Pikes Peak Batholith Blue Amazonite and Smoky Quartz

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.

This was a cool crystal, obvioulsy needs more soaking but will give you an idea of what has come off the rest of the crystal

This was a cool crystal, obvioulsy needs more soaking but will give you an idea of what has come off the rest of the crystal

Smoky Quartz Cluster

This was a cool cluster that was in the center of the largest part of the seam/pocket. Most of these are gemmy, and flipping it over they are mostly double terminated.

Smoky Quartz

The smoky quartz “teaser” from the video.

Microcline

I suspect this is amazonite, but I really liked the coating without any cleaning!

This Amazonite / Smoky Quartz combo was one of the several I found.  This was at the bottom of an opening that was not in the video.

This Amazonite / Smoky Quartz combo was one of the several I found. This was at the bottom of an opening that was not in the video.  Unfortunately 6 weeks in a hot acid bath didn’t clean it fully.

 

Pegmatite amazonite quartz

I like this one as it shows the quartz and amazonite starting to separate and form euhedral sides from the host graphic granite rock.

Smoky Quartz

This was the largest smoky quartz I found as seen in the video. I love the termination!

Amazonite facets

I really like this stone for the natural facets and the gorgeous sky blue color!

Large Blue Amazonite

Largest amazonite of the day, about 3.5 inches.

Parallel Growth Smoky Quartz

This parallel/stepped growth smokey quartz pair had a chunk of amazonite attached.

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!

The bigger smoky quartz

The bigger smoky quartz (uncleaned)

The smaller smoky quartz

The smaller smoky quartz (uncleaned)

Cinco de Mayo :: Colorado Tarryall Topaz

Took the family up near Tarryall Northwest of Lake George to the Topaz Gem Mine for the first open dig of the year. Joe Dorris and his family are awesome supporters of Rockhounds and Gem & Mineral clubs and allow families to come and visit a few times per year.

We took advantage of this year’s first dig and started off pretty slow. We took a portable fold-up chair and after lunch the chair ended up getting blown into a big pit. I went to retrieve the chair and as I was bending down I saw a rock with shapes covered in dried mud. I rubbed it off and it was a specimen quality topaz of nearly 300 carats! That got everyone digging harder and everyone found one (except Trevor 🙁 ). Hunter found a huge bi-color (blue/champagne) cubic shaped beast (about 250 carats) and Daphne found a clear, near perfect crystal (about 8 carat) that doesn’t really need cutting as the facets are awesome! Erin found a couple of nice cutters too.

Hunter holding the two massive stones we found today!

Hunter holding the two massive stones we found today!

The kids posing for the camera digging for topaz

The kids posing for the camera digging for topaz

Daphne digging for topaz

Daphne digging for topaz

Huge bi-color Topaz

Hunter’s bi-color Blue/Sherry gem!

Blue Topaz

The big blue lunker I found by accident.

Daphne's beautifully faceted clear topaz

Daphne’s beautifully faceted clear topazGreat d

Blue topaz cleaned by Joe Dorris

Blue topaz cleaned by Joe Dorris

I had Joe clean my clue topaz and pressure treat it; a big improvement and it is now an amazing cabinet displayed specimen stone!