Calcite Crystal

Treasures of Darkness

Minerals have found their way from the earth into our homes, bringing with them mystic history as old as the earth itself. Nature’s euphoria carries these minerals “from being valued for their chemistry and rare beauty to holding an intrinsic value far in excess of anything dictated by logic” (Bill Bibliomane, Mineralogist & Writer).

American history tells this story further, shaped by its natural resources. “Access to the riches of a broad swathe of North America proved incredibly fortuitous in economic terms. But the legacy of the beauty of those specimens and samples which avoided the crushers and the smelters is also extraordinary” (Bibliomane). American Mineral Treasures commemorates this history, detailing the top 40 renowned minerals from the Unites States — museum pieces to private collections.

Heralded as one of the most beautiful books on minerals ever published, American Mineral Treasures is known as an artistic rendering of minerals that highlights the most famous mineral localities in the USA – from the Red Cloud Mine in Arizona to the Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas, “surveying the best of the beautiful things which have come from the ground and been conserved for posterity.”

The foreword is written by Harrison Schmitt, the only geologist to set foot on the Moon during the Apollo era. "Collecting minerals and rocks became a passion."

Schmitt continues, “Whether one is collecting at famous localities in the United States, at other localities worldwide, or even off-planet. I remember as a young boy, driving into the side of an Arizona mountain, carrying samples and holding a tape for my geologist father. Crystals above me sparkled in the light of my hardhat’s carbide lamp… I became addicted to geology, and being in places no geologist had ever been.” This took Schmitt from Alaska to Norway to the moon, emulating the thrill of discovering new mineral treasures, wherever they may be.” One such mineral treasure is the calcite crystal.

18th-century gold leaf candlestick top on calcite crystals in matrix.
18th-century gold leaf candlestick top on calcite crystals in matrix.

Calcite Crystals

Interi holds this rare collection of calcite crystals, one of American Mineral Treasure specimens of high honor (pg. 337).

Coming from the Elmwood Mine in Tennessee, they are heralded as examples of the world’s finest forms of calcite. The minerals are deposited on the walls, floors, and ceilings of the geological caverns formed from the gases of calcium carbonate and zinc. Due to the unusual formation of sphalerite and exceptionally large crystal clusters, they are unequaled by those from any other part of the world.

Artist Jean Barlow combines these museum-grade specimens with her signature 18th century Italian ecclesiastical fragments. The matrimony of mineral and fragment creates a piece that appears to have evolved together over time. 

18th-century Italian sunburst decorated with calcite crystals on a calcite crystal base in matrix.
18th-century Italian sunburst decorated with calcite crystals on a calcite crystal base in matrix.

Each detail looks as though it organically grew from the fragment artifact — perfecting the art of illusion and evoking man-made evolution.

18th century Italian gold leaf and painted candlestick decorated with a calcite crystals on an optical calcite base.
18th century Italian gold leaf and painted candlestick decorated with a calcite crystals on an optical calcite base.

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