The most prestigious find is the rare, pink fluorite, but there is a wide variety of valuable crystals to be found in the immeasurable amount of granite in the Mont Blanc area. The search for the precious treasures can be difficult and dangerous. Those alpinists who go into the mountains to find the gems, are called crystal hunters.
A Long History
In Chamonix, France, at the foot of Mont Blanc, crystal hunting has a long history. In the 18th century, it were mainly farmers who were involved in collecting crystals. The demand for it, for decorating jewellery, chandeliers and other trinkets, was high. Later it were mostly mountain guides who were looking for crystals. These days, “picking” minerals is often a family tradition.
Code of Honor
To prevent excessive exploitation of the mountain, amateur crystal hunters in Chamonix are required to report to the town hall and sign the code of honor. It states that crystal hunting is allowed, but only in a traditional way, so without helicopters, machines or explosives. Moreover, the local crystal museum is responsible for preserving the most beautiful pieces discovered in the massif. That means that every crystal hunter first offers his finds for sale to the museum, only afterwards the minerals can be offered on the market.
Yearly Trade Fair
The Mineralogy Club of Chamonix was created in 1966 and once a year the club members exhibit their most special finds and sell some of their crystals during the Bourse des Cristalliers, the trade fair for crystal hunters. The exhibition takes place sometime in the fall, at the end of the crystal hunting season at the Majestic Congress Center in Chamonix and is truly worth a visit. Come see it before the Haute Route or Tour du Mont Blanc Alpenwild tour.