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March-April 2018

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Connoisseur's Choice: Hydrocerussite, Tsumeb Mine, Namibia

White minerals are generally considered to be less collectible than the more vividly colored varieties; however, when they assume the morphology of other world-famous species, such as reticulated cerussite, their status becomes somewhat elevated. Combine this aspect with a degree of rarity, and white minerals such as hydrocerussite become more desirable. The Tsumeb mine, in particular, is world famous for its magnificent cerussite specimens, especially the twinned honeycomb variety. These occur in dinner plate–sized specimens, but even smaller ones are highly sought by collectors. When hydrocerussite coats or pseudomorphically replaces these crystals, it imparts an attractive pearly white or snow-white coating providing beautiful contrast to the cerussite specimens. For this reason, Tsumeb hydrocerussite has been chosen as the featured specimen in this Connoisseur's Choice column.


Dr. Bruce Cairncross, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor of geology at the University of Johannesburg.

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