De Colores: Mexico’s Mineral Palette


Story and Photos by Dr. Peter K.M. Megaw

Mexico has produced untold quantities of world-class specimens of well-crystallized colorful minerals from her many mines over the centuries. Tragically, prior to the mid-20th century most were simply sent to the crushers, but collectors active over the last 75 years have had the fortune to have Mexico become a reliable source of mineral specimen wealth – and periodic surprises.

Mexico is a big place, about the size of the western third of the U.S. To put this in perspective, if you put Tijuana, Baja California, on top of Seattle, Washington, the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula (where the dinosaur-killing meteorite impacted) would fall where the Rio Grande reaches the Gulf of Mexico at Brownsville, Texas. Not surprisingly, like the western U.S., Mexico is geologically diverse with a wide range of ore deposit types. Many of her mines have been in production since the Spanish Colonial era, and most of her largest northern cities owe their location and prosperity to proximity to these mines – representing a 450-year record of sustainable development. Mexico’s metal endowment is enormous; she is the world’s number-one source of silver, fifth for zinc and lead, and eighth for gold, plus a world leader in fluorite and celestine production.

It is impossible in this space to cover all of the Mexican localities that have provided us superb specimens, so we have selected 10 of the most prolific and distinctive districts, with an emphasis (in all but one case) on color. There is tremendous literature on these (and other) Mexican localities and the reader is encouraged to dig in and learn more.

Enjoy details about each locale and view examples of the stunning specimens mined in each region by clicking on the districts listed below.

• San Pedro Corralitos, Chihuahua

•  El Tule and La Ilusion, Coahuila

•  Naica, Chihuahua

• Boleo, Baja

• Fresnillo, Zacateca