In our last quartz blog (Why Arkansas Quartz Crystal Is Our New Favorite Gemstone), we told you a little bit about the gemstone and some of its unique features. This time around we wanted to dig a little deeper into the mine itself, looking at the process from start to finish.
First, let's introduce James Zigras, the man behind the mine! James owns Avant Mining, where Romance Diamond Co. gets all of its quartz pieces.
James began collecting minerals at just 14 years old and became the youngest person ever to discover a new mineral, fittingly named Zigrasite. In 2009 James purchased Avant Mining and entered the mineral mining business in Arkansas.
We sat down with James and picked his brain on all things quartz!
RDC: What happens after the quartz is removed from the ground?
JZ: It is covered in red clay, which formed long after the crystals did. The clay formed from ground water and weathering on the surface which seeps into the cracks where the crystals formed about 100 million years ago.
RDC: What is the process for cutting the crystals?
JZ: I only send broken crystals to be cut. If the crystal has a perfect termination (point) it is held for the collector market. The crystals are graded by flawless, near flawless and included or milky. The flawless crystals are then sorted and sent to various cutting factories around the world. The crystals are cut by diamond saws into preforms, which is the shape the stone is about to be faceted into.
RDC: How much of the process takes place in Arkansas?
JZ: Most of the process takes place at the mine and at my building here in Arkansas.
RDC: What is your favorite part about working with the quartz?
JZ: The magic of the crystals is the exciting part as well as the thrill of discovery. The fact that I have discovered the largest and most spectacular discovery of quartz crystals ever documented is amazing.
RDC: What sets the quartz apart from other gemstones?
JZ: Most gemstones, such as sapphire, are found as alluvial (water rounded pebbles) which are uninteresting until they are cut into gems. The quartz crystals come out of the ground looking spectacular.
Browse our exclusive collection of Arkansas Quartz jewelry here!