The Vault - Fine Mineral Specimens for the Sophisticated Mineral Collector


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TUC12-675 - Sulfur - $ 35000
Cozzodisi Mine, Agrigento Province, Sicily, Italy

cabinet, 15.0 x 12.5 x 5.3 cm
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Sulfur from Cozzodisi Mine, Agrigento Province, Sicily, Italy [db_pics/new2012/Sulfur-CozzodisiMine-Italy-15cm-JB675-19.jpg]
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Sulfur from Cozzodisi Mine, Agrigento Province, Sicily, Italy [db_pics/new2012/Sulfur-CozzodisiMine-Italy-15cm-JB675-20.jpg]
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Sulfur from Cozzodisi Mine, Agrigento Province, Sicily, Italy [db_pics/new2012/Sulfur-CozzodisiMine-Italy-15cm-JB675-25.jpg]
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Sulfur from Cozzodisi Mine, Agrigento Province, Sicily, Italy [db_pics/new2012/Sulfur-CozzodisiMine-Italy-15cm-JB675-29.jpg]
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Sulfur from Cozzodisi Mine, Agrigento Province, Sicily, Italy [db_pics/new2012/Sulfur-CozzodisiMine-Italy-15cm-JB675-31.jpg]

This is a major cabinet specimen worthy of any fine collection, and quite a level above the usual sort of sulfur you see (of which even small ones of superb color are now going for five figures). A stunning specimen from an old collection, this piece is two-faced. One side shows an incredible, almost unique, metallic-lustrous sulfur crystallization that forms an interlinked display face of bright crystals. The color is INTENSE and as saturated as I have ever seen in sulfur, but it is the LUSTER that makes this side special, and dramatic. I have seldom seen luster like this, and only on a few smaller specimens (as well as one illustrated in a recent issue of the MR, of similar habit but smaller size). The other side is more traditional, with larger, fat and 3-dimensional, golfball-like crystals growing out from a mass of smaller crystals. It is beautiful as well, though entirely different in style from the other side of the piece. The entire specimen is a floater, complete all around. It has almost no damage (a few very minor rubs you have to look to find, only), remarkable given its size. This piece was in an old collection in Italy for decades, and is the only such example I have seen on the market for this style, in good condition. As good as the photos are, the piece is simply glowing with color in person and so saturated in color, that it is hard to believe it is real. It is THAT good. Joe Budd Photos.


TUC12-646 - Gold - P.O.R.
Breckenridge District, Summit Co., Colorado, USA

cabinet, 10.8 x 5.9 x 0.7 cm
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Gold from Breckenridge District, Summit Co., Colorado, USA [db_pics/new2012/Gold-Breckenridge-Colorado-108mm-98g-JB646-11.jpg]
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Gold from Breckenridge District, Summit Co., Colorado, USA [db_pics/new2012/Gold-Breckenridge-Colorado-108mm-98g-JB646-12.jpg]

A MAJOR specimen from this old mine, dated to the Colorado gold rush era of the 1880s. It is complete all around and there are no repairs. People knowledgeable about such gold specimens have indicated to me that the rarity of this piece, in such a size and quality range, is not to be underestimated: it is perhaps one of only a half dozen surviving golds of this magnitude. This piece has superb history and provenance, which will be disclosed upon purchase. These are not massive golds - at 98 grams, it should go to th eknowledgeable collector who appreciates the rarity value of such a historic piece, and is not for those who need heft to feel a gold has value.  For 2006-2011 it was in the touring exhibit "GOLD!", organized by the American Museum of Natural History. This was seen over 5 years of travelling exhibition in Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Denver, Anchorage, Tokyo's Mingei Museum, and others. Joe Budd Photos.


J12-496 - Tourmaline on Quartz with Cleavelandite - $ 75000
Pederneira Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil

large cabinet, 25.3 x 20.3 x 8.5 cm
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Tourmaline on Quartz with Cleavelandite from Pederneira Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-253mm-JB496-28.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Quartz with Cleavelandite from Pederneira Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-253mm-JB496-13.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Quartz with Cleavelandite from Pederneira Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-253mm-JB496-18.jpg]

This mine produced largely during a short run in the early 2000s, some of the best large tourmaline specimens we have seen in recent years. A spectacular large, upright, gem tourmaline crystal is the highlight of this piece. It is carefully centered on a well-trimmed shard of crystallized quartz, from which it shoots up dramatically. Small , sparkly, sugar-white crystals of cleavelandite are in association, for accents. As with all such pieces from this mine, or similarly gracile tourmalines from any locale, there are a few repairs. In context, however, the repairs are both minimal and acceptable given the size of the piece. The large central crystal is nearly 10 inches tall, and just glows a vivid evergreen hue, when backlit. Even minimal backlighting is enough to bring that color out. This particular specimen was a holdback, long kept in the personal collection of two mine partners until sold to me, and not put out for sale at the time in which they were mined. It is, overall, a dramatic and imposing specimen. Joe Budd photos.


TUC115-321 - Tanzanite - $ 60000
Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania

small cabinet, 8.8 x 2.9 x 2.0 cm
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-Tanzania-88mm-JB321-08.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-Tanzania-88mm-JB321-10.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-Tanzania-88mm-JB321-11.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-Tanzania-88mm-JB321-12.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-Tanzania-88mm-JB321-22.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-Tanzania-88mm-JB321-27.jpg]

A stunning, unusually elongated and vertical tanzanite crystal showing vivid gemminess , especially when stood up showing the purple side forward. For whatever reasons, I cannot explain, nearly all tanzanite crystals present at their best with the blue face forward, and the purple axis turned 90 degrees from display. It is just the way of things. But this piece really shows both the best drama and the best gemminess, with the purple facing the viewer. The blue color is equally intense, though, and no slouch on its own. When a light is shined up along the c-axis, bottom to top, the piece glows with a brilliant red-magenta color that is indicative of its natural coloration without treatment (treatment for the gem trade disrupts the third, red color from showing). What is amazing is that, despite the height, the light really transmits through nicely along the long c-axis and makes the whole piece glow, instead of just the tip. The crystal is pristine and complete all around, although it has a "slip contact" where one surface is rough in a few places, only on the very right hand edge, due to contact where it grew against another crystal. The piece is obviously very 3-dimensional as you can see, and reminds me of Transco tower in Houston. So overall this is a stunningly intense, deep blue crystal that is natural and unheated. The piece shows vivid blue, red, and purple colors along its three axes. At just over 100 grams mass, there is a sizeable amount of high-grade cutting rough here, where you could go right up the gemmy core of the piece and cut intense purple-oriented stones including two of substantial size. As I say elsewhere here, I am a big believer in hoarding fine tanzanites, as the source just cannot last forever, and worldwide demand for the gemstone drives the miners to cut good crystals for the easy and quick monetary yield, as opposed to save them. This particular crystal was found in the early 2000s and has been in a private collection since that time. Comes with a custom lucite base for display. Joe Budd photos


TUC115-309 - Tanzanite - $ 36000
Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania

miniature, 5.5 x 3.3 x 1.9 cm
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-53mm-Tanzania-53mm-JB309-07.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-53mm-Tanzania-53mm-JB309-11.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-53mm-Tanzania-53mm-JB309-14.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-53mm-Tanzania-53mm-JB309-18.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/Tanzanite-MerelaniHills-53mm-Tanzania-53mm-JB309-20.jpg]
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Tanzanite from Merelani Mines, Arusha, Tanzania [db_pics/new2011/tanzanite-in-hand-july2011.jpg]

A stunningly intense, deep blue crystal that is natural and unheated. The piece shows vivid blue, red, and purple colors along its three axes. The blue is particularly intense, especially when you consider how GEMMY the top is ; and how usually those two features do not go hand in hand. A fancy termination and top-percentile glassy lustre together, make this a superb large miniature. The crystal is 66 grams and contains a large amount of cutting rough in gem-clean regions. Although there are a few narrow veils in the gem portions, the piece still would cut three decent sized stones and some smaller stones, all of AAA unheated color. Thus, at the source even, we had to pay a price for this crystal based on its facet value. It was estimated that the cutting value of this crystal is nearly the specimen value being asked, making it a relative bargain as far as these go, based on this intrinsic value. I am a big believer in hoarding fine tanzanites, as the source just cannot last forever, and worldwide demand for the gemstone drives the miners to cut good crystals for the easy and quick monetary yield, as opposed to save them. This particular crystal was found in April of 2011, and came in a small pocket that yielded a number of pieces with this fancy, unusually complex termination which I find highly desirable. Comes with a custom lucite base for display. Joe Budd photos


HO-3625 - Spodumene var. Kunzite - $ 27500
Nuristan, Laghman Province, Afghanistan

large cabinet, 33.5 x 4.0 x 1.5 cm
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ex.  Herb Obodda

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Spodumene var. Kunzite from Nuristan, Laghman Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Kunzite-Nuristan-Afghanistan-335mm-HO3625-03.jpg]
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Spodumene var. Kunzite from Nuristan, Laghman Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Kunzite-Nuristan-Afghanistan-335mm-HO3625-06.jpg]
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Spodumene var. Kunzite from Nuristan, Laghman Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Kunzite-Nuristan-Afghanistan-335mm-HO3625-08.jpg]

Kunzite from Nuristan region is now fairly common on the market, but one still can seek out individual pieces which excel above the crowd. This exceptionally sharp, elongated, totally gem crystal masses 500 grams; and for its unique aesthetics was one of the few large gem crystals kept by Herb Obodda in his collection (which we recently acquired), over decades of travel to this region. Some people love matrix kunzites, some prefer these gem floaters (complete and formed all the way around). Although there are certainly bigger kunzite floaters, I have seen few this size with such elegance. The crystal has only two minor spots of damage on an edge, and a small contact with a bit of attached matrix in the middle - otherwise pristine. It is well-terminated and has a pleasing pink color.. Joe Budd photos


TUC115-301 - Tourmaline - $ 18000
Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA

cabinet, 15 x 3.2 x 2.6 cm
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Tourmaline from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-HimalayaMine-California-15cm-JB301-09.jpg]
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Tourmaline from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-HimalayaMine-California-15cm-JB301-10.jpg]
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Tourmaline from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-HimalayaMine-California-15cm-JB301-11.jpg]
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Tourmaline from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-HimalayaMine-California-15cm-JB301-14.jpg]
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Tourmaline from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-HimalayaMine-California-15cm-JB301-20.jpg]
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Tourmaline from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande District, San Diego Co., California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-HimalayaMine-California-15cm-JB301-22.jpg]

Himalaya tourmalines are known for being broken in situ, and repaired. It just goes with the territory , as the pegmatite was severely disrupted and shocked over the tens of millions of years since it formed. There are few large tourmalines from this mine and district which do not contain repairs. However, this is one of the best we have seen, as it has intense red-pink color and beautiful tapering form, with both terminations. Also, the particular style of the larger tourmalines tends to show zoning, usually with a pale green or pale pink zone mixed in. This crystal is a solid, saturated color throughout. The photos are taken under sun balanced halogens and are accurate in my cases lit by halogen, but the color shifts a little darker in some lighting; and a little paler in color in flourescent lighting.. This crystal is imposing for the size, but the solidity of color is equally important and again, uncommon in crystals over 3 inches (and this is nearly 6 inches). The Piece is doubly terminated and looks good from either end - it also stands on its own , on the flat termination. Minor purple lepidolite is in association. The piece is in remarkably good condition, with the main crystal not even having a single nick or ding upon it. The small sidecar crystal at the base is missing its tip, as the only damage to note here (and that could be an in situ thing anyhow). A custom base is included to show it standing up, with the smaller pointed termination facing down, if desired - it does look good either way! From a prominent California collection, recently deacquisitioned. According to the mine owner, Bill Larson, this would have been mined by him in the later 1980s, circa 1985-1989. He also said that this would be worth $25,000 if he had it.Joe Budd photos


TUC115-315 - Morganite with Tourmaline - P.O.R.
Pederneira claim, Sao Jose da Safira, Doce valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil

cabinet, 13.8 x 8.0 x 11.7 cm
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Morganite with Tourmaline from Pederneira claim, Sao Jose da Safira, Doce valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Morganite-Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-JB315-138mm-15.jpg]
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Morganite with Tourmaline from Pederneira claim, Sao Jose da Safira, Doce valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Morganite-Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-JB315-138mm-18.jpg]
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Morganite with Tourmaline from Pederneira claim, Sao Jose da Safira, Doce valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Morganite-Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-JB315-138mm-22.jpg]
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Morganite with Tourmaline from Pederneira claim, Sao Jose da Safira, Doce valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/Morganite-Tourmaline-Pederneira-Brazil-JB315-138mm-24.jpg]

A unique piece, which has not been seen on the market since the early 2000s, has now resurfaced. Among the few collectors and dealers familiar with the great stash of Pederneira Mine specimens which came up to the New York area when the specimens were mainly flowing out through Daniel Trinchillo and his partner (Marcus Budil) , this has always been a talked-about piece. It was a unique piece mined around 2001, and such a combination was never seen again despite 8 more years of intense mining. The piece was nicknamed "Sword in the Stone" and kept in the collection of the mine partners for several years, until sold in a pinch to pay for further mining efforts, around 2003. I lost track of it and then saw it again, in 2010, in a collection overseas. The piece is just mesmerizing in person. It has a shocking color contrast, and both crystals are gemmy and lustrous. Although irregular around the base of the morganite, it is contacted and not damaged or "hacked off." It is, surprisingly, not repaired and not damaged. I am really honored to be able to bring this to market again as its a piece that has long stuck in my mind as something just so unique and pretty, I always wanted to own it. Soon after I got it back, the specimen was featured in the Pederneira Mine case at the 2010 Munich Show exhibit , "Brazilian Dreams." Comes with custom lucite base.Joe Budd photos


TUC115-294 - Azurite and Malachite - P.O.R.
Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Cananea, Sonora, Mexico

cabinet, 11.7 x 7 x 6 cm
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Azurite and Malachite from Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Cananea, Sonora, Mexico [db_pics/new2011/Azurite-Malachite-MilpillasMine-Mexico-115mm-JB294-14.jpg]
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Azurite and Malachite from Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Cananea, Sonora, Mexico [db_pics/new2011/Azurite-Malachite-MilpillasMine-Mexico-115mm-JB294-25.jpg]
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Azurite and Malachite from Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Cananea, Sonora, Mexico [db_pics/new2011/Azurite-Malachite-MilpillasMine-Mexico-115mm-JB294-30.jpg]
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Azurite and Malachite from Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Cananea, Sonora, Mexico [db_pics/new2011/Azurite-Malachite-MilpillasMine-Mexico-115mm-JB294-34.jpg]

Milpillas , to me, is the wonder-locality of the first part of this century. It is now producing, briefly, azurite of such a quality as to rival and surpass Tsumeb. Nothing like these has been seen in decades, and even then, Milpillas has a style and intense blue color in its large crystals that makes it stand out. With the mine scheduled to burn through the oxide zone in which these occur within the next year, I also believe that a great Milpillas azurite is a good investment now. The world just doesn't make azurites like this, often, from anywhere. This bonanza will not last...cannot, according to the geology there. And so, I have hoarded a few great specimens while waiting to see how the mine winds down. This piece , with its gently curving crystals to 4 inches, has among the largest fine crystals found to date (to my knowledge, and I have followed the finds carefully). It probably came out about 2 years ago. The contrast with the malachite underneath adds color to the bottom horizon. The crystals are not quite, but nearly pristine. They are dramatic, and the piece can be seen from meters away. Moreover, it looks good either horizontally or vertically.. Joe Budd photos


TUC115-180 - Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz - P.O.R.
Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan

large cabinet, 21 x 16.5 x 15 cm
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Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Paprok-Afghanistan-21cm-JB180-06.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Paprok-Afghanistan-21cm-JB180-07.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Paprok-Afghanistan-21cm-JB180-08.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Paprok-Afghanistan-21cm-JB180-12.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Paprok-Afghanistan-21cm-JB180-14.jpg]
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Tourmaline on Albite with Quartz from Paprok Mine, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan [db_pics/new2011/Tourmaline-Paprok-Afghanistan-21cm-JB180-16.jpg]

Every now and then, you see a large matrix piece which just screams "fake" at you. It just seems too contrived to be real. That is what I thought of this specimen, when I first saw it in a dealer advertisement over 5 years ago. When I saw it in person though, I immediately realized that it actually is the real thing, with three isolated and pristine tourmaline crystals shooting out in 3 different directions. Remarkably, there are no repairs! The piece has been through my preferred preparation lab to confirm that fact. The fact that a single matrix piece can have two totally different habits of tourmaline has always impressed me about how these things form. It is rare, but it happens. Still, usually that exceptional case refers to two tourmalines of the same color, but perhaps different terminations on the same matrix. Here, we have both of the really stereotypical habits of a Paprok tourmaline, totally different in color and symmetries, perched on the same piece. The classic multicolored red-green crystal is 5 inches tall. Again, it is NOT repaired, despite its perch and freestanding nature. The hot pink crystal to the left is fully 2 inches long, and shows a totally different termination. We call this style the "bubblegum pinks" and it is also classic for the locality. I simply am NOT aware of another specimen which combines both of these particular styles of tourmaline, let alone with such pizzazz. This is a major matrix tourmaline, by any standard. Joe Budd photos


J11-46 - Tourmaline (no repairs!) - $ 35000
Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego County, California, USA

cabinet, 17.2 x 3.5 x 3.2 cm
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ex.  William Larson

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Tourmaline (no repairs!) from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego County, California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Elbaite-Tourmaline-DT-172mm-1.jpg]
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Tourmaline (no repairs!) from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego County, California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Elbaite-Tourmaline-DT-172mm-5.jpg]
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Tourmaline (no repairs!) from Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego County, California, USA [db_pics/new2011/Tour2Hand.jpg]

Bill Larson mined the Himalaya Mine in its modern era of production, from the late 1970s until early 2000s when he closed it (it remains open under new owners, but the days of heavy drifting and exploration are done). The deposits here were subject to enormous shearing and breaking forces after emplacement, and the pegmatites show this clearly. To mine them, is more difficult than at some other pegmatite localities, as a result. Most larger pieces are also, therefore, found broken in situ. And it follows that most larger specimens from the Himalaya, and from other San Diego mines, are repaired. In all that time, Larson says he can count on two hands the number of large crystals of this size that were found in pristine condition, and on one hand those found without repairs. This is one of those very , very rarified large crystals found pristine in the mine, and not broken in situ or in collecting. Every now and then, I have something that Bill Larson wants from me, and the only solution is an exchange for a stashed piece from his private collection. This giant is 326 grams, and near the top in size for a single crystal from the mine. It is pristine all around and stands beautifully on our custom lucite base. The color is a pure, classic "Himalaya Pink" hue with a slight green zone near the lower termination. The lower termination extends out into multiply formed small points, and the top termination is classic , lustrous, bright and flat as is normal for the mine. Joe Budd photos


J11-29 - Emerald - $ 90000
Cosquez Mine, Boyaca Dept., Colombia

miniature, 5 x 4.2 x 3 cm
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Emerald from Cosquez Mine, Boyaca Dept., Colombia [db_pics/new2011/Beryl-Emerald-Colombia-43mm-10.jpg]

Colombian emeralds are the apex predator of emeralds and beryls...they just have a magical appeal perhaps due to the fact that everybody knows what emerald is, and recognizes it on a shelf. Despite being worked for 400 years (and more), the mines of Colombia are still going. However, truly great specimens are few and far between, and only a handful come out each year - a fact. There simply are not enough specimens of a level beyond "average" to satisfy the collector market. While most emerald crystals average 1-2 cm and tend to be rather slender, this specimen hosts a very large, undamaged and unrepaired emerald crystal measuring 3.4 cm tall, 1.7 cm width, and 1.4 cm to 1.8 cm thick (the top is slanted to the back, hence the narrowing). It has phenomenal impact, visually - the color is just the top juicy intense green that specimen collectors tend to favor for its "pop," over the slightly darker evergreen hue favored by gem merchants. Luster is ultra-glassy, and bright. The termination is also glassy and bright. Internally, the crystal has a vivid sparkle to it, with no dullness as sometimes is seen in large emeralds' murky interiors. The piece is translucent, but even inside it is bright, in other words. Most emerald specimens consist of crystals arranged haphazardly in matrix, and usually of slender crystals at that. Seldom do you see so robust a crystal, let alone freestanding and flanked by contrasting matrix of the best sort (white calcite that is also crystalline, and not just ugly rock or hackly calcite which is much more common). A small sidecar crystal juts out towards the viewer at the base and provides a little accent. It also is gemmy, bright, and glassy. Aesthetically, its hard to ask for more. Moreover, the combination of intense color saturation with the surface luster is not at all common in emeralds of such size. The piece overall is a full-on large miniature of competition calibre, and the size of the emerald in it warrants a level of significance beyond the actual size of the specimen itself, in my opinion. I believe there are very few finer emerald matrix specimens out there to be had - certainly only a few per year of any size make themselves known to the whole worldwide market. Mined around 2000, Joe Budd photos


J11-08 - Tourmaline var. Rubellite (1978 pocket) - $ 28500
Jonas Mine, Itatiaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

small cabinet, 6.7 x 2.5 x 2 cm
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Tourmaline var. Rubellite (1978 pocket) from Jonas Mine, Itatiaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/ELBAITE-JONAS-BRAZIL-JB008-1.jpg]
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Tourmaline var. Rubellite (1978 pocket) from Jonas Mine, Itatiaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/ELBAITE-JONAS-BRAZIL-JB008-2.jpg]
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Tourmaline var. Rubellite (1978 pocket) from Jonas Mine, Itatiaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil [db_pics/new2011/ELBAITE-JONAS-BRAZIL-JB008-3.jpg]

This is a FLOATER. complete all around. It has no damage of any note beyond the most miniscule ding. It is from the famous 1978 pocket, and these still remain the most famous and desired tourmalines among collectors. Clusters are rarified - and most of the specimens I have seen are either singles or singles in matrix of lepidolite. This piece has a stunning, total clarity and gemminess to it that the pocket is famed for having, yet most specimens actually do not have in full quality. From a private collection, this was stashed for about 30 years down in Brazil until only recently. Joe Budd photos


D10-03 - Scheelite - $ 42000
Mt. Xuebaoding, Pingwu, Sichuan Prov., China

large cabinet, 15.0 x 10.4 x 6.5 cm
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Scheelite from Mt. Xuebaoding, Pingwu, Sichuan Prov., China [db_pics/new2010/D103a.jpg]
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Scheelite from Mt. Xuebaoding, Pingwu, Sichuan Prov., China [db_pics/new2010/D103b.jpg]
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Scheelite from Mt. Xuebaoding, Pingwu, Sichuan Prov., China [db_pics/new2010/D103d.jpg]

This is a super colorful scheelite from the 2007 "RED POCKET," with unusual and distinct red tones laid over the classical orange hue. It is bright and intensely colored, and remarkably it is complete all around. For the sheer size (over 5 pounds weight!), I have not seen its equal in color and condition. With high lustre and deep color combined with size, this is a very important and rare large specimen that has to stand among top pieces from this locality. China is the world's best locality for scheelites, unarguably. The scheelites coming from this extremely remote mountain locality are orders of magnitude prettier and better than those from anywhere else. However, the locale is remote , hard to work, and subject to pressure to work with hand tools if at all because it is located next to the major Sichuan Province Wolong. Panda Bear preserve. Production has definitely tapered off in the last decade, after an initial gold rush of mining here. The earthquake a few years ago in 2008 didn't help, making already difficult roads even more so. The mine is actually accessed by mule and pack train, and resides high in the mountain above the town of Ping Wu. Mark my words, someday when the Chinese collectors begin to collect with the sophisticated "specimen style," instead of mostly "mother rocks" and big clunkers, big and showy specimens like this will see price increases in multiples.


VLT09-090 - Tourmaline with Cleavelandite on Quartz - $ 32500
Paprok, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

cabinet, 10 x 8.5 x 8 cm
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Tourmaline with Cleavelandite on Quartz from Paprok, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new09mix/purplecap_tourmaline1.jpg]
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Tourmaline with Cleavelandite on Quartz from Paprok, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new09mix/purplecap_tourmaline2.jpg]
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Tourmaline with Cleavelandite on Quartz from Paprok, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new09mix/purplecap_tourmaline4.jpg]
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Tourmaline with Cleavelandite on Quartz from Paprok, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan [db_pics/new09mix/purplecap_tourmaline3.jpg]

Purple-capped tourmalines are quite rare, and this piece has a distinct purple zone, above a blue zone, on its termination. More than that, it is just a VERY FINE and aesthetic tourmaline specimen by any standard, with the color as a bonus feature. It is, first off, NOT repaired. Most large matrix tourmalines from this region are repaired at least once, especially when connected to a quartz as this is. And, the quartz and cleavelandite are arranged in great balance, not overwhelming but accenting the tourmaline itself. The tourmaline is very equant and fat, about 7 x 7 x 7 cm overall in size. It has an extremely unusual and GLASSY termination...intricately scalloped, for lack of a better word. It has many subtle growth features that result in incredible reflections and sparkle coming off that termination. I cannot say that I have ever seen this style of termination on such a large crystal - just on small ones, before. Lastly, the piece is shockingly pristine - protected in transit and collecting more than you can normally hope for in such large specimens (782 grams). It has a greater visual "size impact" than you'd think. The purple color , especially in a lustrous termination, is perhaps the rarest of all colors on a tourmaline. In particular, its very rare from this part of the world where they tend towards pastel hues of pink and greens. One can own any number of tourmalines and at the end of the day must ask yourself, which ones are really SPECIAL? This one, it stands out.



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Rob Lavinsky, rob@irocks.com

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