Locality: Tribute Pocket, Agnus Dei claim, Cameron Cone, El Paso County, Colorado USA
Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.5 x 2 cm
Topaz has been known from the state of Colorado since at least 1880, when a prospector named ‘Thibault’ found loose, gemmy topaz crystals near what is now known as Crystal Park in El Paso county (Cross & Hillebrand, 1882). Over the next nearly 150 years, topaz has been Colorado’s most well-known and sought-after gem mineral and has been found in a wide array of colors, crystal forms, and associations, most prominently in the Pikes Peak Batholith, a Precambrian granite intrusion covering over 2600 square kilometers of central Colorado. One of the most notable topaz finds in the Pikes Peak Batholith was made by legendary prospector and collector Edwin “Ed” Over in the early 1950’s in the Cameron Cone area, a sub-peak of the Pikes Peak massif west of Colorado Springs. Over discovered approximately 7 kg. of mostly gem-quality topaz crystals with a beautiful and unusual sherry-orange color, with the finest specimens going to Denver collector and mineral dealer Bill Hayward. The best crystal from this find, a 7.7 cm wide, 275 gram gem-quality crystal, then passed to noted Denver mineral dealer E. Mitch Gunnell, before going to Basalt, Colorado Julie Ann Hesse, and finally to a Denver area private collection. This crystal seemed unlikely to be eclipsed as far as ‘sherry colored’ topaz from the Pikes Peak Batholith went, until a incredible new find was made by local prospectors Rich Frettard and Jean Cowman in October of 2012. Over the next nearly 5 years, this pegmatite, named the “Agnus Dei claim” and later the “Tribute Pocket” find (in tribute to Ed Over’s discovery nearly six decades earlier), produced world-class, gem-quality topaz crystals up to 3.5 lbs.
This very nice doubly-terminated 6.5 cm, 66 gram gem-quality topaz is a great example of this remarkable find. The gem-clear interior of the crystal has a nice sherry-orange color that really makes it “glow”. It is important to note that the orange/sherry color in these topaz crystals will fade over time with exposure to sunlight, and thus it is best to keep these either under artificial lighting, or out of the light all together. This fine crystal is truly a ‘time capsule’ of a historically-significant Colorado topaz find. Annette Slade photo.