Colorado Gemstones

Diane’s Pocket: Aquamarines embedded with other gemstones, discovered in 2006 by Steve Brancato on Mount Antero in Sawatch Range, Colorado.

Diane’s Pocket: 4′ x 3′ Aquamarines embedded with other gemstones, discovered in 2006 by Steve Brancato on Mount Antero in Sawatch Range, Colorado.

One our favorite new shows on TV is Prospectors on the Weather Channel.  It follows three or four teams of prospectors in the Colorado high country looking for gemstones, mainly up on Mount Antero west of Colorado Springs.

Prospectors on the Weather Channel

Prospectors on the Weather Channel

We went to the Museum of Nature and Science yesterday and got to see some of the gems they’ve collected.

Steve Brancato working his aquamarine claim up on Mt. Antero.

Steve Brancato working his aquamarine claim up on Mt. Antero.

Probably the two most famous ones are Diane’s Pocket of aquamarines and the huge red crystal of Colorado Rhodochrosite taken out of the Sweet Home Mine in Alma, Colorado.

Colorado Aquamarines 

From raw crystals to cut gemstones.

From raw crystals to cut gemstones.

Aquamarine is the official state gemstone of Colorado. Serious prospecting for aquamarine began in the Mt. Antero area in the late 1800s.

The best aquamarine finds on Mount Antero have been on the eastern side of the mountain at elevations over 12,000 feet. The challenges of looking for aquamarine on Mt. Antero are its altitude, weather, and remote location.

At over 14,000 feet in elevation, the weather can be cold, and the aquamarine hunting season is limited to about three months of summer. Wind, lightning storms, and frequent afternoon rains and hailstorms can be life-threatening at low temperatures and high altitudes.

Mt. Antero has grown in popularity with gem hunters after being featured on television prospecting shows. Today there can be a few dozen working claims at any given time on Mt. Antero, and visitors must be careful not to trespass on someone’s claim. Many claim holders are very unfriendly to visitors because they have put in a lot of sweat and effort hoping to find a nice cavity of high-value gems.

In addition to Mt. Antero, a few other Colorado locations are known to yield nice aquamarine crystals. These include Mt. White, which is connected to Mt. Antero by a high saddle. Nice specimens have also been found on Mt. Baldwin and Mt. Princeton, all peaks of over 12,500 feet and located nearby.

Colorado Rhodochrosite

Huge section of crytsal taken out of the Sweet Home Mine.

Huge section of crystal taken out of the Sweet Home Mine.

They play a 20 second video loop of the discovery of this huge crystal.

They play a 20 second video loop of the discovery of this huge book-sized crystal.

The most famous mine in the world for superb rhodochrosite crystals is the Sweet Home Mine, located near the community of Alma, Colorado. It was opened in 1873 as a silver mine and was worked on and off for silver until the 1960s.

Colorado gemstones

Colorado gemstones

Amethsy, my favorite gemstone.

Amethyst, my favorite gemstone.

Afterwards, we went to see the new ‘Whales:  Giants of the Deep’ exhibit from New Zealand.  That was really cool.

Whales:  Giants of the Deep

Whales: Giants of the Deep

One thought on “Colorado Gemstones

  1. Filiberto Hubble says:

    Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

    Like

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