- Colorado Quartz Mine, Mother Lode Belt, Mariposa Co., California, USA
- Cabinet, 10.3 x 6.2 x 2.0 cm
Gold from California is plentiful, but cabinet pieces with exquisite crystallization are not. This mine is perhaps the single most famous source of the finest crystallized golds in modern times, with several different mining operations following the vein across the last 100 years. This piece has superb crystallization and is freestanding and perfect on both sides, typical of what this mine is famous for (example: the Dragon Gold in Houston). This specimen was acquired by well-known collector Richard Kosnar in the 1980s, and stocked away in the family collection until a few years ago, when a private collector bought it. I am told that he was told it came from the early era here, 1920s-1940s, though there is not way to prove it now. In any case, spectacular, large gold specimens like this are uncommonly seen on the public market, and this is the first time it has been for public sale in nearly 40 years.
- Fluorite with Quartz
- Dongposhan Mine, near Chenzhou, Hunan Province, China
- Cabinet, 14.5 x 7.7 x 6.5 cm
Chinese fluorite has run the range of colors and shapes, and I thought we had seen it all. In mid-2016, a small pocket was hit at this deep commercial tungsten ore mine, with some of the most lustrous, most richly colored, gem fluorite crystals we have yet seen, in beautiful harmony with quartz crystals. I was lucky enough to obtain a small group of stellar specimens at the top of the find, which all came from a single 3 x 3 foot section off one wall of the pocket after a blast. I actually was lucky enough to be in this large ore mine shortly after it was found, and see how far in and how difficult it is to get such things out. Nothing from later pockets approached this quality - believe me, I went to the mine to see myself, and have kept watch ever since. Being in this mine and seeing the conditions worked under to extract specimens is truly humbling!
- Calcite on Calcite
- Tonglushan Mine, Daye, Hubei Province, China
- Cabinet, 16.0 x 13.0 x 8.0 cm
A stunning "jewel" of a calcite! Chinese calcites have long since hit the quantity of fish in the ocean, to the point where I am jaded and seldom excited about new calcite finds there. I happened to be in China, not far from the town of Daye, when this new pocket was hit in early May of 2015. I bought as many as I could, of which this is one of the best, from the direct source dealer from that town on the closing day of my travel. The Tonglushan Mine is actually an ancient copper mine worked since 2700 BC for ore, but only in the last 10 years for specimens! Apparently, it has produced on and off pockets of malachite and calcite, but only sparsely and they seldom came to the Western markets.
- Apophyllite on Stilbite
- Momin Akhada well dig, Rahuri, Maharashtra State, India (2001)
- Cabinet, 17.5 x 9.0 x 9.0 cm
Out of all the finds of all minerals in all the world, when a collector says the words Disco Ball apophyllite, it can mean only one thing: one of under a few dozen of the great apophyllite specimens with complete spherical crystal clusters from one single find back in 2001. There is nothing else that comes close, no later find that compares, and nothing from any other locality. This piece, is one of the Ikons of an iconic pocket, not to lay it on too thickly. It was the finest complete ball on balanced matrix in its size, according to the Indian dealer who handled 90% or more of the pocket, and it is balanced and complete 360 degrees all around, without damage. It went immediately into the personal collection of Dr. Steve Smale, from whom I exchanged it some 15 years later.
- Beryl var. Aquamarine & Heliodor
- Nyat, Braldu Valley, Baltistan, Pakistan
- Small Cabinet, 8.2 x 5.0 x 4.9 cm
This unique specimen seems to be an aquamarine overgrowing a heliodor core, with interesting green feathery inclusions which I have no clue what we are looking at. Depending on lighting and background, it is either a really blue aqua or a neon blue aqua...in either case, no matter how you look at it, the color is truly phenomenal and special. The color changes a bit in various lights, and so the video here is a more accurate representation of luster and shape, than of color. At the time I first bought and sold it in Tucson 2005 I was told that it was a freak piece, mined alone only several months before the show. I have not seen another like it, since. It is completely crystallized around all sides.
- Rhodochrosite on Manganite (circa 1979 find)
- Hotazel Mine, Kuruman, Kalahari MN field, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
- Small Cabinet, 10.0 x 6.5 x 4.0 cm
Sparkly, Cherry-red rhodochrosites from the oldest finds here in the late 1970's are legendary to this day for their unique color saturation, sparkly luster, and overall impressive appearance. Note they were found before, and are MUCH more rare, than their cousins from the nearby N'Chwaning Mines. They have never been matched by any find of rhodochrosite from anywhere, including from 40 more years of mining in the Kalahari manganese fields. Although many more rhodochrosite specimens came out later, into the early 1980's, they were of different habit. This specimen is from the same pocket as the iconic "Snail" rhodochrosite that has been exhibited so widely over decades, in the Larson collection. It is approximately the same size, and has the same color and luster.
- Rhodochrosite, Tetrahedrite, Fluorite
- Tetrahedrite Stope, Sweet Home Mine, Mount Bross, Park Co., Colorado, USA
- Large Cabinet, 16.3 x 9.7 x 6.1 cm
The size and coverage of this rhodochrosite make it have huge impact in a case and you can see it from ACROSS THE ROOM. It is not just "red," but it is "cherry red, with luster" way beyond average in each of those important qualities, and with crystals to an inch. Specimens of this size, without damage or repairs, are few and far between on the market - even at the time they came out. This would date to the late 1990s heyday here. Today, each new collector or up and coming collector wants a major rhodochrosite, but generally the only truly fine quality specimens on the market are small. This is a beast, and just dominates a display case.
- Merelani Mines Block D, Arusha, Tanzania
- Miniature, 4.4 x 2.8 x 2.7 cm
This is a special tanzanite crystal, even among others we have seen, for its unique quality and style from an early 2000s pocket that is now legendary. We think this pocket came in 2003-4 and the style remains distinct to this day for color, clarity and gemminess within, and the sleep, modern, architecture of the crystals themselves without undue distracting striations, rounding, or defects. The gemminess and clarity is special, and in fact this is prime cutting rough material. They are now only found in top collections such as the MIM Museum. Tanzanite is one of those gemstones termed a "generational stone" because the supply and the mine is limited by access and location, and will eventually run out (probably in our lifetimes). They are already digging below 1 kilometer in depth.
- Apophyllite on Stilbite
- Savada, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
- Cabinet, 11.5 x 10.5 x 9.5 cm
Apophyllite in a quality and style not often seen before, for this combination in this size, with an 8 cm gem point standing straight up from contrasting matrix! A single remarkable pocket produced these sharp, standing gem crystals of exceedingly gemmy mint-green apophyllite perched on clouds of pink stilbite, right before Tucson of 2017. While we have seen similar in the past, in smaller size, I cannot recall seeing such a monster of this quality. I bought all I could, and sent them to the lab for cleaning and preparation. The few I did not get to fast enough, had already sold into major collections before even being cleaned and prepared, just as mine-run. Under a dozen were as remarkable as this piece for aesthetics, still fewer of this size, and all of these stand to me among the best examples we have yet seen of the species from this deposit.
- Tourmaline with Albite and Laumontite (illustrated)
- Sosedka Pegmatite, Malkhan Field, Krasnyi Chikoy, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia
- Cabinet, 10.8 x 3.0 x 2.9 cm
A stately and commanding Tourmaline crystal adorned with contrasting bluish Albite and Laumontite from the Malkhan Pegmatite Field, and one of the special crystals to be noted and recovered in early efforts at the Sosedka pegmatite here (2012). This gorgeous deep cranberry colored Tourmaline is over four inches in length and more than an inch across and is translucent with local gemmy areas, especially at the termination. Its prism faces are distinctly striated and the crystal is doubly terminated on one end by a complex and lustrous modified pyramid and the opposite end by an etched pinacoid. The crystal is graced on one side by pale blue, platy Albite crystals to 1 cm in length as individual crystals and open rosettes. For added interest, Laumontite is also associated with the Albite on this side as a late-stage crystallization product...and yes, Zeolites are found in pegmatites! The Laumontite occurs as densely aggregated, ivory colored bladed crystals to a few millimeters.
- Christoph Mine, Kaokoveld Plateau, Kunene Region, Namibia
- Small Cabinet, 6.0 x 3.5 x 3.0 cm
Even after all the other historical localities (Tsumeb, Russia, etc.), there is still something about these elongated dioptase crystals from modern finds in Northern Namibia by Charlie Key (keyite, ludlockite, and the Indiana Jones of mineral collecting in Southern Africa) and his mining team that blows me away - and this is among the largest crystals found, with a superb, pristine, nearly 4 cm crystal standing straight up on well-trimmed matrix. It is COMPLETE ALL AROUND, with a full 360 termination! After years of prospecting, they mined these in the years around 2005-2010, though lost control over the claim shortly after. This specimen, one kept back in his personal collection, is simply off the charts, unexpected, and too big to exist in such pristine quality combined with aesthetics. It should not exist. I was literally stunned to see it.
- Beryl var. Aquamarine with Schorl on Albite
- Shigar Valley, Shigar Dist., Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
- Large Cabinet, 17.0 x 15.5 x 11.0 cm
This is quite simply a gorgeous and impressive large cabinet combination specimen of Aquamarine with Albite and Schorl. The imposing, five inch Aquamarine crystal is water-clear in its upper half, somewhat turbid in its lower half, and has a super glassy luster with good color and a perfect termination, some of the best attributes for a gemstone crystal. It is nested in just the right amount of matrix, and that matrix has large and well-formed, snow-white Albite crystals to 4 cm, and jet-black Schorl Tourmaline crystals to 3 cm for the ultimate polarity in color between them, and fantastic contrast with the stately pale blue Aquamarine that commands attention in the center. There is no damage to the Aqua and only one clean (lock-fit) repair near the base. Taken together, you can see the impact makes this a fantastic piece for the discriminating collector as one of the finer examples in its size and price range. From a remarkable 2020 find.
- Shigar Valley, Skardu District, Baltistan, Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Areas), Pakistan
- Cabinet, 15.0 x 14.0 x 6.5 cm
The photos say it all, for this massive, important, piece. It has a truly incredible, vibrant, lively color that must be seen to be believed - and is visible from across the room! Photo by Joe Budd. Comes with a custom lucite base. View a rotating video of this specimen at https://goo.gl/XqGSgF
- Smoky Quartz Gwindel
- Puiva Mine, Saranpaul, Western-Siberian Region, Russia
- Large Cabinet, 15.5 x 13.5 x 8.0 cm
Gwindels, or twisted quartzes, come at their best from a very very few high Alpine deposits, worldwide. The twist in a gwindel is proportional to its drama (and value), and here you see a dramatic and pronounced twisting. For some reason, most tend to be smoky quartz, and the best of the best came from Chamonix in France, a few small clefts in Switzerland, and this one lonely mountain in Russia. This particular piece came out in the 1980s heyday here - when the Wall fell and Russian specimens came out to the Western market in the mid 1990s, we all thought these were contemporary. However, they came out a decade earlier, in most cases, according to Brad Van Scriver (who handled many). This piece, which came to me from an old collection, is remarkable for the quality of the twist, the intensity of the sparkly luster, and the fine smoky color for this locality.
- Ruby in Marble
- Mogok Valley, Burma
- Miniature, 5.0 x 4.0 x 3.0 cm
Rubies from Mogok are simply the most highly valued in the world, in gems or in minerals. The mining here is insane, with 500,000 workers in the Mogok Valley mining every day and splitting the few things found. We recently watched a video made for TV by Federico Barlocher, that seems to be the first time any Westerner has been allowed to make videos deep in the mines and of the full context of the mining operations. It is, in one word, humbling (the 2017 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium - dallassymposium.org - featured his talk and video, included in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of the Mineralogical Record). Specimens are few, and now I understand why. It is incredibly rare to find an aesthetic ruby, and then to keep it from being cut is as great a challenge.
- Panasquiera Mine, Castelo Branco District, Portugal
- Large Cabinet, 21.0 x 12.2 x 4.5 cm
Arsenopyrite is a common mineral in the polymetallic deposits of Panasquiera, though it seldom occurs in rich and large plates. This particular pocket, featuring a natural and frankly startling iridescence to the crystals, came out in 2015 and only a few specimens were available at the time (luckily, I was travelling through Europe at the time and bought several). Why have we not seen these rich colors before or since, in all the history of the mine? I cannot say, why this piece is so intensely colored, and others from other pockets are not. I have seen the same effect in China, rarely, at a similar mine. The conditions just have to be right, once, and in all the pockets of this mine, each is subtly different.
- Elbaite Tourmaline
- Manoel Mutuca Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Large Cabinet, 18.5 x 3.4 x 2.8 cm
This crystal is a stunning historic piece from one of the most famous gem mines of the time, the "Mutuca/Mutuba" indicolite mine, which is still infamous today in gemstone and jewelry circles in Idar-Oberstein and in Brazil for the cut gems of the era. This is a terminated, unrepaired, deep blue indicolite from the old days of Brazilian gem crystal mining, when very little went to collectors and nearly all of it was cut It has no damage, nor any repairs or restorations. It is an unexpected survivor from a time when nearly everything like this was cut into pieces. People in the gem trade that I showed this to, to verify, confirmed the location and suggested a date of mining prior to 1960. This was brought up by Peter Bancroft on one of his trips in 1971, and kept by him for some years in his own collection before selling it to Jack Halpern (along with another tourmaline we're deaccessioning for him). What is amazing about this tourmaline is not only the uniformity of color and the saturation, but that it backlights so easily.
- Elbaite Tourmaline
- Santa Rosa Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Large Cabinet, 16.9 x 5.2 x 3.9 cm
Santa Rosa has produced some of the finest tourmaline crystal specimens in the world, though most of them were destroyed in collecting or cut for gemstones in the heyday of Brazilian gem mining. This large, heavy, multicolored crystal is a rare survivor of those times - probably found in the 1940's according to former owner Dr. Peter Bancroft (see attached letter, written to John Attard when John tried to get the information on behalf of Jack back in 1999 and while Peter was still alive). Despite being huge and thick, it backlights very well, very dramatically, and looks awesome in a showcase. This was brought up by Peter Bancroft on one of his trips in 1971, and kept by him for some years in his own collection before selling it to Jack Halpern (along with another tourmaline in this update). It masses 570 grams!
- Rubellite Tourmaline (circa 1900)
- King Mine, Pala, San Diego Co., California, USA
- Small Cabinet, 8.9 x 5.7 x 4.6 cm
This specimen is a nearly pristine, robust King Mine Elbaite Tourmaline crystal that was mined around the turn of the 1900s in the era when the jewelry dealer Tiffany's out of NYC was competing with the last Empress Dowager of China for the world's best supply of pink tourmaline rough material for carving and jewelry. Needless to say, little survived that competition, in the way of specimens. It's the exact top level of carving material once sent to the Empress dowager of China when San Diego was a gem export center for the US in the pre-WWI era, and when the Chinese carving market drove gem mining efforts in San Diego (the legacy is still seen today in the street names as you go down from the mountains along Garnet avenue past Beryl and Quartz and Feldspar etc, to get to the beach). This dignified Elbaite crystal is an intense, translucent pink and doubly terminated! It has a flat (pinacoid) termination on one end and a complex (pyramidal) termination on the other, and is pristine except only for a very minor bit of restoration on the flat termination side. This gorgeous crystal is distinctly striated and tapers slightly inward towards the complex pyramidal end.
- Pontes e Lacerda, Mato Grosso, Brazil
- Miniature, 4.5 x 3.2 x 1.8 cm
One of my favorite miniature-sized specimens from hundreds I had seen, from this large find a few years ago, we put this away for the future at the time. It is a spreading, volumetric cluster of incredibly sharp gold crystals, with mesmerizing detail throughout. it is complete 360 and simply amazing to look at up close. The photos say it all. At 49.2 grams, it has more volume for display for the collector, than the mass would otherwise indicate, as it spreads out nicely. One of our favorites of the entire lot, from the several kilos of material we had seen when these came out (around 2015).
- Shigar Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
- Cabinet, 10.0 x 8.0 x 4.5 cm
A stunning, 3-dimensional cluster of sky-blue Aquamarine crystals that represents one of the top-tier pieces in its size class, this was a signature exhibition specimen for decades in the Obodda collection as shown at the Tucson, Springfield, and Munich shows (and in a special 2011 museum exhibition in Tucson). This stately Aqua consists of two main crystal columns each at three and a half inches in length and an inch or more across! The bottom half of each crystal is interestingly cloudy resembling an internal "fog" that is sharply demarcated by a horizontal zone above which the crystals are completely gem for the remainder all the way to their perfect terminations! All of the crystals of this sumptuous piece have a luster like glass with exceptionally well-formed crystal faces and sharp edges. The terminations are dominated by the pinacoid with slight pyramidal modifications around the top. A two and a half inch Aqua spans the two diagonally across the base for added effect.
- Eagles Nest Mine, Placer Co, California, USA
- Miniature, 4.9 x 3.6 x 0.5 cm
An exquisite gold of classic form from Eagle's Nest, but on second look you will see that it has a much more robust crystallization than usual, and the absolutely top luster possible from here. The crystals are thick and show space between the branches, whereas this material is often much more densely packed and netted in appearance. Only maybe 1 in 1000 of the prolific Eagles Nest golds has such luster. It spreads nicely, balanced in the middle, and I always thought of this as an "Eagle" in shape, a nice coincidence with the locality name! Complete on both sides. Although the mine produces several different styles of crystallized gold, and has given us some giant and amazing large pieces, I do not think we could get a finer Eagle's Nest in the full miniature size, of this particular style.
- Pezzottaite (type locality)
- Sakavalana Mine, Mandrosonoro, Ambatofinandrahana, Madagascar
- Miniature, 5.1 x 3.6 x 0.7 cm
A large, and significant crystal for this very rare gemstone species, a neon pink-red Pezzottaite from the type locality in Madagascar. This is a superb, complete, tabular hexagonal Pezzottaite crystal with well-developed, broad, flat terminations modified around the edges by complex modifications (pyramidal faces). It has robust, raspberry-red color and is gemmy throughout. The broad faces have a satin luster. One side displays stepped growth with progressively smaller hexagonal growth forms - mesmerizing detail! It is pristine save for a few tiny contact notches at the bottom where it grew from matrix (most of the pocket of 2003 was found, collapsed, and few matrix pieces exist; the majority being floaters such as this).
- Corundum var. Sapphire
- Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka
- Small Cabinet, 5.8 x 1.6 x 1.3 cm
Superb and substantial, doubly-terminated, hexagonal, prismatic Sapphire crystal from Sri Lanka. This classic, NATURAL (unheated) Sapphire crystal exhibits its characteristic steely-blue color. This 24g Sapphire crystal is an amazing two and one-quarter inches long and five-eighths of an inch at its widest. Although specimens of this size tend to show rounding of the edges from rolling around in the gem gravels of their host rivers in Sri Lanka, this specimen is very sharp and it has well-defined crystal faces and edges. It's gemmy through much of its length with translucent areas and displays a sublime medium blue color to most of the body, graduating to whitish at the terminations. 24 grams is large for such material.
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