This is a pristine display specimen from the heyday of this mine in the mid-2000s. It has sharp, GEM TRANSPARENT smoky quartz crystals on which are perched GEM TRANSPARENT orange garnet crystals. The contrasts, with the light sprinkling of garnet atop quartz and feldspar, are striking. Seldom do you get a plate this size in such condition, and with such black-on-white contrast. The garnets are all gem quality and have more life to them in person than photos tend to ascribe. Cameras just cannot capture the twinkling effect of garnets as they catch the light. This is 360 degrees, and complete all around. This particular specimen was from the personal collection of the son of the family which controlled the main mine here, which I purchased in China in 2013. Joe Budd photos.
This locality has simply been "dry" for the last few years. In 2013, it perked up a bit with renewed mining efforts and produced several pockets. However, only one pocket, with perhaps a few dozen pieces, really was the right quality. This pocket of saturated wine-red garnets, overlaying smoky quartz points, is the best we have seen from here in almost 10 years. This cabinet specimen from that find has zero damage, and a beautiful 3-dimensional spread of sparkling garnet. It is much better in person, as garnets sometimes photograph more flat than they appear. The faces and sharpness of these crystals rank them among the best from the locale. Joe Budd photos.
Once more common in the market, material from this mine dried up over the last few years. I had bought a private collection in China which had a suite of exceptional pieces collected in the heyday here from about 2002-2007. This was then in my own collection of Chinese minerals. This is a superbly formed, lustrous and translucent quartz crystal, measuring 14.7 cm in length - unusually fine in quality for this location in terms of luster and sharpness. It is studded with hundreds of glassy and gemmy, bright orange-colored spessartine crystals, to 3 mm across. Such large, pristine crystals where both species are of this high quality are almost unheard of, and the locality is effectively mined out. Very dramatic and beautiful! As a bonus, there are small orange gem garnets included INSIDE the tip of the quartz, seen on close inspection.
A highly unusual combination piece! This specimen highlights an elongated, large and attractive 3.8 cm Spessartine Garnet crystal from Pakistan. This lustrous, translucent, deep burgundy crystal has dodecahedral form with beveled edges, and it is etched along the contact with the matrix below. Associated are several inch-long, non-terminated Schorl crystals that have superb, striated luster. The aesthetics of this combination are excellent.
Little 3 Mine, near Ramona, San Diego County, California, USA
Miniature, 4.5 x 4.3 x 3.7 cm
A special San Diego rarity, these beautiful garnets generally date to the Louis Spalding collecting era of the mid 1960s-1970s and are hard as heck to obtain today. Much gemmier in person, this is a well balanced and attractive combo piece from the mine! These are rare specimens indeed, as I know from living nearby for almost a decade. Few collectors, even in San Diego County, own a crystal as large and sharp as this one - most large crystals of this size have crackling in them, rendering them ugly. It is also exceedingly gemmy, much brighter and more lustrous in person than the photo appears. The garnet measures over 2 cm across at widest and 3 cm tall, and is complete and well-formed all around its termination. It is not complete on the rear-left side only, out of sight. This is a MAJOR spessartine miniature for the locality! Most large garnets of this size are cracked and hackly because the pegmatite was so disrupted by movement and by acidic solutions that liked to eat garnets away and leave semi-crystallized messes behind. Ex. Irv Brown Collection. Joe Budd Photos.
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!
A 664-gram MONSTER of a crystal, one of the biggest complete crystals we know of from the deposit. It is complete all around and nearly pristine! It is included with fibrous garnet and some black mineral, and has a few spots of attached red muscovite matrix attached to small parts of minor faces, but it is nevertheless overall very equant and symmetric and just plain impressive for a big crystal of garnet.
By just a hair, but visibly a hair, this crystal has the most brilliant internal luster of any of them, and is internally the most gemmy to boot. It is 33 grams and perfect in form and symmetry all around except for a few small contacts on one side and the bottom. As you can see, from the best display side, it looks more like a cut gem than a crystal of natural garnet. The price is admittedly high, but this little guy JUMPS out at the eye, even amidst other really great pieces! That extra gemminess and clarity inside, really has impact.
A killer doublet, a floater, complete all around and nearly pristine. The larger crystal atop is 4 x 4 x 3 cm in size and securely penetrates into the bottom crystal for a tight lock. MUCH MORE GEMMY and intensely colored in person, even. Here, in the photos, you can see into the depths of the crystal but they do not convey the full effect.
This 218 gram cluster is one of a VERY FEW clusters found so far, and a dramatic piece by any standard. It features crystals to 4 cm intergrown, with seams of a strange red mica mixed into the junctions. Complete floater, with terminations all around! This is one of the largest clusters, and one of the best. It is totally unprecedented for a spessartine garnet specimen, to my mind.
One of our best thumbnails, a SUPER SHARP, fully-terminated, carved-looking "golf ball." This is complete all around, and has intense orange color when backlit strongly. It is more gemmy/translucent in person, as well. Weight is 19 grams
A "matrixy" specimen featuring an elongated gemmy spessartine about 2 cm tall and 1 cm thick perched atop a smaller crystal, backed by a bit of matrix; and with the whole piece a great toenail size in full!
One of our more impactful thumbnails for the price, a SUPER SHARP, 2/3 crystal which has even more intense orange color when backlit strongly. It is more gemmy/translucent in person, as well. The piece is contacted where it grew against another crystal on the bottom but is 2.3 complete except for a slight ding in the back of the top termination (hence the low price). Some cutting rough value, I imagine. Weight is 18 grams
One of our best thumbnails, a SUPER SHARP, fully-terminated, carved-looking "golf ball." This is complete all around, and has intense orange color when backlit strongly. It is really as good as other top thumbs here except only a slight black inclusion in the bottom 5% - but you have to mount it somewhere anyhow, so this does not really detract too much visually although the price is reduced accordingly. It is more gemmy/translucent in person, as well. Weight is 19 grams
A super miniature, very showy, with unusual elongated crystals in a cluster. These crystals have particularly good gemminess and you can really, in person, look right down into the crystals! As good as the singles are, these few doublet clusters are MUCH more rare. 66 grams
123 grams. Large Miniature! A literal "golf ball," sharp and equant all around. These faces are SHARP! The crystal is much more gemmy and translucent in person, and glows intense fiery orange when backlit strongly. For the size, this is unusually well preserved with just a few small dings and one small chip on one tip. It is otherwise free of damage and amazingly symmetrical.
A MAJOR specimen with a 5-cm-across crystal, on "matrix" of a smaller crystal and red mica, and weighing 191 grams. This is a REALLY impressive garnet specimen from any locality and for this locale, it jumps out for sheer size and for the nice way the major crystal is perched. Complete, if contacted in back, this makes for one of the most dramatic pieces I have yet seen.
A strangely elongated, compound crystal that weighs 155 grams, this is another major piece from the find. It has intense color, and when backlit just glows orange. The translucency is also fairly good, better than it shows here although not quite as good as some of the best singles. However the orange hue is equal to the top! Clusters of this size, and quality, are more rare though and the size overall makes it very impactful.
A rare matrix specimen with two crystals, one to 2 cm, perched isolated on matrix and standing up dramatically from it! 98 grams weight. This piece has the two sharp crystals actually floating in muscovite layers that seem to have covered the bottom of a compound crystal formed previously, into which the crystals atop settled and sunk in a bit. Its very appealing, overall, and again is one of the VERY few matrix specimens we have from here at this time.
One of my favorites, a striking miniature with a mandarin-orange, approximately 1-inch and equant, translucent to transparent crystal, free of internal dark veils, just perched up and popping out from a natural pedestal of a smaller crystal! Complete all around except for a contact on the bottom where it attached to more matrix. This is one of the VERY FEW clusters of any kind of aesthetic appeal at all! This crystal glows with color when well lit and is one of the best for color, period. For overall 3-dimensionality, this was one of my favorites out of literally hundreds of pieces of the material for all these reasons. 48 grams.
Two "frog-eyes" of 1.8 cm each sit perched atop a matrix-included larger garnet, giving us spectacular contrast! Such matrix-like pieces are extremely rare in this find and this one has garnets of high quality anyhow, perched upon it. If sold separately, they would still not be cheap. As this is one of the most aesthetic matrix pieces, it has to command a premium (no question about it), but its the only one like it that I have.
690 grams! At almost 700 grams, this pound-and-a-half crystal is one of the largest complete crystals in the entire production. I have seen portions of bigger crystals, but none complete. The symmetry, the form, its astonishing when you take the size into account - and the thing is very impactful because of it! Complete on all sides, all around, save only for a small contact at the bottom.
A complete floater, this is the best example I have seen of this particular crystal habit, unusually and dramatically elongated. It weighs 156 grams. The crystal is complete and free of any damage except for one shallow conchoidal fracture on one corner (and it can be displayed facing away up or down, anyhow). It is cheaper because of that little ding, but really this does not diminish the impact.
For a high quality piece with color and translucency, without breaking the bank, this may be the best bargain of the lot because of that, if you don't mind two very small dings. It is 129 grams. This beautiful crystal has great depths of translucency, sharp form, among the best for luster, and is complete on all display faces. It has attached matrix underneath, and is thus not fully symmetric on the bottom where it grew out. It is ALMOST among the very best of the update with a five-figure price but has two very small dings I didn't even notice when buying, that slightly detract in person. If not, it would be 10k. But it is nevertheless a superb piece by any standard.
282 grams and complete! A textbook crystal of SUPER SHARP faces and edges, with an unusual dark wine-red color. It is pristine and complete all around save only a small contact at one bottom face, with some translucency at the edges but generally dark. However, in a case, it looks wine-red and the sheer size and sharpness of form carry the day for display value.
Really a quite good crystal of 44 grams, though with some inclusions that make it dark but do not hinder the translucency as you can see. Sharp and complete all around except only a small contact on bottom
Really a quite good crystal of 38 grams, though with some crazing in the back that does not hinder the translucency as you can see. Sharp and complete all around except only a small contact on the middle of the back face, this is a rare and unusual elongated crystal.
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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