Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Gathering The Wild Crystals:
Crystal Fairs, Gem Shows & Rock Shops
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What is a good place to start looking for crystals? You have a choice of digging your own or buying stones from many sources. If you want the ultimate connection with your gemstone, visit a crystal mine and dig your own gems. There are many “fee digging areas” at crystal and gem mines around the USA. Once you pay a $10 or $20 fee to dig, you can keep whatever you find. Arkansas has a number of locations for digging clear quartz around the Hot Springs-Mount Ida area.
You will be amazed at what comes out of the ground. One of my friends retrieved a 100-pound cluster while hanging off the side of a cliff. That was a tough find! Smaller pieces are, of course, easier to dig and much safer. The mines provide safe areas to dig, where even the kids will have fun. Digging is always hard, dirty work! Be sure to bring some bug repellant, and protection from the sun.
I personally dug at over 20 locations in Arkansas during my 7 years living there. Some mines yielded hundreds of crystals in a day! Miller Mountain presented me with a bushel of tiny crystals one morning. Over 5000 little 1-inch-long double-ended crystals showed up in the mud that day. They were easy to clean up with soap, water and wood bleach (oxalic powder.) It was an exciting and productive time: my best digging day ever.
I mentioned that digging is often hard work. It is usually a lot easier to let an expert dig and clean your crystals before you buy them. In the picture above, you can see the outdoor tents at the Denver Mineral Show, held every September. The Coliseum Building in the background is also full of stones and jewelry, with displays from hundreds of dealers. Every February, there is also a huge group of gem shows in Tucson. Arizona. with displays from some 5000 companies exhibiting stones from around the world. You can check out millions of gems if you have the patience and fortitude to walk between exhibits all day long for a week or two. Plan your trip well ahead of time to book your hotel room early. Some 2 million visitors show up for the 2-week long Tucson show.
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There is no telling what treasures await you at a crystal show or mineral store. This photo shows a 300 pound amethyst cluster from Brazil with rare large crystals on it. I took the picture at a rock shop in San Francisco. At least I was able to take the photo home, as the amethyst was very expensive. In general, I have to look at and leave most of the stones for someone else to buy, as I don't have room to store them all. The trick for collectors is to tune in to the most important stones for you at any given time.
You can choose your stones based on visual beauty, intuition, or energy experiences. Hopefully, all these factors will show up in the right crystal for you. See if you can sense energy when you hold or touch the stones. Look for a sensation of warmth, electricity, coolness, magnetism or pulsation when you are near the crystals or holding them. Then consult your mind and your heart to see if they agree on a decision. In my opinion, the heart is the final advisor- do you love it? You'll always do well by collecting the things you truly love.
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Here are some places to check for crystals and other stones. Whenever I go to a new city. I search the phone book or Internet for likely stores and shows.
Every year there are two amazing rock shows in Arizona. In January, you can find the world's largest flea market and open-air rock show in Quartzsite. Arizona. Hundreds of thousands of people gather with pickup trucks, recreational vehicles, trailers and cars loaded with rocks, crystals, clothing and anything you can think of. The tiny town of Quartzite fills up with almost 100,000 vehicles parked for miles in the desert.
You can find any kind of stone, rock or boulder for your garden, or for carving. Jewelry, gems and mineral crystals abound. Give yourself plenty of time to explore all the nooks and crannies of this gigantic show. Bring camping gear, as there are no motels nearby.
February 1 marks the start of the annual Tucson. Arizona. gem and crystal shows. Here's a picture of my 1984 quartz display on the side of the freeway in Tucson. I was one of some 6000 crystal and mineral dealers to show up for this two-week long show, where you can see millions of stones in a few days.
In 1984, I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful man named Larry Gumz, who traded me this beautiful converted school bus for 500 pounds of crystals. He had recently moved to Hawaii. but flew back to the mainland to deliver the bus to me in Tucson. He joined me and my crystals just in time to set up for this great show. The bus served me well, and allowed me to live comfortably on the road while hauling over 6 tons of crystals. I sold over 5000 pounds of crystals in 2 weeks!
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Here's my big old school bus, at home in Royal, Arkansas. This 1977 Dodge bus and I traveled all over America bringing tons of crystals to people from coast to coast. I had the opportunity to teach my crystal workshops and bring the crystal collection to people in a dozen different states. Many of them got to see my special light shows, which you can visit near Monterey. California. The light show is sponsored by the World Crystal Museum. an organization I started in 2005.
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Before I went out to Tucson in 1985, I bought a big batch of amethyst clusters and slabs. My contact in Dallas. Texas provided me with over a ton of beautiful purple Brazilian crystals. In this batch, I found these rock letters to spell out LOVE, which I thought summed up my feelings quite appropriately.
Out of this batch of hundreds of crystals, one astonished me by turning from dark purple into pure white crystal in two weeks. Along with all the others, it sat out exposed to sunlight in the Tucson desert. Imagine my surprise when I went to pack it away and found that all the color had disappeared. I was horrified! In my shock, I gave it away for nothing instead of keeping it for the historical record. In 37 years of collecting, this is the only crystal I have ever seen lose all of its color.
Some colored stones need to be protected from the sunlight, because ultraviolet light will bleach out their colors or turn them clear. Be particularly careful with dark amethyst, dark rose quartz, calcite and fluorite. Celestite also has a tendency to turn from blue to gray when it gets too much sun.
Many other stones are stable, or sometimes improve by getting clearer in the sunlight. When smoky quartz sits out in the sun for a long time, certain zones in the crystal will turn from tan to clear in a year or more. The more sunlight the crystal gets, and the longer it stays in the sun, the more likely you will see distinct changes. One black crystal from Japan ended up changing on five sides out of 12 when it sat out in the sun for several years. Most of it stayed glossy black, while the rest turned to a light brown color with tan freckles. I have also seen smoky crystals lose some of their brown color and turn into golden citrine quartz when they were heated up in a lapidary oven.
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com