This is a beautiful sharp, glassy 2.1 cm yellow-green fluorapatite crystal in matrix. Super consistency of colour throughout, bright lustre, translucent with some great transparency. In excellent condition, a couple tiny edge chips. (The second smaller crystal, visible to the left of the main one and partly hidden in a little vug, is chipped, but it sits back from the featured large crystal and is really just a colour accent on this piece, not a point of focus). On the reverse side there are some excellent additional fluorapatite crystals. The main large gemmy crystal is the one that jumps out at you under the display case lights. Just a great specimen.
About These Fluorapatites
Crystals of yellow-green fluorapatite from Cerro de Mercado have been known for a long time, and at times they have been produced in abundance. However, truly fine specimens are actually hard to find, as most of the fluorapatites from the mine are badly damaged. In part this is because they have typically been collected in the past without due care (tossed into buckets and so on). But in part it is also due to their own formation history – although their geological origin is still a matter of uncertainty, the crystals always have one termination and one incomplete end (doubly-terminated crystals are not known from Cerro de Mercado) and they are cemented into the matrix, all suggestive of post-crystallization activity within the deposit. This cementing involves varying mineral constituents (some of which are rather unhelpful when it comes to extracting fine mineral specimens). In particular, excellent matrix specimens are very uncommon.
Cerro de Mercado is still a producing iron mine, and the fluorapatite crystals in this lot were collected this year. As contemporary mining and sorting/separation have become mechanized, and also owing to the fact that the apatite at the mine is now concentrated for its phosphate value, the preservation of fine fluorapatite crystals and matrix specimens is a greater challenge than it used to be. Damage is still a rampant problem. I selected the few fine pieces here out of a lot of hundreds of specimens, offered by a seller who lives beside the mine. Although it is likely that specimens will continue to be produced for as long as the mine continues to operate, it is also likely that fine undamaged specimens will continue to be hard to obtain.
The definitive article on this locality is Wendell Wilson’s excellent piece in the Mineralogical Record, Special Issue – Mexico VI, Vol. 42:5, Sept-Oct 2011.