Yuno, Shigar Valley, Skardu District, Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Areas), Pakistan
Small Cabinet, 7.7 x 5.5 x 5 cm
A light sherry-colored, gemmy, transparent Topaz is the highlight of this excellent combination piece. The Topaz rises up beautifully from a matrix of large (up to 4.5 cm) books of Muscovite with sharp blades of crystalline Albite var. Cleavelandite. There is even a few crystals of blue-green Fluorite. The Topaz is 3.3 cm tall. It is pristine save for one tiny ding. In person, the Topaz leaps out at you as a 3-dimensional jewel, transparent and brilliant like glass. This is FAR better in person because it is so gemmy, with all the matrix and internal crazing showing through it. Most people consider this region to be the premier locality for colored Topaz crystals of this style. The superb luster of the Topaz, quality of the minerals, and three-dimensionality create great aesthetics for this small cabinet specimen.
Himalaya Mine, Gem Hill, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA
Small Cabinet, 6.3 x 2.4 x 1.5 cm
A beautiful, gemmy and lustrous pencil Tourmaline from the famous Himalaya Mine of California. The crystal is the classic Himalaya "watermelon-pink", and it is gemmy throughout. The Elbaite is well-complemented by crystals of lavender Lepidolite and bladed Cleavelandite. The upper termination is complete, and it is contacted at the bottom. As is commonly the case with pegmatite Tourmalines from San Diego, there is one crack (repaired) resulting from geologic movement in the pocket. A classic, watermelon-pink, Himalaya tourmaline, but with exceptional aesthetics because of the associations! 13 grams.
As Schorls go, this is a stunning specimen. This gleaming, striated doubly-terminated crystal of Schorl tourmaline, 6.9 cm long, rests on a series of white Feldspar crystals, themselves decorated with a sparkly 'druse' of micro Muscovites. This Schorl looks like a rocket shooting through the cloud tops. Just a wonderful, aesthetic piece. You could not design it any better.
This pegmatite has produced arguably the best and largest number of fine morganites in the world from any one small find, back about 30 years ago now. This is a HUGE specimen with so much color and impact, because of the size, that it seems fake at first! It masses/weighs just over a kilo. The crystal measures 10 x 8.5 cm, is 3.5 cm or 1.75 inches thick, and is complete all around. It has a minor indentation on the left side, that is crystallized in faces with attached albite blades over them. There are a few small spots of roughness in the front face that were filled with gap-fill epoxy (its there, but in context of size and overall impact minimal). The white spot at the base of the crystal is part of the matrix that grows up into the crystal or vice versa, and is albite as well, though massive and not crystallized. This specimen is translucent to transparent throughout, highly lustrous, and a rich pink-lavender color that is distinctly Urucum's own hue. Classically, you want these to be associated with schorl but not drowned out by the schorl - too many are actually so included they look gray or ugly. This one has just enough schorl on it to accent without taking away from the pink gemminess and transparency, the black on pink making for a better piece. More importantly, this crystal stands miraculously UPRIGHT on a matrix of solid intergrown schorl and albite! Ok, its not a miracle, but rather an excellent trim job by one of our friends. Because of its wonderful display aesthetics, this one whopper of a morganite, both literally and figuratively, for ANY locale. IT IS MUCH BETTER IN PERSON! Comes with custom lucite base for easy display.
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!
Dassu, Shigar Valley, Skardu District, Baltistan, Northern Areas, Pakistan
Thumbnail, 2.5 x 2.4 x 2.0 cm
PICS DO NOT DO THIS JUSTICE...THIS HAS TO BE THE FINEST Pakistan TOPAZ THUMBNAIL I HAVE EVER SEEN, with utterly limpid 100% clarity and transparency, glassy lustre, and superb complex form. It is just mesmerizing, in person. I would even go so far as to say that gram per gram, this may be the finest topaz in outright quality I have handled....an award-winning piece!
Another absolutely outstanding topaz, but with just normal color, not QUITE the intense hue above, and not QUITE the luster. Still, a very high caliber, 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 the thumbnail class.
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.
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 ever reached and is remarkable for its pristine form. Most large garnets from this 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 un-etched at all, is almost unheard of. If this were on a bigger matrix, it would be triple 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 caliber 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.
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.
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!
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 looks for all the world like a colorless spodumene. Found in 1996 in the Bennett Mine. From the specialized Maine thumbnail collection of Jim Mann.
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 that 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.
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, luster, and association. The best, like this piece, look like fake golf balls 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 luster, 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 luster make it world class, for a locality occurrence. Joe Budd photos
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
A highly unusual pollucite crystal we have nicknamed "the brain" for its weird patterning and selective etching of the surface. The crystal is 6 x 4 x 4 cm in size, and perched 3-dimensionally up on bladed cleavelandite matrix. Actually, the piece displays both vertical and horizontally, with equal impact. When vertical, a thin kunzite crystal on one end becomes its base and pokes out at the bottom. This is one of the most unusual pollucite specimens I have seen, and although irregular, it is nevertheless a beautiful specimen. ex Lockhart collection. Joe Budd photos. Ex Brent Lockhart Collection
Toenail – A “gut feeling” but often overlaps between a large thumbnail and a small miniature
Miniature – Maximum 5.0 cm
Small Cabinet – Maximum 9.4 cm
Cabinet – Maximum 18.0 cm
Large Cabinet – Over 18.0 cm
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