A large and important rose quartz specimen known as La Madona Rosa has set the world record for any mineral after selling with spectacular results at Heritage Auctions on June 2.
The mineral takes its name from the fact that its shape resembles traditional Catholic depictions of the Madonna. It sold for $662,500, due to its incredible rarity alongside its own fascinating back-story.
In the late 1950s, miners at a small mine known as Sapucaia in Brazil unearthed a glittering pocket of rose quartz. Although only six inches wide by 12 inches high, the seam actually extended for 16 feet, brimming with deep pink and smoky quartz crystals. La Madona Rosa is thought to have been part of this initial find.
This was the first time that rose quartz had even been seen, and the miners had truly hit pay dirt. Rose quartz has since been found across Brazil, but none of the same size and beauty as the examples found in Sapucaia.
The largest and most famous specimen from the find is the Van Allen Belt, which is housed in the Smithsonian.
Heritage Auctions hopes that the sale will highlight minerals as a growing collecting area.
"This auction is proof that, as a collectible, fine and rare minerals have value and credibility and that concept has now been proven in a public and transparent fashion," commented the auction house's James Walker.
"There was a palpable buzz in the room for the entire auction. Our goal is to create an archive, a reference base if you will, for those who want to enter this collecting arena."
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