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Stalactites are a growth area of the decorative market at present and one specialist dealer, Paul Nash, sold plenty of these jagged growths at the recent Olympia fair.

The three examples illustrated right, measuring between four and five feet in height (1.25 to 1.5m), formed over thousands of years in the caves near Gaoming in China, had been consigned direct from source by a dealer.

The Chinese Government has since passed laws forbidding the export of these stalactites, but it is too early to say whether this will stunt a supply-side market or force up prices further.

The other source of marketable stalactites is the Saharan desert, but these gypsum pinnacles are rarer and generally more expensive than their calcite counterparts from China.

At Sotheby’s the two larger stalactites made £1000 each, while the smaller example with ferric taints sold at £600.