Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rock Hounding Not So Hidden Colorado Treasures

Recent Colorado Mineral Purchases

Hints of an early spring gave way to a wet cold weather pattern so prospecting has been put on hold for awhile. Still there are plenty of specimens to see and purchase in the state of Colorado.  An older friend of mine used to put parts of his collection up for sale. His collection spans decades of prospecting with excellent specimens at reasonable prices. I made an appointment with my friend to look at his collection and see what I could find. Many of the pieces I ended up purchasing were originally found anywhere from 10-45 years ago. While many of these pieces needed a little TLC and some touch-up cleaning I could tell there was a lot of potential in these specimens. I concentrated on his Colorado minerals and bypassed his thumbnails and other than Colorado pieces. Some of the specimens I purchased to add to my collection and others to resell. I spent well over 2 hours reviewing flat after flat of crystals. There was fluorite, goethite, amazonite, smoky quartz, cleavelandite and combinations--it was hard to pick and choose but I eventually settled on 20 favorite pieces and dropped a bit of coin. When choosing specimens I kept a number of things in mind which add up to an individual crystal’s overall appeal including: aesthetics of the piece, rarity, size, combinations of minerals in a specimen, quality of the piece to include luster, gemmyness, perfection and resale value. In the pictures below I will rate the quality of some of the pieces I purchased by their overall appeal on a scale from 1-5*. Obviously I wouldn't purchase specimens of really poor quality but this way you can see how someone values specimens. My prices are low retail. I have seen comparable pieces in stores with more than a 50% markup to those shown here. If you have ever watched the Prospectors Show, you'll note my prices are considerably lower than their inflated estimates.
Score of the day, despite overgrowth on smokys an aesthetic piece (Value $275)
If the Smokys had been cleaner this would have been a solid 5* (4*)
Rarity of specimen(onegite), complete (Value $45)
Nice 4* piece could probably use a little more cleaning

Combination of amazonite and smokys(rare) (Value $275)
Only 3* due to peripheral damage and paleness of amazonite

Double terminated and sceptered smoky(rare), large (Value $225)
Downgraded to 4.5* due to some scuffing on edges of smoky

Double Terminated (DT), Good size, lustrous and gemmy (Value $125)
5* DTs don't get much better than this

Nice aesthetic grouping, gemmy & lustrous (Value $35)
3.5* Some minor tip damage

Triple mineral combination (rare), high resale (Value $250)
4* Incomplete amazonite and smoky is not gemmy

Good size, luster, completeness, good color (Value $65)
4.5* Color is a little pale but solid specimen


Exceptional size, good color, aesthetics, complexity, completeness (Value $225)
5* Four complete interwoven amazonites VF!

Aesthetic grouping, luster, completeness (Value $85)
4* Color is a little pale and one central crystal appears cleaved

Rarity of combination(amazonite&cleavelandite)  (Value $165)
4* Nice group but amazonite is a bit pale


Large Specimen, aesthetic appeal, color  (Value $175)
4* Would be a solid 5* but piece has been repaired on cleaveage planes

Rarity of specimen(combo), (Value $125)
3.5* Amazonite is pale and one smoky has some regrowth damage

Complexity of specimen  (Value $75)
4.5* Overall nice piece but a little pale

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Rock Hounding Begins at Lake George Colorado

Sunset over Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, CO
Enough snow and ice has melted so that I decided to give rock hounding a try in the Rocky Mountains. While areas above 10,000Ft still have plenty of snow the lower elevations around Lake George, CO have many open slopes for rock hounding. This year I hope to expand my prospecting to include more areas outside of Lake George and find other crystals besides smoky quartz, amazonite, microcline, fluorite and goethite. Still, I’m sure I’ll visit my favorite Lake George rock hounding areas several times again this year. Winter was fairly mild though we did have a number of strong wind events with 60-70mph wind gusts in the mountains. The drought in Colorado is also taking its toll on mature trees. As the drought weakened trees are exposed to 70mph wind gusts they snap in half like toothpicks. We saw several mature trees broken off about 10ft above the ground as the one depicted below.
 Winter was fairly easy on the wildlife though I suspect foraging might have been a little more difficult due to the lack of water and foraging material. We saw herds of elk and deer with coyotes yelping in the distance as we made our way out to Lake George to start out 2017.
Elk looking for food
Deer oblivious to my digging, though they eventually caught on
Today Bob and I revisited an old spot we had prospected last fall and had pulled out a few pockets. We decided to return to this spot because it was on a south facing slope so the ground would be well thawed out and snow minimal. The pegmatite is fairly large and probably runs for about 30 feet.
Top-down pegmatite schematic
While most of the pegmatite is underground we have found float crystals in this area at the surface. The quartzy pegmatite runs NW-SE and intersects a more feldsparish containing pegmatite which runs N-S. It is at the intersection of these two seams that two pockets of amazonite were found last year. There was no smoky quartz crystals within the amazonite pockets. Bob and I continue to work the area with mixed results. I concentrated on the area of float smokys while Bob worked further up the hill in some float amazonite. While neither one of us were rewarded with pockets of crystals we did find some keepers. We primarily dug through areas around previously found pockets in hopes of finding some float crystals. We both found amazonite but only a few undamaged keeper crystals.
Typical floater amazonite with lots of iron staining to clean
I had the find of the day with an excellent 5” smoky quartz crystal. While we found many crystals only a few were considered keepers in my mind. We also did some prospecting in the area and found a spot or two we might try out again in the future as long as the weather holds. On the way home I decided to shop my 5” smoky quartz crystal at one of the rock shops along the way home. The proprietor of the rock shop said he could give me $60 for the smoky and I decided I would rather keep the crystal than part with it at that price.

5" Smoky Quartz Crystal
So 2017 has started out on a pretty good note with hopefully many more crystals yet to be found!