Cinco De Mayo, 2014.
Went up picking as tradition on Cinco De Mayo and had some luck eventually finding blue amazonite and smoky quartz crystals. I was prospecting an area I’ve never been to before and wasn’t having much luck, after about 5 hours of nothing (and many miles of good exercise) I decided to check out somewhere else. On the hike back to the car I found some float pegmatite that had a shade of “green” and I started digging (you’ll see examples in the video similar to what I saw). After about an hour of digging test holes (about 2 feet deep) I hit some peg that looked promising and so I started to follow it.
I continued to hit color but only in what looked like a small crack. The color didn’t seem to follow anything specifically, but generally the color was in a certain area so I continued to follow it. Eventually I started to find crystals, most just sidewall or partial crystals with one or two flat sides, but that is a great sign so I continued.
I was about 1-2 feet down and following the peg when a seam started to open up and produce more traditionally shaped crystals. The video shows several spots along the way including the largest opening in the seam which was probably a good 5-6 inches tall and a foot or so wide. The seam continued producing smaller crystals and 1-2 sided microcline/amazonite for another 10 or so feet before it completely pinched out. I continued for several hours in all directions but didn’t find anything else worth while.
The crystals were double-coated with iron oxide and a thin white milky quartz type coating. This proved to be very difficult to clean up. I started with Iron Out for 72 hours and then I used a 10% Phosphoric Acid solution in a low heated crock pot for over a month along with a water gun to chemically soak and chip away the coatings. Several stones I was able to get most of the coatings off, but the blasting of hot chemical through the millennia in this pegmatite took its toll and etched many of the smoky quartz crystals and stained the amazonite. Where it has etched them the coating is very difficult to remove.
My favorite part of this dig, however, was that the sky blue Amazonite. Not the typical green that you find in the area. I have not yet invested time in creating cabochons but I suspect this amazonite will be gorgeous if used this way. Thus, I didn’t clean but about 1/3 of the crystals I brought home figuring someday I’ll be grinding away the coatings and not worrying about the specimen quality of the stones.
Many of the smoky quartz are gemmy, which I absolutely love the root beer color of this kind of quartz. Likewise, I have saved many of these stones for faceting if I decide to pick up that part of the hobby. I also procured many garden rocks.
Hiking out in the twilight it had been a very long day and I was exhausted, but deeply satisfied!