How to Collect Crystals
“If you’re lookingfor crystals, Arkansas is the best in the world,” says Bryan Major, 43, a self-described rock hound from Wilmington, N.C., who …
“If you’re lookingfor crystals, Arkansas is the best in the world,” says Bryan Major, 43, a self-described rock hound from Wilmington, N.C., who spends much of the year traveling the country digging for minerals, gems and crystals. His YouTube videos documenting his outings have been viewed more than 57 million times.
You can collect crystals on public land, but Major suggests starting at a private pay-to-dig site. These mines use heavy equipment to excavate pits and leave piles of tailings for recreational diggers to go through for a daily fee of $10 to $100. Wear jeans and bring along a small pickax, a hammer, a respirator and protective eyewear if you plan to pound rocks and something to carry your crystals in. Major gets cardboard soda flats from gas stations and uses them to sort, store and haul.
Major often prospects in the abundant quartz deposits in the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas, but he has also unearthed quartz geodes as big as basketballs on a riverbank in Missouri; bright blue chunks of azurite and malachite from an old copper mine near Moab, Utah; and fire agates from southeast Arizona. As a full-time rock hound for more than a decade, Major has seen the culture go through something of a crystal craze. “Be prepared to squeeze in shoulder to shoulder as you dig,” he says. Crystal enthusiasts tend to be a genial, family-friendly lot. But proceed with more caution when venturing into remote Bureau of Land Management property, where prospectors can be more territorial.
You’ll see the telltale hexagonal shape of quartz crystals even before fully dislodging them from the dirt. In their pure form, quartz crystals are clear, but you can find other colors too, including milky white, pink, reddish orange and purple. If you hang around crystal collectors long enough, eventually someone will get metaphysical. Major often finds himself awed by crystals — an amateur geologist pondering how many millions of years ago magma cooled slowly to form pockets of interlocking quartz inside Paleozoic sandstone. He’s less sure what to make of the spiritual and healing attributes people assign them. “I just stay quiet on that,” he says.