Sulfur With Hydrocarbon Inclusions
Large Cabinet, 18.0 x 13.0 x 12.0 cm
Cozzodisi Mine, Sicily, Italy
This specimen features unusually sharp sulfur crystals showing double-ended terminations and, unusually for sulfur, high luster rather than the usual matte finish on the surface. The crystals are very bright, as sharp and as glassy as you can ask for in the species. The piece is, despite its size, nearly pristine and has no repairs. The crystals are aesthetically perched on matrix. All of these qualities are rare enough in a smaller example, and almost impossible to get in a large specimen of this magnitude. This is a world class sulfur, that is at the top of its game and should be considered of the same caliber as top gem crystals of-fancier' species. Interestingly, as a side note, the crystals grew on matrix that was exposed to flows of bitumen and oil, which became included in both the calcite matrix and in the sulfur crystals themselves, during growth. This is an unusual feature unique to this location, and proof of a natural (and not synthetically made) Italian pedigree. This location is the classic old locality for crystallized sulfur. As stated in the superb reference work on old classic locales, Peter Bancroft's GEM & CRYSTAL TREASURES (chapter 75): No other locality produces pristine sulfur crystals as large, as brilliant, and as well formed as Sicily. Few specimens seem to have been preserved until the 1800s, for museums and science. Most was crushed for gunpowder, and working conditions were quite literally horrendous in the past, not suited to relaxed specimen collecting until modern times. This specimen was from the collection of a mine engineer, who lived and worked in Sicily and was said to have self-collected these specimens in the 1950s and 1960s. This collection was recently sold in Europe, and I was able to get the first viewing of the material when it arrived by pallet shipment to the United States ahead of the Tucson 2012 show. To my taste, this was the single finest specimen in the lot for overall quality and display (although there were bigger pieces, they were flat plates and not as visually appealing). Joe Budd Photos.