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January-February 2018

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Introduction to Tucson 2018: Crystals and Crystal Forms

The perhaps all-but-forgotten pillar of early micromounting, Neal Yedlin, used to say that every collector should “buy and use a good mineral book.” In those days there were few such books available, and most such books besides Pough's (1953) A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals and Loomis's (1948) A Field Book of Common Rocks and Minerals were college-level textbooks or the somewhat overwhelming Dana's System of Mineralogy (Palache, Berman, and Frondel 1944, 1951). Regardless of source and degree of sophistication, there was one thing they all had in common—a discussion of (and reliance on) crystallography. Crystallography gave the collector the ability to assemble observational data that could lead to the identification of minerals. Without the simplest of analytical techniques, relying, for example, on a blowpipe and charcoal block, one was lost relative to even the most rudimentary chemical compositions; however, if crystals were present, one had a chance to distinguish between some of the more common minerals. So it is not surprising that the development of mineralogy beginning in the late 1700s dovetailed nicely with, and was in fact dependent upon, crystallography: Crystals and Crystal Forms. It is perhaps long overdue that the central theme of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® is this simple yet critical aspect of mineralogy and gemology.

 

Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geosciences at Auburn University.

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