pyrite from the swiss Alps
Reported by Johannes Ruef
It was the end of 2019 when I received a message from a friend. In a few enthusiastic words he let me know that he had made a new find of alpine pyrites in an old spot that he had discovered more than 15 years ago in the Swiss Alps. I knew some of the pieces of the find from his private collection and had always wanted to have something similar in my own showcase.
About the quality
The most striking thing about these pyrites is their exceptional quality. Usually alpine pyrite found close to the surface is altered and rusty, there are only very few exceptions from tunnels or quarries. These pyrites were found in a steep wall in alpine area, yet they have highly glossy golden faces.
The feature that makes the pieces so aesthetic is the great contrast to the host rock, which is a dark grey to black schist called “Bündner Schiefer”. The pyrite cubes are sprinkled over thin schist plates, sometimes individually and sometimes in cords. This makes the specimens very decorative, they almost appear like small works of art.
Of course I quickly agreed to visit him to take a look at what he had brought back down from the mountains. I did expect to see some beautiful new pieces, but the quality, size and number of pyrites he showed me that day was outstanding! It was obvious that a major and significant new find had been made in Switzerland. One after another beautiful specimen was unravelled and I was very happy to hand-pick the most aesthetic and impressive specimen of the entire find. It was quite an experience to go through all the pieces together with the person who had made this remarkable discovery, stopping a few minutes every once in a while to just marvel and admire the beauty, when he unpacked another particularly showy specimen. Shortly afterwards, the find was described in a Lapis article (number of Lapis) and the pyrites are now rather sought-after.
The best one
To top this memorable visit off, he agreed to leave me with one of the 3 best plates of the whole find – a plate of over 60 cm by 40 cm width – but only 2 to 3 cm thick, showing countless pyrite cubes that cross the plate in a spray like a small milky way. I am excited to have this remarkable pyrite specimen in my showcase now.
I got myself carried away a bit with words here and will now let the pyrite specimens speak for themselves, but I hope this article can give you a small glimpse of the brilliance of these pieces.
Click here to go to the available specimens from this location.