This is a wonderful specimen – the textbook smoky quartz sceptre is paired with a reverse sceptre. Both crystals have very faint amethystine hue but the colour of the larger crystal is visually dominated by the smoky zone, so I’ve labelled it smoky quartz. Both crystals are sharp with great transparency, and in excellent condition, no damage. The smoky sceptre has particularly bright lustre. The sceptre encloses many red hematite crystal inclusions, and one tiny moving bubble in a two-phase inclusion (hard to find, even with a loupe – it’s visible through the main prism face on the “back” of the specimen, i.e. third photo). This is a superb piece, top quality, and the contrast with the sceptre and reverse-sceptre together as a pair – really first class!
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About the Chibuku Mine, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Amethyst and smoky quartz sceptres from Chiredzi have been known locally for at least two decades. Originally, the crystals were gathered by hand from surface showings by members of the people indigenous to the area, the Shangaan people. Specimen recovery efforts of this kind still take place in part of the locality, with only basic tools.
The first more involved workings at the property were developed in 2012. At the outset, the locality was one project, operated by partners. However, as seems to happen so often in such arrangements, difficulties arose. These led to the division of this locality into two separate side-by-side areas of operation. One operation is called the Shangani Mine, named after the Shangaan people. It has been worked by hand by Shangaan diggers. The other operation is named the Chibuku Mine. One of the principals running the mine has explained to me that the name refers back to the early times of local specimen recovery. At that time, the collecting work was done mostly by the women of the community, while men from the community were seen sitting about, drinking locally-brewed Chibuku beer (and not digging)… The mine name is therefore a laugh and also in that light can be seen as a tip of the cap to those hard-working early diggers whose efforts first brought these wonderful specimens out to the world. The Chibuku Mine operations are currently run by two principals, Sultan and Baba, as a professional specimen mining operation.
The Chibuku Mine was shut down during Covid and finally allowed to re-open in November 2022. Upon resumption, many local workers were hired to reopen the specimen mining operations. After a period of hand work, an excavator was brought in and mining now progresses at the Chibuku Mine with drilling and blasting to uncover pockets in the hard rock.
The Chibuku Mine and the Shangani Mine have produced substantial numbers of crystals over the years. Unfortunately, from the beginning of these crystal recovery efforts – and continuing even to the present day – most crystals have been moderately-to-badly damaged and are therefore not pieces I’d put on the website. However, the best from the 2022-2023 workings at the Chibuku Mine (represented by this lot) are better than most specimens from surface digging and hand recovery in the past – they are truly exceptional quality.