Last year the missus and I were browsing through the merchandise available at a regular local flea market. We stumbled upon a pretty little kiosk decorated with all sorts of stones, minerals and tumble-polished semi precious stones from Namibia, and hand-made creations featuring the same. Since parents are programmed to nurture their kid's interests, we decided on purchasing a rock for our son. He likes collecting stuff. Primarily sedimentary and igneous thingies and, slightly more disturbingly, abandoned bird's nests and animal skulls. The item at the flea market that caught our interest was a night light made by fitting a 5W globe into a drilled-out lump of rose quartz and plonked on a small wooden pedestal. Depending on whether you are inclined towards the geological or the decorative, the lamp could be described as either ingenious or hideous.
Not being his birthday or Christmas, and not having been particularly well behaved that week, the kid was surprised and thrilled by the gift. It was un-bagged immediately and did service on his nightstand for a few weeks. Then the weird stuff started. Every morning a small puddle of water collected below the lamp. This continued night after night, and I noticed that the rock itself started to look somehow, well, more rounded
than its original angular and chiselled shape. Fearing a short circuit, I disconnected the weeping night light and tucked it in a cupboard.
Then, many moons later, I noticed small white crystals forming on the wooden pedestal, and the penny dropped with an A-ha!: the lamp was not made from a real lump of quarts at all, but a large clot of dyed salt!
While I have to admire the technical skill of the forgerer, I also have to wonder about the value of faking rose quartz, a very cheap mineral at the end of the day, even when fashioned into prime kitch.
But most importantly, I now know why geologists lick rocks.