This is a super colorful scheelite from the 2007 "RED POCKET," with unusual and distinct red tones laid over the classical orange hue. It is bright and intensely colored, and remarkably it is complete all around. For the sheer size (over 5 pounds weight!), I have not seen its equal in color and condition. With high lustre and deep color combined with size, this is a very important and rare large specimen that has to stand among top pieces from this locality. China is the world's best locality for scheelites, unarguably. The scheelites coming from this extremely remote mountain locality are orders of magnitude prettier and better than those from anywhere else. However, the locale is remote , hard to work, and subject to pressure to work with hand tools if at all because it is located next to the major Sichuan Province Wolong. Panda Bear preserve. Production has definitely tapered off in the last decade, after an initial gold rush of mining here. The earthquake a few years ago in 2008 didn't help, making already difficult roads even more so. The mine is actually accessed by mule and pack train, and resides high in the mountain above the town of Ping Wu. Mark my words, someday when the Chinese collectors begin to collect with the sophisticated "specimen style," instead of mostly "mother rocks" and big clunkers, big and showy specimens like this will see price increases in multiples.
Purple-capped tourmalines are quite rare, and this piece has a distinct purple zone, above a blue zone, on its termination. More than that, it is just a VERY FINE and aesthetic tourmaline specimen by any standard, with the color as a bonus feature. It is, first off, NOT repaired. Most large matrix tourmalines from this region are repaired at least once, especially when connected to a quartz as this is. And, the quartz and cleavelandite are arranged in great balance, not overwhelming but accenting the tourmaline itself. The tourmaline is very equant and fat, about 7 x 7 x 7 cm overall in size. It has an extremely unusual and GLASSY termination...intricately scalloped, for lack of a better word. It has many subtle growth features that result in incredible reflections and sparkle coming off that termination. I cannot say that I have ever seen this style of termination on such a large crystal - just on small ones, before. Lastly, the piece is shockingly pristine - protected in transit and collecting more than you can normally hope for in such large specimens (782 grams). It has a greater visual "size impact" than you'd think. The purple color , especially in a lustrous termination, is perhaps the rarest of all colors on a tourmaline. In particular, its very rare from this part of the world where they tend towards pastel hues of pink and greens. One can own any number of tourmalines and at the end of the day must ask yourself, which ones are really SPECIAL? This one, it stands out.
When I was first offered this specimen via email from a source in Peshawar, who said it had just been hauled in from Afghanistan, I passed on it. I thought it must be a glued-together fake, and a pretty bad fake at that since it was so obvious this could not be real. Unrepaired and a pristine floater complete all around?! HAH! (In fact, I was a little upset my source had the poor judgment to pass on to me such an obvious fake.) I have since been proven wrong, as I found when another foreign source bought the piece and put it in front of me here in the US, trusting I would freak out over it. It is real, it is unrepaired despite its intricate geometry and sheer size (nearly a foot tall!); and it is pristine and undamaged all around as advertised. Oh yes, and it is a floater! The morganite measures 8 x 8 x 3.25 cm and is the size of a hockey puck and as symmetrical as a crystal model. It is PERFECT, as if it were carved from pink ice. The color is a classic pink, not peachy-orange. The contrast of the pastel pink morganite and its sharp hexagonal form to the crazily tilting vertical spray of intense pink kunzites is, obviously, quite startling and exciting to see. It is one of the most 3-dimensional mineral specimens I could imagine and I feel privileged to offer this all-too-real miracle of survival. I was told recently by another dealer that they were offered the specimen in Peshawar when visiting (this was in 2007) but through an intermediary, and at a much higher price. My suspicion is that it did not sell simply because any buyer would have had to be suspicious of its reality - which I have thoroughly checked now in a modern prep lab to be sure of. This is a world class gem pegmatite combination specimen. Note that in normal lighting the photos below are more accurate. The first photo was taken by Joe Budd using stronger, studio lighting.
Elmwood is now closed, apparently for good, and the lucky flood of calcites from the mine will be remembered forever. However, even in its heyday, specimens such as this were never common. This is a perfectly situated gem calcite with the most intense amber color possible for the locality, perched upon crystallized sphalerite matrix (a much nicer contrast than the usual perch upon gray limestone!!). It is good from EITHER SIDE, and frankly I cannot decide which side I like better. The crystal is literally perched atop the shard of sphalerite-coated matrix, and measures 11.6 x 6 x 5 cm in size. The intensely amber crystals tend not to get so gemmy, and so this is a very rare specimen in that regard...you can actually look through all but the very center of the crystal, and see through to the other side or to the underlaying matrix. Most large Elmwood calcites have some damage, and on this it is extremely trivial: a few very minor bits of edge wear and a slightest of ding on each tip. The secondary, smaller calcite below the major one has a cleaved termination, but this is only an accent crystal anyways. On one side, the specimen presents the largest calcite faces front and center, showing a very equant twinned scalenohedron, perched on the sphalerite. But on this side teh sphalerite is very unusual, occurring as flattened crystals overlaying the limestone in a thin, sparkling coating. On the other side of the specimen, the calcite presents more elegantly, showing more of the sharp corners and edges than the broad lateral faces , and the sphalerite is mroe robustly crystallized as is typical for the mine. The choice of front and back is solely a personal aesthetics choice - either is equally winning. Personally, I prefer the more unusual side, showing the sparklng sphalerite as host for the calcite with its more gemmy aspect showing front and center.
ex. Dr. Eugene Meieran
This is a rare matrix bubblegum-colored tourmaline, perched dramatically at one end of a shard of lustrous smoky quartz. The tourmaline has JUICY color, a rich pink-red hue classic for this region. It has a nearly perfect termination with only minute edge wear and a glassy, unusually fine lustre to the top that lets you look right down into the depths of the crystal. The crystal itself is about 10 x 6 x 5 cm in size, though it tapers slightly towards the base. It is repaired, from a natural break in situ, at a point just below the junction to the attached smoky quartz and so the seam is really quite unseen from the front of the specimen. It is a good, clean repair job with minor restoration at the natural break, and without a jarring visual effect when displayed , so I consider it acceptable at a price. A specimen like this would normally be in the 6-figure range if perfect and so, admittedly, this is not quite perfect BUT the price is adjusted accordingly - at a good tradeoff to the collector who can now get a matrix bubblegum pink , that doesn't cost the fortune it looks like it should. This specimen was obtained from a direct source in-country, via email as it came out of the mine, by collector Gene Meieran (from whom I obtained it, in turn).In person, the tourmaline color and photography is most accurate in the closeup (lower-right) photo. The lustre is best shown in the first photo. When we use good lighting on the tourmaline, the smoky quartz appears more black than it actually is, in person (it is more a normal dark gray color, than black as it appears). 1.2 kilos
This is, to me, a shockingly unique specimen featuring the largest , well-crystallized 3-dimensional spinel twin gold on matrix that I have ever seen for sale. This is NOT a flattenned crystalline gold as with Eagles Nest material and it is not a typical octohedral crystal or cluster of such as some Mockingbird material occurs. Rather, this is a SINGLE thick , euhedral CRYSTAL, fully 3.5 cm tip to tip, just so nicely perched on a well-trimmed matrix (prepped out by a VERY clever and risk-taking preparator to whom kudos is due!).This crystal has a natural patina as the enclosing quartz was removed with physical means instead of the less elegant but easier method of hydrofluoric acid. It is complete all around and is EQUALLY fine from the other side - it displays either way. If I have not yet conveyed how impressed I am, let me try more bluntly: I LOVE THIS ROCK! I loved it the moment I saw it in late 2005. I sold it shortly thereafter to a collector whom has now started to cull and slim down his collection, and I leapt at the chance to exchange it back. At the time I first had it, I could not reveal the source from whom I had obtained it; but now I can say it is from the personal collection of the late Bill Forrest: a longtime California collector, gold-miner, and co-owner of the Benitoite mine during much of its modern heyday. To me, this specimen screams out from a case in a manner far more impactful and unique than any number of larger golds I have seen for sale. The size of the crystal, and its sharp twinning, make it important. The brilliant lustre and aesthetic perch on matrix make it collectible to the connosseur. Photo on green background , by Joe Budd.
ex. Dr. Edward David
A gorgeous and LARGE (6.5 inches tall!) silver specimen from this classic locality that looks like a cluster of striking snakes, coiled together. For size, it just bowls you over. Moreover, it is very beautiful not just for the overall form, but because it has a unique patina of minute bornite and chalcopyrite crystals that gives it a "sparkle" in person. It is very different in aspect, thus, from what you normally see. This is a MAJOR Kongsberg of a size we almost never see for sale on the modern market, like what exists only in the major museums by and large.
weight: 29.4 pounds. Perhaps one of the world's largest crystals for the species ! It is complete all around, and with remarkably little etching effects given the size of the crystal. It is nearly entirely gemmy, especially in the center. The tip just glows with purple and maroon hues, with any kind of good lighting , especially when light comes down the c-axis. For the remarkably equant and sharp termination, this would be major anyhow for the species, even if it were small (most have etched terminations as the sizes get longer, not as attractive to my eye). But in this size, its literally a museum piece and among the most impressive examples of this species I have seen. It is not so easy to hold as it looks...for any more than a few seconds in that position. Shown is Dave Wilber, holding the piece as he gave a discussion on its importance for a video series called "What's Hot in Tucson" in 2008
ex. William Greiger
WOW. I have simply never seen such a large Kelly Mine piece, preserved! And it is not only preserved , but its GOOD as well. The piece is complete all around, 360 degrees, and is a wonderful, classic blue color. It consists of two generations: the underlaying and more common botryoidal, rounded smithsonite; and a thin layer atop of actual CRYSTALS, rare from the locality. We call these "rice grain" smithsonites, as they are somewhat rounded, but this is what you get here, rarely, and there is more crystallized smithsonite on this specimen than I have seen on all others combined, passing through my hands over the years. This is from the personal collection of dealer WM Greiger, which was purchased recently by Pala Intl. It was likely obtained in the 1950s-1960s by him though mined probably even earlier as the richness is amazing and unlike later pockets hit here; and I regard it as a highly, HIGHLY significant US classic.
An exquisite cluster from mining about 3-4 years ago that have by all acknowledgements produced the finest stibnites in the world since the ancient Japanese finds, now long gone. These brilliantly metallic crystals are so sharp and lustrous, they look machined. This particular specimen is one of the more robust clusters I have seen, with broad, fat crystals to 1 inch wide, in an elegant spray. It has the most trivial damage possible for such a large and exposed piece, and none of any significance. I looked through thousands of these, much of the find, and this was one of my favorite picks at ANY price and size range. Also, most of these are too large, if they are of any quality. This one is an excellent size for most collections, not too large, not too spindly-looking.
ex. Martin Zinn
Modern Art in minerals, I call this one...and family and friends who are not into minerals immediately "get it" when they see this in my case (i had it at home for a few years). This fantastic display piece is pristine all around, though multiply repaired and restored at junctions (as all from this pocket of any size were). The crystals exhibit an amazing juxtaposition of prismatic and flat basal terminations in a series: pointy-flat-pointy-flat-pointy right across the piece. Never seen the like, with so many examples of two different terminations of tourmaline upon the same matrix?! The largest tourmaline is 11cm and I can tell you that, as far as I am concerned, the price is reasonable because individual crystals that size or clusters such as we have on the right would add up to the whole pirce pretty quickly here, if it was trimmed and sold in pieces (the tragedy!). Stunning white Cleavelandite is host, and it is sprinkled with metallic purple lepidolite as well so that color abounds and everything is nice and sparkly. The gorgeous multicolored tourmalines (to 4.3 inches or 11 cm in height) stick up and out; while gemmy, clear, perfect quartz points grow amongst the tourmaline on the right side and stick out laterally towards the viewer in front (they are so gemmy they are difficult to photograph in contcxt here - better in person!). The tourmalines have a very 3-dimensional geometry, poking out every which way. When this pocket first came to light during re-mining projects to expand specimen production at the Pederneira Mine in 2001, it all went up to Denver to be prepped and repaired (all large specimens had come apart, and had to be put back together carefully using new techniques developed partly for the purpose). Zinn, a longtime Denver collector and longtime supporter of the company handling the pocket, got a few specimens from the find. This is one of those cases where, for the beauty of the mineral, even a sophisticated collector who might normally shun repairs , will readily accept them in context...so long as the result is as clean and beautiful as this piece is. This was Marty's pick of the lot for a cabinet sized matrix specimen, and he had an early shot at it, too. I have seen pieces at literally triple the price that I did not like so much as this one! It is, despite all the hundreds of specimens I have now seen over the years as the Ped ramped up production, still a unique pocket for combination of colors and matrix. Each pocket over the years has been distinct. This piece in particular always was, again out of literally hundreds of pieces I have seen, one of my absolute favorites and one I lusted after when the Zinn collection was sold. This is one of those pieces that, even amongst a tonne of tourmaline from the same mine, stands out. I would always want it back again, should the owner change his mind a ta later time. Comes with custom lucite base for easy display. (First photo by Joe Budd studios). Illustrated in the important book Minerals of Brazil, and in other places over the years.
Just incredible....hefty , 3-dimensional, very impactful gold. Leaps out from matrix. And has a huge weight to it. This is from the Colorado Quartz Mine, and is a piece that came out in the late 90s and was sold privately at that time. It weighs a hefty 300 grams. it is no slender tower of thin gold like Eagles Nest Mine golds you have seen. It is fat, thick, and 3-dimensional. This mine sets the standard fo rCalifornia gold, most people think, for this reason. It is NOT fragile or slender: Most golds this size would have a third the heft. This is mostly gold, and just a bit of quartz at the matrix base as a natural pedestal. I believe the price to be pretty fair, given the weight and the size and quality overall. As with my other Vault pieces, its one i would 100% agree in writing to take back, anytime, no questions asked, for open credit on anything else.
A remarkable single, floater crystal of HUGE size. This piece is complete all around, totallypristine, and has a remarkable, interesting patina to it. It is the largest fine Russian copper crystal I know of, personally; and moreover, is a major copper crysatl on a worldwide scale as well. It is similar, in fact, only to the famous few Arizona copper twins found in the 1970s and now valued at their weight in platinum. Joe Budd Photos.
ex. Dr. Steve Smale
This was one of two of Steve Smale's cabinet sized rose quartzes, which he bought out of a collection in Brazil in 1990 (though it was from the older finds, documented in Bancroft's Gem & Crystal Treasures Book, chapter 47 -page 222); and then he kept it for nearly 20 years. Nothing of such quality as that original find for sheer intensity in these arcing arrays of colorful crystals, has come out since that era, not in any size like this. Steve used to be a practitioner of cibachrome photography and I have his original hand-made 20-inch cibachrome print of the piece. Steve was THE CONSUMMATE collector of Brazilian fine gem crystals for a high standard of taste, and spent 50 years building one of the best collections of them ever put together in the US. He started breaking it up and trading before his move, a few years ago, to teach in Hong Kong (at age 80! ). I got this out of him ONLY as part of a large trade for the famous English bournonite in the Ikons book, in 2008. It is a rarified level of quality in Rose Quartz, which is actually more rare than one would think. The color is intense and hot pink, with excellent "sparkle." It is a specimen with an overall appearance that has long met the tastes of one of the strictest and most persnickety of collectors, and I believe it is worthy of any fine collection. Joe Budd Photo.
A remarkable Alpine fluorite from the single greatest pocket of modern times, which was worked by French field collector Frederic Eva from 2006, for a few years. Many crystals from this pocket had mattte faces or more pink color, with less saturation. This piece is lustrous on all major octohedral faces. This piece practically GLOWS with intense pink-red color, very saturated throughout and with no pale zones. IT IS MUCH BETTER IN PERSON, DESPITE ACCURATE PHOTOS, AS THE CAMERA CANNOT SEE HTE INTENSITY AND DEPTH OF THE EYE. THIS IS NOT JUST "ANOTHER" PINK FLUORITE, BUT A STEP BEYOND MOST. The crystals are complete all around 360 degrees, and have absolutely no damage whatsoever. They are fat, robust, and just plain "juicy," for lack of a better word. The combination of those qualities with an overall aesthetic display, is rare. The piece has a small amount o fmatrix granite still attached at the bottom, as well. Taken together, this is a rarified level of quality, and I was shocked to have been able to buy it dirty all these years after it had been mined and set aside in a French collection, still with pocket material on it that needed to be cleaned off in preparation. Joe Budd Photos.
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