalen; a large Phenakite from the Tangen Feldspar Mine at Kragerø; Zircon from Storjordtind on far northerly Seiland Island and Diopside from Seiland Island’s Alta area. The Phenakite crystal measures 3.4 cm tall and although its dark greyish-green colour is unusual for the species, it is characteristic for the locality. The cucumber green Diopside has well defined yet slightly rounded individual crystals forming a three-dimensional mass and displays a brilliant glassy lustre. The Zircon is another fine specimen, measuring to 1.6 cm long and set in a matrix of black Biotite mica. The crystal grades from a transparent outer shell to a translucent burnt clove brown inner core and emits flashes of bright orange. From Nordmark Odal Field in Sweden, do take a closer look at the Hedenbergite crystal which is a great example.

Rarer species include a Clausthalite in Calcite from Brummerjan mine in Saxony and Rammelsbergite with Erythrite and Stephanite from Medenec in the Czech Republic. Rammelsbergite is a rare nickel arsenide and Clausthalite a lead selenide with the simple yet elegant formula PbSe.

Adding a splash of colour to this selection is an inky blue Fluorite from the Emilio mine in Spain; Amethyst Quartz with superb phantoms from Banská Štiavnica in Slovakia and malty flesh pink Pyromorphite from the Rosenberg mine in Bad Ems, Germany. Other distinctly coloured specimens include a coral pink Rhodochrosite from its type locality at Cavnic mine in Romania; grassy lime green Pyromorphite on Baryte from Les Farges mine in France and perhaps most spectacular of all, a stunning golden yellow Fluorite from Gersdorf in Saxony. The latter is composed of elongated cubic crystals of golden amber yellow which emit a stunning orange glow. The cubic prisms are sharp and well formed, the largest measuring 1.6 x 1.5 x 1.4 cm. This is a real showstopper!

Minerals within the gemstone category feature Emerald crystals in mica schist from the beautiful Habach Valley in Austria; a gorgeous Smoky Quartz from the Grimsel area of the Hasli Valley in Switzerland and a super-cute miniature acidic yellow cluster of Andradite Garnets from the Findel glacier area, also in Switzerland. The 8.5 cm tall Smoky Quartz is opaque jet black in reflected light with the resemblance of Morion. However, when held against strong light, it is a perfectly translucent to gemmy clove brown, the aptly shown in the accompanying photographs.

Ore minerals include Arsenopyrite from Panasqueira mine at Covilhã in Portugal; an excellent and highly lustrous Hematite from the Isle of Elba, Italy and a stunning Cuprite overgrown with Malachite from the Andrássy II mine at Rudabánya in Hungary. Picking on the Panasqueira specimen, this contains excellent crystals of Arsenopyrite, Siderite, Ferberite and even Muscovite, the latter forming as lustrous silver spheres of intergrown bladed crystals.

Having first referred to the exotic sounding Cyclopean Islands in the Mediterranean, they have yet to be mentioned. To me, Cyclopean conjures images of Jason and the Argonauts, but instead of the Golden Fleece we have an attractive pair of colourless and gemmy Analcime crystals. Due to their brilliant glassy lustre these show off well against the rusty-grey volcanic matrix, evidence that these small islands are part of the Etna Volcanic Complex.

By my reconning this is all 21 specimens covered, so we hope you agree it is quite a varied selection both species wise and geographically. Additional treats, such as some beautiful old labels, will be unearthed when you look more closely using the hyperlinks. The handwriting skills of past collectors never ceases to amaze me, their labels being things of beauty. Immerse yourself in Europe for a while as there is something of interest to almost every collector! Enjoy and we’ll be back on Friday visiting a different continent. PT


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Author: JH
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