Spectacular Amazonite from Colorado's Smoky Hawk Mine dazzles at Heritage
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Spectacular Amazonite from Colorado's Smoky Hawk Mine dazzles at Heritage
Amazonite, Smoky Quartz (Significant Specimen), Icon Pocket, Smoky Hawk claim, Crystal Peak, Teller County, Colorado, USA, 25.0 x 20.7 x 12.5 cm (9.84 x 8.15 x 4.92 in).

DALLAS, TX.- To serious collectors, the area that produces fine minerals is not as important as the mineral itself, but it definitely factors into the desirability of even the most magnificent specimen.

Teller County, Colorado, is one of the most fertile areas in the United States for producing fine minerals, and includes Smoky Hawk, an active mining claim spanning nearly 21 acres that has yielded a stunning array of treasures somce production began in 2000. Within the mineral-rich Smoky Hawk mine, the Icon Pocket yields minerals that regularly generate high demand among serious collectors, including a massive Amazonite, Smoky Quartz (Significant Specimen) that will be among the top draws in Heritage Auctions' Fine Minerals Signature® event July 11.

"The most beautiful mineral specimens are undeniable pieces of natural art, and this absolutely stunning Amazonite clearly qualifies," says Nic Valenzuela, Consignment Director of Fine Minerals at Heritage Auctions. "The crystal in the middle is a gorgeous smoky quartz, and it is framed beautifully by the geometric feldspar that surrounds it. This kind of intense, sea-blue color is exceptionally rare in the mineral world."

Joseph Dorris, whose family owns Smoky Hawk claim, said this magnificent specimen, which comes from the John Farmer collection, is the result of decades of persistent hunting.

Amazonites are what many consider "one of the classics, and truly, they are," says Dorris said. "You've got to remember these things didn't show up ... in the mineral world, the collectors' world, until the late 1800s. They're very rare throughout the district, so the few that came into production, they ended up in museums ... and into collections just as rapidly as they were found, and there weren't that many found.

"In history, we know of all of those, because any time you found one, it was a significant discovery… It just so happens that these structures — the highly prolific ones — the ones that have the best color are almost limited exclusively to the Smoky Hawk structure. In 1,200 square miles of the Pikes Peak batholith, this is the spot. We're still mining, but we're not hitting anything like this. I spent 20 years looking for this, before we found the place that could produce some really remarkable specimens."

A Fluorite (Significant Historical Specimen) from the John Farmer Collection and Macomb Township in St. Lawrence County, New York, where Fluorite mines are among the best in the world. Roughly 15 tons of Fluorite was extracted from the crystal-lined pocket, but few can match the quality of this exceptional specimen, which measures a little more than 13-1/2 inches (34-1/2 cm) in length and weighs about 60 pounds. Kunz sold this beauty to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, likely with help from J.P. Morgan. It was last shown in the New York State Museum.

idea that "the heart wants what it can't have" goes a long way toward explaining the frustration of minerals collectors who have wanted to get ahold of a specimen from the Alien-Eye Fluorite — a magnificent sample of which is up for grabs in this auction. Found in 2007, it was named for the unusual phantom/zoning pattern of the pocket: colorless edges, a sharp internal layer of deep purple-black and then eerily bright green centers that have an extraterrestrial presence. Without strong backlighting, many Fluorite specimens of this find appear too dark, but the specimen offered in this auction, which measures 4.20 inches (10.7 cm) in length, glows with full saturation even with only minimal backlighting, offering displayability that powerfully boosts its desirability and value. No, you're suffering from double-vision; both of the conjoined crystals have the classic "Alien-Eye" zoning — visible from every angle.

Matrix specimens, including a Crystallized Native Gold from Tuolumne County, California and The Edgehill Collection, are in high demand, especially when Gold is involved, because the matrix serves as a pedestal to the metal, and the majority of Gold specimens that are prepared and processed are removed from the matrixes from which they grew. This beautiful example, which measures 6-1/2 inches in length, features a cluster of three leaves of Native Gold, curving out like a flower.

A Rhodochrosite (Significant Locality Piece), from the John Farmer Collection, is a classic example from Japan's Oppu Mine, which dates back to the 17th century, when it was primarily a silver mine. A discovery of botryoidal Rhodochrosite deposits in the late 1800s made his now-defunct locality a destination for mineral collectors, especially those who covet specimens from obscure mines, which explains the soaring interest in Rhodochrosites from Oppu, which are among the most difficult to find, especially large specimens with exceptional color. The offered example is exceptional in color and size — salmon pink and more than 10 inches (26 cm) tall — the kind that often gets acquired and then locked away in private collections.

A Spodumene var. Kunzite Rough and Cut Set from the Oceanview Mine in the Pala Mining District in San Diego County, California, is a magnificent example of the mineral that now bears the name of the man who was the first to describe this new purple variety of Spodumene: George Frederick Kunz, a buyer for Tiffany & Co., in the late 1800s who first discovered the material on an expedition to Pala, California. Kunzite often is more pale pink, which makes this rich purple specimen stand out from the rest.

Other top lots include, but are not limited to:

• A gem-quality Tanzanite from the Merelani Hills in the Manyara Region of Tanzania

• A dynamic Copper, with exceptional color, from the Phoenix Mine in Keweenay County, Michigan

• A Liddicoatite Slice from the pegmatites of Madagascar

• A plate of Benitoite, a mineral found exclusively in a single mine in California

• A massive Amethyst crystal from the Goboboseb Mountains

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