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Author Topic: wash  (Read 5491 times)

K-Dizzle

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wash
« on: May 24, 2015, 02:16:34 PM »
Hi there,


I've had a lot of people tell me to look in the 'wash' when looking for Sapphires, usually I just smile and nod so I don't look like an idiot, which still leaves me confused and hence why I am still as yet to find any.


Could someone please describe to me what is this 'wash' people keep telling me about? they always tell me to look for the Zircons, which other than being black, I have no idea how to identify.


Sorry, I know this is a terrible question.


K-Dizz
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daruthe

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Re: wash
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2015, 02:19:22 PM »
Essentially it means gravels washed down from the source to be deposited in a river bed, new or ancient, which contain shiny things

K-Dizzle

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Re: wash
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2015, 02:30:30 PM »
Okay, well that helps a lot, but how will I know it's the 'wash'? how do I find it?
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Aussie Sapphire

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Re: wash
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2015, 02:38:18 PM »
Hi there,
I've had a lot of people tell me to look in the 'wash' when looking for Sapphires, usually I just smile and nod so I don't look like an idiot, which still leaves me confused and hence why I am still as yet to find any.
Could someone please describe to me what is this 'wash' people keep telling me about? they always tell me to look for the Zircons, which other than being black, I have no idea how to identify.
Sorry, I know this is a terrible question.
K-Dizz

It is not a terrible question - it is an entirely sensible one so well done for asking it.

Zircons are unlikely to be black - they will most usually be a range of colours from clear, through to brownish, red, orange, etc. In some areas, you will also find black spinel (often called blackjack) so this may be the black colour you have seen.

Spinel is Magnesium Aluminium Oxide while Sapphire is Aluminium Oxide - so very similar minerals which is why you will often find them together.  Often a good amount of blackjack is a good indicator that it is promising for sapphire - not always reliable but can be helpful when looking.

As Daruthe notes, the wash is simple the sapphire bearing gravel so that is what you need to look for when digging.  It will often be a layer that is noticeably more gravelly than the layers above and below so once you find the wash, try to follow it.  If you lose the wash - ie. the dirt you are digging becomes quite different - then it will be less likely (not impossible but less likely) to contain sapphire. You should be able to distinguish it by feel and look.  When Andrew was mining, he and the other operators could tell a layer of wash by how the excavator bucket "felt" as it dug through the dirt - then they would open the front window and bring the bucket up for a closer look to see a more gravelly appearance and hopefully plenty of blackjack.

This photo posted by Rockgirl a couple of months ago show some typical zircon of small size (plus a couple bits of blackjack) found:




Hope this helps.


cheers
Leah
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K-Dizzle

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Re: wash
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2015, 02:50:14 PM »
Oh awesome! that is very helpful, and makes a lot of sense, I do know the gravel like layer you are referring too, I just had no idea that it was the 'wash' and to look there.

You are correct by the way, I was confused, I meant Black Spinel and have no idea where I got Zircon from.

Now I think I will have more luck when looking. I've been looking in the wrong places, I have always been looking above or below the 'wash' for some reason.

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Aussie Sapphire

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Re: wash
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2015, 02:50:20 PM »
This photo posted by Captain Mendoza a few years ago shows some typical finds in the New England with sapphire, blackjack and zircon making up most of the bulk:





Sometimes a layer of wash can be a bit tricky to identify but if it is gem-bearing, then it is wash - ie. an accumulation of gem bearing gravel. It may or may not be associated with a watercourse now so depth of the wash can vary quite a lot depending on the geology and age of when the gems were first laid down. Each area will look a little different - dont be afraid to ask a local or someone experienced with the area to show you more specifically what to look for - if they are prepared to share (big question - many are not), then it can help you  get on to the right track more quickly.


cheers and good luck
Leah


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K-Dizzle

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Re: wash
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2015, 02:56:36 PM »
Thank you :)

So my next question I guess would be that because all three of the rocks look so similar, Sapphire, Spinel and Zircon, how does one tell the difference?

I'm guessing the answer will be experience...
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Aussie Sapphire

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Re: wash
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2015, 03:13:50 PM »
In the first instance, just keep everything that looks interesting.  As a very rough guide (not to be taken too seriously), sapphires are blue, blackjack will be black and zircons will be a whole range of colours from clear to dark red.


You need a few tests to be sure of id but sapphire will be the hardest of the 3, zircon will be the heaviest (for its size) and softest of the three. They have a few other properties that are different and can be distinguished by the experienced eye.


But all will cut into good gems if of good quality.


Cut sapphire:



Cut Zircon:



Black Spinel:
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K-Dizzle

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Re: wash
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2015, 03:16:00 PM »
They all look so pretty, I am very sure that nothing I have found so far is anything of gem quality. But I would still be interested in finding out what it is.

Is there an identification help section on this forum?

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Aussie Sapphire

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Re: wash
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2015, 03:16:26 PM »
A typical range of colour in Australian zircon:



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Aussie Sapphire

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Re: wash
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2015, 03:19:02 PM »
Is there an identification help section on this forum?

It is effectively impossible to identify from a photo but a lot of members enjoy having a go so feel free to post some photos.  Just dont take the suggested id's as gospel - always get them checked by expert if it is important to you to be sure of the id.

You would be surprised at how many of these gems look pretty ordinary in the rough though so dont be too sure that you have nothing of interest.

cheers
Leah
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Findem

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Re: wash
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2015, 03:28:14 PM »
Hi K-Dizzle! In my experience (around Glen Innes) spinel is always black, zircon is pinkish verging on orange sometimes and most sapphires are blue, with yellow the next abundant, often a combination of both.
Check these videos of mine to see wash and some gemstones being found in it. https://youtu.be/gGDdfT4tjw0
and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1cZ6dZ_K-U

K-Dizzle

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Re: wash
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2015, 03:29:14 PM »
I'm thinking of joining the Illawarra Lapidary Club, so I can be 100% sure, and to learn more.

Its more for a guide, so I know if I am on the right track or not.

Where would be the best place to post the pictures?
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K-Dizzle

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Re: wash
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2015, 03:30:12 PM »
Wow thank you Findem, I'll have to have a look when I get home, I really enjoy watching videos from other Fossickers :)
Do or do not, there is no try <3

Aussie Sapphire

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Re: wash
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2015, 03:39:04 PM »
I'm thinking of joining the Illawarra Lapidary Club, so I can be 100% sure, and to learn more.

Its more for a guide, so I know if I am on the right track or not.

Where would be the best place to post the pictures?

Joining a club is excellent idea.  Can upload photos to the Gallery - instructions are here:
http://aussielapidaryforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=4671.0

Message me if you need help.

cheers
Leah

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