New World Update 14 June 2022

13 June 2022

EVERYONE who was able to make it to East Coker last Saturday for the Crystal Classics Summer Open Day had a fabulous time and we were blessed by true summer weather, not always guaranteed in south west England despite being in June.  As last Saturday’s bumper forty-two specimen update was entirely from the British Isles, we revert this week to a worldwide selection.

By way of introduction, three of the world’s top ten mineral localities are featured; Franklin-Ogdensburg (USA); Mont Saint-Hilaire (Canada) and Tsumeb (Namibia).  Many collectors enjoy the debate of just what should be included in a Top Ten list and may be influenced by personal preference.  But surely there can be little opposition to the inclusion of these three making it to the list and, dare I say, all close to the top!  Turning to mindat, in number of species and type locality totals, we find in first place Mont Saint-Hilaire with 434/71 (TL); then the Franklin Mining District with 406/71 (TL) and finally Tsumeb with 354/72 (TL).  What an interesting observation it is all three are type locality to 71 or 72 species; but no doubt subject to change as new discoveries are made.

Another world-class locality featured today is that of the Kola Peninsula which currently records 864 valid minerals and is type locality to 250 species.  Although super-impressive, this cannot be directly compared against the previous three localities as they are individual mines, whereas Kola is a huge land mass covering some 100,000 sq. km (39,000 square miles).

Beginning with the Kola Peninsula, we have great specimens of the sodium titanium silicate Lorenzenite, and Elpidite in Albite, Elpidite being a rare sodium-zirconium silicate.  Both specimens feature good quality crystals set in matrix and both are from the Lovozero Massif, named for Lake Lovozero, in the very centre of Murmansk Oblast, the area of Russia covering the Kola Peninsula.

The Franklin Mining District essentially divides into two areas: those of the Franklin mine at Franklin and Sterling mine at Ogdensburg; each mine marking the surface outcrop at opposite ends of the zinc-rich syncline orebody.  Today’s specimen is from  Sterling mine and features Willemite (var. Troostite) with Zincite, Franklinite and minor Calcite; the Willemite and Franklinite forming good crystals.  The Willemite fluoresces lime green and the Calcite vivid scarlet under both LW and SWUV, although the SW produces a much brighter fluorescence, especially in the Willemite.

From Tsumeb we have three terrific specimens: Azurite, Mottramite and a rare Mawbyite with Wulfenite.  Mottramite has always been a favourite of mine as I grew-up not far from Mottram St. Andrew in north Cheshire, type locality for this species.  We feature a lovely large miniature of pistachio green Mottramite which is a superb branching dendritic example from Tsumeb and similar to material available during the 1980s.  We hardly ever encounter Mawbyite in Tsumeb collections, so are delighted to include this fine example.  Hundreds of carmine red, micro-bladed Mawbyite crystals cover the surface of this small specimen together with characteristic squat, quite blocky tabular crystals of mustard-yellow Wulfenite.  For many years Mawbyite went unrecognised at Tsumeb and was always labelled “Red Tsumcorite with Wulfenite”.  Mawbyite is however a member of the Tsumcorite Group.

Nowadays we seldom see specimens from Mont Saint Hilaire as limited collecting is strictly enforced and material in existing collection tends to be coveted rather than sold.  I wonder why?!  Today’s featured specimen is a lovely pink Serandite with Aegirine, Polylithionite, Leucophanite, Analcime and Microcline, a showy and terrific small cabinet specimen.

Taking a whistle-stop overview of some of today’s other goodies include Pyromorphite from Daoping mine, China; green and bubble gum pink Elbaite Tourmaline with Lepidolite from the Pala Chief mine, California; a lovely peachy-apricot Stellerite with Fluorapophyllite from the Sarbai Deposit at Rudny in Kazakhstan; a cabinet sized Malachite on Chrysocolla from L'Etoile du Congo (Star of Congo) mine in the DRC and a quite amazing Native Copper forming branched nodules, from Rudabánya in Hungary.

We’ll end with a Calcite on Stilbite from Kazakhstan which I can sum-up as a pure delight.  It is one of those specimens which sounds simple (which it is) and nothing out of the ordinary, but when you see it, extracts a fair few exclamations of “Wow!”.  Small yet perfect Roman sword Stilbite crystals cover the matrix and on top of these sit five pairs of perfectly twinned Calcite crystals.  The pairs range from 2 to 5 cm wide and all are semi-transparent to translucent, of smoky opalescent light grey with a pearly lustre.  I must emphasise opalescent because the Calcite is a superb example of this optical property, displaying a slightly blue cast similar to moonstone.  It is damage-free and simply beautiful.

You can see there is a wide variety of specimens to look through and many more to discover for yourself.  This twice-weekly task of checking through updates and selecting new specimens for your collection is serious business and hard work, despite what others may think!  Enjoy and good hunting. PT.


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Author: JH, PT
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