This specimen features an absolutely gorgeous 1.9 cm gem crystal of fluorapatite. Sharp, glassy, with brilliant lustre and wonderful transparency, this crystal looks like cut glass. Some rainbow-coloured flash from within the crystal.
In excellent condition, a couple minor edge chips (in the second-last photo I’ve bounced some light off one at the tip to exaggerate it so you can see it – it’s not visible from the optimal display angle). You can see in the photos, particularly the last one, that there is an internal fracture across the crystal – it is not repaired, and I have reinforced the specimen (not visible) so that it will not become something that needs repair.
This one is truly a beauty – it just glows!
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.