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An introduction to mineralogy

Maria Kucinski

I have recently had the opportunity to explore the subject of mineralogy while working with the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History on their state-of-the-art gem and mineral gallery, David Friend Hall, opening this fall. When offered the chance to attend the East Coast Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show in West Springfield, I, along with my colleague Bri Tarpey, eagerly set out for Western Mass. to learn about these wondrous mineral specimens, which I have come to realize are like sculptures formed by the earth.

Bob Jones

Bri and I had the honor of hearing Bob Jones, a prolific mineralogist for which a mineral is named after him (Bobjonesite), speak about the new David Friend Hall at Yale. He discussed how he was inspired by Yale’s mineral collection in 1937 and how the new hall aims to continue to spark curiosity with its contemporary display and remarkable specimens (including the 4,000 pound Chinese fluorite with quartz secured by Cap Beesley). Bob explained how David Friend Hall represents the next chapter in the Peabody’s 150-year history as it builds on Yale’s unique mineralogical history which began with Benjamin Silliman and James Dwight Dana.

Peter Megaw Fluorite and Celestine Minas El Tule & Ilusion Melchor Muzquiz Area Coahuila

Following Bob Jones’ talk, Bri and I ventured into the beautifully curated Peter Megaw Collection from Mexico. As novices, it became evident to us that minerals are extraordinary in their shape, color, texture, and variations. Above, fluorite and celestine come together to create these cubic specimens of purple on a white ground.

Peter Megaw Secondary lead minerals Mina Ojuela Mapimi Durango

From the perfectly structured fluorite to the more organic-looking “secondary lead minerals” such as wulfenite, mimette, and cerusite.

Peter Megaw Smithsonite and...8th level mina San Antonio Santa Eulalla District Chihuaua

Here is a group of otherworldly-looking specimens of smithsonite.

Peter Megaw Rhodochrosite 10th Level Mina el Potosi Santa Eulalla District Chihuahua

Finally, the mineral that has obviously caught my eye is the rhodochrosite. It is pink (or what some people may call red) and comes in various shades and forms.

Geokrazy Minerals Rhodochrosite

After finishing up at the Peter Megaw collection, we decided to take a closer look and scope out the selection of minerals available for sale. A dealer showed me a few specimens of rhodochrosite and demonstrated how they sparkled under the light.

Geokrazy Minerals Rhodochrosite

Although these specimens were stunning, I thought I should start my mineral collection a little less ambitiously…(the price listed is $7,500).

East Coast Gem Mineral and Fossil Show Bri Tarpey

So Bri and I kept looking for those specimens which expert collectors advised, “speak to you,” as if spurting lines from a Marie Kondo book.

Geokrazy Minerals Thumbnail specimens

Finally, we came across some “thumbnail” specimens that would fit our needs. I found a perfectly pink and delicate rhodochrosite on quartz and Bri spotted a sharp, orange wulfenite. They are mementos to our journey to the East Coast Show and to proving that museums continue to inspire the desire to learn.

Rhodochrosite on quartz

All in all, with my collection officially started, I’m excited to continue learning more about minerals and sharing that excitement with others.

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