Time is running out to see the Spann Exhibit

Don’t miss out – our exhibit of the worldwide collection of fine minerals owned by Gail and Jim Spann will be leaving in a few short months.

Thousands of people have already been wowed by this exhibit, but if you haven’t seen the it yet you should make plans soon. This spectacular display of world-class specimens will only be at the museum until January 20, 2020. That means in five short months they’ll be headed home to Texas.

Until then, you still have time to check them out. Here’s a few favorites

Photo of some of the Gail and Jim Spann collection

Blue Cap Tourmaline

One of only abut 35 museum-grade specimens in the world from the famous “Blue-Cap Pocket”, this giant is one of the best representatives you’ll ever see of pink elbaite tourmaline with a blue cap top. Hailing from the famed Pala-area mines of San Diego, it has splendid color zoning.

The Blue Cap Pocket was unearthed in late December, 1972 and is the most famous tourmaline pocket in U.S. history. Collectors consider the pocket with an almost reverent respect. Only under 100 pieces were found, of any quality. This is one of the top specimens, and stands front and center in the display.

Blue cap tourmaline from the Gail and Jim Spann Collection

Rose Quartz crystal ring

Rose quartz is uncommon in a crystal habit, and it’s even more rare to find it circling a pristine quartz crystal like this. The girdle of crystalline rose quartz is striking, and gives the specimen a striking look. Some call this a “Friar Tuck” display. This specimen is from Lavra da Ilha, a granite pegmatite on a small island north of Taquaral in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The bright luster and rich pink color are rare, and provide a striking contrast to the crystalline quartz it adorns.

Rose quartz ring around a quartz crystal

Malachite “Sorcerer’s Hat” Stalagmite

This striking ‘finger’ of malachite sits atop a plate of similar malachite, giving it the appearance of a tall witch hat, according to the many Harry Potter fans who have seen it here. Found at the L’Etolle du Congo (the “Star of Congo”) mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has a slightly drusy, or sparkly exterior. The whimsical nature of the piece draws remarks from crowds, as the taper at the top is unique from most malachite specimens that formed as stalactites and stalagmites. It shows no surface bruising that is common to similar specimens, and is dramatic even in an unpolished state.

Malachite stalagmite

Hematite, Horse Tooth Habit

This specimen was the elegant star of our promotional poster back in March. The dramatic edges, striated surfaces, and shiny luster are typical of this form of hematite, which is usually found in rounded, botryoidal masses or red, rusty chunks. Typical of a Morocco hematite, it is lustrous and almost appears sculpted, but it is completely natural.

Horsetooth hematite

These are a few of the nearly eighty amazing specimens from the collection of Gail and Jim Spann. The exhibit can be viewed during normal hours of operation and there is no additional charge for this rare opportunity.

What’s in the Box? Green Eyes

These concentric green circles look like some kind of painting or an old-fashioned LP gone wrong, but in reality this mesmerizing pattern was created by nature. This is the mineral malachite, a copper carbonate associated with ore deposits.

Green malachite "eye"

Malachite forms when other copper minerals like chalcopyrite react with acidic water percolating through the rock. This water can carry copper atoms along for a bit before the copper begins to combine with other atoms and grow minerals like malachite. Sometimes, the water drips into open cavities in the surrounding rock, and malachite will grow as a stalactite or stalagmite the same way other cave formations do.

The photo above shows a slice through a malachite stalactite. The concentric rings come from the growth of the stalactite in fits and starts, and the light and dark colors reflect small changes in the water chemistry over time.

Even though it was made by nature, a little human ingenuity helps this pattern to shine: the rings are most striking in malachite pieces that have been cut and polished like this one.

This post is part of our What’s in the Box? series.

Special Malachite Lapidary Exhibit from Congo on Display

malachite carved face of woman - special exhibit at Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral MuseumWe are excited to feature some malachite lapidary work from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in our Lapidary Arts Room for only the month of March 2012. Make time to visit this rare and special collection at the Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum.

malachite carved face - special exhibit at Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral MuseumOn loan from the Ziemer Family, the collection was built between 1975 and 1976 after Mr. Raymond Ziemer was given some pieces as a gift from a local tribe.

Carbonates are a group of minerals that contain the anion group CO32. They can be subdivided into the calcite, aragonite, dolomite or hydrated carbonate groups. The mineral malachite belongs in the hydrated (OH-bearing) carbonate group. It is a copper (Cu) bearing mineral and has the chemical formula Cu2CO3(OH)2. Continue reading