7.8" Smoky Citrine Quartz, Jairo Mine, Resplendor, Doce Valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Ammolite - Canada
This year, miners at the Korite Mine, Bear Paw Formation, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada discovered some astonishingly brilliant specimens of iridescent ammolite. Ammolite is a natural gem type of fossilized ammonite (Placenteras meeki), which is a coiled, chambered fossil mollusk shells. The fossils are about 75 million years old (Late Cretaceous period, around 150 million years old). Because of its very bright, psychedelic, neon light colors, ammolite is a popular stone for jewelry. Ammolite's quality is rated by the brightness of the colors and how many colors are present. Whenever I show a customer this material, the response is invariably a quick intake of breath, then an amazed, "WOW!". By the way, we guarantee it 100% that you'll be that amazed when you open the package! Check here for available specimens.
5" Ammolite on Shale, Korite Mine, Bear Paw Formation, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Smoky Quartz on Microcline
This is a fabulous specimen of smoky quartz on pale blue amazonite from Moat Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest in North Conway, NH. It is part of the Ernie Schlichter collection of White Mountain minerals that I purchased in Tucson. Ernie was a renowned field collector, and also purchased fine specimens every chance he got. In all, I acquired about 8 large flats, each one packed full of exceptional specimens from Moat Mountain, Government Pits, Lucy Brook, etc. Since I collect in this area regularly, seeing the quality of these specimens left me feeling a bit hopeless: they were collected during the heyday years in the 50's, 60's and 70s, and I despaired of ever finding anything nearly as nice as these. But since I love collecting, I haven't given up on the dream quite yet. We will be offering these fine specimens for sale, as time permits, over the coming months. Check here for available specimens.
8.5" Smoky Quartz on Amazonite, Moat Mountain, Bartlett, Carroll Co., New Hampshire
Spessartine on Smoky Quartz - China
Specimens of red-orange spessartine garnet on smoky quartz have been coming from the Wushan Spessartine Mine in Tongbei, Yun Xiao County, Zhangsho Prefecture, Fujian Province, China since about 2000. The individual garnets are often sharp and gemmy, forming as dodecahedrons. This year, I found several sensational, very large, very dramatic specimens, like the one pictured below. On the best pieces, the spessartine is a vivid, enthusiastic red-orange, with the garnets liberally sprinkled over smoky quartz. The contrast on these specimens is sensational - the brilliant, gemmy, red-orange spessartine garnets really stand out against the dark gray smoky quartz crystal. The garnets are bright orange-red, with superb wet looking luster, and are very gemmy (I think they look like drops of orange marmalade dripped on the smoky quartz). The garnet crystals are sharply formed, with sharp edges and corners. The smoky quartz crystals are exceptionally large for the locality, and feature near-perfect terminations and glassy, high luster faces. Check here for available specimens.
8.1" Spessartine Garnet Crystals on Smoky Quartz, Tongbei, Yun Xiao County, Zhangsho Prefecture, Fujian Province, China
Apatite - Russia
The rich, saturated cobalt blue color of the apatite crystals from Slyudyanka, Lake Baikal, South Coast, Russia is really amazing. The material was, for the locality, very large, with the richest, most drenched blue color of any apatite I've ever seen. The crystals from Slyudyanka are usually small and not very sharp. That's why I was so excited when I found crystals of this quality on the table of a new Russian wholesale dealer, who had brought some larger, much higher quality crystals than I had seen before. I selected the best she had to offer. Check here for available specimens.
7" Fluorapatite, Slyudyanka, Lake Baikal, South Coast, Russia
Ocean Jasper - Madagascar
It's hard to believe that the large deposit of beautifully patterned jasper on the east coast, near the southern tip of Madagascar, which was first written about in 1922, could have been lost for the better part of a century, but it was. The material is mined from an ocean front cleft near Marovato, Ambolobozo, Mahajanga, Madagascar, that is accessible only by boat, and workable only at low tide. The jasper is dominated by greens, blues, whites, tans and pinks in circular patterns or orbs, from which the term orbicular jasper derives. This type of jasper's distinctive patterns are made up of round or spherical inclusions of contrasting colors floating in solid jasper. The orbs can range in diameter from a millimeter to over a centimeter, and frequently show a particularly dramatic concentric banding. How orbicular jasper forms is still a scientific mystery. I bought a few boxes of this stuff direct from the mine owner. He's a spry, older gentleman, who chatted with us while he sat on a couch in the sunshine, pricing carved jasper animals. He reported that the lens of jasper from which this fantastic material has been mined is almost played out. Less than 10% of the material taken from the mine in 2011 was A grade, and almost 80% of it was C grade. So, you can expect rising prices and increasing scarcity in the future, as the pipeline begins to dry up - especially for A grade material of this quality. Check here for available specimens.
12.2" Ocean Jasper, Marovato, Ambolobozo, Mahajanga, Madagascar
Amber - Madagascar
There was lots of amber in Tucson, but only one dealer had an outstanding collection of insect-packed copal amber for sale. This beautiful, colorful and fascinating material was found at Cap D'Ambre, Antisiranana Province, Madagascar. The pieces I selected are very large, stalactite-like fossilized drips of petrified tree sap, in a glowing, golden yellow color. The polished surfaces show off the transparent, gemlike interior, where hundreds of bugs and tree debris were trapped in the amber about 25 million years ago, during the Miocene Epoch. The best specimens are almost literally crawling with insects of every description! Check here for available specimens.
7.8" Copal Amber, with 1/2" Spider, Cap D'Ambre, Antisiranana Province, Madagascar
Pyrite Sun - Illinois
I've always been amazed by the pyrite suns from Sparta, in Randolph Co., Illinois. But the best ones come on a black slate matrix, like the one shown below. This year I was able to pick out about 8 top-quality specimens, the best available, from the guy who has an exclusive on this material. The suns are shaped like a disk, and are a flat, circular form of pyrite. They are found in narrow seams of slate (about 320 million years old), between seams of coal in the mines near Sparta, IL. There are several theories about the origin of these formations. One is that they are pyritized replacements of an earlier fossil creature. Another is that they are the flattened result of a pyrite crystal spread out under heat and pressure in the seams of slate. Regardless of their origin, who can resist these dramatic specimens of pyrite sun on black shale? Check here for available specimens.
5.5" Pyrite Sun on 15" Gray Slate, Sparta, Randolph Co., Illinois, USA
Platinum & Gold - Russia
Platinum crystals are one of the rarest objects on the planet, found only at a single locality in far eastern Russia. The best ever found were discovered in the 1990's, at Konder Massif, Russian Far East, Russia. Needless to say, we found a dealer who had a few choice specimens of these amazing crystals. And, if platinum crystals aren't rare enough for you, some of the specimens from this locality feature something that is almost never seen: a coating of native gold deposited on the crystals! The bet of these feature very, very sharp penetrating twin crystals of platinum, with a coating of native gold that gives the piece a lovely buttery glow that is very attractive and visually appealing. Check here for available specimens.
5 mm Twinned Platinum, with Gold Coating, Konder Massif, Russian Far East, Russia
Boleite - Mexico
The majority of boleite crystals from the Amelia Mine, Santa Rosalia (El Boleo), Boleo District, Mun. de Mulege, Baja California Sur, Mexico are found in clay, meaning that the crystals fall of easily, and few matrix specimens ever make it to market. Specimens with multiple crystals are therefore exceedingly rare, as are specimens with solid (not clay) matrixes. The Amelia Mine is the premiere locality in the world for this species, a rare halide mineral. Boleite crystals come in a super-saturated indigo blue color that stands out nicely when set on matrix. After being closed for decades, the mine is back in production, using mechanized equipment that make the chances of top-quality specimens reaching the market quite slim. That means that pieces like this one only become available when old collections are sold to dealers. I purchased this fine and important specimen at the Tucson Gem Rock and Mineral Show from an Arizona dealer who had set aside a couple of flats of these many years ago. Sadly, he told me that the ones he had are the last of his stash. Check here for available specimens.
Boleite to 1/4" on 5" Anglesite, Amelia Mine, Santa Rosalia (El Boleo), Mun. de Mulege, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Natrolite - Argentina
Natrolite is a unique mineral that forms as elongated, needle-like crystals. The crystals are usually quite long, making up the entire specimen, which consists of nothing but intergrown natrolite crystals. Our Argentinean friend Eduardo Jawerbaum collected this material in 2005 from a now-closed locality in San Augustin del Valle Fertil, San Juan Province, Argentina. On some of the pieces, as below, the crystals are tinted a subtle shade of pink by hematite inclusions. These were professionally mined with great care, and surprisingly, in spite of their apparent delicacy, they are quite sturdy enough to pack and ship (we have special boxes for them). This year I found a dealer who had put aside a bunch of these, top-quality specimens that are spectacularly beautiful and in large sizes; I searched his entire inventory to high-grade out the best pieces, like the one below. Check here for available specimens.
10.5" Natrolite, San Augustin del Valle Fertil, San Juan Province, Argentina
Elestial Smoky Quartz - Brazil
I love the way the light flashes off of dozens of perfectly parallel faces on smoky elestial (jacaré) quartz crystal. As you turn one of these pieces in the light, each side suddenly bursts forth with blazing hot spots bouncing off the multiple, parallel, glassy faces on the crystal. The finest specimens are brilliantly reflective, showing off the mirror-bright parallel faces of the elestial formation. (Brazilian miners call this material jacaré because it looks like the shiny bumps on the back of a crocodile (the Portuguese word for alligator is jacaré). This specimen is from a recent find of jacaré crystals at the Macao Mine, Sao Geraldo do Baixio, Minas Gerais, Brazil. We purchased several flats of this top quality material from the stock of one of the Brazilian wholesale dealers in Tucson. Check here for available specimens.
11.8" Jacaré (Elestial) Smoky Quartz, Macao Mine, Sao Geraldo do Baixio, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Rogerly Mine Fluorite - UK
The 2011 season at the Rogerly Mine was largely a disappointment, and the mine operators were seriously considering closing it. Almost everyone is familiar with the outstanding blue-green fluorite specimens from this classic locality - the highly acclaimed Rogerley Mine in Westgate, Weardale, England. Fortunately, as the season was drawing to a close, a visitor who was helping with the digging was present to help open a new pocket, which was later named for her. The majority of the material first extracted from Penny’s Pocket was heavily damaged, and unsaleable. Fortunately, there were also some very very good specimens that have emerged. On these pieces, the majority of the crystals have good to medium luster, are twinned, are gemmy, and have outstanding daylight fluorescence - considered the best ever found at the Rogerly. Especially noteworthy is that most of the crystals display distinct growth hillocks, which is fairly common with Rogerly Mine fluorite. What makes these pieces extra special is that, in spite of the growth hillocks, the surfaces of the crystals are both transparent and highly lustrous, which is usually not the case. The discovery of Penny's Pocket will delay the mine closing, at least for the time being - especially since the pocket has not yet been completely excavated. The piece below is easily the best I saw that emerged from this new pocket. Check here for available specimens.
11.8" Fluorite, Rogerley Mine in Westgate, Weardale, England
Pyrite - Spain
One can't help but be amazed by the near perfection of the pyrite cubes from Navajun, La Rioja, Logrono, Spain - "perfect" natural crystal cubes, formed by Mother Nature so sharply that it looks as if they were machined. The 2011 mining season was especially productive, as the quarry yielded some of the sharpest, most damage free cubes in years. When the cubes are set on a cream white sandstone matrix, the brilliant, lustrous crystals really shine, reflecting light off of each mirror bright face. The edges of the Logrono pyrite crystals are exceptionally sharp, universally acclaimed as the best in the world. The color is the typical bright silvery gold, which contrasts nicely with the white matrix. The most common question people ask about these is, "You mean they came out of the ground just like that?" Yup! These near-perfect cubes on matrix from Spain are amongst the most striking crystals in the mineral kingdom. I found a number of fabulous specimens of this material in the room of the Spanish dealer who operates the mine in Logrono, He had both matrix specimens like the one below plus a few boxes of the intricate, multi-cube clusters shown in the photo below that. Check here for available specimens.
3.9" Pyrite Cube on 6.2" Sandstone, Navajun, La Rioja, Logrono, Spain
3.5" Pyrite Cluster Navajun, La Rioja, Logrono, Spain
Orange Selenite - Peru
What makes this selenite really stand out is the color: a screaming electric orange color that is truly astonishing, and arguably is the finest orange color in the entire mineral world. These crystals from Mina Otuma, Pisco Province, Ica Department, Peru, are large, translucent to transparent, and glow when backlit. They are very sharp, bright and shiny, with the notched twinned habit that people refer to as angel wings. This is new material is from a new find, and this year we found one flat at the stand of my a favorite Peruvian wholesale dealer. I bought all the undamaged specimens he had, as this is reportedly a one-time find, made by mineral collectors in a now-closed mine, and is unlikely to be repeated. Check here for available specimens.
6.1" Selenite, Mina Otuma, Pisco Province, Ica Department, Peru