British Alabaster from Somerset, Gypsum (calcium sulphate)
This piece of Alabaster from Somerset, (Gypsum, calcium sulphate) has delightful salmon pink colouring. These colours are typical for specimens from the cliffs in the Watchet region of Somerset. This medium size specimen is superbly translucent when held up to the light. Like most specimens that come from this beach, the sea has gently smoothed the edges making it both tactile and a fine display piece. Alabaster is a crystalline form of Gypsum, a hydrous sulphate of calcium. It is classified as an evaporite mineral, which is millions of years old. It was created by the evaporation of saline lakes, leaving the gypsum behind to solidify. The nodular pink alabaster comes from the green and grey mudstone at Blue Anchor Bay. Pieces British Alabaster from Somerset that come from this area have traditionally been popular with sculptors. Because of its fine grains the gypsum is easy to polish. It is a softer and also more easily workable alternative and substitute for marble.
Alabaster gets its name from the Greek word ‘alabaster’s‘. The ancient Greeks and Romans also regarded this as an important mineral for carving and used it for making storage and drinking vessels. When relatively thin, alabaster is sufficiently translucent enough to let the light through. These days the largest workable deposits of Alabaster are in the Ebro Valley in Aragon, Spain.