New World Update 05 July 2022

5 July 2022

THIS week we return to a selection of fine world-wide specimens, with a good diversity of species and aesthetic associations. When these updates are assembled every week, no matter what we select, always reminds me of why we are so passionate about our hobby. Unlike most other areas of collecting, because we deal with natural objects, no two specimens are ever the same and from some localities the variations appear infinite.

Pyromorphite from Les Farges in France is a case in point. Pyromorphite is a collectors’ favourite and that from Les Farges is particularly beautiful. Yet every specimen you see from this mine is different is some way; be it the crystal habit, colour, crystal size, mineral associations or morphology. Having waxed lyrical on this it’s just as well we have such a specimen in this update. I’ll describe it once we progress, but my, what a specimen.

Paradoxically, such differences in specimens are a curse as well as a blessing for us as collectors, because temptation is forever present; always hankering for that one extra specimen due to nuances imperceivable to others! Of my own collection, I am heard to announce, “I have enough Cornish siderites to sink a ship”, yet somehow, additional siderites craftily sneak their way in, justified by utterings of “well, I don’t have one just quite like that!”

So what do we have today? Well, the rather resplendent Les Farges Pyromorphite for starters. This really is a drop-dead gorgeous specimen! Lustrous, Pyromorphite crystals of dark, soupy pea green measuring to 1 cm, are topped with bright, vibrant lemon-yellow, flat terminations. The contrast is stunning! The Pyromorphite almost entirely covers the whole dark brown gossan matrix, forming an irregular-shaped cabinet specimen. It is stupendous, viewed either close-up and from afar.

Another magnificent specimen is the Rhodochrosite and Stilbite with Pyrite and Quartz from the Madan Ore Field in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. The Rhodochrosite forms vertically standing, 10 cm columns of candyfloss-pink crystallised Rhodochrosite. These are encrusted with creamy beige Stilbite, colourless and milky Quartz crystals and golden to brassy Pyrite crystals. The Stilbite coating is essentially from a preferential direction, completely covering and obscuring the Rhodochrosite on the reverse side.

Another eye-catcher is a Galena with Pyrite from West Fork mine at Centerville in Reynolds County, Missouri, USA. One, ex-matrix, Galena crystal forms an elongated cube; a cuboid, with corners modified to the octahedron. The crystal’s rectangular display face has a raised rim around all edges and within this, the flat, recessed-plateaued centre is richly pervaded with perfectly formed, wedge and chisel-shaped Pyrite crystals of metallic dull gold. It’s an aesthetic, fascinating and fantastic miniature.

Appearing more plant than mineral, a fine miniature of Epidote forms undulating spiky mounds of deep moss-green over a hidden, green-tinged Quartz matrix. From the cobalt-iron deposit at Dashkesan in Azerbaijan, the Epidote forms acicular crystals of translucent lime green, yet grade to a dark mossy-green once clustered into a mass of crystals. At one side is a solitary, 1.6 cm long Chalcopyrite crystal with a dark grey and green patina.

We include a rather lovely Azurite from Tsumeb, just in case anyone is getting Tsumeb withdrawal symptoms! The Azurite forms blocky crystals, some with a cubic resemblance, the largest measuring 1.7 x 1.7 x 1.4 cm. Several other similar yet smaller crystals are clustered around. Typical of such crystals from Tsumeb, the Azurite appears an intense navy blue, almost black en masse, but where transmitted light can pass, glow stunning electric blue.

Other specimens today include a miniature Axinite-(Fe) from Bourg d'Oisans, France; a superbly crystallised Vesuvianite from Quito, Ecuador; an impressive teal blue Baryte from the Touché claims in Yukon, Canada; charming Fluorite encrusted with Quartz from Wölsendorf in Bavaria; Native Silver after Dyscrasite from Príbram, Czech Republic and an impressive green Elbaite Tourmaline with Albite from the Shigar Valley in Pakistan.

I cannot close without mentioning two which have certainly caught my attention. Even if these don’t interest you as potential items for the collection, they are certainly worth taking a closer look at. First an Aquamarine from Gilgit, Pakistan. I get to see a lot of Aquamarine, the sky blue to sea green variety of Beryl; yet this specimen jumped-out at me for its quality and size of crystals, its overall aesthetic and what’s more, its very reasonable price. Pale cornflower blue Aquamarine prisms are embedded amongst intermeshed silver-grey blades of Muscovite, up to 2 cm diameter; the longest prism measuring 5 cm. It’s a beautiful gemmy example.

Last mention goes to a Siderite on Calcite from the Schlema-Hartenstein District of Saxony, Germany. A stunning cabinet specimen of scalenohedral Calcite crystals to 4 cm tall, coated (or possibly included) with an earthy, brick red Calcite layer with a micro-corroded texture. These are overgrow by scattered, individual, glassy zoned rhombic Calcite crystals averaging 1 mm. Overgrowing all of this are magnificent saucer-shaped lenticular Siderite crystals, averaging 1 cm diameter and 1 to 2 mm thick. The Siderite is an opaque, caramel brown. There are no two ways about this, it’s an extraordinary example of Siderite and the Calcites are pretty good also!

Have a good trawl through and remember, there are quite a few not mentioned here, just waiting in the wings for a sneak surprise! It’s hard work, this mineral choosing business; so make yourself a coffee, sit back and enjoy. PT.


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Author: JH, PT
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