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Crocoite

05171

Locality

The Adelaide Mine, Dundas Mineral Field, Zeehan District, Tasmania, Australia

Dimensions

15 cm x 11 cm x 11.5 cm

Description & Provenance

Chemically speaking, crocoite is a lead chromate that can only form after the oxidation of chromium (Cr3+) in conjunction with the decomposition of a primary lead mineral. These relatively unusual conditions mean that crocoite finds are generally uncommon in the world and that well-developed, undamaged specimens are quite scarce. It was first recognized as a mineral species in 1764 within the gold mines located in the Berazovsk district of Russia and although minor finds of crocoite continued to be found in the area, (as well as Brazil and the Philippines) the most highly regarded specimens of collectible quality are from the Dundas mineral field near Zeehan, Tasmania, Australia.

Tasmanian crocoite is a highly desirable favorite among mineral collectors for its instantly recognizable, impactful aesthetics. It tends to form in clusters of elongated, prismatic crystals of vivid, orange-red color, all upon dark, contrasting matrices. Although crocoite has been found in a few other localities around the world, to seasoned collectors, crocoite is almost always synonymous with being Australian. This is because the Australian varieties have completely outclassed and over shadowed other localities in crystal size, coloration, and composition. Along with these favorable traits however, it is noteworthy that like many of the most aesthetic minerals these beautiful marvels are quite delicate and fragile, making pristine examples all the more desirable and prized by collectors. Crocoite is prone to breakage and it undergoes a number of obstacles in the collecting process. Firstly, naturally occurring geological conditions in the pockets will often affect the specimens long before they are discovered. Then they are subject to taxing process of mining and extraction, and finally, basic handling and transport all of which can jeopardize the chances of preserving intact examples. Recovering perfectly preserved examples is no small task, but lucky crocoite specimens that survive all of these processes go on to be greatly admired and appreciate in value.

This fine-caliber crocoite is characteristically Tasmanian with its shockingly orange coloration, and well-defined, straw-like, euhedral crystals. It is remarkably intact, much attributed to the fact that it has a solid matrix which allowed for easier extraction and handling. Its crystals have an aesthetic, central positioning on its matrix and seem to radiate from a central point. The result is an attractive spray that is more orderly than most crocoite specimens, which makes for a dramatic explosion of color and luster.

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