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Morganite and Aquamarine on Albite "Pala Princess III" from Elizabeth R. Mine, Pala, San Diego County, California, USA []
Elizabeth R. Mine, Pala, San Diego County, California, USA
Cabinet, 15.2 x 9.1 x 7.0 cm
On May 15, 1982, a famous specimen called the "Pala Princess" was unearthed by Roland Reed, mine owner. It was one repaired large plate consisting of a half a dozen pieces, 3 of them of some major consequence for the County and for US beryls in general. The piece was judged by John Sinkankas at the time to be the finest beryl specimen found in North America to date. This is the third of the larger plates that made up that piece, as shown in Sinkankas' updated book , Gems of North America, published shortly thereafter. Note he erroneously attributed the find to 1992, not 1982. In 2003, the plate was purchased from a private collector by Irv Brown and Stuart Wilensky; and disassembled into its parts, which were then trimmed and prepped individually to yield 3 major, unrepaired, (and much more) aesthetic morganite specimens. This is the third of those specimens, and it has never been for sale because Irv traded it directly to Chuck within the week. This piece would have comprised about 20% of the original surface area of the specimen, and features one of the larger crystals. You can see the unique nature of the piece, in its multiple coloration of both blue aqua and pink morganite, from the pics. In person, it is more obvious. This is a major County specimen, with incredibly neat provenance and history, the likes of which hasn't been mined since. Now, as opposed to having a too-large specimen with seven repairs and some damage about it, we have several MAJOR and pristine, unrepaired specimens which are individually of as much significance, I would think - but finer in quality.
Spessartine on Albite with Smoky Quartz from Little Three Mine, Ramona, San Diego Co., California, USA []
Little Three Mine, Ramona, San Diego Co., California, USA
Cabinet, 12.3 x 7.5 x 7.4 cm
A really attractive large specimen featuring a classic Little 3 assemblage in decorative arrangement...the smoky in the middle is pristine save for one small contacted face (not damage), and is nicely accented by stark white albite and dozens of glittering little orange spessartines perched on every other species present (quartz, albite, muscovite blades) and even included within the smoky!
Morganite on Albite from Pech, Kunar Province, Afghanistan []
Pech, Kunar Province, Afghanistan
Cabinet, 14.0 x 7.9 x 7.6 cm
A gorgeous peachy-pink morganite crystal with INTENSE color (unusually deep hued!), perched on a natural pedestal of albite. The crystal is 7 cm and complete, not repaired, and is fairly translucent. This is a piece that looks impressive, yet does not break the bank to own. Few morganites are coming out anymore, from Afghanistan, and fewer still cthat are any kind of quality can be had in this price range. Luckily, we got it as a trimmer/fixer and were able to expose the crystal ourselves, from the confining matrix, to create a more aesthetic piece.
Cassiterite on Albite from Linopolis, Minas Gerais, Brazil []
Linopolis, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Small Cabinet, 5.4x5.1x4.1 cm
This is a rare pegmatite-origin cassiterite (most larger crystals come from other styles of deposits, such as in China), from Brazil. The crystals are INCREDIBLY glassy and lustrous…the most metallic and jet black and shiny you can imagine for the species. I was stunned when I saw this piece, first, in a small collection being sold off at the Denver show in 2010. Everything about it is sparkly. The white and the black both. The cassiterites are pristine, undamaged, and reach 1.8 cm in size individually, and the leftmost cluster is 2.4 cm across. Many crystals are twinned. This is a superb, really visually and scientifically interesting piece from rarified finds that have come trickling out of these mines over the years. Never common, seldom seen on market. . Joe Budd photos
Spessartine Garnet with Schorl on Albite from Little 3 Mine, near Ramona, San Diego County, California, USA []
Little 3 Mine, near Ramona, San Diego County, California, USA
Miniature, 4.3 x 2.7 x 2 cm
Spessartine from this small mine in rural San Diego County has mesmerized the world for years and is , by many, considered to be the world's best of species for combination of sharpness, color, lustre, and association. The best, like this piece, look like fake golfballs made of leaded orange glass. Pieces like this were mined by Louis Spaulding Sr., perhaps through the early 1970s. This quality has not been found since despite much effort and cost. This matrix of albite has formed like soft hands holding in their middle a sharp single crystal measuring 2.5 x 2 cm. The crystal is 1.5 cm thick in places. Although remarkably pristine and complete on the front display face, it is admittedly contacted/damaged on the backside. However, for this deposit, not only is the crystal of large size, but it miraculously does not have the fractures and solution-etching erosion so commonly seen on garnets from the mine. As with nearly all such combo specimens from here, the schorl is more a color association than anything, and I do not mind here some damage (it is not terminated) to the schorl. Most larger garnets of this size have one or the other, or both , problems, due to the active environment here which fractured and then crushed many specimen pockets. The cracking mars the color and lustre, and makes truly beautiful specimens (not just representative) all the more uncommon. This crystal is breath-taking in its fiery color and intensity. I can say this fairly confidently, having seen 5 of what are thought to be the best of them in the Smithsonian and in several private California collections (and one nice Colorado collector's, as well!). This miniature is STUNNING. it literally glows with color. but more than that, the sharp form and lustre make it world class, for a locality occurrence. Joe Budd photos
Zanazziite on Albite from Ponte do Piaui Claim, Corrego do Piaui, Itinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil []
Ponte do Piaui Claim, Corrego do Piaui, Itinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Small Cabinet, 7.0 x 4.7 x 3.3 cm
An extremely rich and large example of the species, this olive-green-brown zanazziite completely covers the underlaying albite matrix. Found in 2010
Zanazziite on Albite from Ponte do Piaui Claim, Corrego do Piaui, Itinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil []
Ponte do Piaui Claim, Corrego do Piaui, Itinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Small Cabinet, 6.3 x 4.8 x 5.0 cm
An extremely rich and large example of the species, this olive-green-brown zanazziite completely covers the underlaying albite matrix and some tourmalines as well. Found in 2010
Goshenite with Schorl on Albite from Cryo-Genie Mine, Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA []
Cryo-Genie Mine, Warner Springs, San Diego County, California, USA
Miniature, 4.6 x 2.8 x 2.8 cm
An unusual goshenite specimen from this briefly-mined claim, now sadly exhausted (at least for practical purposes, and without a lot of dynamite). The CG produced a huge variety of gem crystals in its brief lifetime in the late 90s and early 2000s, among them this fine miniature from the "goshenite pocket" . A stoudt single crystal is accented by schorl tourmalines here. Unusual!
Spessartine Garnet on Albite from Little Three Mine, Ramona, California, USA []
Little Three Mine, Ramona, California, USA
Miniature, 2.9 x 2.7 x 1.8 cm
This is a stunning, unusually large crystal of spessartine for the locality which is miraculously NOT etched all to heck like so many are. It sits on a pedestal of cleavelandite matrix, and is exceptional for its display quality. The crystal is complete all around, though shows a contact on the back where it grew in the pocket against a schorl that left an impression. The crystal, at 1 inch, is as large as all but the few biggest specimens from here evre reached and is remarkable for its pristine form. Most large garnets fro mthis mine were etched in situ and turn into spongy but sparkly masses that are absolutely gorgeous, but retain few of the natural garnet crystal faces the crystal started with. To get a crystal surviving in this condition, so sharp and lustrous, and completely unetched at all, is almost unheard of. If this were on a bigger matrix, it would be treble the price. As is, it is a fine miniature worthy of competition in any collection showcasing US classics or garnet. Within the San Diego collecting community, owning a garnet of this calibre is one of the highlights of any collection. Few can be had, though> This one, Bill Larson obtained in the early 1980s from mine owner Louis Spalding Sr.'s collection.
Stokesite with Stannomicrolite on Albite from Urucum Mine, Galileia, Minas Gerais, Brazil []
Urucum Mine, Galileia, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Miniature, 4.1 x 3.3 x 3.0 cm
ex. Dr. Mark Feinglos Collection An excellent example of both of these species from an important find brought to market by Carlos Barbosa before he passed away , in the late 1990s. I recall when these came out, it was almost impossible to find even a single specimen with both the Stokesite (the sharp white xls) and the stannomicrolite (brown crystal) on the same specimen - let alone in close proximity. This is an aesthetic representation of both species, in unusual association, on a well trimmed matrix of bladed albite so it displays nicely. Both crystals are of unusually good size for the find, as well.
Albite (rare gem crystal) from Bennett Mine, Buckfield, Maine, USA []
Bennett Mine, Buckfield, Maine, USA
Thumbnail, 2.5 x 1.3 x 0.7 cm
This really surprised me! In fact, I was not able to guess what it was without seeing the label. It is a SHARP, GEMMY, TRANSPARENT, albite crystal. In person it is much sharper and gemmier, as its hard to photograph both the shape and transparency at the same time so we had to aim the light to frost part of the crystal, in order to get all edges to show up on the photo. One almost never sees gemmy, euhedral crystals of albite, and it look sfor all the world like a colorless spoduemen. Found in 1996 in the Bennett Mine. From the specialized Maine thumbnail collection of Jim Mann.
Topaz, Albite from location []
Thumbnail, 3.6 x 3.1 x 2.2 cm
Another absolutely outstanding topaz, but with just normal color, not QUITE the intense hue aobve, and not QUITE the lustre. Still, a very high calibre, indeed, and I do feel it quite worthy of any good thumbnail collection. However, one must decide if the one above is worth double the price for the extra 10% quality. For some, its not, and this is really VERY close behind. As it is not strictly a thumbnail, it is paradoxically also thus lower in price since it cannot be used in official competition by Tucson rules, in teh thumbnail class.
Apatite on Albite from Burg, Fiesch Glacier, Rhone Valley, Valais Switzerland []
Burg, Fiesch Glacier, Rhone Valley, Valais Switzerland
Thumbnail, 2.2 x 1.7 x 1 cm
A choice thumbnail specimen featuring a 1.5-cm-across gem-clear apatite, perched on a few small crystals of albite. Neat association and perfect balance make this a classy thumbnail apatite, from a very unusual locality. Good Swiss apatites of any quality , let alone nice gemmy ones, are hard to come by. Ex Alain Martaud specimen. Joe Budd Photos
Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan []
Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan
Large Cabinet, 21 x 16.5 x 15 cm
Every now and then, you see a large matrix piece which just screams "fake" at you. It just seems too contrived to be real. That is what I thought of this specimen, when I first saw it in a dealer advertisement over 5 years ago. When I saw it in person though, I immediately realized that it actually is the real thing, with three isolated and pristine tourmaline crystals shooting out in 3 different directions. Remarkably, there are no repairs! The piece has been through my preferred preparation lab to confirm that fact. The fact that a single matrix piece can have two totally different habits of tourmaline has always impressed me about how these things form. It is rare, but it happens. Still, usually that exceptional case refers to two tourmalines of the same color, but perhaps different terminations on the same matrix. Here, we have both of the really stereotypical habits of a Paprok tourmaline, totally different in color and symmetries, perched on the same piece. The classic multicolored red-green crystal is 5 inches tall. Again, it is NOT repaired, despite its perch and freestanding nature. The hot pink crystal to the left is fully 2 inches long, and shows a totally different termination. We call this style the "bubblegum pinks" and it is also classic for the locality. I simply am NOT aware of another specimen which combines both of these particular styles of tourmaline, let alone with such pizzazz. This is a major matrix tourmaline, by any standard. Price on Request. Joe Budd photos.