New World Update 17 May 2022

17 May 2022

FOR some months we have chosen a specific theme for our weekly updates, but this week we throw the doors open to a world wide selection. Collections recently bought have generated an influx of some great international material which we can’t wait to share.

A world selection may be considered rather a broad-brush approach but does allow a no-holds-barred showcase brimming with select morsels to whet your appetite! This is an update featuring many eye-catching aesthetics, stunning associations and a few common species which have elevated themselves to the spectacular. There also lurks the odd rarity in terms of both species and locality, so let’s dive straight in for a heads-up on some of my favourites…

We don’t often feature Moroccan specimens, so it’s fantastic to have a rather beautiful Azurite on Malachite from the Bou Bekker mining district, close to the border with Algeria. The Azurite forms stubby, equant composite crystals up to 1 cm, creating a continuous, uninterrupted bed. Although a deep azure blue, the crystals are of sufficient brightness to display as gorgeous, vivid blue crystals rather than bluish-black, a common trait with Azurite. It’s a lovely specimen.

Cassiterite is a popular species amongst collectors and here we offer two; a spectacular large twin from Horní Slavkov in the Czech Republic and an impressive small cabinet specimen in both crystallised and massive form, from Pontevedra in north western Spain, likely from Ourense. Both specimens are very different, each offering their own charm and appeal.

Another crowd pleaser is the copper silicate Dioptase, in this case from its type locality at Altyn-Tyube in Kazakhstan. These copper mines were originally worked during the Neolithic (4300 – 2000 BCE) and I just wonder what those ancient miners thought of Dioptase then, as they must surely have encountered it. Perhaps they took pieces home for decoration, only to be told I don’t want you cluttering-up the house with all these rocks you’re finding! Not that such exchanges would ever be made nowadays. The Dioptase forms equant and elongated crystals of up to 1.2 cm long with opaque to translucent cores beneath reasonably gemmy faces. The interface between the transparent and translucent zones causes light to be reflected back as if from a layer of crumpled green metallic foil, producing a beautiful effect.

In the rarities department we have a Xanthoconite from Třebsko in the Czech Republic and an intermediate member within the Giessenite-Izoklakeite series. Xanthoconite is a silver-arsenic sulphosalt and forms tiny clusters of orange-red to carmine-red crystals over the surface of a dull, dark-grey Native Arsenic matrix. The species Giessenite and Izoklakeite are both lead-copper sulphosalts of slightly differing composition and form a solid solution series. The precise composition of this specimen is unknown, but based on the crystal morphology, it sits somewhere between the two end-members, similar to Electrum between Gold and Silver.

One of this week’s unusual locality pieces is a cluster of apple green, octahedral Fluorite crystals from the William Wise mine in Westmoreland, Cheshire County, New Hampshire. This mine began in the 1890’s and has been worked intermittently to the present day. The Fluorite forms sharp crystals up to 1.7 cm on edge, each with a naturally etched, frosted texture and sitting on a bed of stubby, terminated, cream to pale tan Quartz crystals.

Kutnohorite is perhaps one of the strangest looking of all minerals, more organic than mineral in structure and appearance, exemplified by this amazing specimen from Wessels mine at Hotazel in South Africa. Kutnohorite is a rare calcium manganese carbonate and in this matrix-less cabinet specimen, forms many intergrown and overlapping tapering chanterelle-shaped crystal sprays. The crystalline florets range from 3 to over 5 cm tall, tapering from a near pointed base of only 2 to 3 mm wide to the terminated rosettes of up to almost 4 cm diameter. Colour, texture and lustre are dead ringers for pink Edinburgh rock, although if you are unfamiliar with this traditional Scottish confection, the comparison is not that helpful! In other words, pale yet vivid candy pink; a matt lustre and with a slightly rough but very fine-grained sucrosic texture. It’s an amazing, beautiful and stunning specimen!

I could wax lyrical about many more but will conclude with just two. Our showy cabinet specimen of beautifully crystallised Heterogenite and Malachite is from the L'Etoile du Congo mine at Lubumbashi within the Katanga Copper Crescent of the Democratic Republic of Congo, perhaps better known as the Star of the Congo mine. The Heterogenite forms aesthetic drusy rafts composed from 1 to 2 mm diameter botryoidal black crystals, all with a bright lustre and often with a bluish cast. In scattered patches overgrowing the Heterogenite, deep emerald green Malachite forms micro-acicular crystals whose velvet-like texture and matt lustre contrast superbly against the reflective dark Heterogenite. The banded matrix is shot through with diverging thin veinlets of turquoise blue Chrysocolla. It really is a beautiful specimen which once seen, is fully appreciated.

The last I wish to praise is a seemingly simple combination of Sphalerite with Quartz, Galena and Calcite on Pyrrhotite from Dal'negorsk in the Far-Eastern Region of Russia. Yes, all straight forward species, but wow, they combine to form one mighty spectacular and large specimen! The largest Sphalerite crystal measures approximately 4.5 x 3.5 x 3 cm, displaying magnificent multi-stepped jet black composite crystals with the brightest metallic lustre imaginable. These are dusted with caramel brown Calcite (or Siderite). A cluster of naturally etched Galena crystals sit to one side, with the appearance of classic Bulgarian ‘melted’ Galena. Finally, the whole specimen sits on a horizontal, 9 x 6 cm block of crystallised golden bronze Pyrrhotite, displaying stepped hexagonal crystallised faces, themselves forming contour-profiled steps and mounds.

I’ll let you explore lots more of today’s excellent specimens via the links accompanying each of the photos shown here. Collectors of British only minerals please note there is an interesting Red Gill Linarite loitering amongst today’s batch and for all Pyromorphite fiends, great specimens from Bunker Hill and Bad Ems. The truly diverse selection on offer today simply reenforces why we are all so passionate about the subject; what a feast of mineralogical beauty and wonder nature has provided, yet only appreciated by the relative few. Enjoy and we hope you find lots of items of interest. PT

                                         

If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at orders@crystalclassics.co.uk 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.

 

CRYSTAL CLASSICS SUMMER OPEN DAY

Crystal Classics are delighted to announce that our 2022 Summer Open Day will be taking place on Saturday, June 11 from 10am to 5pm.

To book your place please email Debbie at debbie@crystalclassics.co.uk or by phone 01935 862 673 to register your interest.

We have many new collections to showcase as well as thousands of superb specimens in our showroom which are set out in beautiful display cases and drawered cabinets beneath oak beams bedecked with antique crystal models and other mining and mineralogical ephemera.

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

It promises to be a great day and we look forward to welcoming you soon to our beautiful showroom in East Coker, Somerset.

 

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MINERAL WISH LIST

We also offer an additional service that enables you, as our customer, to contact us via orders@crystalclassics.co.uk with your mineral wish list to enhance your current collection, but are unable to find the right specimens on our website. We have 1000's of specimens in our general stock that do not appear online.

Author: JH
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