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July-August 2018

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Connoisseur's Choice: Staurolite, Keivy Mountains, Kola Peninsula, Russia

“Rock-forming minerals” such as staurolite are rarely chosen for a Connoisseur's Choice feature because they tend not to be brightly colored or showy in the traditional sense. The beauty of staurolite is more subtle and intellectually appealing, as few other minerals are so commonly and spectacularly twinned. Staurolite is instantly recognizable to collectors for its tendency to form sharp twins according to several different twin laws. Small 90-degree twins, called “fairy crosses,” are often removed from matrix and used as-is in pendants or amulets. Staurolite is also the state mineral of Georgia.


Robert J. Lauf holds a PhD in metallurgical engineering. He conducted materials research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for more than twenty years and is now a registered patent agent and technology consultant. He has published over fifteen books and numerous articles on minerals and is the series editor for Schiffer Earth Science Monographs.

Janet H. Clifford is a geologist by training though not by profession. An avid mineral collector for more than forty years, she enjoys volunteering at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, attending mineral shows, and occasionally editing and writing for the hobby.

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