Cassiterite with Muscovite
Mt Xuebaoding, Pingwu Co., Mianyang, Sichuan, China
Small Cabinet, 7.6 x 3.8 x 3.6 cm

The ancient tungsten mine atop remote Mt. Xuebaoding ('Snow Covered Treasure Mountain') is legendary for specimens of both scheelite and cassiterite, which are not only the best of China but generally considered to be the best of species in the world. However, the heyday for this mine, actually a series of tunnels and adits going deep into the mountain now, was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The old quality rarely turns up anymore, particularly since mining is so limited nowadays due to lack of dynamite and concerns about disturbing the nearby panda preserve; and also the long term consequences of a disastrous 2009 earthquake that destroyed a lot of roads and business here. This pocket was surprise that came out in 2020, of scintillating, wet-looking, stunningly lustrous cassiterite every bit as good as the material from the 1990s, which is scarce today. This gorgeous black rosette of crystals is so lustrous that you can shave in it, and perched perfectly on contrasting crystallized muscovite blades. The cassiterite is 4.4 cm across tip to tip, sharply twinned, complete, and without repairs or damage. It is aesthetic, balanced perfectly...just a miracle find. It is, in every sense, a competitive level specimen in its size class.