El Kwal, Mibladene, Khénifra Prov., Meknès-Tafilalet Region, Morocco

Dimensions (H x W x D)

9.3 x 6.5 x 8.8 cm


463 g

Description & Provenance

The lead mines of Morocco are a “classic locality” in the mineral collecting world, famous for lustrous, well-formed, vibrantly red vanadinite crystals. Although the area had been mined since the late 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1900s that significant amounts of lead were produced, and not until the 1970s that vanadinite crystals of any significance were recovered. It was then that the mine reached the height of its productivity. The vanadinite crystals found during that time were highly sought-after and quickly regarded as the best ever found to-date, despite usually lacking in some aspect, be it luster, color, crystal isolation or size (especially when compared to the mineral aesthetic standards of today). Although still considered a historic time period with “collector’s classic” examples, minerals of this era have been entirely eclipsed in quality and aesthetics by successive finds from the region. Not only have there been recoveries of more lustrous, colorful, and sharply-formed material, there has also been quite a bit of variance among them, causing collectors to desire each “type” of vanadinite from these later finds. From black-cherry red to fiery scarlet, the vanadinite crystals often differ in tone from pocket to pocket. Furthermore, the crystals may form on differing types of matrix (host rock) that range from earthy and tan to matte, black (iron-staining, sometimes the mineral goethite) or white, bladed barite, each creating their own aesthetic.

This is a lovely example with deep, crimson-red vanadinite crystals. Lustrous and vivid, they are immediately eye-catching. They have formed as sharply-defined, hexagonal tabs and are naturally positioned at different angles, allowing the viewer to savor their forms. The largest crystals are well-centered, providing an ideal focal point for the piece. Notably, despite there being numerous crystals in this cluster, their difference in size and position help distinguish their forms. The gleaming red crystals have a matrix of white barite crystals that are mostly coated in black iron. This creates a beautiful complement to the red crystals and a great deal of contrast with the white color peeking out from below. Adding to the overall form is the dramatic point formed by the underside of the matrix. In all, this specimen is incredibly balanced and quite attractive, a lovely example of why Moroccan vanadinite has prevailed as a collector’s favorite.

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