Montana “Diamonds” Quartz Crystals for Rockhounds!

Dead center in the great wide state of Montana, a deposit of quartz crystals can be found. Typically double terminated, squat crystals with very short c-axis, these come in clear, milky and smoky and available for people of all ages to find!

Photo of Quartz Crystals from Judith Peak Montana

This photo was used in the October 1971 issue of Gems and Minerals Magazine. This shows how they can be confused with actual diamonds, with their form.

There are dozens of locations around the world where quartz “diamonds” are produced. You see, people want diamonds. Marketing has told us how desirable they are, how they signify love. Just wait until the November through March, non-stop jewelry store commercials pushing whatever diamond scheme they have this year on everyone. In 2014 it was those terrible “chocolate diamonds” which are one step above industrial grade. The truth is, there are way more diamonds in the world than there will ever be a need for, so it is an artificial market kept afloat by you and me. With that in mind, a random that has very little knowledge about minerals can pick up a double terminated, squat quartz crystal and think “DIAMOND!”. This gives the name to so many deposits. Cape May New Jersey Diamonds, Herkimer New York Diamonds, Montana Diamonds, Pecos New Mexico Diamonds, Pakistan Diamonds, Tibetan Diamonds…all…quartz. Well, everyone loves quartz crystals, so hey, even if someone was disappointed that they didn’t find diamonds, us rockhounds are happy with what they found!

Montana Diamonds are found about 20 miles from the town of Lewistown Montana, nearly smack dab in the middle of Montana. On the top of Judith Peak, an open area for collecting with hand tools, an abandoned radar installation is located. All of the road construction and removal of trees and overburden for the buildings has uncovered ample ground for searching and rockhounding. At an elevation of 6,386 feet above sea level, an igneous deposit of rhyolite has been pushed up to the surface. The rhyolite cools at different rates, the slowly cooling rock giving more time for the quartz crystals to grow larger. This deposit hit the right notes, leaving a layer of rhyolite that contains these well formed crystals.

Map with Judith Mountain Peak pinpointed

The Judith Mountains are located in Central Montana. Judith Peak is about 20 miles outside of Lewistown.

Satellite map of Judith Peak Quartz Crystal Location

The pinpoint on the map shows Judith Peak and the pin covers up the main collecting area.

Judith Peak

This area is a great place to start prospecting – This is home to an defunct US radar installation.

In the USGS publication Geology and Mineral Resources of the Judith Mountains of Montana By Walter Harvey Weed, Louis Valentine Pirsson it is written about this area in 1898! (This book can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking this link)

Judith Peak itself is composed of quartz-bearing porphyry…The small, angular light colored flakes compose the crest and slopes. Pine trees grow thickly upon it, and in places they have been burned and the porphyry has been reddened or blackened by the fire.
On the north side of the slopes fall away into several steeply descending, half-funnel gulches. The angles of slope of the broken porphyry is extremely steep, and the gulches have almost the aspect of amphitheaters. Farther down the blocks of the broken porphyry naturally becomes larger.
Almost at the summit of Judith Peak, a few hundred yards north-west, the porphyry appears crushed and filled with narrow quartz seams, which are stated to carry low values in gold. Southward from here, although the porphyry is greatly rotted and broken down, it can be seen that there is a gradual increase in the number and size of the quartz phenocrysts until,…these quartzes assume a large size, the phenocrysts being often an inch or more long. The quartz crystals weather out as pebbles, and very perfect specimens may be obtained

Collector at the rhyolite deposit at Judith Peak Montana 1971

In this photo from the 1971 October issue of Gems and Minerals, you can see a collector searching for quartz crystals in the rhyolite.

Well over 100 years of collecting quartz from this location and yet…there is still more to be found! So, if you find yourself in Montana, right about dead center, you’ll be close to some fantastic quartz collecting!

Related posts:

Field Trip: Midwestern Geode Localities


By: Jeremy Zolan

Difficulty Level: Easy to Medium

Supplies Needed:
Safety Goggles
Water
Insect Repellant
Shovel
Crack Hammer and Chisel
Paper for Wrapping Specimens
Bucket
Prybar (Optional)
Pick Axe (Optional)
Wheeler-Rex 590 Soil Pipe Cutter (Optional)

Search for Minerals from Iowa

Description:

View a map of the locations of these geodes by visiting MinDat.org’s copy of this map
Click Here to Load Map
Geodes in the Warsaw formation of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Each ‘x’ is a geode location. Originally from Arthur E. Smith (1997): Geodes from the Warsaw Formation of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, Rocks & Minerals, 72:6, 420-423. Updated and colorized by William W. Besse.

Many sites in the tri-state area of southeast Iowa, northeast Missouri and western Illinois produce geodes of world class quality. In fact, nowhere else in the world is richer in geodes than this strange area of the Midwest, where the Mississippian geode bearing Warsaw limestone formation is exposed near the surface. The geodes can reach 20cm across or larger and are mostly lined with quartz crystals though a variety of minerals like calcite, dolomite, sphalerite, and even millerite have been found in geodes. Geodes can be found wherever the Warsaw formation can be found outcropping. They can also be dug from riverbanks. Many fee dig sites for geodes are found in the areas of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois rich in geodes.

wheelerrex-590-lg

A pipe cutter, specifically the model above (Wheeler-Rex 590 Soil Pipe Cutter) is great for opening geodes. Simply score the geode around the perimeter lightly with a hammer and chisel, clamp the cutter around the perimeter of the geode, and then carefully apply pressure until the geode splits. It is most desirable to split geodes into two equal sized hemispheres.

quartzgeodeiowa
Large quartz geode from Keokuk area- 20 cm diameter. Collected by David Wixom. K. Nash specimen and photo.

dolomiteiowageode
Typical geode and associated minerals (calcite and dolomite) from Keokuk, Iowa area. 4cm x 4cm. Rolf Lutcke specimen and photo. Ex. Paul Griswold

Localities:

Sheffler Rock Shop and Geode Mine:
RR1 Box 171
Alexandria, MO 63430
At junction of Highway 61 and 27, 6mi S of Alexandria

Tim Sheffler
(660) 754 – 1134
tsheffler@mchsi.com
$25 per day for 50 lbs of material. 75 cents for each additional pound

blackiowageodes
Calcite and quartz geode from the Sheffler Geode Mine. A good specimen for the locality. 10 cm wide. Roger Sedgwick specimen and photo. Collected by owner.

Geodes are very abundant at this locality, hence the high limit for material. They are typically filled with quartz crystals but some other interesting mineralization can be observed. Dolomite, calcite, and pyrite are common accessories. It is best to use a prybar to free the geodes from the limestone matrix and open them at home or wherever they can be carefully cleaned, opened, and sorted.

Des Moines River, Iowa and Missouri

Geodes can be found abundantly in the outcrops on the shores of the Des Moines river. Bring a shovel to loosen geodes from the muddy banks and wash them in the river so the surface features can be seen. Some rocks at these riverbank localities may be deceiving and look like geodes but are just cobbles that have been well-rounded by erosion. These geodes can be filled with a wide variety of minerals and be of extremely varying but most will only contain quartz and typically at most one other species such as calcite or dolomite.

Jacobs’ Geode Shop and Mine:
823 East County Rd 1220
Hamilton, IL 62341
(217) 847-3509

iowacollecting
Caption: Collector with large pile of geodes in Jacobs’ Geode Mine workings. E. Harrington photo.

Call before visiting. It is best to dig while the owners are around so they can show you the best technique to use at this site. It’s a good idea to call in advance to make sure they will be at the mine. The all day fee is reported to be $20. Apparently the owners only allow visitors to crack certain geodes on site so most of the prep work should be done at home. Reported to produce very nice material

calciteiowageode
7cm geode with 3.5cm calcite crystal. E. Harrington specimen and photo.

Modified by CombineZP
Marcasite crystal in geode. FOV 4.5mm. Collected and photographed by David Hanson.

Dennis Stevenson Geodes:
625 S. 18th St., Hamilton, Illinois
Call ahead to plan a trip: 309-337-3089 or 217-847-2952
$20 for one bucket, $15 for each additional one.

Mostly quartz based geodes, but some have nice calcite crystals as well. A staple Midwestern geode locality.

Find out what minerals Iowa is and has produced, check out what is new on eBay

Related posts:

Quartz collecting in Peterson mountain

A poster on the Reddit community “r/Rockhounds” posted a Imgur gallery of 60 photos showcasing his trip to Peterson Mountain. We are happy to be able to share the story behind the photos, by user iseriouslydislikeyou, though I’m sure he might like you, fellow rockhound!

Typical abundance of quartz, found loose at Peterson Mountain

This is Peterson mountain off of highway route 395, outside of Reno. I heard about it from a friend a long time ago. It is very rich in quartz throughout the mountain. You can pretty much start digging anywhere and you will find something worth taking home.

View of the valley below from Peterson Mountain

Please note that the very top of this mountain is a commercially mined active claim and you are NOT ALLOWED to mine into the top. I say it so stringently because the man who owns the claim, Yon Johnson, is a complete gentleman who is worried about safety, above all else. There are tempting rock walls at the top to dig in for pockets, but they are his walls because he made them so don’t trespass.
peterson8
Down the mountain on the CA side, at the state line, is where is claim seems to end so you can dig in. Alternatively, there are rubble/waste piles on the top that enthusiasts can sift through for some fun stuff. It is a mountain and there is quartz everywhere. You can find it, if you only attempt to try.
The conditions are hostile at best. During the day it is wicked high-altitude hot, and at night it is freezing. The best month to go is June near as I can tell from some research and experience. There is NOTHING out there so you need to bring everything you will need. Just remember anything you leave there stays there, and it is a beautiful and precious land, so don’t litter.

peterson7
You can stay in Reno and make a day trip of the mountain if that is your thing.
A view of the collecting area in Peterson Mountain, California

My understanding is that scepters of this magnitude only occur here in the world which makes it a real treat. The scepter examples in my imgur link are the best I have ever found out of four trips. I have never found a WHOLE one.

Scepter Quartz from Peterson Mountain

There is some killer stuff in their commercial dig from 2006 check it out: Scott Klein of Great Basin Minerals Collecting Report at Peterson Mountain

Dirty Citrine Quartz Crystal

Beautiful Gem Grade Amethyst from Peterson Mountain

Amethyst Crystal from Peterson Mountain

So there are certainly good crystals to be found there. The intersection of 395 and 70 is called Hallelujah Junction. 5-7 miles past the junction on 395 is where you want to hit the dirt. You will see it the path, the is a janky barbed wire fence.


View Peterson Mountain Quartz Collecting in a larger map

The land is BLM land so it is federal property. BLM land is a great, you can even primitive camp on BLM land. Snakes and Scorpions abound; bring gloves, boots, sun hat, and sun screen.

In addition to smoky and white crystals and scepters you can find gem quality amethyst.

Please be respectful of the claims and the land. Four-wheel drive is a must for these rugged dirt roads.
To see the full photo set, visit this photo gallery
To clean up after a long day, or weekend, collecting at the mountain, check out Hotels.com for great deals on local hotels and go take a hot shower!

Here at WhereToFindRocks.com, our FAVORITE dealer to go to for great professionally collected Peterson Mountain quartz is ScepterGuy, Joe George.
You can find him on eBay by clicking this banner.
Cascade Scepters on eBay

Related posts:

Collecting minerals from “Cross Hill”, Nuevo California

A friend of mine asked to go visit the feldspar mine on the mountain in Nuevo California, about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, toward Riverside and on the way to San Diego. I had not been to the location in five years and I had heard that there was a lot of activity in the area with houses being built. As this has been a classic collecting location, along with the possibility of general prospecting around the area, I wanted to see what was going on.

View Nuevo Quarry pinpointed in a larger map
First I heard there was a gate up. That did not seem to bode well, but it looks like the Korean Church at the bottom of the hill put a gate up at the beginning of the road. It was open (and public land!) so we drove through. Going up the hill was no problem, just like in the past. The odd thing was, going up the hill, the graffiti was out of control on those rocks, empty ammo cases littered the ground alongside empty beer bottles. In addition, these signs saying that the road was PRIVATE were sprayed on the boulders, which is just plain nonsense! This is a road. You can not simply buy the rights to some land and close off a public road. There were work crews, lots of construction going on and shockingly, houses were springing up in this area. The turn off to the quarry was way worse than I remember, as they graded the dirt road down, down, down, so that the turnoff was a six foot climb in the Jeep, which was a little shocking. But, then the road seemed fine, as I remember, and we pulled into the parking area to start our walk to the quarry and dump pile. Seriously, nobody is going to tell me that, as a citizen of California and America, that I am not allowed to go on a public road, to an abandoned quarry to collect some worthless rocks that nobody will miss. Just because some chumps want to spend millions of dollars to build their secluded homesites doesn’t mean they can keep me from the public road outside their house. Keep those ATVs, the gun nuts and the teenage drinkers away, I’m here for some science and some nature.
Smithsonian Nuevo California Garnet
Here is the photo that got me interested again, a photo from the Smithsonian of a nice garnet from this location.

The quarry is very interesting, mainly feldspar and massive quartz, with huge crystals of schorl tourmaline embedded inside the feldspar. Along with this are garnets, most always forming in one thin layer on the outside of the feldspar blocks, the rare find of a scrap of aquamarine is possible and uncommon radioactive crystals of monazite and thorianite. I wanted to try and find some of the radioactives and nice garnet plate, my friend was looking for schorl chunks to put into reference kits for the kids. We found everything that you could expect to find from the quarry and spent about 2 hours collecting before hitting the road back to Los Angeles, with a wide open freeway, pre-rush hour, it was a great trip. If you are in the Southern California area, this is an interesting place to check out and I hope you make it without any problems and who knows, maybe in a few years the road will be paved! (and gated, to keep you ruffians out) This is BLM land, no person should DARE to stop entry to that land. Access to this area has been served by that road which far predates the church or the houses being built up there. It is absolutely shameful if anyone tries to stop you.

Overlooking the felspar quarry in Nuevo California
Overlooking the quarry from the parking area.
Huge Crystals of Schorl in feldspar
For size reference, here is my hand.
Nuevo Quarry with John
A human for size reference.
Another view of the schorl wall at Nuevo
More mouth-watering schorl!
Schorl Crystal in Matrix
This schorl crystal would fall to bits if we tried to remove it from matrix.
loose schorl crystal
A typical scrap of Schorl Tourmaline found on the dumps.
Garnet crystals on feldspar matrix
Commonly seen are the blocks of feldspar, more uncommon is a coverage as rich as this with well formed crystals.
Unidentified radioactive minerals
You can tell these are radioactive due to the radiation rings discoloring the quartz/feldspar matrix.
leaving the quarry with some kid rocks
Leaving the quarry with some rocks to share with the kids.

Related posts:

Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay 2012

eBay is a fantastic place to find everything for sale. While there are plenty of dyed, glued, misidentified and various other hoaxes online, there are also some fantastic dealers who are honest, well educated and provide amazing service. As per customer satisfaction results gathered by The-Vug.com, we present to you the Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012!

Top 10 Rock and Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012

#10 – Heliodor

Three generations of the mineral dealers, Star and Elena Van Scriver have a wide variety of minerals available. Specializing in Russian minerals and Moroccan minerals, this store has over 4,000 items to chose from, mostly as store items with buy it now pricing. You can view their store by clicking this link.

Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor
Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor



#9 – Benson’s Collectibles

Alan Benson has been selling minerals on eBay for several years, helping to finance his college studies. That’s right, this man helped pay for his textbooks with eBay! He has a fine selection of minerals from worldwide locations, with a focus on New Jersey minerals, as he is close to the locations. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California from Alan Benson Collectable Land



#8 – ScepterGuy

Joe George is an avid Quartz miner. The crystals he has dug out of the ground have made it into magazines, museums and fine collections around the world. Crazy scepters and amethyst from Hallelujah Junction, fascinating terminations and twinning in specimens from Washington state, this man does the hard work to rescue these crystals from the mountain! Not only does he have a fine mix of specimens, people love his acrylic bases and mineral tack, something somewhat hard to find. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Pink Fluorite on Matix from France
Pink Fluorite on Matix from France from Scepter Guy



#7 – Meryln8804

Christopher Stefano is a recent graduate, another self supporting college student for a time. Now he does his ebay and website while working two jobs and raising a newborn! What a guy, because his store is constantly full of great mineral, with a focus in the unique and uncommon minerals of the world. As a specialist in Michigan minerals, if you are looking for an interesting mineral from that area, contact Chris! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Copper Crystals from Michigan
Copper Crystals from Michigan from Merlyn8804



#6 – JMineral

A bad reputation is being cast on many Chinese dealers, as fake and treated minerals are common in many of their eBay stores. JM Mineral is an extreme exception to this, with amazing minerals, popping up on eBay often WELL before any American ever lays eyes on them! The new finds out of Mongolia has made this dealer shine! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Green Quartz Cluster from JMineral



#5 – Crystal Springs Minerals

Crystal Springs focus is South African and Namibian minerals. With so much to chose from in that area of the world, Crystal Springs Minerals is a great source from that area of the world. A richly stocked eBay store and constant restocking has made them a favorite dealer to buy from! People love their red quartz, green fluorite, gem crystals and interesting minerals from the Kalahari. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa
Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa sold by Crystal Springs Minerals



#4 – Open Adit

Open Adit is a fine dealer of LARGE minerals and FRESH imports. Evolving over time, the minerals have always been FINE and amazingly inexpensive! As importers of hundreds of thousands of minerals, Open Adit has found a great way to make large sized cabinet specimens available to the public by presenting them online. Weekly auctions and tons to chose from, if you need a colorful addition to your collection or a display piece, Open Adit is the place to go! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa
Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa sold by Open Adit



#3 – Globe Minerals

Nik, the man behind the operations at Globe Mineral, has a FINE eye for natures beauty. One thing for sure, there is rarely a specimen that we would not like to have for our collection here at WheretoFindRocks.com! Colorful, bold and hand picked, Nik travels around the world hand picking selections to showcase on eBay. As eBay is Globe Minerals main distribution source, there is nothing held back, everything fine is presented on eBay and his customer service is top notch! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco
Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco sold by Globe Minerals



#2 – Jewel’s Fine Minerals

It has been a beautiful experience to watch this ebay dealer constantly improving the quality of the minerals, photos and service. It is almost impossible to imagine that Jewel’s Fine Minerals can get much better. A wide variety of minerals, this dealer is constantly traveling to mineral shows, buying collections and sniffing out all the great minerals to present to the public on eBay. The large amount of store items, weekly auctions and great attention to quality minerals makes Jewel’s Fine Minerals one of the accounts to constantly keep checking out! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Calcite and Fluorite from USA
Calcite and Fluorite from USA sold by Jewel’s Fine Minerals


AND, as a result of all the activity and customer feedback to The-Vug.com in 2012, the #1 Mineral Dealer on eBay…

#1 – Mineral Man 999

Mineralman999, Jasun and Mandy McAvoy, are legendary sellers of minerals on eBay. For good reason! They have had mineral auctions, ALL of them, starting at .99 cents, every week for over 7 years. Sometimes the sales prices of these minerals are in the THOUSANDS of dollars, but they ALWAYS start at .99 cents! Fantastic photos, minerals from all over the world, there is not a week that goes by that we do not find at LEAST one mineral that would be something worth fighting over! Classic minerals, new finds, gem crystals, gold, crazy locality specimens. MineralMan is THE place to visit each and every week. His #1 status is well deserved! You can view his store by clicking this link.

ineralman999 on eBay
Gold Crystal from Venezuela sold by Mineralman999

Related posts: