This specimen is unique among the howlite specimens in this lot – the cluster features an unusually large number of small, brilliant crystals. The group measures 1.4 cm across. The howlite crystals are sharp, lustrous and some are transparent. No damage is visible without magnification (with a loupe, you can find a couple of small chipped tips down in the middle). Collected on December 6, 2011. As sparkly as you will get from howlite – this one is pretty.
These are from the world’s only known locality for howlite crystals, and these ones are superb.
This relatively remote occurrence is fascinating – the howlite crystals occur enclosed in solid, tough bedded anhydrite, exposed in a limited section of cliffs by the ocean. (Anhydrite may not sound “tough”, but collecting there is like collecting the fresh, sharp rock beds at Herkimer!) These crystals become exposed as the seawater turns the anhydrite into gypsum, which flakes away. To date, no other method of exposing them (without damaging them) has been devised. Of course, the difficulty is obvious: the howlite crystals are very delicate and the waves are not gentle! Very few high-quality howlite crystal clusters survive the process, and far fewer are successfully preserved and collected.
This group of specimens is from the collection of well-known Nova Scotia collector Terry Collett. These howlites were collected over an eleven-year period from 2001 through 2012. Although a small number of howlites will continue to come out, it will be some time before another lot of high-quality howlites has been collected, and it will be tough to find ones comparable to the best of these.