The Case Of The Mystery Crystal

I have been collecting, studying, and admiring minerals for over six years now. I have become very good at identifying minerals and recognizing their names or origins with certainty. I get messages from friends, family, and followers on social media almost daily asking for my opinion on what a specific stone is - which I am happy to do! My point being, I had a seamless track record with identification...up until January of this year when my boyfriend presented me with this bizarre looking mineral. This was the first one to stump me. After finally getting to the bottom of this one-of-a-kind mineral, I wanted to share with you my hectic journey with this stone! 

Let's take a look at the stone in question:

 

A very weird looking stone, to say the least. I had never seen a crystal with this "folding" looking pattern about it. It's hard to portray accurately through photos and videos, but hopefully you can see all the details to this piece. The folding pattern, the matrix on the backside, the shiny layer coating it, and the "vein" looking aspect on each of the raised ridges. 

How this piece came into my possession:

Let's break this down. As some of you may know, about six months ago I left the city I was born and raised in, Los Angeles, for a much smaller town in hopes of connecting with more nature, living a simpler life, and to continue my education. Like any crystal lover, one of the very first things I did in my new city was look up crystal shops to visit. I could only find one or two legitimate looking ones, and I went to visit those every few days just to browse and feel the good energy. At the end of December, my sister came into town and I wanted to show her around the local stores. When I typed in "crystal store" to my Google Maps, a new one popped up! It looked legitimate from the Yelp page and their social media, so we hurried over there to check it out. The first time we went, it was closed. The second time, we arrived about 20 minutes before the owner opened shop. This shop is nestled right next to a café away from the main road. We sat in my car and watched the two small business owners chat with each other through the snowfall. We started building theories and making up storylines for these people we were watching through my windshield. We were trying to figure out who owned which shop, how they know each other, who's dog it was running around. Were they married? Long time friends? Co-workers? Enemies? Lovers? There was a man shoveling snow to create a pathway to the crystal shop, but soon the woman parked and pulled up and was standing pretty close to the entrance to the crystal store. Anytime one of them would move closer to the shop, we would think "Okay, that's them. That's the crystal shop owner. They must be married. Who owns the café?" We watched these people do their morning dance for about 25 minutes before the woman walked into the shop and lit up the "Open" sign. At this point, we were free to go inside, but we had been watching these people's lives from a distance for an uncomfortable amount of time at this point, making up theories about their lives, past, present, and future. We were in too deep. We almost decided to leave and drive back home, in fear of facing the strangers we knew all too well. But we couldn't. We got out and shuffled through the snow to the front door and said "hello". 

The woman and the dog greeted us at the door and welcomed us inside. It was beautiful and warm inside, with a gorgeous assortment of rocks and minerals. We browsed around for a while, admiring all of the pretty stones. I asked her if this was a new shop, explaining my excitement but omitting the part about peering through my windshield for half an hour. She told me they'd been there for about 3 months. I wondered why it hadn't popped up on Google until today. As I was making my tenth or so loop around the shop, I noticed a shelf behind the cash register, full of beautiful crystals. There was a huge Buddha carving made of Larimar. I pointed to it and asked the woman, "Wow, is that Larimar?" She nodded and explained that those crystals were all part of the owner's personal collection. I said "Oh, okay" and began to step away, but another stone caught my eye. It was behind the cash register, too, but not on the shelf this time. It was just sitting on the counter all alone, beautiful and pink. I asked her if that one was the owner's too, and she agreed. I asked if I could see it and when she handed it to me I said, "Just out of curiosity, what is this? I've never seen anything like it before." She said she didn't know. I gave it back and we headed back home empty handed. 

I couldn't stop thinking about that stone. It was so weird and beautiful. I had truly never seen anything like it. I wanted to ask the owner more about it. We didn't end up going back - or at least I didn't. When my birthday came around on the second day of January, my boyfriend and sister were giving me a few gifts. I was having a great time and even forgot about the beautifully bizarre pink mineral for a moment. But then, I opened up a little wrapped gift, and there it was. In my hands. The weird stone from the owner's collection. I gasped and all I could mutter was, "What?! How?! Is this...?!"

My initial theories:

To say the least, I was shocked and over the moon to have this piece in my possession. Apparently, my boyfriend and sister went back to that shop and talked to the owner about it. She ended up feeling comfortable selling it to them, since I was such an avid crystal collector she felt safe enough with it being in my collection. 

I still had no idea what this stone was. I had never had trouble identifying a stone. The first thing I did was message the shop's Instagram to ask. She told me it came in an inventory shipment from Morocco and identified it as "A unique type of Quartz from Morocco that has Amethyst and Iron that gives off the reddish purple color." That didn't seem quite right, and I pushed for a little more clarification and she said, "Red Quartz Moroccan Hematoid Ferruginous Quartz." I said thank you, but something in me knew this wasn't quite right. There was a druzy layer coating it, which could be called Quartz, but the actual specimen under that druzy layer was what baffled me. That folding pattern. What was that? Hematoid or Ferruginous Quartz just means Quartz with Hematite/Iron inclusions, which makes it red. See below:

Hematoid Quartz by Sahararock

 

These two minerals were clearly not the same. That layer of druzy could very well could be Hematoid Quartz, giving off the pink tone, but that is just the outer layer. That is not the actual rock underneath. By the way, "druzy" just refers to the crystallized component. For example, these Moss Agate Spheres have "druzy pockets" - the part of the stone that became crystallized and sparkly.

So, now I was on the hunt to figure out exactly what this stone was. At this point, I scoured all of my crystal identification books and crystal encyclopedias, looking at every single one for similarities. Nothing. I asked a bunch of other crystal shop owners and crystal collectors that I know for their opinion. Nobody knew. I searched Google until my thumbs went blue, inputting anything I could think of into the search bar: "folding crystal, crystals that fold, weird folding crystal, rare pink crystals, unique pink stones, druzy pink stones, what crystal folds onto itself." Nothing again.

The only stones that had any significant resemblance were Youngite and Pink Smithsonite. 

 Youngite: The Rock Shed

 Smithsonite: Sotheby's

 

They looked pretty similar, but it just wasn't quite hitting the mark. The original owner didn't know, other crystal collectors didn't know, Google didn't know. I resorted to social media. I posted on Instagram and Tiktok asking if anyone could help me identify this strange specimen. Not so surprisingly, no one came back with any certainty. I didn't have any good leads and I was beginning to give up. I wondered if I had a one-of-a-kind mineral that hadn't been discovered yet. Is it possible? Should I ask a museum? I was at the end of my rope. I asked three other local crystal shops if they could help me identify it - nope. They had no clue. 

Then I found the Facebook Marketplace man. At this point, it's February and my friend was in town visiting from LA. We had gone around to check out some local crystal stores, as I do with anyone who comes to visit. After we went to a few shops and got home, we had the idea to check OfferUp to see if anyone local was selling crystals. We didn't find much, but I decided to check Facebook Marketplace. The only ad that popped up was titled "Tons Of Crystals". The photos looked like he had a good assortment of stones for sale, and I wondered why he had so many. I messaged him and he welcomed us to come and check it out. 30 minutes later, we were at his front door. The first thing he said to me was "Nice Labradorite", gazing at my necklace. I thanked him and we walked in to find an endless array of stones packed into his dining room. They were all over his dinner table, in boxes on the floor, and crowded onto two fold-out tables tucked in the corner. He had a ton of stuff. He told us that he goes to the Tucson gem show every year and sells minerals at the local market here in Spring, but he is just sitting on all of this until then. We looked around and I ended up getting some stuff from him. He offered to show me his personal collection and I followed him to his living room where he had about 6 shelves full of stones. He had a lot of rare and unique pieces, and even ones that he found himself. It was apparent that he was extremely knowledgeable about this stuff. I decided to show him a picture of the strange pink stone and asked if he could identify it. He shrugged and didn't say much. He said it probably was "Wall Snot" - meaning a crystal that is rotated in the Earth while it's being formed, which causes the mineral to change directions and form differently, which is what he theorized the "folding" to be.

 Source: Pinterest

 

This didn't seem quite right either. I knew the type of crystals he was talking about, and mine wasn't that. It didn't look like it had simply started growing in a different direction. It was spiraling and folding onto itself in a not-so-random pattern. We thanked him and went on our way.

Getting Closer:

I had pretty much given up at this point. I asked the original owner of the stone, searched all of my identification books, hundreds of Google searches and pages, other crystal owners/collectors, local crystal shops, social media, the Facebook Marketplace man - and I still had nothing. I was ready to just accept that I would never know and would just ask anybody who crossed my path that seemed to have knowledge on the subject.

I have had a huge chunk of raw Labradorite for several years that I've been wanting to get professionally polished. The beautiful rainbows are so much more vibrant in polished Labradorite versus in the raw, so I have been calling around to various shops and lapidaries. I remembered one that I had been to before. They had a huge assortment of specimens in glass cases. I called and asked if they could do this for me, and the man on the other line told me to come in store and have him check it out. About 15 minutes after hanging up the phone, I was ringing the bell on their front door. We talked about my Labradorite and he agreed to polish it. This man must be around 60-years-old and extremely knowledgable. He has clearly been building knowledge on minerals for decades. After we settled payment, I was about to leave before I asked him, "Are you pretty good at identifying crystals?" He agreed, slightly put off at the thought of identifying a crystal through a photograph rather than in-person, which I understand. I showed him the photo of the pink mineral. Without any hesitation he said, "Oh yeah, that's Chalcedony." He proceeded to explain to me how common of a mineral Chalcedony/Agate is, and I became discouraged, thinking this was going to be another dead end. I know what Chalcedony is, but this didn't look like any I had seen before. I said, "But what is that folding pattern? I have never seen that before." He said that it's a specific type of Chalcedony that forms that way: "Some people like to call it a rose." He gestured for me to follow him. We walked over to a display stand where there were a bunch of little pink stones labelled "Chalcedony Rose." 

 

Chalcedony Rose:

They looked really similar. Really similar. These didn't have druzy, and they were very small, but I could see the resemblance. I thanked him and walked back to my car. Without a second thought, I typed in "Chalcedony Rose" into my Google search bar. What came up almost made me cry.

 By Crystal Vaults

 By The Silver Lady

 By Minerals.net

 

This was it. THIS WAS IT. All along, I'd had a Chalcedony Rose with Druzy and Iron. That folding pattern is unmistakable. Nobody I had talked to in the last 3 months of investigating knew, until the wise lapidary man with a handlebar mustache. I couldn't believe it. The adrenalin and excitement still hasn't died down. I knew I had to share this hectic journey with all of you. The first crystal I was unable to identify. It is so special and so unique, I still can't find any quite like mine on the internet. This piece is definitely at the top of my favorites of my collection, and you can bet I'm never letting it go. Cheers to Chalcedony Rose!

 

2 comments

Marianne Nichol

I am starting to find crystals fascinating!! My daughter has been reading up on them as well!! First time reading your blog and that is pretty amazing how finally, figuring out what it was.

Sherry Sines

I love this story. Lol I was so excited for you. Beautiful piece. You found out just as you were supposed to and when you were supposed too. Thanks for sharing.
Highest blessings 🤍🙏🏻🤍

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