Silver City Souvenirs (Zeehan Rock Shop)

I recently visited the fabulous rock, gem jewellery and mineral shop in Zeehan, west coast of Tasmania to possibly source some faceting rough. It can be found at 131A Main Street, Zeehan.

I highly recommend visiting the Zeehan Rock Shop if you are in the area, the knowledgeable proprietor, Richard, will be able to answer any of your questions regarding minerals and rocks in the West Coast area.

I left a couple of samples of my Gladstone smoky quartz faceting work in the glass cabinet at the front counter in the shop if you wish to see some examples close-up.

I travel to Zeehan about every second week for work, and have been doing so, on and off, for about 10 years now. In fact my association with Zeehan goes back to 1994 and earlier. I remember visiting Zeehan when I was a child – must have been back in 1980 or thereabouts, and buying some specimens as well as having a bit of a fossick. In 1994 I worked in Zeehan for a year with a large exploration company, using a room in the Heemskirk Hotel as an exploration geology office. I worked out in the field every day, it was quite an experience.

Gladstone smoky quartz

Gladstone smoky quartz (cuts are modified Voltolini designs)

Gladstone, a small town near the Ringarooma River (in the north east of Tasmania, Australia) is located close to some old tin and gold historic mining sites. The alluvial tin miners were not at all interested in the abundant smoky quartz crystals which were commonly encountered whilst they were working the small creeks (Ah Kaw Creek, Mt Cameron Creek and Alhambra Creek in particular). These crystals and other detritus where piled up in areas out of the way (above the creeks) and now form the focus for fossickers to the area.

There are many nice, slightly water-worn crystals of smoky to be had from the area, however I find that material suitable for faceting comprises only about 2-3% of the smoky crystals typically found here. This is still good, because some quite large examples of smoky can be found, and it is not that hard to find half a bucket or so in a day’s fossicking, so a few percent of ‘quite a lot’ still makes for plenty of faceting action.

Champagne-coloured facet-grade Gladstone smoky quartz
Same again.. note the slightly rounded water-worn crystal faces.

There is also smoky quartz to be found on Mount Cameron itself (see examples from the Zeehan Rock Shop below), these often well-shaped crystals are not water-worn, with parallel striations still often visible on the crystal faces.

Mount Cameron smoky quartz for sale in the Zeehan Rock Shop

I often like to cut Gladstone smoky into both buff-tops and opposed-bar cuts. Initially I favoured opposed-bar cuts such as Jeff Graham’s Smithsonian Bar, however I have found that inverted bar cuts designed with the crown facets parallel to the long axis of the stone create a more pleasing effect to my eyes (see diagrams below). The publicly available design: “Htims Bar” by Marco Voltolini is a great example of this style of cut, and lends itself nicely to the Gladstone smokies.

Htims Bar design by Marco Voltolini
Smithsonian Bar design by Jeff Graham