Topaz Mine: July 7th with early monsoon

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Had the opportunity to go on another open dig this year at the Topaz Mountain Gem Mine operated by Glacier Peak Mining.  As many know we’ve had some serious drought this year and has aided to many forest fires.  We have gotten some relief with an early monsoonal flow pattern with the weather and have had several days of heavy rain; one day which was at this mine.  I got there at 8:30 and a few people were already there.  We all were just walking (crawling) around and looking for topaz that were laying on the top of the soil that had been washed off; in the early morning sun they were pretty easy to spot.  I found several small fragments and others found some killer stones just laying on the surface; but after about 30 minutes of combing the area I decided to start digging…because that is what I do.

I had to move off a muddy layer (about 4-6 inches) on a pile to get to dry gravel to be able to start raking.  The first 90 minutes or so was simply to get “set up”.  I did not find anything raking so I tried my hand at sifting.  I was going through a lot of material but still nothing!  So I decided to start working like I do when I dig for Smoky Quartz and Amazonite and use a shovel and scrape small amounts off into a hole and watch the dirt as it falls.  I immediately started having luck with this technique and found a nice stone.  So I did this in combination with raking and sifting the rest of the day and found a good stone about every 45 to 60 minutes.  I had a great day; this is uncommon to find so many nice stones but I was moving through a lot of dirt too–which I found is the key.

I found the following topaz next; it was a shiny object in the wall of the hole I was digging.  This one was cool because it appeared it had grown around a Smoky Quartz crystal originally.  It had several fractures and would not be a cutter; but it is beautiful none-the-less.  Of course, holding it is memorizing and the picture doesn’t do it justice!

This beautiful specimen had great facets and indentation from a smoky quartz.

I continued and found a couple of more stones; one that *may* be a cutter.  It started to sprinkle and you could hear the mean thunder echo through the valley of storms that were forming and passing directly to our Northwest; I assumed we’d have rain and the day would be cut short so I didn’t want to stall and take lunch so I kept digging.  About 3:00 or so I dug into a another nice clear topaz that had mostly faceted sides.  It is simply beautiful and although it could be a nice cut stone I’m going to have a hard time giving it up for cutting as it is just too spectacular as Gaia produced it!

This is a spectacular faceted clear topaz!

The sun went away behind the storm clouds and it started to get darker as the storm clouds bellowed and became more dense.  I kept thinking “just one more” and I’ll be done; you know how that usually goes!  I decided since a few folks were still there I’d continue as long as I could.  A bolt of lightning struck withing 1/2 mile and I decided it was time to go; but immediately after I was shook by the bolt a found the find of the day.  What a perfect ending to such a fun and lucky day!  It was a 105 carat sherry stone.  This stone also had remnants of being grown against other crystals and it had a nice area that was fracture free and likely could be cut.  Upon checkout, Krystle didn’t want to give this stone up but luckily I took some extra cash and she was gracious enough to let me have it!  I definitely will get this cut and will post a picture when I receive it…it *will* be beautiful!

Fantastic Sherry Topaz

One other great part of the day is that I was able to find many smoky quartz crystals too; a couple were large points and one really nice crystal!  All in all, was one incredible day at the mine; I met a couple of really great folks and hopefully will get the chance to dig there again this year!  Krystle was correct; I did have a productive day (and year so far for that matter!); hopefully future visits will yield one or two of these and I’ll call it a successful day!

Found some great smoky quartz points today too

This pile includes stones from the bag of topaz I purchased as well; the kids got to sift through the bag when I got home!

Topaz Mountain Gem Mine - July 7th, 2012 Open Dig! I did quite well!



  1. Sounds like you had a good time there. I did pretty well when I went there earlier this year, with two topazes of notice. One was a clear large crystal of about 47 carats that could be cut for a 10 carat stone but I want some color if I send something off to be cut. The other one was an exceptionally sharp bicolor fully terminated crystal of about 25 carats, it would have been a lot more expensive but there is an internal fracture under one of the corners that knocked down the price drastically. I didn’t find very many smoky quartz points but did find a rather sharp large one with healed contact points where it was attached to the matrix.

    When I visited the Smoky Hawk claim not long ago, I was the next to the last vehicle to go up that steep slope. It was really churned up and since I was stopped about half way up the slope because of other vehicles were trying to make it up, I didn’t get enough speed to power through. It ended up having to start at the bottom of the slope with a clear path to get enough speed to make it up there. I only did fair at the claim, with mostly fragments of good color but I did find a nice thumbnail cluster of 4 smoky quartz crystals. I did find a large crude fist size amazonite crystal.

    I have confirmed that the possible topaz crystal that I found at Devils Head is indeed topaz! I have a good lead to the location of the large topazes that Ed Over found in the 1930s but it involves a pretty long hike. The large pocket found in the 1880s is probably near that location as well. I plan on checking it out when it gets cooler.

    Anyway I finally have a claim at Crystal Peak but have had car problems and of course the fire at Colorado Springs recently have hampered my collecting there. I was actually on the way back from my claim and Smoky Hawk when I saw the fire close up near Woodland Park before they closed the highway later that day. I was a bit surprised that you didn’t have photos of the huge dark clouds that spiraled up from the fire with all your storm chasing.

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