Named after Franz Xavier von Wulfen (1728–1805) an Austrian mineralogist who first recorded it in Carinthia, Austria, Wulfenite is mainly known as a collector's mineral. It's too fragile to be cut into beads or mounted into jewelry. It's marvelous, delicate, thin, tabular crystals are impressive and range from
a golden yellow to a deep rust orange to a spectacular, glowing red.
The yellow form of Wulfenite is sometimes called "yellow lead ore" due to the fact it is found in the various localities which are associated with lead ores. It occurs in the oxidized zone of lead and molybdenum deposits. In some formations it looks very similar to Desert Rose gypsum -
Desert Rose gypsum
. . . but it's a bit, just a bit, tougher and harder than gypsum. Ah! But let's not confuse Wulfenite with Wolframite –
Wolframite, an iron manganese tungstate mineral, was highly valued as the main source of the metal tungsten. It's a strong and quite dense material with a high melting temperature that was used for electric filaments and armor-piercing ammunition, as well as hard tungsten carbide machine tools. In World War II, Wolframite mines were a strategic asset, due to its use in munitions and tools.
Yikes. That's a tough mineral. BTW - the name "Wolframite" is derived from German "wolf rahm", meaning "wolf cream". Humm.
We discovered Wulfenite at the Mineralogical Museum in Socorro, New Mexico. While leaving, my smart husband spotted and purchased a small, take-home specimen of this wonderful mineral for my collection. 'No golden, glorious, gleaming pristine goddess -- No sir!' He knows just what to get me. xoxoxoxo
Look at these lovely, tiny, tabular yellow crystals. Fantastic.