APATITE

03745

Locality

Durango, Durango, El Cerro del Mercado, Mexico

Dimensions (H x W x D)

7.2 x 6 x 7 cm

Weight

312 g

Description & Provenance

Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals, they get their name from the Greek word ‘apatein,’ which means “to deceive or mislead” because of their similarity to other minerals such as olivine, peridot, and beryl. Apatite specimens come in a variety of colors and can range in translucency, the best examples can be very gem-like in appearance. Some of the most famous yellow examples are from Cerro del Mercado, a mountain in Mexico known for its rich iron ore reserves. A historic mining locality, it was first encountered by the Spaniards in the 1500s but was passed over in the pursuit of gold and silver. In the early 1800s, local famers began utilizing the iron at a small scale. Although a British mining company then attempted an organized smelting operation, these efforts were unsubstantial. Subsequent refinements made the locality more productive, but the cost of transporting the ore to the nearest railroad station made any profits inconsequential. In 1893, the railroad was extended to Durango, finally making the mining profitable. The mine was closed intermittently in the mid-80s but was reopened in 1993. Until recently, apatite crystals were hand picked out of the ore to decrease its phosphate content. The majority of them were damaged from rough handling but the small amount of well-formed crystals that came out unscathed went on to become classics among collectors. This is an excellent example with a yellow coloration, a prismatic form, and pointed termination. Glossy luster accentuates its smooth faces and sharply formed edges. The crystal’s translucency heightens its rich, golden-yellow hue. It is cradled by a dark, contrasting matrix (colored by iron in the form of either magnetite or hematite). Ideally situated against its matrix, saturated in color, and incredibly gemmy, this apatite is a fine example of its kind.

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