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Norwegian beryls

Aquamarines, chrysoberyls, rarely also dark violet fluorites.

Map with the surroundings of Evje with marked sites Evje is a small town spread out on the banks of the river Otra. A farm and than nothing, a house, more forest - route number 9 is like this for several kilometres. Than you arrive at a gas station and a kind of shopping centre with a few stores. They have a wonderful old-style hotel here. The important thing for us is that there are several hundred pegmatite quarries near Evje! One cannot even imagine such a thing, until one sees it. They're not actually quarries or fractures, except for a few they are mostly pits and holes, often dug up only a few meters deep. Digs were made wherever the pegmatite lode surfaced to the top. The Germans wanted beryllium and here beryls are truly plentiful. But there is a significant amount of other minerals here besides common beryl, attracting collectors from all over the world.

Aquamarines, chrysoberyls, rarely also dark violet fluorites. The pegmatite cavities often contain quartz crystals of dozens of varieties. From sheer crystals through citrine to various colour shades of non-sheer crystals. From among other treats: bertrandite, columbite, thortveitite, monazite, apatite and more than 60 other types of minerals.

Cleavendlite from site number one. Specimen 10x12 cm, photo by Milan ŠustaWe found great accommodation - a cabin at the riverside camp site. We can hardly wait until morning, ruminating about what we are going to find, where we will go, what quarry, what equipment to take, long into the night. I can't even remember how and when I fell asleep.

Unfortunately the morning is soggy, a bit of rain here, snowflakes there. We take all our equipment and drive to the local mineralogical centre, called EVJE MINERALSTI in Norwegian. It's about five kilometres from the camp, just turn off from the main road and two bends later you are all alone with no trace of civilization. No houses, no people, just endless rolling land with dense forests and shrubbery. We follow the arrows, pass two small hills and a large wooden house with a porch appears ahead of us. There are five sturdy wood tables with benches, a sign saying "Mineralsti" and it's closed. According to the booklet it is possible to obtain a permit and ticket to collect minerals at seven sites here.

Quartz druse from site number one - crystals up to eight cm, photo by Milan Šusta We decided to wait and make some coffee. About thirty metres to the left we can see a deep stone mortice with unmistakable signs of collectors' activities - I shall call it site number one. Right in front of us is a pile of pegmatite boulders. We don't want to go to the quarries without a permit, but this pile is simply too inviting. Our expectations are immediately strengthened by finds of amazonite, cleavelandite, some boulders have small cavities with crystals of violet fluorite. Fragments of quartz crystals are interspersed all around. We pick up a few. They are up to ten centimetres large and some even double-sided. But their faces are covered by ugly grey-green chlorite deposits. Hopefully they can be cleaned.

A car motor can be heard, a van arrives and with it the caretaker. Inside the house there is a cash register, coffee machine, lots of booklets and a small shop selling local minerals. We look everything over thoroughly and buy some specimens too. We paid for tickets for three days and got a site map with some good tips. Finally we can begin!

We rush to the nearest quarry. It's a crevice about twenty-five metres wide, fifty metres long. Its walls are at least ten metres tall and most of the bottom is covered by a lake of melted snow. In the left wall we can see some breaks, signalling possible cavities, i.e. crystals. Tiny cubes of pyrites are projecting from it along with fluorite cavities and radial discs of blue-green cleavelandite foils.

We get our chisels ready and set to joyful work. The caretaker arrives to start the motor pump, the lake at the bottom of the quarry slowly drains. Two hours later: Dalibor extracted pretty large specimen of fluorite from a large boulder, I have samples of pyrite with cubes up to one centimetre and several cleavelandite specimen. Occasionally we put a specimen of graphic granite or amazonite aside. So far we haven't caught the slightest glimpse of beryls.

Inter-grown quartz crystals. Site number one. Crystals 5 cm, photo by Milan ŠustaOnly a puddle remains of the lake on the quarry's bottom. We are going down to look where the quarry is ended by a wide cave entrance. On our way we notice there are dozens of perfectly depleted cavities on the high walls of the quarry. Some are quite substantial in size and with access so difficult; nobody could get there without mountain climbing gear. They all mark sites where quartz crystals were mined.

We enter the cave. The floor is covered by almost half a metre of ice, the ceiling is about nine metres high and full of crevices and dangerous-looking blocks of pegmatite. Just about to drop. It is the work of water and frost and also the extraordinary industry of collectors. Many cavities are picked absolutely clean. We explore some of them more closely, they are more than a meter deep and our fingertips feel residues of crystals, but also smaller whole crystals. We don't have a light, but we pick some specimen by mere touch. Finally there's blood oozing from our cut up fingers. Than I notice that there are dark spots in the ice crust on the cave floor. Its fragments and blocks of rock from the ceiling. When I take them out of the ice carefully I find most of them are pieces of cavities with very pretty crystals - at least something.

Evening slowly sets on. We have plenty of material, but the quality is poor. Not a trace of beryls! Tomorrow we will go to sites number two and five. They are about eight-hundred metres off, but the beryls have to be there for sure!

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