Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

I went rock hunting with my brother and niece recently. We found lots of great rocks and I thought I’d share a few of them. First is a nice piece of quartz (I like to call them pencil quartz but this would be a BIG pencil!). The rusty color is internal to the rock, which is pretty cool! I think I’ll try to polish it a bit, but don’t really plan on changing it much. I like the way it looks!

Quartz

 

The second find of the day was a great piece of topaz. The topaz we find is usually clear or maybe has just a touch of blue in it. As you may have read in previous gemstone posts, topaz’s blue color can come from heat and exposure to radiation. North Georgia ‘s mountains have a lot of granite (which may contain trace radioactive elements). I think I’ll play around with a smaller piece of topaz and a butane torch to see if I can get color enhancement. If so, maybe I’ll try it on this piece. At 168.4 carats, I don’t want to damage it.

 

The last find I want to share is this great piece of moonstone (I think). I love the orange colors and I believe it will make a great cabochon. I’ll cut a slab or two off it and see if I can get it to shine. I’ll post pictures and let you know how it works out.

In addition to the ones I found, I ordered a bag of chiastolite fairy crosses and staurolite fairy crosses (these came from Fannin County Georgia). If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, the elf Findecano was trapped in a chiastolite fairy cross, so I had to get me at least one. And Aidan found a bunch of staurolite fairy crosses before Maggie found Findecano’s prison. Given how important fairy crosses are to the books, I just had to have some.

Quartz

The last picture I wanted to share with you is this emerald. I found this one a while back and want to take it to my friend for him to examine and cut for me. This one is about 16 carats, but it has a great green color and I hope he’ll be able to create a beautiful stone from it!

I’ll be heading out for another rock hunting excursion soon. If I find some noteworthy specimens, I’ll be sure to post pictures. In the meantime, check out the blog for other gemstone posts and subscribe so you don’t miss any updates. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! I look forward to meeting new friends!!

Georgia Gold Mines -There’s Gold in Them There Hills!

The California Gold Rush and the legendary Miner 49ers. We all learned about that gold rush in school. But, did you know that before gold was found in California, there was a gold rush in North Georgia? It’s true! There were many Georgia gold mines! Gold was discovered around Dahlonega in 1828, twenty years before gold was found at Sutter’s Mill.

Georgia Gold Mines Dahlonega Mint

Dahlonega Mint

At the height the of the gold rush, there were over 500 gold mines operating in 37 counties in North Georgia. Boom towns sprang up, miners streamed into the state, and many people found riches. And gold flowed out of the mines – so much so that a mint was opened 1838 in Dahlonega to process the gold into coins. Wikipedia says it’s estimated that from 1828 through the mid-2oth century (when commercial gold mining in Georgia stopped) 870,000 troy ounces of gold were mined. At today’s price of $1218/ounce, that is over $1 billion!!

In 1832, the state of Georgia held a Gold lottery, selling 40 acre lots across North Georgia – land that belonged to the Cherokee. Despite protests from the Cherokee, the lottery winners swarmed into the lands and settled. The Cherokee were soon to be forcibly relocated along the infamous Trial of Tears. In The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, Aidan finds some staurolite fairy crosses. One of the legends regarding the staurolite fairy crosses is that they are the result of the tears the Cherokee shed as they were forced from their home in the mountains.

Georgia Gold Mines Staurolite Fairy Cross

Staurolite Fairy Cross

I plan a future post of the Gold Lottery of 1832 and the Trail of Tears, so I won’t go deeper into that subject here.

There were some notable figures with ties to the Georgia Gold Rush. John C. Calhoun, Senator and the 7th Vice President of the United States, owned the Calhoun Mine. The Calhoun Mine produced a lot of gold during its time, as did the Loud Mine and the Consolidated Mine. The Calhoun Mine was managed for a time by Thomas Clemson, the founder of Clemson University.

Much of the gold found during the beginning of the gold rush was placer gold. Placer gold is gold that eroded away from the vein and deposited in stream beds, at the mouths of rivers, and other such places. Gravity wins with gold, as it is about 19 times heavier than water, so it won’t travel far from the source. By some estimates, gold will only travel about 1500 feet from the source. After the easily found gold was exhausted, miners invaded the creeks, streams, and rivers to dig into the beds and pan for gold. Below is a gold nugget found in the Dahlonega area.

Georgia Gold Mines Gold Nuggest

Dahlonega gold nugget

According to the Consolidated Gold Mine website, in 1845, John Hand developed a hydraulic mining method to dislodge material from the hillsides. This method meant that water cannons would point at a hillside and blast away the mountain and send the mud and rocks down the hillside and into sluices positioned below. Another method was to find the gold-bearing quartz (quartz is plentiful in Georgia), run the quartz through a stamp mill, crush the rock, and extract the gold. If you are lucky enough to be able to prospect on some of the lands around Dahlonega, you can still find tailing piles from the hydraulic mining days, and yes, there is still gold in them!

The gold rush in Georgia really died out when gold was discovered in California. With the difficulties of extracting the gold from the mountains, miners moved west and left the Georgia mountains. Wikipedia tells us the assayer at the Dahlonega Mint told the miners that there were still millions in the mountains, but he couldn’t persuade the miners to stay.

However, gold mining in Georgia wasn’t done. As mentioned above, commercial mining continued until the mid-20th century. The Consolidated Mine operated from 1895 until 1906 when the company failed. Whatever the reason it failed, it appears that it wasn’t due to a lack of gold! Below is a picture of the Glory Hole from the Consolidated Gold Mine.  The hole is shown looking upward. Imagine finding that much gold!

Georgia Gold Mines Glory Hole

Consolidated Gold Mine Glory Hole

There is still gold in the Georgia mountains. It may be hard to come by, but the search is half the fun. I have a small sluice box that I use when I go gemstone hunting. I haven’t found any gold yet, but I have found where it wasn’t! Like Beebop’s character in The Gemstone Chronicles, though, I will keep looking because you never know! I might just start the next Georgia Gold Rush!

Are there gold mines where you live? Have you prospected? Just in case you might want to, here is a link to a site that gives links to prospecting clubs by state: http://www.goldminershq.com/clubs/gold1.htm.

If you have prospected, leave me a comment with the results of your search. I look forward to hearing about your adventures!

If you like this post, please feel free to comment and share. Feedback is always welcome!!

Happy prospecting!

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Fairy Crosses – Did You Find an Elf?!!!

A few days ago, I got a tweet asking me if the fairy crosses that are an integral part of The Gemstone Chronicles stories were real or a figment of my imagination. The truth is…they are REAL!!

Now, I don’t think there are any elves trapped inside the stones, but the fairy crosses I referenced in Book One: The Carnelian do exist. Let’s take a look at the crosses from the book.

If my readers recall, Aidan found a group of staurolite crosses by some mounds while Maggie and Beebop were setting up to hunt gemstones. Staurolite is the Georgia state mineral. Staurolite crystals naturally form into cross shapes – though we don’t really know why. There are 3 different types of the crosses. The most common cross is the prismatic  shaped and is a less-defined cross shape. The second most commonly found shape is a “X” known as the St. Andrew’s Cross. The rarest and most highly prized shape is the perfectly formed Maltese Cross. The staurolite crosses are most commonly found in Georgia in Fannin County near the North Carolina and Tennessee borders, but they are also found in other places such as Virginia, New Mexico, Minnesota, Norway, and Switzerland.

Now that we know about the scientific aspects of fairy crosses, what do the legends say about them? In The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, Beebop tells Aidan and Maggie two legends about the origin of the staurolite fairy crosses. The first legend was that the fairies, who lived in the beautiful north Georgia mountains, heard that the son of the Great Creator had been crucified. They wept in sorrow at the news and their tears fell to the ground and formed the crosses.

The second legend is part of one of the most heartbreaking realities in the history of the United States. Until 1828, most settlers stayed away from the north Georgia mountains. In 1828, gold was found in the mountains and soon after, the Georgia Gold Rush began. Suddenly, the mountains became the place to be. President Andrew Jackson forced the Cherokee from their ancestral lands and moved the nation to Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears.” It was during this forced exodus that the legends say the  Cherokee wept and their tears formed the fairy crossed found in the mountains today. As noted in the book, there are performances of the play “Unto These Hills” during the summer months in Cherokee, NC that depicts the tale of the “Trail of Tears.”

Here are the three types of staurolite fairy crosses:

First, the Maltese Staurolite Fairy Cross. isn’t it beautiful?

 

Maltese Fairy Cross

 

Secondly, the St. Andrew’s Staurolite Fairy Cross. Note the characteristic “X” shape.

 

St. Andrew's Fairy Crosses

 

Lastly, the Prismatic Staurolite Fairy Cross. This type has a random shape. One thing to note about any of the crosses is that no two are identical.

 

prismatic fairy crosses

 

None of the crosses above, though, housed Findecano, the elf that Aidan and Maggie freed from his stone prison. Findecano’s prison was a chiastolite, a different type of fairy cross. Chiastolite fairy crosses are not native to north Georgia. Chiastolite is a variety of andalusite and has carbon inclusions that form the black cross that is characteristic of the stone. Chiastolites are found in many locations around the world.  Prime locations are Spain, and California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts in the United States. In the book, Beebop speculated the stone could have reached Georgia by trade among the native Americans, or by Spaniards exploring the New World .

Below is a picture of a Chiastolite Fairy Cross. Can’t you imagine an elf and a troll trapped in it just waiting for someone to smash the stone and free them?

 

chiastolite fairy crosses

 

I hope this post answers the questions readers have about Fairy Crosses. If not, please send me the questions and I will do my best to find an answer!

I haven’t found one yet in my rock hunting trips, but I try to keep a sharp eye out for them. Legends say wearing fairy crosses bring good luck, so if I happen to find one, I will be sure to keep it with me!

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