New World Update 21 June 2022

21 June 2022

IMPERCEPTIBLY, the first half of 2022 has slipped by and we find ourselves today marking the longest day of the year (in the Northern hemisphere that is).

It also heralds the first day of summer here in the UK; our Tuesday update and only one day before the start of the International Mineral & Gem Show in Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines, Alsace, France. The Crystal Classics and UK Mining Ventures teams have been busy over the last few days unpacking specimens and setting up the displays ready for the start of the open-air and indoor shows which begin tomorrow, Wednesday 22nd June, running for five days and finishing next Sunday afternoon, 26th June 2022.

Crystal Classics occupy Booth TGS8 within the Theatre and UKMV can be found in ‘Zone Mineral’ in Booth CJ15. UKMV will be marketing Fluorite specimens from our three currently operating mines in Weardale, County Durham; Rogerley and Diana Maria mines near the village of Frosterley and the Lady Annabella mine, in the former Eastgate quarry, further west along the Weardale valley. Crystal Classics will have its tradition Theatre spot where you will find its legendary showcases full of top-quality mineral specimens from all around the world. Do visit us at both locations, you will be made very welcome.

And on the subject of world-wide minerals, today’s update continues this theme, with what I consider a rather fine selection. Again it’s a colourful range and includes many affordable beauties which will make terrific additions to all kinds of collections, be they general or specific. My own collection is based on suites from favourite localities, mainly famous mining areas from around the world, but with a focus on the British Isles, simply because I live here! I have always fancied assembling a suite representing the Garnet group but have never got round to it; in today’s selection there are two which would have made splendid additions! Let’s cut to the chase and take a quick overview.

Where better to start than with the Garnets, both Grossular, with one red and one green. The group of dark cranberry-red crystals is from Schwarze Wand in the Tauern Valley, Austria; superbly-lustrous crystals to 5 mm richly cover a vein of massive, orange caramel Grossular. They form spherical, rhombic-dodecahedron crystals, many of which are modified further, so producing even more complex crystals. When backlit the crystals are translucent, transmitting an inner deep cranberry glow.

From the Kayes Region of Mali in West Africa, we have a rather gorgeous, mouth-watering miniature green Grossular Garnet. Although a miniature, there is nothing miniature about the Grossular crystals, the largest measuring just over 3 cm! Several beautifully developed translucent crystals form an intergrown cluster with a brilliant glassy lustre. The crystals are patchy mixtures of mottled, zesty apple, limey yellow and lime green with sharply defined edges and mirror-like faces. It’s fabulous!

I have described the Rhodonite from Chiurucu mine in Peru as “a smack-you-in-the-chops pink”; not an accepted term for the mineralogical literature, but a term which, I think, conveys the message. For those not in the know, chops in this context refers to the mouth! Rhodonite from this mine is famous for being a vibrant, shocking-pink and this pretty specimen, partly encrusted with a sugary coating of finely textured Quartz crystals, lives up to all expectations.

Whizzing through some of today’s other specimens include a Galena and a Zincolivenite from Tsumeb; two Scheelites, one from Tenkergin mine in Russia and one form the Cínovec/Zinnwald orefield spanning the border between Germany & Czech Republic; reticulated Rutile crystals on Siderite rhombs from the Furka Base Railway Tunnel in Switzerland; nicely crystallised Linarite with cerussite from Grand Reef mine, Arizona; a sea green Fluorite from Okorusu mine in Namibia and a superb Nickelskutterudite from Saxony.

Today’s largest specimen is a Pyromorphite from Les Farges mine in Ussel, France. This location really did produce some of the world’s finest Pyromorphite in dozens of crystal habits, colours and associations. This specimen has lovely grass green crystals to 6 mm in length, almost totally covering the display face. Crystals vary in width from acicular to stubby barrels and tend to develop a slight orange tinge towards their terminations, making for a very aesthetic display piece.

Although there are many more, may I indulge by sharing with you two I really like. The first is an unusual and aesthetic Cinnabar from Fengjiashan mine in Hubei Province, China. An asymmetric, three-fold “sixling” stellate twin of Cinnabar, 2 cm long and best seen from end-on, has a fabulous metallic reddish-silver patina with a dazzling metallic lustre. This and smaller Cinnabar crystals sit on a cross-branching Quartz rib of sparkling, gemmy Quartz crystals.

From the famous Golconda Pegmatite in the Doce Valley of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a very-affordable green and black Tourmaline with Albite feldspar (variety Cleavelandite) and Quartz. Probably a combination of both Elbaite and Schorl, the well-proportioned prismatic crystals measure up to 7.5 cm tall and are a metallic limey-rhubarb green with black terminations. Overall the prisms are opaque, yet have gemmy outer faces with an inner glow of green metallic foil and parallel vertical striations. Yummy!

Unlike the usual start to the British summer with rain and overcast skies, today bucks the trend being hot and sunny. Let’s hope it lasts for more than one day! Over in Alsace it’s about seven degrees warmer and I see rain and thunder is forecast for Wednesday through to Friday. So, if you are visiting the show, remember your umbrella as well as your shades (super-cool shades I trust!). Enjoy our update and the Sainte-Marie show if you are visiting. If not, then we’ll be back on Friday with another world-wide selection of mineralogical goodies. PT.


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Author: JH, PT
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