Gamini Ratnavira, an internationally-known wildlife artist famous for his scenes of rain forests, has been subverted to the Dark Side; and now not only paints minerals, but has begun a collection of choice, aesthetic toenail and thumbnail-sized specimens. Some of his collection will be on exhibit in Tucson in 2009 for the show. Please have a look at his work, which in deference to "our hobbyist world" is offered on commission at about 1/4 the price that his small bird and frog paintings sell for in the "real art" world. These specimens below were jointly selected by Gamini and I for this project. They do come with the original paintings he has made. However, now for sale are the first-ever prints he has released of his mineral paintings, which in the past have been only private-commission works. For more information on Gamini's wildlife art and his new offering of mineral prints (based on some of the originals below), Click Here for his home page: www.gaminiratnavira.com.
Both barite and Fluorite are famously known from these now-closed mines. However, gettin a great combination piece, where both are equally balanced and add to the whole, is very difficult. This specimen I find one of the most aesthetically appealing of all I have seen of this material, for the combination. I like the stark contrast of the forms of the barite and the fluorite, which Gamini emphasized in his painting. In person, the fluorites are more gemmy and transparent than they appear in either the photos or the painting. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
This dramatic specimen features a 6.5-inch (16cm) crystal standing straight up from a roseate cluster of brilliant, sparklling white cleavelandite blades. They are decorated with sparkling purple lepdiolite, like sugar. The albite is so lustrous and bright, that it is hard to photograph and so is appearing whited out and muted in the photos here. Like most larger Pederneira Mine pieces from the recent heyday of the mine from 1999-2005 or so, the crystal is repaired. In this case, it is repaired (cleanly) in 3 places - but this goes with the territory if you want these big rocket-like tourmalines at a fair price. This particular specimen is from the socalled "rocket pocket" and came out around 2000-2001. It is one I selected from a large stash at the time, for overall aesthetics and display quality for the price and size range, from amidst literally hundreds of specimens. Despite having a number of pricier pieces around the shop, this is the piece that Gamii wanted to paint out of all of them, for its aesthetic appeal to his eye. This mine is now, for all intents, closed and not producing at the moment. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
Kongsberg silver specimens are frankly not as rare as we would often like to think, when selling them. However, Kongsberg silvres with such character, and such intricate curling for the size, with calcite association no less...this is not so common! Like the gold above, Gamini picked this piece because he said it looked alive, and he wanted to try to convey that feeling in his painting (which I personally think he does). The lustrous, bright calcite crystals provide a contrast and an accent both, helping to give this piece a bit of life and 3-dimensionality because the eye tries to place them "on the tree" in 3 dimensions. I think that, for the size and price range, this is as good as any Kongsberg I have had and that the painting is simply a bonus to a great specimen that is worthy on its own merits. ex. Kevin Ward Collection. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
This specimen is an extremely bright crystallized gold consisting of unusually long spinel-twinned crystals to 5 cm in height, from which smaller crystals shoot off. his is an extremely well-crystallized, arborescent spray of gold crystals to a whopping 5 cm in length (that's 2 INCHES, folks!), literally shooting up like the old "Shazam" cartoon logo up into the air from a small bit of attached rock and quartz matrix at the base My kid thinks it looks like a preying mantis, though). The gold isn't as thick as the other major gold pieces here, but it is not fragile either (In other words it is typical, 1mm-thick Eagle's Nest gold, but in atypical aesthetic quality).
Sometimes we are surprised by a new fluorite find, despite having seen so many before! This is a mesmerizing specimen, which Gamini selected from about 20 pieces I had obtained from this unusual pocket found in early 2008, showing SHARP square phantoms inside the cube faces. It is hard to convey the gemminess in the photos anyhow, so we aimed to shwo the phantoms and depth of color - suffice to say, it is more gemmy in person. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
An unusual tourmaline, I would say! The reason is that pastel-colored tourmalines from here seldom have strong color depth, but this one does. IN other words , most pale tourmalines are second-rate, because of it. Somehow, it works for this piece - a strong pastel color that is NOT second-ran at all but rather just plain different than the normal Afghani style. Both the blue and the pink are deeply colored and unusual shades to find in combination with each other. It looks more like a popsicle than like a natural tourmaline, I admit. This cluster is also pristine, and complete all around as you can see here. It is 275 grams. The main crystal is 3.5 x 3 cm There are gemmier, more deeply colored tourmalines out there...but this one just has a unique quality to it that makes it stand out for color impact and beauty, even among the crowd. It is from the collection of Dr. Ed David, a remarkable collector and also a scientist in the real world; who was president Nixon's science advisor among other positions he has held. Ed collected very few crystals of the gem species, perhaps 10% out of 1000 specimens only, and so they each HAD to be unique for him to want them. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
3-dimensional cluster that gives new meaning to the words "aqua spray!" This pristine cluster is one of the best of this style I have seen recently, evoking a memory of a famous pocket that came out around 1988, where all the sprays were so dramatic (albeit with smaller crystal size). Now, such forms come as a trickle, a few per year perhaps. This one is particularly nice because of the size of the crystals, the deep color, the transparency throughout the upper 75%, the pristine condition , and the wonderful 360-degree symmetry and displayability. Mined in early 2007, this is a superb aquamarine cluster in its own right, painting aside. It is pristine and complete all around with no damage nor repairs. It has a wonderful bright lustre to it, and is more gemmy in person due to the difficulty of photographing gem crystals with depth in clusters, like this one (light refracts off slight veils in person to make the bodies of crystals in the camera's eye more cloudy than they actually appear to the human eye in person). Gamini said he was so taken aback by the sharpness, the geometric citylike growth, of this aquamarine cluster that he wanted to accentuate this feature in his painting by sharpening the edges and diminishing the gemminess so it looks like a carved ice sculpture. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
Truly COMPLETE stalactite clusters from the classic Ray Mine are uncommon and go for a premium already, painting or no painting. This piece is a particularly aesthetic miniature, complete all around, with surreal "reaching" stalks that are translucent and slightly curving as they reach out from the matrix base. This would be an older specimen, from the 1970s or early 1980s. Most specimens from the modern finds here just look different, and also tend to consist of smaller stalactites on larger matrix. I love how the quartz coating on the chrysocolla "dimples out" at the tips, creating a clear translucent cone atop each stalactite. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
ex. Wally Mann Collection This is a very fine cabinet piece from 2005 mining at this important amazonite district. It features a nearly 2 inch smoky quartz leaping out from surrounding amazonite. The stark contrast of color and form has always made these combination pieces treasured classics, and admittedly the world's best come only intermittently from a small area of Colorado! This specimen was purchased by the previous collector as soon as it was put on the shelf for sale by Joe Dorris, who mined it. We all thought it was mispriced, clearly as good or BETTER than pieces marked $12-15k and more with Joe and with his mining partners at another dealership. Like all of these clusters, it is multiply repaired but this goes with the territory and as long as the repairs are clean (which they are) , posed no objection when he brought it into a crowd of about 6 Dallas area collectors in the hallway at the Denver show that year to get a vote on it (which was unanimous). So my friend, collector Wally Mann, jumped on this at the time when he had not previously owned a good one that met his criteria for quality and aesthetics at this price range. However, I traded this from him last year in early 2008, and Gamini took it right off my shelf, as soon as he saw me putting it out. He, like I, loved the stark contrast, and the aesthetics of the dominant smoky atop the "blue mountains" - you can see that in the painting he tried to emphasize that effect of making the amazonites look like natural mountains as much as crystals. There are many amazonites out there to choose from, I admit. But this one I thought was first of a very good aesthetic balance and color; and secondly we all liked the price which was surprisingly reasonable (and remains nearly the same as what he paid). For under 10k, for a cabinet amazonite with good color, I think the paintingis basically a freebie and the piece is shockingly good for the price range. I'd happily take it back later , even, as I cannot get another like it for the price barring another price anomaly from the miners. Price includes specimen, painting, and custom lucite base for display.
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