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March-April 2012

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Connoisseur's Choice: Olmiite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Field, Republic of South Africa

There was a time when it appeared that all attractive, collectible mineral species had been discovered, described, and appropriately named. It was thought by many that whatever new species that were to be forthcoming would be merely “stains and smears,” as suggested by a well-known mineral dealer. To a large extent this seemed to be true, and to make matters worse, even the relatively unattractive “new mineral” stains and smears were often restricted to a single, generally inaccessible occurrence and required electron microprobe–level analysis to confirm the species' presence on any particular specimen. New minerals, thus, were not for the general collector community and became the focus of a small number of sophisticated species collectors. However, of course, there are exceptions to every generality, and the discovery of olmiite certainly is one of them. It is a beautiful mineral that is represented by a relatively large number of specimens in all sizes that have been available to the collector since the early 2000s.

Guest columnist Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University.

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