"Iceland Spar"
(aka) Optical Calcite
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This variety of Calcite is called "Iceland Spar", which is basically clear cleaved fragments of completely colorless (ice-like)
calcite. Originally discovered in and named after Eskifjord, Iceland. The Iceland spar displays the classic cleavage form of
calcite, the rhombohedron. Iceland Spar is used for optical equipment and during World War II it was an extremely important
mineral that was used in the sighting equipment of bombardiers and gunners. Our specimens come from the locations
currently producing the most interesting specimens for collectors. We are always looking for more locales.

“A secret mine in the mountains west of the Salton Sea contained the only available source of a particular calcite crystal
needed to make the famous “Norden Bombsight”.  This transparent crystal formation is also known as Iceland Spar because
it is found in cavities in the solidified lava of which Iceland is made.  The war in Europe had made shipping in the North
Atlantic very precarious and the United States needed another source of this precious commodity.  The Norden bombsight
was one of the most important military secrets of World War II; it made possible the very accurate European bombing raids
which helped bring the war to a close.  It was so advanced that bombardiers had to take an oath to protect its secrecy with
their lives.  Arthur LaLonde remembers that one of his first assignments in the military was to search, with four other men, the
snowy summit of Mt. San Jacinto for the Norden bombsight carried on a plane that had crashed there.  Locals who worked
the mine remember that it was guarded by Marines and worked around the clock.  The mine is now within the boundaries of
Anza-Borrego State Park, north of the Salton City Borrego Springs highway.”
Source:  The Periscope 2001 - Publication of the Coachella Valley Historical Society

Iceland spar demonstrates the unique property of calcite called birefringence (double refraction). Double refraction occurs
when a ray of light enters the crystal and due to calcite's unique optical properties, the ray is split into fast and slow beams.
As these two beams exit the crystal they are bent into two different angles (known as angles of refraction) because the angle
is affected by the speed of the beams. A person viewing into the crystal will see two images ... of everything. The best way to
view the double refraction is by placing the crystal on a straight line or printed word. The result will be two lines or two words
visible through the calcite. The thickness and the angle of the Calcite determines the distance between lines or text as can
be seen in the photos in our listings. Turning or rotating the calcite increases or decreases the space between the two lines
or words (double refraction) that this mineral is famous for. Different sides of the rhomb give different separation  distances
for the double refraction as well. These are very educational and interesting pieces!
Item # 18-GBOPTCAL12193207
129g A Grade Optical Calcite
from Brazil Polished in
Idar-Oberstein

$152.00
A Grade 129g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein

We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for
quality Optical Calcites when we found this Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato
Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany
(Deutchland).  We have sold many Optical Calcite Crystals over the years from
Mexico, Germany, Madagascar and Brazil. The most popular so far have been
the Brazilian crystals that are polished with beveled edges.  The best of these
Brazilian Calcites are the ones ground and polished by the artisans in
Idar-Oberstein. Of all Optical Calcites we have ever come across, these
Idar-Oberstein calcites are hands down the highest quality clarity with excellent
Birefringence.

This specimen is a beautiful specimen of Idar-Oberstein polished
Brazilian Optical Calcite.

This specimen measures 1.6 x 1.5 x 1.1 inches (41 x 39 x 29 mm) across the flats
and 2.48 x 2 inches (63 x 50 mm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 4.58oz  or 0.28 lb (129g)
Item # 5-MOPTCAL09186010
19g Optical Calcite Rhomb from Mexico
$7.00
1.87 x 1.55 x 0.32" (47.5 x 39.5 x 8.2mm)
A Grade 81.5g Lavender Optical Calcite from Madagascar
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for
quality Optical Calcites when we found this Optical Calcite Crystal from the
Mahajanga Province in Madagascar. We have sold many Optical Calcite
Crystals over the years from Mexico, Brazil and Germany. The most interesting
ones we have found in a long time have been these natural clear crystal rhombs
with a beautiful light Lavender or Lilac colored tint from Madagascar. They have
high quality clarity with excellent Birefringence. An excellent collection addition!
measures 1.8 x 1.3 x 0.73" (47 x 33 x 18.5mm) or 2.6 x 2.2" (67 x 56mm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 2.8oz  or 0.18 lb (81.5g)
Item #7-MLAVOCL03199941
81.5g Lavender Optical Calcite
Rhomb from Madagascar

$48.90
<--- Fluorescence and birefringence of 445 nm
laser in optical calcite crystal
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fluorescence_in_calcite.jpg
A Grade 179g Lavender Optical Calcite from Madagascar
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for
quality Optical Calcites when we found this Optical Calcite Crystal from the
Mahajanga Province in Madagascar. We have sold many Optical Calcite
Crystals over the years from Mexico, Brazil and Germany. The most interesting
ones we have found in a long time have been these natural clear crystal rhombs
with a beautiful light Lavender or Lilac colored tint from Madagascar. They have
high quality clarity with excellent Birefringence. An excellent collection addition!
This specimen is SW and MW fluorescent (shown under MW Ultra Violet lamp)
measures 2.3 x 1.5 x 1" (58 x 40 x 26mm) or 3.2 x 2.7" (81 x 68mm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 6.32oz or 0.4 lb (179g)
Item #15-MLAVOCL08190013
179g Lavender Optical Calcite
Rhomb from Madagascar

$69.00
A Grade 192g Lavender Optical Calcite from Madagascar
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for
quality Optical Calcites when we found this Optical Calcite Crystal from the
Mahajanga Province in Madagascar. We have sold many Optical Calcite
Crystals over the years from Mexico, Brazil and Germany. The most interesting
ones we have found in a long time have been these natural clear crystal rhombs
with a beautiful light Lavender or Lilac colored tint from Madagascar. They have
high quality clarity with excellent Birefringence. An excellent collection addition!
This specimen is SW and MW fluorescent (shown under MW Ultra Violet lamp)
measures 1.9 x 1.7 x 1.2" (4.9 x 4.2 x 3.1 cm) or 2.9 x 2.3" (7.5 x 5.9 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 6.78oz or 0.42 lb (192g)
Item #20-MLAVOCL12191022
192g Lavender Optical Calcite
Rhomb from Madagascar

$69.00
Item # 17-GBOPTCAL02206223
203g Optical Laboratory Grade
Optical Calcite from Brazil
Polished in Idar-Oberstein

$203.00
Laboratory Grade 203g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for quality Optical Calcites when we
found this Optical Laboratory Grade Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and
polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (Deutchland).  This specimen is the highest grade of natural calcite crystal  
with no visible impurities. It has high UV transmission with a transparency range from 250 to 2300nm. This
excellent piece can be used as a collectible display specimen or used as material for making optical components
for lasers, such as a calcite laser polarizer. This piece has highly polished faces with ground bevel edges. There
are natural minute internal edge fractures and normal plate break on the edges. These specimens were polished
for use in laser labs. The edges are not perfect but the clarity is amazing, the best we have ever seen! This is a
very rare specimen! We were able to procure several of these from a Laboratory supplier. This is a one of a kind
item, we have a few...but when they are gone, there will be no more available.

Specimen measures 2 x 1.67 x 1.28 inches (5.1 x 4.2 x 3.2 cm) across the flats and 2.9 x 2.3 inches (7.4 x 6 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 7.2oz  or 0.45 lb (203g)
Iceland spar is a highly transparent variant of calcite. It can be easily split into rhomboids with a vitreous luster,
having angles of 105° and 75° between the sides. When one looks through a clear crystal, two images are
seen due to its double refraction. The  Helgustaðir  quarry  in  Reyðarfjörður,  East Iceland is famous worldwide
as the type locality (first discovered location) of a highly transparent  variety  of  calcite  crystals,  where  from  
around  1780,  it  got  the  name  “Iceland  Spar“. In Europe in 1669, the Danish scientist Rasmus Bartholin
(1625-1698) discovered and studied double refraction in calcite. Other early scientists who studied this crystal
included Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), and Sir George Stokes (1819-
1903). Originally discovered in and named after Eskifjord, Iceland, where in the 19th century giant crystals of
calcite up to 25 feet were found.

Iceland spar has been found in many localities around the world such as the long-closed Helgustadir Mine, in
Eskifjord, Iceland; Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico; The Harding Mine, in Dixon, New Mexico; The Cabacal
Mine in Mato Grosso, Brazil; St. Andreasberg, Harz Mountains, Germany; Pribram, Bohemia, Czech Republic;
People's Republic of China and most recently Madagascar.

Pure Iceland Spar is clear or colorless, but it is found in a great variety of colors owing to impurities.
Chemically it is calcium carbonate, CaCO 3 , but it frequently contains manganese, iron, or magnesium in
place of the calcium. Premium quality Iceland Spar that is clear is most often referred to as Optical Calcite
because of its optical and scientific uses. Quality clear Optical Calcite may sell for up to $2.00 per gram.
Colored Iceland spar is found in various shades of yellow, green, pink, lavender and more and sells for less.

One of the most interesting and possibly the earliest practical use of Iceland Spar was thought to be by the
Norsemen and the Vikings as a navigation tool. The Vikings were pirates and warriors while the Norsemen
were noble people who engaged in farming, trade and were also rulers.
Did the vikings use iceland spar to navigate?
Viking raiding Fleet...by Almay
Long celebrated as master shipbuilders and seafarers, the Vikings ruled the waters of the North Atlantic from 900 to
1200 A.D., regularly sailing their longboats for hundreds of miles over open water to their colonies in Iceland and
Greenland. On clear days, they used a sundial-like instrument called a sun compass to guide their way, with great
accuracy. But scientists have struggled to answer a simple question: How did the Vikings navigate when it was
cloudy or foggy?
Many centuries ago, the Vikings sailed from Scandinavia to America without the use of magnetic compasses,
astrolabes, maps or any other known device. Yet they still managed to find their way in spite of the clouds, fog, and
long summer twilights characteristic near the Polar Regions. Viking legends attribute their navigational success to
the use of mysterious, glowing “sunstones” to find the position of the sun and set the ship’s course even on cloudy
days. Although still controversial, many researchers now believe that these “magical sunstones” were in fact Iceland
spar. There is good evidence that the Vikings used the polarizing effect of Iceland spar to navigate the North Atlantic.

The process of pinpointing the location while at sea using Iceland Spar as the "Sunstone", contrary to assumptions,
is quite simple and easy to comprehend. Mark a spot on the top surface of the sun stone. When viewed from the
bottom surface of the mineral, a reflection of the spot is created automatically on the top of the surface.
In order to pinpoint the suns location, the mineral is rotated in such a way that the spot and its reflection match each
other’s brightness. This helped the Vikings to navigate at sea with a very high rate of accuracy.

When Iceland spar splits light into two polarized rays, the two different images will have different brightness
depending on the polarization. Because sunlight is polarized when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it is possible to
change the orientation of a piece of Iceland spar to determine the direction of the sun. This is done by moving the
crystal until the relative brightness of the two images are equal, which only happens when the crystal is aligned to the
sun. This is possible even when the Sun is hiding behind clouds or just below the horizon.

However, it can be very difficult to determine when the two images are of equal brightness. A recent study suggests
that the Vikings may have built a simple device to better use the sunstone. The crystal is covered with a solid screen
with a small hole in its center, and a pointer. When light passes through the hole onto the crystal, a dark surface
below it receives the projection of the double image for comparison. Experiments showed that by rotating the device
until the two images were equally bright, the sun’s position on a cloudy day could be determined to within 1º of
accuracy, and that it is also very accurate even when the sun is below the horizon.
Physicist Guy Ropars and a team at the University of Rennes in France developed a modern compass based on the
Viking sunstone. It uses an optical calcite (Iceland Spar) crystal mounted inside a wooden box to locate the sun in
the sky. The two beams of light can be seen on the reflective surface inside. © Guy Ropars, University of Rennes.
Ropars is currently working with a US company to commercialize this compass.  (Photo by Ropars)
Now, scientists using an experimental setup with a similar crystal to the one found in a shipwreck have shown that
such stones could indeed have helped the Vikings navigate from Norway to North America.

“The Vikings could have discovered this, simply by choosing a transparent crystal and looking through it through a
small hole in a screen,” study researcher Guy Ropars said. “The understanding of the complete mechanism and the
knowledge of the polarization of light is not necessary.”

It’s believed the Vikings used a common calcite crystal, called Icelandic spar. This stone has the special property of
birefringence that allows light to get polarized and broken into two – “ordinary” and “extraordinary” beams – when
sunlight enters the crystal. Vikings might have calibrated calcite crystal sunstones by scanning them across a clear
sky and noting the sun’s position when the crystal brightened. They could then repeat the trick to locate the sun when
it was no longer visible by guiding themselves after the same reference point, subsequently marked.


A team of researchers, led by Guy Ropars, at the University of Rennes in France, put the calcite crystal to the test.
For their set-up, the scientists used Icelandic spar found aboard an Elizabethan warship that sank in 1592 near
Alderney in the Channel Islands. This find suggests the possibility that this navigational technology may have
persisted even after the invention of the magnetic compass.

The sun compass
The Rennes researchers made a prototype sunstone compass. They covered the crystal with an opaque sheet that
had a hole in the center. The calcite worked particularly well (even with the naked eye), even when the sun was
beyond the horizon and after the stars came out. Further tests showed that they could pinpoint the sun’s position with
an accuracy of one degree in either direction

“Such sunstones could have helped the Vikings in their navigation from Norway to America, as the magnetic
compass had yet to be introduced in Europe,” Guy said. A crystal measuring 3cm (1.18 inches) on each side would
have been large enough to work, he added.

Onboard the Elizabethan vessel conventional magnetic compasses would’ve probably been prone to significant
error, as even a single canon was enough to disrupt the magnetic field. The research conducted by Guy and his team
of researchers confirms that the Iceland Spar sunstone is more than a simply myth, and moreover that Vikings had
the necessary navigation technology for trips across the Atlantic. All of this though, is not proof that the Vikings used
sunstones. It is only evidence that the technology could have worked. Nobody really knows what the Vikings'
navigation practices were.
Refined Version Viking Sunstone Compass
Prototype Viking Sunstone Compass
Sources;
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/nov/02/sunstones-vikings-navigate-america
https://www.sciencealert.com/simulations-show-vikings-may-have-used-sunstone-crystals-to-navigate-across-the-atlantic
https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspa.2011.0369
https://www.seeker.com/legendary-viking-sunstone-navigation-solved-1765489280.html
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/simulation-suggest-legendary-viking-sunstones-could-have-worked-180968710/
(Photos by Ropars and Almay)
A crystal of Iceland spar has two very interesting
properties. First, it is a natural polarizing filter. Second,
because of its natural polarization, Iceland spar is
birefringent, meaning light rays entering the crystal
become polarized, split, and take two paths to exit the
crystal – creating a double image of an object seen
through the crystal.
Researchers say this crystal found at the Alderney shipwreck near the Channel Islands
could prove fabled Viking sunstones really did exist.
(Image: © Alderney Museum )
Item # 19-GBOPTCAL02207223
208g Optical Laboratory Grade
Optical Calcite from Brazil
Polished in Idar-Oberstein

$208.00
Laboratory Grade 208g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for quality Optical Calcites when we
found this Optical Laboratory Grade Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and
polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (Deutchland).  This specimen is the highest grade of natural calcite crystal  
with no visible impurities. It has high UV transmission with a transparency range from 250 to 2300nm. This
excellent piece can be used as a collectible display specimen or used as material for making optical components
for lasers, such as a calcite laser polarizer. This piece has highly polished faces with ground bevel edges. There
are natural minute internal edge fractures and normal plate break on the edges. These specimens were polished
for use in laser labs. The edges are not perfect but the clarity is amazing, the best we have ever seen! This is a
very rare specimen! We were able to procure several of these from a Laboratory supplier. This is a one of a kind
item, we have a few...but when they are gone, there will be no more available.

Specimen measures 2.1 x 1.45 x 1.44 inches (5.3 x 3.6 x 3.6 cm) across the flats and 2.9 x 2.3 inches (7.4 x 6 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 7.3oz  or 0.46 lb (208g)
Item # 21-GBOPTCAL02208223
188g Optical Laboratory Grade
Optical Calcite from Brazil
Polished in Idar-Oberstein

$188.00
Laboratory Grade 188g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for quality Optical Calcites when we
found this Optical Laboratory Grade Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and
polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (Deutchland).  This specimen is the highest grade of natural calcite crystal  
with no visible impurities. It has high UV transmission with a transparency range from 250 to 2300nm. This
excellent piece can be used as a collectible display specimen or used as material for making optical components
for lasers, such as a calcite laser polarizer. This piece has highly polished faces with ground bevel edges. There
are natural minute internal edge fractures and normal plate break on the edges. These specimens were polished
for use in laser labs. The edges are not perfect but the clarity is amazing, the best we have ever seen! This is a
very rare specimen! We were able to procure several of these from a Laboratory supplier. This is a one of a kind
item, we have a few...but when they are gone, there will be no more available.

Specimen measures 2 x 1.7 x 1.16 inches (5.2 x 4.4 x 2.9 cm) across the flats and 2.9 x 2.4 inches (7.5 x 6.2 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 6.6oz  or 0.41 lb (188g)
Item # 22-GBOPTCAL02206713
120g Optical Laboratory Grade
Optical Calcite from Brazil
Polished in Idar-Oberstein

$108.00
Laboratory Grade 120g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for quality Optical Calcites when we
found this Optical Laboratory Grade Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and
polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (Deutchland).  This specimen is the highest grade of natural calcite crystal  
with no visible impurities. It has high UV transmission with a transparency range from 250 to 2300nm. This
excellent piece can be used as a collectible display specimen or used as material for making optical components
for lasers, such as a calcite laser polarizer. This piece has highly polished faces with ground bevel edges. There
are natural minute internal edge fractures and normal plate breaks on the corners. These specimens were
polished for use in laser labs. The edges are not perfect but the clarity is amazing, the best we have ever seen!
This is a very rare specimen! We were able to procure several of these from a Laboratory supplier. This is a one of
a kind item, we have a few...but when they are gone, there will be no more available.

Specimen measures 1.8 x 1.46 x 0.95 inches (4.5 x 3.7 x 2.4 cm) across the flats and 2.6 x 2.2 inches (6.8 x 5.6 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 4.2oz  or 0.26 lb (120g)
Item # 23-GBOPTCAL02207713
207g Optical Laboratory Grade
Optical Calcite from Brazil
Polished in Idar-Oberstein

$182.00
Laboratory Grade 207g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for quality Optical Calcites when we
found this Optical Laboratory Grade Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and
polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (Deutchland).  This specimen is the highest grade of natural calcite crystal  
with no visible impurities. It has high UV transmission with a transparency range from 250 to 2300nm. This
excellent piece can be used as a collectible display specimen or used as material for making optical components
for lasers, such as a calcite laser polarizer. This piece has highly polished faces with ground bevel edges. There
are natural minute internal edge fractures and normal plate breaks on the corners. These specimens were
polished for use in laser labs. The edges are not perfect but the clarity is amazing, the best we have ever seen!
This is a very rare specimen! We were able to procure several of these from a Laboratory supplier. This is a one of
a kind item, we have a few...but when they are gone, there will be no more available.

Specimen measures 1.8 x 1.6 x 1.45 inches (4.6 x 4.2 x 3.7 cm) across the flats and 2.8 x 2.3 inches (7.2 x 5.8 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 7.3oz  or 0.45 lb (207g)
Item # 25-GBOPTCAL02207713
233g Optical Laboratory Grade
Optical Calcite from Brazil
Polished in Idar-Oberstein

$186.00
Laboratory Grade 233g Clear Optical Calcite from Brazil, Polished in Idar-Oberstein
We were able to procure a few special specimens in our never ending search for quality Optical Calcites when we
found this Optical Laboratory Grade Optical Calcite Crystal from Mato Grosso do Sol, Brazil that was ground and
polished in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (Deutchland).  This specimen is the highest grade of natural calcite crystal  
with no visible impurities. It has high UV transmission with a transparency range from 250 to 2300nm. This
excellent piece can be used as a collectible display specimen or used as material for making optical components
for lasers, such as a calcite laser polarizer. This piece has highly polished faces with ground bevel edges. This
piece has had 2 corners cut and opaque ground for laser experimentation in a lab. The polished sides have
scratch marks from the mounting jigs. There is a Z marked on the 1.26" (32mm) equilateral triangle cut. The other
ground cut is a scalene triangle 2.49 x 1.76 x 1.58 (63 x 45 x 40). This is a one of a kind laser lab experimentation
item used for lighting polarization and birefringence experimentation. This is a piece of laser history.

Specimen measures 2 x 1.7 x 1.5 inches (5.2 x 4.3 x 3.9 cm) across the flats and 3 x 2.36 inches (7.6 x 6 cm) across the diagonals
This specimen weighs 8.2oz  or 0.51 lb (233g)