Calcite on Sphalerite
Elmwood Mine, Carthage, Smith County, Tennessee, USA
Cabinet, 11.5 x 9.0 x 7.0 cm
Elmwood is now closed, apparently for good, and the lucky flood of calcites from the mine will be remembered forever. However, even in its heyday, specimens such as this were never common. This is a perfectly situated gem calcite with the most intense amber color possible for the locality, perched upon crystallized sphalerite matrix (a much nicer contrast than the usual perch upon gray limestone!!). It is good from EITHER SIDE, and frankly I cannot decide which side I like better. The crystal is literally perched atop the shard of sphalerite-coated matrix, and measures 11.6 x 6 x 5 cm in size. The intensely amber crystals tend not to get so gemmy, and so this is a very rare specimen in that can actually look through all but the very center of the crystal, and see through to the other side or to the underlaying matrix. Most large Elmwood calcites have some damage, and on this it is extremely trivial: a few very minor bits of edge wear and a slightest of ding on each tip. The secondary, smaller calcite below the major one has a cleaved termination, but this is only an accent crystal anyways. On one side, the specimen presents the largest calcite faces front and center, showing a very equant twinned scalenohedron, perched on the sphalerite. But on this side the sphalerite is very unusual, occurring as flattened crystals overlaying the limestone in a thin, sparkling coating. On the other side of the specimen, the calcite presents more elegantly, showing more of the sharp corners and edges than the broad lateral faces, and the sphalerite is mroe robustly crystallized as is typical for the mine. The choice of front and back is solely a personal aesthetics choice - either is equally winning. Personally, I prefer the more unusual side, showing the sparklng sphalerite as host for the calcite with its more gemmy aspect showing front and center.