Spessartine Garnet With Schorl on Albite
Little 3 Mine, near Ramona, San Diego County, California, USA
Miniature, 4.3 x 2.7 x 2.0 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

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