Bastnaesite-Ce on Calcite
Thumbnail, 1.5 x 1.3 x 0.5 cm
Trimouns Talc Mine, Luzenac, Ariege, Midi-Pyrenees, France

A gorgeous, perfectly placed 1.25-cm crystal is perched on a stalk of calcite matrix here, making for an exquisite thumbnail specimen that puts the transparent crystal up on a natural pedestal. This is complete all around except only one small sidecar crystal on the back of the piece, which is broken. The front is perfect for display. A note about coloration: In fluorescent lights, these crystals look more amber-brown than in halogen lights, where they take on a more orange-red hue. When backlit moderately, as shown, they take on a nice red glowing color. Shown here are both backlit and frontal lighting shots. All photos here are taken under sunlight balanced halogen, with moderate backlighting. Joe Budd photos. These were found at the classic old French locality for rare earth species, in the late 1970s, and have until now been hidden away by the collector. For sheer quality and beauty, many collectors have long considered the gemmy rare earth crystals from here to be among the best of their species. The productive specimen zone at the locality is, I am told reliably, simply mined out and gone now.

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