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Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?
  
  Index -> Incorrect classification and fakes
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: May 20, 2019 09:55    Post subject: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Some years ago a number of cleverly created lab grown very hi end sulphur fakes from a locality in Sicily came onto the market.

As I understand it, the fakes came to light only after it was determined that the sulphur isotope used in the faked crystals was not the same sulphur isotope as found in the genuine sulphur crystals from the locality.

Have all these faked specimens been recognized or are there any unrecognized fake examples still in collections and circulation? Is it still "buyer beware" when it comes to these specimens?
BOB
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David K. Joyce




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PostPosted: May 20, 2019 12:34    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Personally, I will always be vigilant when examining Sicilian sulphur specimens. There were many created. I'm sure many still exist in private collections and will eventually re-enter the market . DKJ
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Peter Seroka




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PostPosted: May 20, 2019 12:42    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Sulfur fakes

In the second half of the 1970s, larger quantities of excellent sulfur specimen from Sicily were offered worldwide. The crystals were perfect, plus they were big and of great color and lustre.
In the year 2000, the Italian Dr. Martinat admitted, that he had artificially produced and marketed these large quantities of fantastic specimen between 1975 and 1976. He did not explain the exact manufacturing process, but said that this process is based on sulfur dissolved in carbon disulfide and subsequent crystallization (evaporation of the solvent?) from the solution and is very time consuming. The crystals sit on the authentic rock matrix. Differentiating the "fakes" from real levels is very difficult or almost impossible

Not a few of these excellent specimen found their way into museums, universities and important private collections, where they can still be admired today. For understandable reasons, the owners of "proud" sulfur specimen from Sicily, some of which were acquired for quite a bit of money, are unlikely to be interested in analyzing their beautiful sulfurs.
A detailed report on this subject was published by R. Pagano in the Mineralogical Record in 2002 and is copyrighted, so it can not be reproduced in any correct way here. The above information comes from numerous conversations and discussions that I myself (of course, based on Pagano 's report), had conducted with dealers and collectors between 2002 - until 2007; especially when in 1978 I acquired an excellent museum quality sulfur specimen during the Munich Mineral Days and I am still unsure whether this originated from nature or in the laboratory.

I am convinced that there are many (not any) unrecognized fake specimen still in collections, however I doubt that there are many specimen in circulation. Those fakes appear so real, so perfect and so beautiful, that not few collectors (or institutions) hesitate or do not invest time and money to verify the authenticity of their examples. And I guess, that most owners of such beautiful sulfurs do not bother about genuine or false isotopes. And, as those sulfur crystals are so outstanding, nobody wants to sell those eye catchers of any collection.

Peter

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John Betts




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PostPosted: May 20, 2019 13:19    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Peter Seroka wrote:
Sulfur fakes

The crystals sit on the authentic rock matrix. Differentiating the "fakes" from real levels is very difficult or almost impossible


In the early years he used incorrect matrix. These fakes were quickly questioned. He then switched to growing the crystals on authentic matrix.

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Mathias




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PostPosted: May 20, 2019 13:34    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

I guess these fakes don't have any other minerals like aragonite growing on top of them.....
Also no bitumen present i assume...



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Rob Schnerr




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 03:11    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Bob Harman wrote:
Some years ago a number of cleverly created lab grown very hi end sulphur fakes from a locality in Sicily came onto the market.

As I understand it, the fakes came to light only after it was determined that the sulphur isotope used in the faked crystals was not the same sulphur isotope as found in the genuine sulphur crystals from the locality.

Have all these faked specimens been recognized or are there any unrecognized fake examples still in collections and circulation? Is it still "buyer beware" when it comes to these specimens?
BOB


Bob, you posted this four days after we posted a photo of a specimen with nice, big sulphur crystals from Sicily in our collection thread. I don’t know, but maybe our photo inspired you to write this post. Anyway the story of the fakes is new to us, but that doesn’t say anything because we are no experts that read all the literature.

We understand that the fakes (see the post of Peter Seroka in your thread) are so good that it is “difficult or almost impossible” to differentiate the fakes from the real ones. So where does that leave us?

When I look on mindat I see that we (my wife and I) are at least in good company!

But …. we have yet another sulphur specimen that we acquired at the same time from the same tray. Suppose we offer this for analyzing and the result is fake (or not fake). What does this tell us about comparable specimen in other collections or even in our own collection? Nothing, if I understand correctly.

Kind regards,
Rob
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 05:55    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Rob,

Yes, it is no coincidence that your sulphur crystal specimen posting and my posting were so close together in timing. When I saw the specimen's locality, I wanted to be brought up to date on these specimens. Reading thru all the responses, we both should get several takeaway messages.

First, there are still faked examples out there so buyer beware. Most every responder said this.

Second, the later fakes, on correct matrix, are so good, and were so pricey, that many collectors just accept the fact that they might have a fake specimen and let it go at that rather than getting the example analyzed and destroying their example at the same time.

Third, is there only 1 locality for sulphur in Sicily where the fakes came from or are there multiple localities for collectible sulphur specimens in Sicily, some of which never had faked sulphur specimens.....I am not exactly sure of this point.

Finally, important with your specific photographed example (and maybe your second example as well), the specific incorrect and correct matrix was never fully discussed. Someone with this knowledge needs to discuss your particular examples with regard to their specific locality and matrix. Does the matrix look real and correct? Or, in other words, what does your particular example(s) look like in regards to genuine vs faked examples.

All food for thought so hope this helps. Bye the way, yours is a very nice specimen!! Bob
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Fiebre Verde




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 07:18    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Bob Harman wrote:
Rob,

Yes, it is no coincidence that your sulphur crystal specimen posting and my posting were so close together in timing. When I saw the specimen's locality, I wanted to be brought up to date on these specimens. Reading thru all the responses, we both should get several takeaway messages.

First, there are still faked examples out there so buyer beware. Most every responder said this.

Second, the later fakes, on correct matrix, are so good, and were so pricey, that many collectors just accept the fact that they might have a fake specimen and let it go at that rather than getting the example analyzed and destroying their example at the same time.

Third, is there only 1 locality for sulphur in Sicily where the fakes came from or are there multiple localities for collectible sulphur specimens in Sicily, some of which never had faked sulphur specimens.....I am not exactly sure of this point.

Finally, important with your specific photographed example (and maybe your second example as well), the specific incorrect and correct matrix was never fully discussed. Someone with this knowledge needs to discuss your particular examples with regard to their specific locality and matrix. Does the matrix look real and correct? Or, in other words, what does your particular example(s) look like in regards to genuine vs faked examples.

All food for thought so hope this helps. Bye the way, yours is a very nice specimen!! Bob

This is an interesting discussion which goes beyond the case of Sicilian Sulphurs.
If the matrix fits the specifics of the correct sulphur locality (or localities?) then we are back to square one.
The sulphur could be lab grown sulphur which can be differentiated from natural sulphur only through an isotope analysis.
On the other hand the matrix looks perfectly natural/genuine and fits all the characteristics of the ones found in the sulphur locality.
We are left with 2 observations which can help (sometimes) discriminate man-made from natural:
1) How the sulphur crystals are arranged and how they stand on the matrix
2) How the contact areas between the crystals and the matrix appear under magnification

As a collector or a museum, if you own a nice specimen that fits perfectly the locality characteristics, you don't necessarily want to know if the sulphur is lab grown or natural.
As a dealer it's a complete different story.
Since we are mere mortals, these collector's or museum's specimen will probably end up in the hands of an appraiser or a dealer one day.
Gerard
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Rob Schnerr




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 07:39    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Bob Harman wrote:
Rob,

... Finally, important with your specific photographed example (and maybe your second example as well), the specific incorrect and correct matrix was never fully discussed. Someone with this knowledge needs to discuss your particular examples with regard to their specific locality and matrix. Does the matrix look real and correct? Or, in other words, what does your particular example(s) look like in regards to genuine vs faked examples.

All food for thought so hope this helps. Bye the way, yours is a very nice specimen!! Bob


Bob : Thanks for your reply. I learned a lot today! This really is a tremendous site!

Regards,
Rob
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Kevin Conroy




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 08:02    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

By the way, the same scenario is true for some of the silver specimens out there. While impressive looking, they are fake,
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Mathias




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 08:55    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

The very shiny ones from Morocco.....
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Kevin Conroy




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PostPosted: May 21, 2019 09:06    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

Mathias wrote:
The very shiny ones from Morocco.....


Yes. I don't want to hijack this post, so if you want to read about questionable silvers go to https://www.mineral-forum.com/message-board/viewtopic.php?t=249 or https://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,55,132288,142010
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2019 09:46    Post subject: Re: Are there any Sicilian Sulphur fakes still around?  

On this thread from several weeks ago, I would like to add a point that, at least to me, seems important with implications for collectors buying hi end specimens.

In a conversation with a fellow collector of means, it was mentioned by him that the more information and provenance a specific specimen comes with, the greater is the likelihood that the specific specimen is genuine in all respects. He looks for examples with lots of accompanying info.

The clever faked Sicilian sulphurs, as far as I know, came onto the collector market from the faker's lab. Certainly NOT from being genuinely mined at the sulphur locality. Certainly NOT from a known respected field collector or miner or known group with a contract with the locality to collect collector specimens. Perhaps if more had been known about the specifics (!) of how these very hi end specimens were suddenly originating they could have been detected earlier. Exactly who was collecting these and when were they being collected?

Let me extrapolate this to current specimens. There are many hi end fluorite specimens coming onto the market from localities in China. If the very highest end examples, from a new locality, were all enhanced with radiation, they, in effect would be a type of fakes, only discovered when direct mine examples might be shown to be drab and dull until the radiation enhancements.

So, when buying hi end specimens or "new find" hi end specimens, the more you know about them, the better. BOB
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