Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Picture # 90
Quartz is formed when crystal solutions slowly deposit onto the walls of caves deep in the earth. In Arkansas, the crystals were originally more than a mile underground. Eons of erosion lowered the mountains to their ancient crystalline hearts. Nowadays, you can find crystals in a 50-mile area around Hot Springs, Jessieville and Mount Ida, Arkansas. Let's go find some clear crystal treasures!
Several mine owners have public spaces called “fee digging areas.” For a small fee, you can go into the mine for a whole day. You keep all the crystals you dig! You can even camp out at the mine, or stay in a nearby motel. Drive up to the mine's parking lot, and get ready for fun.
Picture # 91
The main tool you will need is a large sturdy screwdriver. With this little “pry bar,” just start turning over rocks. Large pry bars work well too. The more rocks you move, the more crystals you find. What will YOU find in an Arkansas crystal mine?
Most of the crystals found in the region are clear quartz or white quartz “single points” or “cluster groups.” The small groups are thumbnail-sized. The medium-sized groups weigh up to a pound or more. The largest groups may weigh five tons!
Picture # 92
This is a photo of a really rough crystal. It shattered when it came out of the ground. Please note how clear the interior is, while traces of rust coat the outside. This crystal practically cries out to be repaired or turned into a little sculpture.
Recently, I have taken pieces of shattered quartz and turned them into polished gems with intricate designs. Skilled stonecutters work with me to create these one-of-a-kind gemstones from broken crystals. Please take a look at the next photo to see what we ended up with.
Picture # 93
This is a 60-millimeter sunburst design in light smoky quartz ( 2.3 inches wide.) The back is carved with many faceted channels to create a glittering sun shape. The edges are angled back to reflect internally. This adds a lot of color as well as secondary reflections of the sun design. A huge amount of work goes into digging these crystals and cutting them. I am always grateful to the women and men of the world who bring us their rocky treasures. Thank you Sean Davis! It is an honor to photograph and share these gems.
Picture # 94
The mine owners make it fairly easy to dig crystals in Arkansas. A mine might be a few acres wide or as large as fifty acres. You can dig with other people, or find a private spot all your own.
Crystals grow in layers or veins in the ground. Tons of rocks lie on top of the crystal deposits. Bulldozers and heavy machinery remove this “overburden rock.” When a vein of massive white crystal is exposed, all the machinery is removed. Miners always pull out the clear crystals one by one, using simple hand tools.
Picture # 95
When digging crystals, you should carefully separate the neighboring rocks to avoid chipping the crystals. If you want to prospect for crystals, be sure you have permission from the property owner. Look for areas that have many white boulders lying around. This is pure quartz.
Picture # 96
Beautifully colored layers of iron, manganese, aluminum, hematite, fluorite, pyrite, copper or calcite may cover all or part of a quartz stone. At the mine, you can often rinse crystals in water to take off loose dirt and clay. Remove clay in the crevices with a sharp pointed tool like a twig, penknife, or safety pin. At home you can use a special hardware product called “wood bleach” to remove rust and clay. Heating the wood bleach will speed up its cleaning power. Wood bleach is a chemical called "oxalic acid," available in hardware stores. Soak the crystals in the oxalic solution for a couple of days, and then rinse with cool water to see an amazing transformation. Your crystal will sparkle forever!
Picture # 97
You can dig quartz crystals in many American states. Your own state has its own distinctively shaped and colored crystals. Rock shops have books showing where to dig crystals and other types of stones and gems. Of course, it is easier to buy crystals than to dig them. However, there is an immense joy and satisfaction that comes from digging your own treasures.
When you dig your own crystals, a special bond forms between you and the stone that was inside the earth for millions of years. Many holistic collectors enjoy mining their own sacred stones. If you travel abroad, you will find crystals in every country that are unique to that land. Thousands of different shapes and colors are available.
The crystal shown above came from the Diamond Hill Mine in South Carolina. It is a white quartz cluster coated with iron and black manganese crystals.
Picture # 98
What IS a crystal? Any substance that has “a regular arrangement of atoms” is a crystal. Gemstones and rocks in the earth are crystals or micro-crystals. There are also many kinds of man-made crystals. The most common manufactured crystal is called "leaded glass." It is really a form of "leaded-crystal." This compound is melted quartz with pure metallic lead added, up to 33%. Worldwide sales of these man-made crystals exceed one billion pieces per year.
In my books, the word “ CRYSTAL ” always refers to a member of the quartz crystal family, unless stated otherwise. This crystal family includes amethyst, citrine, clear and smoky quartz, and rose quartz.
Picture # 99
Like many precious stones, quartz comes in a wide variety of colors caused by tiny amounts of metals trapped in the crystal structure. Sometimes the color is transparent and goes clear through the stone. Amethysts are purple or lavender quartzes. Clear crystal is called “ice clear” or even “water clear,” signifying the finest grade. Black, tan or gray quartz is called smoky crystal or cairngorm. Yellow or orange quartz is called citrine. Ametrine is a quartz crystal that shows both purple and yellow-gold colors in alternating bands or zones. Quartz crystals with red, green, blue or multiple colors are rare.
The crystal pictured above contains various types of clay that reflect different coloring agents. Oxidized metals in the clay create the earth-toned inclusions. These are often called “included crystals,” “garden crystals,” or “Lodolite.”
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com