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Tanzanite crystal, Merelani Hills near Arusha, Umba Valley, Tanzania; 257 grams, from a private collection. Est. $100,000-$125,000. Morphy Auctions image.

DENVER, PA.– Geological treasures of every imaginable color and origin will take the spotlight on Saturday, November 8, as Morphy’s presents an eye-filling 116-lot auction of rare minerals. In addition to gallery bidding, all forms of remote bidding will be available, including absentee, phone and live via the Internet.

The anticipated top lot of the sale is Lot 10, a spectacular 257-gram Tanzanite crystal. Found in the Merelani Hills region near Arusha, Umba Valley, Tanzania, the intense blue-purple specimen is a true rarity with perfect proportions culminating in a sharp, chiseled determination. Previously in a private collection assembled by a gem broker in Arusha, this crystal was sold to an investor a few years ago.

Tanzanite crystals only come from one place in the world, a mine complex that is already past the 1.5-kilometer depth mark,” said Morphy Auctions president, Dan Morphy. “The mine is still going, but there’s a limit, and access to Tanzanite crystals like the one in our sale will eventually end.” Measuring 10.9 by 4.7 by 3.5cm, the crystal is estimated at $100,000-$125,000.


Tanzanite crystal, Merelani Hills near Arusha, Umba Valley, Tanzania; 257 grams, from a private collection. Est. $100,000-$125,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Major tanzanite crystals (gem blue-pruple zoisite) are few and far between. Most crystals with any cutting value, are simply cut on site by the big corporation, TanzaniteOne, which controls most of the deposit now. Of the ones that survive, few in this size, 4 inches tall, remain unscathed and even fewer still have aesthetic balance that we would want as collectors. This 257-gram crystal has perfect proportions culminating in a sharp, chiseled termination. It shows intense purple and blue colors when viewed from different angles, as a natural tanzanite should. Additionally, it shows the red-violet hue at its base (so intense that it bleeds through even in the frontal photo, whereas normally you would have to specifically shine a light up the bottom of the crystal to bring out the red tones), indicative of a natural and unheated crystal (most are treated with heat to enhance the blue saturation for the jewelry trade). Tanzanite crystals only come from one place in the world, a mine complex that is already past the 1.5 kilometer depth mark and still going. But there is a limit. They will not be around forever. This crystal is from a private collection assembled by one of the gem brokers in Arusha town, which was sold a few years ago to an investor. It is offered at a price for the size and quality, that simply cannot be repeated in the modern era of rising specimen prices, even at the mine sites. Measuring 10.9 by 4.7 by 3.5cm

Another geological beauty that’s expected to land in the money is Lot 102, an important, 100-percent natural gold specimen from Boise County, Idaho. It was found with a metal detector in 2008 at the old dumps of Belshazzar Mine. “Crystallized gold from this locality was barely known until this find,” Morphy noted. After this particular specimen’s discovery, the Belshazzar Mine area became known as one of the top US locales for gold in crystal form. The piece has been assayed by specific gravity at 19.35 ounces of pure gold content out of 24.56 ounces of total weight, including the matrix rock. Of investment grade and measuring 10.8 by 7.7 by 6.7cm, it is expected to sell for $80,000-$110,000.


Gold specimen, Belshazzar Mine, Boise County, Idaho; 24.56 oz total weight / 19.35 oz pure gold content, ex Jack and Judy Farnham collection. Est. $80,000-$110,000. Morphy Auctions image.

This important gold specimen is from a small, unexpected 2008 summer find by a geologist with a metal detector working the old dumps here. Only a half dozen specimens were found of any size, and this was reportedly one of the largest and most aesthetic of those pieces. It has been long kept in the private collection of the broker who sold all the specimens found. Unlike some others, this specimen has no repairs or restoration and is 100% natural, crystallized gold. Crystallized gold from this locality was barely known, until this find, which catapulted the locality to one of the top USA locales for gold in crystal form (crystals being much rarer in nature in general by a factor of 1000, and thus priced accordingly compared to rather more common nugget gold). The crystals here are elongated wires, twisted and grown one upon another to form a huge weighty mass. The gold is anchored into a small amount of host rock (matrix), as well – nice for display and stability purposes. This is a significant specimen worthy of any institutional collection or top private collection. It was assayed by specific gravity at 19.35 ounces of pure gold content, out of 24.56 ounces total weight including the matrix rock. Together with the beauty, the size and location make this an important, investment-grade specimen. No further golds have been found at this location since 2008, despite obvious searching. The specimen comes on a custom display base of lucite. (Full dealer provenance details will be given in full upon sale). Consigned from a private collection in Louisiana: The Farnhams were noted for their large collection consisting entirely of classic USA localities in large sizes.

Lot 9, a large, chrome-green emerald sourced at the Muzo Mine in Colombia, exhibits a radiant, intense color and is described in Morphy’s catalog as “translucent and brilliantly sparkling…great cabochon material for the jewelry trade.” Most emeralds of its size and weight (crystal: 3 by 2.7 by 2cm; overall 6.8 by 6.1 by 4.3cm, 174 grams) would have been cut, but this particular gem was saved and became part of the Dr. Marvin Rausch collection. Its estimate is $30,000-$40,000.


Emerald, Muzo Mine, Boyaca Dept., Colombia; ex Marvin Rausch Collection. Est. $30,000-$40,000. Morphy Auctions image.

Emeralds (chrome-green beryl) of this size are very rarely found in the famous emerald mines of Colombia, and even more rarely do they survive to market as specimens rather than as cutting material. These crystals, with radiant , intense color, are not gemmy. They are , however, translucent, and brilliantly sparkling. They would make great cabochon material for the jewelry trade. Most such pieces like this, would have been cut. This one was saved as part of the large collection of Dr. Marvin Rausch, of Amherst, Massachusetts. It features a dominant large crystal measuring 3 x 2.7 x 2 centimeters in size. Overall, the specimen is 174 grams. It can be displayed from a number of angles. Size 6.8 x 6.1 x 4.3 cm.

From the Shigar Valley of Gilgit, Pakistan, comes Lot 101, a fine-quality aquamarine with an intensity, clarity, brilliance and transparency that puts it among the top percentile of specimens ever found at that locale. “This is truly a special piece. It’s so sharp and clean that, at first glance, it looks faceted rather than natural,” Morphy said. Weighing 98 grams and presented on a custom display base, it is entered in the sale with a $25,000-$30,000 estimate.


Aquamarine, Shigar Valley, Gilgit, Pakistan; ex Schertz Collection. Est. $25,000-$30,000. Morphy Auctions image.

The traditional birthstone for March! Aquamarine (blue beryl) from Pakistan is readily available on the market. However, specimens of top quality aquamarine, with stunning intensity of color combined with a clarity and transparency that are among the top percentile of what has ever been found here, are rare indeed. This specimen, which is so sharp and clean that it looks faceted rather than natural, on first glance, is such a piece. In person, it has a brilliance and glow to it that does not translate well into the photo. It is simply among the finest examples of an aquamarine, in this size range, from this classic locality. It has small crystals of jet black, lustrous schorl (black tourmaline) by way of accent. Production here has actually tapered off considerably since its peak in the 1990s and early 2000s, and China has purchased the mineral rights to large tracts of land in his region. Many of the finest crystals also now go to China first, for their growing market in collectible gems. This specimen is 98 grams, and comes with a custom display base. Size 10.1 x 3.1 x 2.7 cm.

One of the finest gems in the sale is Lot 44, an amethyst found in Las Vigas de Ramirez, Veracruz, Mexico. A major specimen for that locality, it weighs 1,890 grams and features glassy, intensely colored purple crystals up to 4.5cm in length. Undoubtedly older and with provenance from the Schertz collection assembled in the 1980s-1990s, the 17 by 15.7 by 14.5cm amethyst is estimated at $20,000-$25,000.


Amethyst, Las Vigas, Veracruz, Mexico; ex Schertz Collection. Est. $20,000-$25,000. Morphy Auctions image.

This is one of the finest pieces in the auction, in terms of what is on the modern market. Amethyst (purple quartz) from Las Vigas occurs in small pockets scattered throughout the nearby mountainous terrain. Few large plates are ever recovered in perfect condition, such as with this piece. It has no damage, no repairs, and with intensely colored and glassy crystals to 4.5 cm in length, it is a major specimen for the locality. 1890 grams. Similar pieces have sold recently for record prices, and one has to see this in person to understand why by viewing how fully beautiful and three-dimensional it is. No other locality produces amethysts quite like this. While it is impossible to tell when this came out of the ground, it is undoubtedly an older specimen and the private collection it was from, was assembled in the 1980s-1990s. This example is similar to a piece that sold for 70k at auction! Size 17.0 x 15.7 x 14.5 cm.

Other highlights include Lot 98, a massive 25-lb quartz crystal from Diamantina, Minas Gerais, Brazil, ex Schertz collection and estimated at $12,000-$15,000; and Lot 3, a 106-gram tourmaline, ex Bill Larson collection and Farnham collection, sourced at the Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, California, and estimated at $6,000-$9,000.


Quartz, Diamantina, Minas Gerais, Brazil; ex Schertz Collection. Est. $12,000-$15,000. Morphy Auctions image.

This monstrous, perfect, 25-pound quartz cluster is dominated by a single major crystal. The quality on this specimen is simply unbelievable, given the size. The photo says it all about the beautiful form, but cannot convey the sheer « impact » of seeing this tremendous gemmy crystal in front of you, that is a third of a meter tall! Comes with custom display base made of lucite. Note the exceptional gemminess at the top of the crystal. In person, this is much more translucent to transparent than it appears, but of course the camera sees through the surface and into the crystal, magnifying every internal flaw by light refractions, and creating a more cloudy image compared to what the human eye discerns. Size 33.5 x 23.0 x 21.5 cm


Tourmaline, Himalaya Mine, Mesa Grande, San Diego Co., California; ex Bill Larson Collection, ex Farnham Collection. Est. $6,000-$9,000. Morphy Auctions image.

This old mine, which dates back to the 1890s, experienced a heyday of specimen production under the mining program of Pala Intl (dealer/collector Bill Larson’s company) in the 1980s and 1990s. It was the foremost gemstone locality in the USA in 1900, and an argument could be made that it retained that status for the whole century, of on and off mining here. The mine has slowed production considerably and changed management. During the glory years at the mine, a large collection was assembled at the company store, which sold; and at the home of the owner. This piece is from that personal collection (sold to the present owner in the early 2000’s), and represents the finest caliber of a Himalaya tourmaline: sharp termination with unusual quality of glassiness to it, association with white cleavelandite blades, luster, multiple colors with alternating pink and green. Moreover, it is pristine and doubly-terminated, complete all around. The specimen comes with a custom display base. It is 106 grams. Consigned from a private collection in Louisiana: The Farnhams were noted for their large collection consisting entirely of classic USA localities in large sizes. Size 8.7 x 3.9 x 3.4 cm.

Morphy’s Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 Mineral Auction will commence at 9 a.m. Eastern time. All forms of bidding will be available, including in person at the gallery, by phone, absentee or live via the Internet through Morphy Live, LiveAuctioneers, Proxibid or Invaluable.

Preview the entire auction inventory daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On auction day, there will be a one-hour preview from 8-9 a.m. Morphy Auctions is located at 2000 N. Reading Road in Denver, PA 17517. For additional information on any item in the sale or to reserve a phone line for live bidding on auction day, call 717-335-3435 or email info@morphyauctions.com.