This one features a gorgeous radiating cluster of howlite crystals 1.8 cm across. The howlites are sharp, lustrous and translucent to transparent, with a bit of rainbow-colour play under good lights. Nice contrast with the matrix. The cluster is quite flat to the matrix and as a result is in excellent condition – no damage. Hard to ask for better aethetics in a howlite specimen!
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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.