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November-December 2013

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I read with interest two of the tourmaline articles in the July/August 2013 issue: the one on giant tourmaline crystals and the Connoisseur's Choice column on liddicoatite; Robert Cook was the author of both. Mineral collector Dr. Adalberto Giazotto, of Pisa, Italy, was fortunate to acquire a specimen of liddicoatite that would have fit nicely in either article.

This specimen is 42 cm (16.5 inches) long, on a matrix of quartz crystals and is very likely the largest example of a liddicoatite crystal on matrix that has ever been recovered. The specimen, artfully repaired, is a perfect floater. The crystal is of the most classic quality of Malagasy liddicoatite (a glassy, deep red-purple color). The quality of the specimen is greatly improved by the occurrence of smaller crystals slightly diverging around the main crystal and by the exceptional luster of all faces.

In recent years new mining activities in Madagascar have been producing excellent tourmaline gem-rough and mineral specimens. The awareness of the miners about the value of undamaged crystals, the improvements in the techniques of collecting in pegmatite pockets, and also the more correct legal organization of the Malagasy mines have allowed the recovery of specimens of a quality and size never seen before, such as the one shown here, recently collected at Tsitomdroina.

Editor's note: The extraordinary collection of Adalberto Giazotto was featured in an article by Renato Pagano, Federico Pezzotta, and Giovanni Pratesi in the May/June 2010 issue (pages 230–239).

Exceptional 42-cm liddicoatite crystal from Tsitomdroina, Madagascar. Adalberto Giazotto specimen and photo.


I enjoyed reading the article on license plates in the May/June 2013 issue (Express Yourself: A License to Collect by Jeffrey Starr, pages 231–235). It's nice that we don't have to be serious all the time on the pages of our mineral magazines. Thank you for the injection of levity!

The article reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago: Tony Nikischer (Excalibur Minerals), probably the largest dealer of rare reference minerals in the United States, has the New York license plate “Rocks 4 U” on his van. He paid me to drive the van, loaded with a couple tons of rocks, from New York to the Tucson Show. Having almost run out of gas in the tiny, dying West Texas town of Toyah, I got off the freeway to hunt for a gas station, which proved elusive, and noticed a pickup truck overloaded with teenage boys apparently following me. I made a couple of random turns on the almost deserted dusty streets to check, and, sure enough, they really were following me, and I started to worry that I was about to be hijacked and robbed. As I at last pulled into a gas station, they pulled up behind me, jumped out, swarmed around, and excitedly asked, “Which band are you with?” Seems they don't get much outside entertainment there, and I suppose the piles of flats in the back, covered with blankets, could have been mistaken for sound equipment. They were disappointed when I explained that “Rocks” really meant rocks.


R. Peter Richards, Peter Leavens, and I published an article on the rediscovery of a long-forgotten twin law for kyanite (Rocks & Minerals, March/April 2012, pages 162–167). At that time I considered examples of this twin law to be quite rare, although the Loliondo, Arusha, locality in Tanzania has produced hundreds of twinned kyanite specimens over the last several years. It may be, however, that this twin law is not as rare as I thought. I have very recently acquired specimens that I believe also exhibit twinning, one from Bakers Creek, Yancey County, North Carolina, and the other from Sao Jose da Safira, Minas Gerais, Brazil (see photos). Due to the size of the specimens, it would be very difficult to obtain meaningful measurements of the presumed twin angle, so I am only surmising that these are actually new examples of kyanite twinning.

North Carolina kyanite (tan, on left) with twinned kyanite from Tanzania.

Brazilian kyanite (blue, on left) with twinned kyanite from Tanzania.



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