Tiefengletscher, Furka, Uri, Switzerland
28.5 cm tall x 12.7 cm wide
Pink fluorite on smoky quartz is one of the most sought-after mineral combinations. The very finest come from the Swiss and French Alps. Most of these are found with only partial quartz crystals and fluorites in clusters. This piece has an elegance and stature that very few achieve. Two large isolated pink octahedrons precariously attached to a gem quality large smoky quartz crystal. The ultimate minimalist perfection. This example is among the world's finest.
In the mineral kingdom there are hierarchies, not all of them actually correct, but when it comes to smoky quartz there is one rule, one agreed upon truth: swiss smoky quartz is the benchmark for which all other smoky quartz is measured. Swiss smoky quartz is akin to Swiss watchmaking—basically unchallenged. The Swiss miners who search the Alps for these fine specimens are commonly known as Strahlers and they are revered for their perseverance and willingness to risk life and limb to climb these treacherous mountains and dig through ice and rock, then rappel down sheer rock faces with backpacks of quartz. Unfortunately every year or so, a Strahler dies on this dangerous journey.
The actual scale of the piece is difficult to understand from a photo. The quartz measures nearly one foot tall (28.5 cm). This specimen comes from the same area where the most famous of all Swiss Alpine pockets was discovered in 1868. Those crystals are now in the Bern Natural History Museum.