Naica, Mun. de Saucillo, Chihuahua, Mexico

Dimensions (H x W x D)

17 x 23 x 7.5 cm


2.024 kg

Description & Provenance

Selenite is a variant of the mineral group, gypsum. It was named after the ancient Greek word, selēnitēs, meaning “stone of the moon.” Interestingly, the ancient Greeks held the belief that it was among a group of transparent crystals that waxed and waned with the moon. Attractive and transparent, it has been used mainly for ornamental purposes throughout history in sculptures and as a substitute for window glass. This is a striking example from the famous Naica Mine of Mexico. Naica is a lead, zinc, and silver mine but it is most famous for its astoundingly large crystals of selenite that can reach sizes of around four feet in diameter and fifty feet long—just over the average city bus! They were discovered approximately 1000 feet down in the limestone layer of the mine. Although the prospect of exploration is tantalizing to many, Naica is considered one of the most extreme places on the planet due to its intense heat and humidity. Enduring the uninhabitable environment is not possible for everyone, only authorized individuals who pass a clean bill of health are allowed inside. Once inside the cave, they are only permitted to explore for thirty-minute increments. The extreme climate (that is so unbearable to humans) is the ideal environment for the selenite to flourish, allowing the deposit to yield the extraordinarily large and impressive crystals. This “large cabinet-sized” specimen is a comparatively petite example next to those massive behemoths but it exhibits the same icy aesthetics for which Naica is known. Transparent, clear, lustrous, and sharply formed, each crystal exhibits its form wonderfully. They make up a reticulating cluster that is incredibly sculpturesque, pairing well with the sleekness of the crystals. Incredibly, the specimen is like a small-scale model of the Naica Mine itself and allows viewers to imagine being in the otherworldly environment where it formed.

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