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July-August 2009

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Connoisseur's Choice: Phenakite

Mount Antero, Chaffee County, Colorado


As virtually every collector knows, many of the finest gem minerals and most perfectly crystallized mineral specimens occur in “pockets,” those often-clay-filled but once-open spaces that occasionally are found in certain pegmatites, granite bodies, quartz veins, and metal deposits. The pockets of pegmatites can be particularly prolific, and some districts, such as those in San Diego County, California, and many of those in Minas Gerais, Brazil, are noted for them. Beautiful specimens of variously colored tourmaline, beryl, and spodumene from such occurrences grace many museum and private collections, as do somewhat rarer topaz, garnet, and phenakite specimens. Perhaps America’s best-known phenakite occurrence, and certainly one of its premier aquamarine localities, Mount Antero, Chaffee County, Colorado, was highlighted by Jacobson and Lees (2008) in the recent book American Mineral Treasures. Phenakite from this exceptional locality has been chosen as the featured mineral in this issue’s Connoisseur’s Choice.
Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. He welcomes suggestions for this column and can be contacted at

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