Wednesday Jan 30th - The sunny weather with 60° to 70° daytime highs Tucson has been enjoying for the last week or so went south last night with a winter storm moving in. Today was cold, rainy and overcast with intermittent sleet and even some snowflakes mixed in, a pretty rare site in Tucson proper although it is not uncommon for the surrounding mountains to get dusted with snow this time of year. However cold snaps like this generally don't last long in Tucson. The forecast is for better browsing weather by this weekend, but today seemed like a good day to do a little Arkansas rock crystal browsing inside the Mineral and Fossil Co-op building at Ron Coleman Mining.
Coleman's is a world famous Arkansas quartz mine and supplier of rock crystal with a major presence at Tucson at the Mineral and Fossil Co-op, a wholesale facility located at Oracle Road and Elm Street, adjacent to and immediately north of the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the Ramada Inn. I just can't help myself and don't seem to be able to stay out of Ron's $100 per pound room at the Co-op, and have been religiously visiting Coleman's here each year during the Show since the Co-op building was built.
In the warehouse area outside Coleman's showroom at the Mineral and Fossil Co-op are dozens of crates open to display large plates and museum size pieces of Arkansas rock crystal. My hat provides some scale for this rather remarkable specimen on display just outside Coleman's showroom this year.
This spectacular piece was covered with thousands of crystals which had a somewhat druzy appearance from a distance, but which were appreciated to actually be pretty good sized crystals when inspected up close, many exceeding several inches in length. This is one of those you can't afford it if you have to ask rocks, but I did anyway and in case you are wondering too, this is your basic $140,000 Arkansas rock crystal specimen...
Inside Coleman's showroom are numerous tables and shelves filled with Arkansas quartz crystals in various forms, sizes and grades. Most of these specimens are priced by the pound, with costs varying from $10 to $100 per pound. My hat provides some scale for the table and shelf shown above left, which is covered with large quartz points. These ranged in price from $25 to $100 per pound and weight from several pounds to thirty pounds plus. Looked like you could get up to $1000 pretty easy if you were inclined towards one of these large points of Arkansas's finest...
The most exceptional specimens in Coleman's showroom were priced by the piece rather than by the pound. One of them is depicted above right. This handsome quartz was about 24 inches high and really grabbed your attention. I didn't ask what this one weighed in at, but it was priced to lighten the buyer's purse by $45,000.
The entry to the $100 per pound room beckons. Inside this rock crystal lover's haven are rows of large tables, shelves and cases filled with so many specimens to choose from it is difficult to keep focused. Off in one corner is a digital scale that's handy to help keep track of where you are at... At a $100 per pound the larger specimens in here aren't something that are casually acquired by most buyers, but there are pieces sized to fit just about any buyer's budget.
Shown above left is a cluster of crystal about 5 inches overall with a predominant and strikingly transparent crystal about 2.5 inches in length. A quarter helps provide scale in this shot. At .96 pounds this one needed $96. There weren't any thumbnail sized specimens at Coleman's, but everything else from small miniatures to large cabinet sized specimens are displayed in abundance in their $100 room. Depicted above right was one of the smallest at about 1.75 inches overall, but nonetheless a very nice specimen in excellent condition with a predominant crystal that was water clear. A penny helps provide scale for this one, which was a bantam weight at .08 pounds, putting its cost at $8.
Depicted above left is another miniature from the $100 room aesthetic to my eye as well as easy on the wallet. This piece was about 3 inches overall with longest crystals of about 1.25 inches. A penny provides scale. It weighed .20 pounds and so wanted 20 bucks. Above right is a 5" cluster with crystals and terminations in excellent condition that weighed in at .86 pounds.
If you are in the market for rock crystal it pays to be patient and take your time. You also need to accept the fact that you are unlikely to get what you don't pay for. Be prepared to pay good money for a fine rock, particularly so if you want a piece on the larger side. There is a good deal of Arkansas rock crystal on the market, but aesthetic pieces in excellent condition are highly collectable and sought after. Even at $100 per pound you will see many pieces offered at Coleman's and elsewhere that have problems from the collector's point of view.
A quarter provides scale for both of the above specimens, the one on the left being about 4 inches overall and weighing .40 pounds, the one on the right being about 8 inches overall and tipping the scales at 3.70 pounds. These initially jumped out at me as aesthetic pieces meriting consideration, but a little closer inspection reveals broken crystals on both pieces. While they may still be pretty rocks, damaged pieces are best avoided by savvy collectors and dealers alike. A cardinal rule of silver picking specimens is just don't buy and collect damaged pieces. If you don't find an undamaged specimen that likes you, just keep looking... The hunt is major fun so there is no reason to settle for less than the best your budget will cover, especially so with silicon dioxide that's going for a hundred bucks a pound. ;)
Above left, a quarter provides scale for a this rock crystal cluster which is about 3.5 inches overall with the largest crystal being about 2.5 inches. The crystals on this specimen weren't as clear as some of the others but were in primo condition. This one weighed in at .38 pounds for a cost of $38 dollars. I thought the intergrown crystals on the specimen depicted above right made for a particularly pretty rock.
Ron Coleman Mining, Inc., Mineral and Fossil Co-op - WWW: www.colemanquartz.com PO Box 8219, Hot Springs, AR 71910 - Phone: 800-291-4484 Fax: 501-984-5443
Peter Megaw Minerals Executive Inn Room 148 - WWW: www.imdex.com PO Box 65538, Tucson, AZ 85728 Tel: 520.529.2231 Fax: 520.797.3955
Mineralien Zentrum, Executive Inn Room 110 - WWW: www.mineralienzentrum.de Steintwiete 11, 20459 Hamburg, Germany - Phone: 040/369003-11 Fax: 040/369003-10 Cell: (520) 272 1377
Great Basin Minerals, Ltd. Executive Inn Room 137 - WWW: www.greatbasinminerals.com Scott Kleine, 3895 Lisa Court #C, Reno, NV 89503-1125 Tel: (775) 322-9067