by Eric Greene

We have been going to Tucson for almost 20 years now, and I will remember this year's show for its cool temperatures and hot prices. We arrived in Tucson January 24, departing after a harrowing drive through a sleet and ice storm to get to the airport for a 6:30 AM flight. We arrived in Tucson to find cool temperatures in the 40s and low 50s, with frost every morning the first week we were there. Though the sun shone most of the time, it struggled to warm up to the 60s and didn't hit 70 until our last few days in town. Uncharacteristically, I never put on a pair of shorts, and didn't even wear a short-sleeved shirt until our last 2 days.

But enough about the weather, and on to the mineral prices. I admit that after last year's show I was expecting that specimen prices would come tumbling down this year for the first time in memory, after the run of steady increases that have been the hallmark of mineral prices for decades. In this I was largely disappointed. Fortunately, there were signs of downward creep if you looked hard and long enough – and I did look hard and long to find some great bargains!

  • Created By : 16-Mar-2017
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I still can barely believe how many new, colorful, and exciting specimens we brought home from the Tucson Show this year; this made picking out my favorites really difficult. Here are the new specimens which I love that I think are significant and highly aesthetic. They will give you an idea of what we found. If you are interested in any of these specimens, just click on the "for sale" links to go to the pages in our website where you will find that piece for sale. 

  • Created By : 13-Jan-2017
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1.5" Fine Gemmy Green FLUORAPATITE Sharp Terminated Crystal Panasquiera

The name apatite comes from the Greek word apatein, meaning to deceive, because of its similarity to so many other minerals. Ironically, it is actually 3 different minerals, and the precise species of this phosphate mineral depends on which of 3 ions is predominant:

  • If fluorine is the primary ion, then it is fluorapatite - Ca5(PO4)3F
  • If chlorine is the main ion, then it is chlorapatite - Ca5(PO4)3Cl
  • If the hydroxyl group is dominant, then it is hydroxylapatite - Ca5(PO4)3OH

However, in the crystal lattice these ions can substitute freely, so all 3 are typically present in any one specimen, making it impossible to distinguish them without x-ray diffraction or other analytical methods. Most collector forms of apatite are fluorapatite.

Apatite is the most common phosphate mineral. It is the primary source for phosphorus, a fertilizer required for plant growth. Also, the teeth and bones of humans and most animals, are composed of hydroxylapatite.

  • Created By : 02-Dec-2016
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Some, but not many of us mineral collectors are blessed with unlimited space to display and store our mineral collections. Even in our 13-room house, we don't have space for everthing (and Jeanne has a rule: no mineral specimens in the part of the house we live in!). So, like other factors to consider in building a mineral collection (color, quality, species, locality, etc.), size does matter, and collectors must think about what size they want to collect. For example, consider this: you can display 1,000 thumbnail-sized specimens in the the space required to keep 50 hand-sized specimens. That certainly puts it in perspective!

Here are the names for the different sizes that I use as "standards".

CONTINUED FROM PART 1


4.1" Fat Hoppered SCEPTER QUARTZ Antique White on Smoky Stem

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Today was a mineral shopping day in Araçuai. We visited 4 warehouses: Mineração Zé da Estrada (run by the owner of the hillside in Taquaral with all the mines that we visited yesterday), Tony Gemas Mineração, Marcos de Zé da Estrada, and Emerson Murta's Ie Pedras do Brazil. I got some fantastic cathedral quartz and cathedral citrine, half a dozen pieces of superb black kyanite (best I have ever seen), some nice rose quartz crystals, brazilianite, and several outstanding specimens of the rare phosphate mineral eosphorite. 

by Eric Greene

 

INTRODUCTION

In September of 2016 I embarked on a private 10-day guided tour of the mining towns of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Why Brazil? If you love crystals and minerals, Brazil is the dream destination, sure to top your bucket list of must-see places in the world. The mineral tour was organized and led by Pedro Paulo Pinto, an experienced English-speaking guide who owns a travel agency in the colonial mining town of Ouro Preto. I was the only person on the tour, which included stops in some of the best-known mining towns in Minas Gerais, trips to a number of underground and open-pit mines, and visits to the shops and warehouses of over two dozen mineral dealers. This is my journal from the 18 days I spent on this amazing trip-of-a-lifetime for this mineral collector.

MINAS GERAIS

Minas Gerais is in southeastern Brazil, and its capital, Belo Horizonte, is about 250 miles NNW of Rio de Janeiro. Minas Gerais (which translates as "General Mines") is the fourth largest state in Brazil, and it is the country's best-known mining province, famed for its fine gemstone specimens of tourmaline, topaz, various members of the beryl group (emerald, aquamarine, morganite and heliodor), in addition to abundant quartz, (found in various forms including smoky quartz, citrine and rose quartz). The region's abundant pegmatite mines also produce other less well known gem minerals such as kunzite, chrysoberyl, euclase, and brazilianite. In addition, the state has huge reserves of iron and sizeable reserves of gold and diamonds, and is a major producer of milk, coffee and other agricultural commodities. It is about 1,300 miles south of the equator, and has a humid subtropical climate.