The Balmat Purple Calcite Discovery
The 2023 Discoveries at the Empire State Mine,
Balmat, St. Lawrence County, New York
This year the 2022 discoveries at Balmat were outdone! The largest crystal pocket in the history of Balmat was opened on June 8th on the 4,051 level of the mine. The calcite crystals within this massive void were found in a range of colors: pale tan, pink, a light to medium peach, and pleasing lavender colors were all recovered from the pocket. Some of the largest crystals had a more intense, deep purple color. Individual crystals and small groupings of crystals formed in a wide range of sizes and a great diversity of crystal shapes including rather simple rhombohedral and scalenohedral crystals were present. Commonly crystals were highly modified by many forms. Twins were present as Rossie habit penetration twins and twins on the 0001 of some scalenohedral crystals.
Interesting surface features and luster variations were common to crystals from this opening. Many crystals had faces with glassy or satin-like lusters. Also present were many variations of textured faces that resembled very fine shark’s teeth, areas of stepped growth, or organized dissolution. Common were selective face textures resembling a sandy appearance due to microscopic inclusions of pyrite at, and just below, their surfaces. Individual crystals could have faces with one or many of these characteristics in aesthetic combinations. Fine examples of these calcites would have exceptional lusters and excellent transparency. Poorer examples have areas showing a translucent gray coloration and greater numbers of faces coated or included with microscopic pyrite crystals.
Accessory minerals included baryte, anhydrite, pyrite, and halite.
The 2022 Discoveries at the Empire State Mine,
Balmat, St. Lawrence County, New York
This year the fine discoveries of lustrous, well-formed, and colorful minerals were made at Balmat. Several large and small openings produced collector grade specimens of calcite, sphalerite, quartz, pyrite, halite, pyrrhotite, and other species. The calcites and sphalerites were exceptional!
The calcites varied in color from having none to yellow-brown to pink to an exceptionally rare color for calcite... PURPLE. A pocket on the 3,981-foot level produced crystals that were colorless, pink and purple in large, translucent to very transparent examples. Their lusters were often exceptional, and they were commonly seen as Rossie habit twins. The only comparable purple calcites known have been found in a handful of examples from Webb City, Joplin, Missouri, a pocket in the White Rock quarry, Sterlingbush, New York, and from a small find of about a dozen examples of scalenohedral crystals from China. I believe only the finest examples from the Chinese find to be equal in quality to these new calcites from Balmat. This 3,981-level pocket in the Empire State mine was worked by miners during the summer and early fall of the year until it was eventually filled in by mining personnel. The pocket was not large, measuring approximately 6 x 5 x 2.5 feet. On September 4th a secondary opening of comparable size was opened adjacent to the original find and more specimens were produced. The best of these calcites will certainly rank among the finest known for this common species.
Another calcite pocket on the 3,990 level, referred to by the mineral as the "Bear Den" was a much larger opening containing calcite crystals very different from the 3,981-foot level opening. These calcites had the same exceptional luster as the 3,981-level pocket specimens but they were normally parallel growth rhombohedral crystals having a yellow-brown coloration. Others crystals from this find were water clear, sometimes twinned crystals and others were tabular, twinned crystals.
The sphalerites, sometimes found in association with colorless calcites, came from the New Fold area in the mine between levels 3,931 and 3,971. They also come in a variety of colors including red, amber, black, and an attractive yellow. All the colors, except the black, were found in beautifully formed, transparent, lustrous examples. Crystals to several centimeters in size were not uncommon.
These fine Balmat specimens are offered for inspection and sale at the following shows:
Tucson, Arizona, Rocky Mountain Gem and Mineral Shows, January 27-February 12, 2023.
Tent show at 1920 N. Oracle (across from Mineral City)
Albany, New York Show, April 13 and 14, 2024
Dallas Texas/ Plano Mineral and Fossil Show, May 19, 20, and 21, 2023
East Coast Gem and Mineral Show, West Springfield, Massachusetts, (Booth #48), August 11, 12, 13, 2023