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.
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.
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.