Binn valley: Cleft minerals from the Alps most diverse valley

The Swiss Binn valley is world-renowned for its unrivaled variety of minerals, ranging from high-class specimen of all typical alpine cleft minerals to rare sulfosalt and Thallium compounds. The Binn valley is a secondary valley of the Rhone valley in the Swiss Kanton Wallis, and it is characterized by a very complex folding of geological series. The northern parts of the valley are dominated by Bündner schist and comprise the locales Turben area and Feldbach, famous for beautiful rock crystals grown in transitional/Tessin habitus and the signature variant "Binntal habitus". The Lengenbach quarry, type locality for more than 30 minerals, is situated in a dolomite formation hosting Arsenic ore mineralisations. The southern parts of the valley cut through various gneiss formations including the Lärcheltini area, renowned for anatase crystals in a unique variety of shapes and colours, as well as magnetite, rutile and hematite iron roses.

The specimen from the Lärcheltini area I am lucky to offer below are all from finds made in the 1990's - nowadays this locale becomes increasingly inaccessible because climate change yields a pronounced elevation of the vegetation limit, so that the formerly bare rock surface in this area is now covered with soil and vegetation.

PL-001 - Fluorite, Cafarsite & Rock Crystal - 1.800 €

Mt. Cervandone, Wanni glacier, Kriegalp valley, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland
Size: 8 x 7.5 x 4.5 cm

360° video and full resolution images

Extraordinary locality specimen second to none: a 4.5 cm wide fluorite with a complex shape based on a rhombic dodecahedron, deep green color, distinct transparency and greasy luster. The fluorite is free of any significant damage, the upper left part got growth-inhibited by quartz crystals whose prism faces left their indents on the fluorite.
Textbook assembly on a sparkling lawn of rock crystals with a freestanding 4x4x4-mm cafarsite crystal on the backside as the smoking gun for the locale.

PL-011 - Fluorite - 800 €

Mt. Cervandone, Wanni glacier, Kriegalp valley, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland
Size: 65 x 50 x 35 mm

Full resolution images

Color-change fluorite appearing green in daylight, but partially purple under incandescent illumination. This is extremely rare material from the only known locality in the entire Alps to produce such specimen. This color change has been named "Alexandrite effect" in analogy to the chromium-rich chrysoberyl variety. Given their abundance in the Binn Valley, the effect is supposed to stem from rare earth element doping increasing the crystals effective optical transmission in the red. The fluorite on hand measures 12 mm along its longest dimension and exhibits a rounded shape based on a rhombic dodecahedron. No significant damage.

16-167 - Scepter Quartz - 250 €

Breithorn, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 13.5 x 12 x 8 cm

360° video and full resolution images

Impressive combination of a multi-head scepter quartz towering above a 13.5 cm long, doubly terminated rock crystal. The scepter shows distinct windows and great luster. The specimen might be repaired, even though the finder told me it was not and I had it surviving one night in aceton.

16-155 - Magnetite & Rutile - 150 €

Kollergraben, Lärcheltini area, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 7 x 3.5 x 2 cm

360° video and full resolution images

Complex rutile twin of 5 mm height and magnetite octahedron of 4 mm edge length on mica coated matrix. Both crystals show bright metallic luster and are free of significant damage.

Titanite - sold

Hillehorn, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 4 x 3.5 x 3.5 cm

360° video

Cluster of intergrown titanite twins with a dominant front crystal of 4 cm length. The prevailing color is green, partially altered to brown-reddish and colorless zones. There is some chlorite scattered over the piece and the crystal edges are somewhat eroded/etched, but the entire specimen is free of significant damage. Appealing 360° sculpture which stands up to comparison with Austrian titanites.

PL-019 - Faden Quartz - 180 €

Turbhorn area, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 8 x 7.5 x 7.5 cm

360° video and full resolution images

Unusual, dense aggregate of multiple parallel quartz faden. The locality Turbhorn area is clearly identifiable from many rock crystal individuals exhibiting the typical transitional habitus. The main faden lines branch into dozends of mini faden towards the bottom. No significant damage.

17-014 - Amethyst on Smoky Quartz - 40-100 € (see image captions)

Chummibort, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: up to 54 mm (see image captions)

360° videos and full resolution images

Lot of doubly terminated, sceptered amethyst crystals on pale smoky quartz - all from the same cleft. The amethyst crystals on all specimen are free of significant damage, the smoky quartz crystals of specimen D-G exhibit some rather marginal damage, see the 360° videos.

PL-028 - Anatase - 280 €

Mt. Cervandone, Kriegalp valley, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 32 x 28 x 21 mm

Full resolution images

Brown-yellow anatase crystal of 4 mm size sitting on a decorative gneiss matrix. Note that the specimen does not stem from the Lärcheltini area, but from the Scherbadung mountain, where yellow anatase is even more rare. No significant damage.

Magnetite & Rutile - sold

Kollergraben, Lärcheltini area, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 2 x 1.5 x 1 cm

360° video

Lustrous thumbnail combination of a magnetite octahedron with 5 mm edge length and a pair of rutile crystals on a bed of adularia. The magnetite has a contact at the bottom-left side.

16-108 - Magnetite - 120 €

Kollergraben, Lärcheltini area, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 5.5 x 3 x 2.5 cm

Full resolution images

Highly lustrous magnetite octahedron of 7 mm width on gneiss matrix covered with small adularia and mica crystals. There is a small chip on the top-right corner of the magnetite.

16-150 - Magnetite - 80 €

Kollergraben, Lärcheltini area, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 6.5 x 4.5 x 3 cm

Full resolution images

Two lustrous magnetite octahedra of 5 mm edge length on mica covered matrix. One of the crystals carries a second generation of homoepitaxial nuclei and some intergrown mica crystals. No significant damage.

16-130 - Rock Crystal - 300 €

Binner Galen, Binn, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 16 x 14 x 9.5 cm

360° video and full resolution image

Group of water-clear and highly lustrous rock crystals with some associated pericline. The rock crystals exhibit typical Binntal habit and measure up to 5 cm in length. The matrix was cut at the bottom. No significant damage.

Rock Crystal - sold

Turbhorn area, Binn valley, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 6.5 x 4.5 x 3 cm

360° video

Lustrous cluster of doubly terminated rock crystals with Tessin habitus. The longest crystal measures 48 mm. There is a small tip broken at the very bottom, otherwise no significant damage.

Anatase - sold

Spissen, Lärcheltini area, Binntal, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 17 x 13 x 11 mm

360° video and full resolution images

Honey-yellow anatase crystals on adularia. The main anatase exhibits gemstone crystal quality and is developed in distinct "Spissen habitus", i.e. in ditetragonal-dipyramidale morphology.

Anatase - sold

Lower Lärcheltini zone, Lärcheltini area, Binntal, Wallis, Switzerland

Size: 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cm

Intense orange, multifaceted and transparent anatase with small mica crystals on gneiss matrix. The anatase measures 3 mm. No significant damage.

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Impressum & Copyright: Jonas Norpoth, Wilhelmshöher Weg 16, D-34128 Kassel