12 members of the Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society spent a week during April 2013 collecting minerals in Morocco
One of the most amazing collecting locations we visited was the Tizi n Inouzane pass high up in the High Atlas mountains (Fig. 1). The minerals we collected included intense yellow hexagonal prismatic crystals of apatite from the pegmatite veins just below the snow line. I collected around a dozen nice 1 cm crystals, but I did not manage to collect any apatite on matrix.

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So when I attend the 50th Anniversary Munich Show that October, I thought I might find such a specimen. I looked over all the Moroccan dealers’ tables and eventually found one which had a small box of yellow apatites on matrix, but not priced and no locality information provided.
I looked carefully through the specimens, unwrapping the most promising, checking that the apatite was not glued to the matrix (Moroccans have a reputation for selling fake or repaired mineral and fossil specimens). I picked out the best specimen. The apatite crystal was not overly lustrous nor its colour that intense a yellow, but it would do. Given the inflated prices at the Munich Show, I considered 10 – 20 euros would be a reasonable price.
I asked the Moroccan dealer how much he wanted for the specimen. He held the specimen up to the light, weighed it and said “70 euros”. 70 euros, that’s nearly £60! He could see that I was unimpressed and he asked how much I thought it was worth so I told him “10 to 20 euros”. At that point he re-wrapped the specimen, returned it to the box and turned his back on me. Negotiations were not even going to start, I had obviously insulted him. I am not sure whether I was proud or ashamed at that point. It is not easy to insult a Moroccan dealer.
However he did me a good turn. I found a Polish dealer who has many good contacts in Morocco.
After some straight forward negotiations on price, I bought an excellent yellow apatite on matrix from him for 30 euros (Fig. 2). The crystals were totally undamaged, had a high lustre and an intense yellow colouration.

apatite smls
apatite

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