Quality Over Quantity
Monday, May 7, 2012 at 09:24PM

I'm fortunate to live near a geologic feature called the Pikes Peak Batholith, a large body of granite known by mineral collectors to produce world-class specimens of amazonite, smoky quartz and topaz. Access to some of the best collecting areas is less than an hour's drive from here, and a great way for me to combine at least two and sometimes three of my passions in one go (gem collecting, trailrunning and music).

Straight From The Oven: A large pale amazonite next to a combo plate. The missing crystal from the plate was recovered on a subsequent visit.Although a serious collector for only a few years, I've had some great success in recovering massive crystal pockets. One such pocket was a joint veture with a friend of mine, resulting in hundreds of large, morion-type smoky quartz, microcline/amazonite, and plates displaying a combination of the two. It took us at least a week to completely recover this pocket, and fortunately it was in the collectors' 'off-season', so there was little concern that our discovery would be high-graded.

Along with the big digs come the smaller finds. I've opened pockets that producedNick with a zoned fluorite a single crystal rivaling anything that has come out of these giants, as if all of the ingredients were spent to ensure this one came out right. The massive ones require mulitple cleaning stages, using mechnical and chemical means, while the smaller, flawless crystals can be prepped in the field and immediately put on display.

Last winter was a mild one, and fortunately I was able to collect almost year-round. However, these last few weeks of sub-freezing temps have forced me to begin the arduous task of polishing the fruits of two successful seasons. I'll be posting some pics of some of the more spectacular specimens in the coming weeks.

Smoky/amazonite combo just after the water rinse - it should clean up nicely. A portion of the smoky points are partially capped with milky quartz.

A damage-free smoky floater waiting to be cleaned up. Some hematite inclusions on the larger end.Carson scavenging my discard pile (he likes milky quartz).

The 'Bummer Pocket'. It was loaded with smoky quartz up to five inches in diameter. However, almost every crystal was broken. I recovered several fragments from a cast that held one crystal almost two feet long. I brought this one home to repair and left the rest for the expert puzzle solvers.

Article originally appeared on Conifer Environmental (http://www.conifer-enviro.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.