Graveyard Point Plume Agate

Filed under: Rare Rocks!,Rockhound Travel,Rockhound stories — Gary September 29, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

Philip has submitted an article to Rockhoundblog about Graveyard Point Plume Agate.

Grave Point Agate

It was a beautiful June rock hounding day in the Owyhees. Gene Stewart, his son, his son’s friend and I thought we’d go out to the Graveyard Point area and see what Gene Mueller, Jake Jacobitz and Thom Lane were digging up at Gene Mueller’s Regency Rose claim. Thom Lane was out in these parts for a few days before, spotting at the mine for Mueller. He came into town and stayed a few days at my house to get cleaned up and relax, before heading out with us. Gene Mueller is, of course, famous for his rock shop, The Gem Shop, in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. He is also a miner of various rocks, including Morrisonite, Laguna and Agua Nueva Mexican agates. Thom Lane is a well known dealer in the agate world and long time friend of Gene and Jake. Thom dug Morrisonite with Jake and Gene in the last years that the Christine Marie Morrisonite mine was producing. In later years, he dug Mexican agates for three years with Gene. Jake Jacobitz, best known for “Jake’s Place” Morrisonite Claim, and well known to all Northwest miners as, “Crazy Jake”. Diving out to the Graveyard point area is relatively easy in dry times, but all week it has been raining cats and dogs. This makes the dusty, powered-sugar, consistency roads, greasy slick. However, the past two days, the rain has stopped, just enough for the sun to dry up the roads a little bit.Jake Jacobitz driving his truck, heading to camp with a load of diesel.

Graveyard Point

Gene Muller's big Cat

Gene Stewart (Right) and Jake Jacobitz catching up

Gene Stewart (Right) and Jake Jacobitz catching up

Heading up the dirt road to the claim, we see Gene’s huge Cat sitting idle.  It’s large bucket, for gouging the hill for agate, empty. We get out of my Suburban and there to greet us is Jake. Gene Stewart and Jake go way back and two friends meeting after many years, always makes for a cheerful reunion. Gene and Jake share a few funny stories and catch up on who’s still around and who’s not.  This was my fist time meeting Jake, after years hearing some pretty wild stories about him and visualizing what he looks like. I was pleasantly surprised, that I was not too far off, as to what I expected. Very likable, easy to talk with, and very willing to share his insights, places he’s dug before and what’s still out there.  Jake has a slight accent, I can’t quite place…Minnesota? Wisconsin? I’ll have to ask Thom later about it. Kinda gives him a down to earth persona, a little more color to “the miner” character I envisioned.

Angel Wing

Heading over to the big pit and looking down into it, I see Gene Mueller digging in a large hole in the side of the pit, almost like a small cave. Gene stands in the hole surrounded by Angel Wing and veins of agate. Angel Wing is formed basically, like how stalactites form in a cave, by thousands of years of ground water seeping through, then dripping off the ceiling and walls, leaving minerals behind to accumulate. In this case, the cave is a large vug hole in the ground. The Angel Wing can be removed in plates, because the surrounding host rock is softer. Therefore, carefully using a chisel and hammer, the delicate plates can be extracted successfully.

Looking for pink plume agency rose

I jump down into the pit with Jake and we head over to the hole. I greet and shake hands with Gene Mueller. He begins to elaborate on what he’s doing, and how he’s going to get most of the Angel Wing and the gem plume out. Sitting on the edge of the hole, Jake and I inspect the seams Gene pecks out and throws up to us. Jake looks at one and says, “Hey, here’s some plumes,” and then gives the seam a long lick to wet it. I look at him and raise my eye brow. “Geez, Jake! Looks like you’re eating a damn ice cream cone. Is that how you test to see if it’s good plume or not, by how it tastes?” He laughs and says, “ya, don’t ya know that? I thought all you smart young fellers knew that”. After an hour or so of pulling out seams of agate and wing, Gene begins to dig again. This time on the other side of the pit, with his Big Cat excavator, looking for that elusive pink plume, he calls, “Regency Rose”.

Coming up out of the pit, Gene Stewart and I decide to go over to his old Graveyard Point Plume Agate claim, which he had back in the 70’s which is about 200 yards away. Walking up the road from Mueller’s camp, we detour off and then down along a path for about 100 yards.  We find a shallow hole, where the claim used to be, now filled in with silt from runoff. Gene stands on the top edge of what used to be a deep hole. I can see in Gene’s eyes, he’s deep in thought, probably bringing up some old memories of when he and Tom Caldwell dugs tons of plume out of that hole. Bringing him back, I ask, “Where was that old truck you where telling me about?” Gene told me a story of when he and Tom Caldwell were blasting one day. Seems Tom put a little too much powder in and blew a huge 100 pound seam straight up in the air.  It landed right on top of Gene’s truck cab roof. The roof was so caved in, that you had to lean out the window to drive! Gene still laughs about it. It was so funny at the time, that he decided to drive the truck home with the boulder still on the roof. Gene smiles and chuckles…“I tell ya.  I got a lot of funny looks and people laughing at us, all the way home!”
Heading back to camp, we see everyone sitting around the camper, under the canopy, taking it easy. For me, this is a great chance to prod stories out of these guys. I start with Thom. He tells me the detailed story of how he once owned the great Morrisonite collection that Gene Mueller is currently selling for the current anonymous owner. He went on to say that Betty Warrington was the original owner.   Then, Jake pipes up and tells some long tales, that I can’t really relate here to the whole world, but they are pretty, “thought provoking”. Well, it’s getting late and at the end of this mining day.  Only a few sacks of Regency were filled, in addition to several sacks of standard gem Graveyard-type plume. Gene Mueller said it was a good productive mining day.



Heading back to camp, we see everyone sitting around the camper, under the canopy, taking it easy. For me, this is a great chance to prod stories out of these guys. I start with Thom. He tells me the detailed story of how he once owned the great Morrisonite collection that Gene Mueller is currently selling for the current anonymous owner. He went on to say that Betty Warrington was the original owner.   Then, Jake pipes up and tells some long tales, that I can’t really relate here to the whole world, but they are pretty, “thought provoking”. Well, it’s getting late and at the end of this mining day.  Only a few sacks of Regency were filled, in addition to several sacks of standard gem Graveyard-type plume. Gene Mueller said it was a good productive mining day.

While heading back on the winding dirt road towards town, I see a huge mud hole filled with water right in the middle of the road.  It’s about double the size of my Suburban. The road veers around it, but I stop about 50 yards from it, looking straight ahead.  I start thinking. Everyone in the truck is talking and then realizes that I have stopped driving. Thom Lane is sitting in the passenger seat, looking back towards Gene Stewart, talking.  He then stops, looks around and asks me, “Are we stopping for something?” I look over at him and give him a devious smile…”Looks deep,” I say out loud. Then Gene Stewart says smiling, “Oh shit, don’t even think about it!” Then everyone catches on.  I say, “What would Jake do??”  Thom then says, “Ahh crap!”  I gun it! I hear wale’s and cheers, as we bounce up and down , side to side, on the rough road, heading towards the large water hole. It would have been a great classic scene in a movie…A bunch of old farts, bouncing up and down in a truck, laughing and screaming heading for a mud hole.  Plunging the truck fast into the hole, I feel that it is deep. A large fan of water on both sides, towers over the truck.  As the wheels start to spin, the speed keeps us going forward, up and out of the long, deep hole. Everyone is laughing and whooping it up like teenagers, as we drive down the road, leaving a cloud of dust far behind us…
Decades….decades past on.

On a porch, the old man sits in a chair rocking slowly…frail and purpled veined hands lightly grip the arm rests, as he rocks…The sun is setting… the old eyes glint in the reddish hue of last light…looking long and far out into the distant. He sees the shadowed mountains of the Owyhees…memories…memories of friends long gone…ghosts of voices in his mind…Someone is laughing… His leathery wrinkled face starts to glow and a faint smile folds the deep wrinkles around his eyes. A small hand touches the top of his hand…”Grandpa? What are you thinking about?” He looks down into bright eyes of a child. The old man hears a voice behind him, in the house…”Honey, what’s grandpa Phil doing?” “Oh”, the child says. “He’s thinking about digging up the Graveyard.”  “He’s what?!” The old man gives a light chuckle at the very young child’s response…He looks back at the mountains, which are now only outlines in front of billowy plumes of towering clouds  against the Sun’s faint light, in the new night sky…



FREE Rockhound Book!

Filed under: Free Books,Great Finds-specimens — Gary September 27, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

John D Marshall



While asking to do a bio on  John D. Marshall  he  kindly let me distribute FOR FREE his out of print/sold out book (The Other Lake Superior Agates) while we put something together!  The book- all 190 pages can be downloaded from the below link (it’s a PDF file which took 1 min to download).

The front and back covers and picture key are in jpg format below.  Enjoy and Thanks John for this special present!

Sounds like a promising idea. I’ve been a ‘hound since age 7…I’m 60 now. You might want to check out my book about Lake Superior Agates first. It was printed in three editions but is currently sold out. However, it’s available exactly as printed as a pdf. The covers of the book were done in “illustrator” software and so I supply them as jpgs.

You have my permission to post these jpgs and the pdf of the book on your site if you wish. The only condition being that it is for free distribution only.

Click on images below to enlarge


This is the cover of my book about Agates. The covers are not included in the pdf download available on my page and at several groups. Some have asked for the cover so I'm posting jpegs of the outer and inner sides.







Here’s the link to the pdf download- All 190 pages!!! :


Moose Lake Agate and Geological Center and Rock Dump

Filed under: Rockhound Travel,Rockhound stories,Video — Gary September 26, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

Be sure to stop in the Agate and Geological Interpretive Center when you visit Moose Lake State Park. The 4,500 square foot building, located at the entrance to the park, opened in 2003 and includes a multi-purpose classroom, nature store gift shop, park offices, a resource workroom, restrooms, and an exhibition hall that showcases Minnesota’s gemstone, the Lake Superior Agate. Interpretive displays focus on rocks, minerals and geology of Minnesota.


Memorial Day through Labor Day: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Office closed Wednesday and Sundays Oct-April. If you call ahead to the park, special arrangements may be made to make sure the building is open for your visit.

Year-round Camping

Camping is available at this park year-round! Self-registration information for camping is located on the park bulletin board/kiosk just past the front doorway to the park office/visitor center.


Best time to contact the park: September-April Office hours will vary, Park office phone message answering system out of order, Please call to talk to park staff as available. September office hours variable 9a.m.-3p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., seven days a week and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Office closed Wednesday and Sundays Oct-April


4252 County Road 137
Moose Lake, MN 55767

tel: 218-485-5420

Getting There

Located 1/4 miles east of I-35 at the Moose Lake exit #214. The park entrance is off County Road 137. Take the Moose Lake exit off I-35. Then go east on County Road 137 until you see the park signs about 1/2 mile down the road.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2010. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Web Site (online). Accessed 2010-9-26 at

Moose Lake Agate Days Rock Dump



Carlton County Gem and Mineral Club
and the Moose Lake Chamber of Commerce present…
Moose Lake Agate Days

Minnesota’s Moose Lake High School Gymnasium and Parking Lot

Agate Stampede  (Saturday only) (350 Pounds of Agates & $ 300.00 Dollars in quarters)
Sunday 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

And there you have it! A great days event! Moose Lake, Minnesota is the Agate capitol of the world. Stop by and check this one out! This event is usually held on the 3rd Saturday in July.

Other sites to check out……………………

Lake Superior agate

Filed under: Mineral of the day,Video — Gary @ 8:49 pm
Lake Superior agate -  R.Weller/Cochise College

Lake Superior agate - R.Weller/Cochise College

The Lake Superior agate is a type of agate stained by iron and found on the shores of Lake Superior. Its wide distribution and iron-rich bands of color reflect the gemstone’s geologic history in Minnesota. In 1969 the Lake Superior agate was designated by the Minnesota Legislature as the official state gemstone.

The Lake Superior agate was selected because the agate reflects many aspects of Minnesota. It was formed during lava eruptions that occurred in Minnesota about a billion years ago. The stone’s predominant red color comes from iron, a major Minnesota industrial mineral found extensively throughout the Iron Range region. Finally, the Lake Superior agate can be found in many regions of Minnesota as it was distributed by glacial movement across Minnesota 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.

Geologic history

More than a billion years ago, the North American continent began to split apart along plate boundaries. Molten magma upwelled into iron-rich lava flows throughout the Midcontinent Rift System, including what is now the Minnesota Iron Range region. These flows are now exposed along the north and south shores of Lake Superior. The tectonic forces that attempted to pull the continent apart, and which left behind the lava flows, also created the Superior trough, a depressed region that became the basin of Lake Superior.

Lake Superior agate

Lake Superior agate

The lava flows formed the conditions for creation of Lake Superior agates. As the lava solidified, water vapor and carbon dioxide trapped within the solidified flows formed a vesicular texture (literally millions of small bubbles). Later, groundwater transported ferric iron, silica, and other dissolved minerals passed through the trapped gas vesicles. These quartz-rich groundwater solutions deposited concentric bands of fine-grained quartz called chalcedony, or embedded agates.

Over the next billion years, erosion exposed a number of the quartz-filled, banded vesicles—agates—were freed by running water and chemical disintegration of the lavas, since these vesicles were now harder than the lava rocks that contained them. The vast majority, however, remained lodged in the lava flows until the next major geologic event that changed them and Minnesota.

During the ensuing ice ages a lobe of glacial ice, the Superior lobe, moved into Minnesota through the agate-filled Superior trough. The glacier picked up surface agates and transported them south. Its crushing action and cycle of freezing and thawing at its base also freed many agates from within the lava flows and transported them, too. The advancing glacier acted like an enormous rock tumbler, abrading, fracturing, and rough-polishing the agates.


The Lake Superior agate is noted for its rich red, orange, and yellow coloring. This color scheme is caused by the oxidation of iron. Iron leached from rocks provided the pigment that gives the gemstone its beautiful array of color. The concentration of iron and the amount of oxidation determine the color within or between an agate’s bands.

The gemstone comes in various sizes. The gas pockets in which the agates formed were primarily small, about 1 cm in diameter. A few Lake Superior agates have been found that are 22 cm in diameter with a mass exceeding 10 kilograms. Very large agates are extremely rare.

The most common type of Lake Superior agate is the fortification agate with its eye-catching banding patterns. Each band, when traced around an exposed pattern or “face,” connects with itself like the walls of a fort, hence the name fortification agate.

A common subtype of the fortification agate is the parallel-banded, onyx-fortification or water-level agate. Perfectly straight, parallel bands occur over all or part of these stones. The straight bands were produced by puddles of quartz-rich solutions that crystallized inside the gas pocket under very low fluid pressure. The parallel nature of the bands also indicates the agate’s position inside the lava flow.

Probably the most popular Lake Superior agate is also one of the rarest. The highly treasured eye agate has perfectly round bands or “eyes” dotting the surface of the stone.

Occasionally, collectors find a gemstone with an almost perfectly smooth natural surface. These rare agates are believed to have spent a long time tumbling back and forth in the waves along some long-vanished, wave-battered rocky beach. They are called, appropriately enough, “water-washed” agates.

Cutting and polishing

A gemstone can be used as a jewel when cut and polished. Only a fraction of the Lake Superior agate are of the quality needed for lapidary. Three lapidary techniques are used on Lake Superior agates:

  • Tumbling—Small gemstones are rotated in drums with progressively finer polishing grit for several days until they are smooth and reflective.
  • Saw-cut and polish—Stones up to 1/2 kg are cut with diamond saws into thin slabs, which then are cut into various shapes. One side of the shaped slab is polished producing fine jewelry pieces and collectible gems called cabochons.
  • Face polishing—Polishing a curved surface on a portion of the stone and leaving the major portion in its natural state is called face polishing.

Distribution of Lake Superior agate

One of the most appealing reasons for naming the Lake Superior agate as the Minnesota state gemstone is its general availability. Glacial activity spread agates throughout northeastern and central Minnesota, extreme northwestern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the United States and the area around Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.

Finding the gem

Typically the richly colored banding pattern is not well exposed and prospectors must look for other clues to the presence of agates.

The following characteristics are used to identify agates in the field.

  • Band planes along which the agate has broken are sometimes visible, giving the rock a peeled texture. It appears as though the bands were partially peeled off like a banana skin.
  • Iron-oxide staining is found on nearly all agates to some degree, and generally covers much of the rock. Such staining can be many different colors, but the most common are shades of rust-red and yellow.
  • Translucence is an optical feature produced by chalcedony quartz, the principal constituent of agates. The quartz allows light to penetrate, producing a glow. Sunny days are best for observing translucence.
  • A glossy, waxy appearance, especially on a chipped or broken surface, is another clue.
  • A pitted texture often covers the rock surface. The pits are the result of knobs or projections from an initial layer of softer mineral matter deposited on the wall of the cavity in which the agate formed. Later, when the quartz that formed the agate was deposited in the cavity, these projections left impressions on the exterior.

Thanks Wikipedia

Bornite – Peacock Ore / Peacock Copper

Filed under: Mineral of the day,Reader submissions- Rockhound stores,Video — Gary September 21, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

Bornite is a sulfide mineral with chemical composition Cu5FeS4 that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system.  Also called ‘the stone of happiness‘.

Peacock Ore

Peacock Ore


Bornite has a brown to copper-red color on fresh surfaces that tarnishes to various iridescent shades of blue to purple in places. Its striking iridescence gives it the nickname peacock copper or peacock ore. As this appearance can not always be naturally found, many sellers of peacock ore dip the mineral in acid to accentuate the colors.


Bornite is an important copper ore mineral and occurs widely in porphyry copper deposits along with the more common chalcopyrite. Chalcopyrite and bornite are both typically replaced by chalcocite and covellite in the supergene enrichment zone of copper deposits. Bornite is also found as disseminations in mafic igneous rocks, in contact metamorphic skarn deposits, in pegmatites and in sedimentary cupriferous shales. It is important as an ore for its copper content of about 63 percent by mass.


Bornite / Peacock Copper


It occurs globally in copper ores with notable crystal localities in Butte, Montana and at Bristol, Connecticut in the U. S. It is also collected from the Carn Brea mine, Illogan, and elsewhere in Cornwall, England. Large crystals are found from the Frossnitz Alps, eastern Tirol, Austria; the Mangula mine, Lomagundi district, Zimbabwe; from the N’ouva mine, Talate, Morocco and in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

History and etymology

It was first described in 1725 for an occurrence in the Krušné Hory Mountains (Erzgebirge), Karlovy Vary Region, Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic. It was named in 1845 for Austrian mineralogist Ignaz von Born (1742–1791).

Interesting Video about Bornite-

A reader submitted a question to me and this was the first thing that came to mind (Peacock Ore).  Anyone want to try and answer (story and question below)-

So I live in Utah and spend much time in the mountains and also work on a mountain range.
I came across an old miners bouillon. It looked out of place so I exposed the rest of it. The outside appeared to be shaped like a bowl ( I later found out it was a cauldron) so of course, ya keep it.
It sparked an interest, I had heard of stories of an old sheepherder from Spain that spent his summers there on the hill.
The man was rich back in Spain.
Sparked an interest….what was he doin in Utah herding sheep for 20 years.
So I was on a mission.
I came across a spot on the mountain with rock that was a rhyolite that I had not seen before, so I looked around. Turns out there is a vein of rhyolit that was inside some quartzite rocks that someone has been chipping and taking the vein, replacing the outcropping rocks with the rocks that were around the vein to make it look as if noone was there.
By the look of things someone had been doing this for some time.
I happened to grab some of this vein and it is beautiful multi colored and heavy as hell.
I need info on how to identify the already cooked bouillon that I found. Any help!!

Fire Agate Mining Adventure at Deer Creek Arizona

Submitted by Jessica Dow…

Please visit her website as well:

This year Mark and I added a bit more excitement to our annual trip to the Tucson gem show with a pre-show detour to the Deer Creek fire agate mine. The mine owner extended a personal invitation to the mine’s “Deer Creek Fire Agate Invitational” that we couldn’t pass up. We stayed at the mine overnight with one of America’s most experienced pio­neers of the gemstone industry, mine owner David Penney, his family, and his mining Partner, Sarah Heather Scholz.

Deer Creek mine owner Dave Penny and S. Heather Scholz

Deer Creek mine owner Dave Penny and S. Heather Scholz

We were able to rent the machine they call the “Gem-A-Nator” for an hourly rate. This is a thrilling experience! The Gem-A-Nator sorts and wets the rough before it comes down a belt where you can grab the chunks of rough fire agate. One of the professional miners will be scooping fresh material into the Gem-A-Nator using a backhoe. The miners take material straight from the best areas of the mine and pour it into the Gem-A-Nator. This is material that has not been touched or picked through, giving a rare chance at getting the best material the mine has to offer.

Mark on the Gem-A-Nator

Mark on the Gem-A-Nator

Sarah and Mark have great eyes for spotting the higher quality rough as it comes down the belt…they had the front spots on the Gem-A-Nator.

Sarah and Mark have great eyes for spotting the higher quality rough as it comes down the belt…they had the front spots on the Gem-A-Nator.

Dave Penny getting another scoop of rough for the Gem-A-Nator

Dave Penny getting another scoop of rough for the Gem-A-Nator

We also were able to explore the mine a bit with Dave and Sarah. We collected rough directly from the base of a small mountain with a wall of exposed fire agate nodules… some were loose enough to grab up and a few had to be removed from the rock with a small pick.

A couple of fire agate nodules Mark found at the base of a mountain at the Deer Creek mine

A couple of fire agate nodules Mark found at the base of a mountain at the Deer Creek mine

Mark could have stayed at the mine for days exploring and hunting for fire agate on the mountain.

Mark could have stayed at the mine for days exploring and hunting for fire agate on the mountain.

Dave Penny, Sarah, Wendell and Mark with a bucket of hand-picked fire agate.

Dave Penny, Sarah, Wendell and Mark with a bucket of hand-picked fire agate.

Our trip to the mine was the highlight of our trip to Arizona… it exceeded our expectations on many levels. We left the mine with over a hundred pounds of rough fire agate in various grades. We’ll easily be able to sell and profit from selling a small portion of our mine run. Our highest grade material will be carved into gems for our custom gold jewelry designs. We’re already planning for another trip to the mine next year!
These are a few examples of the exceptionally beautiful fire agate rough we got from our Gem-A-Nator run~


Fire agate

Fire Agate

Fire Agate

Dave Penny and S. Heather shared both their time and knowledge generously with us during our stay. We mined fire agate during the day and had very comfortable accommodations at night.
Were able to rent a fully equipped RV at the mine with internet access, a full size bed, a shower, refridgerator, coffee maker and more. Sarah also offers her delicious home-cooked meals… yummy! She had a small menu to choose from with steak, lamb, various seafood dishes and a vegetarian dinner as well. We had a great night while we were there….Dave built us a fire with wonderful smelling local mesquite wood and we sat comfortably under the stars while Sarah grilled our steaks. Sarah and Dave brewed us fresh coffee in the morning and fed us a huge breakfast to power us up for the day of mining. The mine is nestled in a remote location with a gorgeous view. I sat, drank my coffee and enjoyed the Arizona sunrise:)

I was a bit apprehensive about my ability to be comfortable during our trip to the mine… I am currently 7 months pregnant and thought the rough conditions would be difficult in my condition. They made me completely comfortable and I enjoyed every minute of my time at the mine. Dave and Sarah are very genuine, honest people…. I can’t say enough about how impressed we were with them on both a personal and professional level.

A very pregnant Jessica, Mark, Dave and S. Heather in front of the Gem-A-Nator This unique experience is being offered exclusively to professional jewelry and lapidary artisans.
Reservation time for this adventure is limited due to the personal attention given to each artist.
Normally many of the people who visit the mine are personally invited or are referred by friends/colleagues of the mine owner. This is a great opportunity to gem collectors, lapidary artisans and professional jewelers wanting top grade fire agate for jewelry designs! Space is limited and filling up fast… for serious inquiries about visiting the mine and rates for mining/accommodations write to Dave Penny and S. Heather Scholz at

Wendell Thatcher helping us during our time on the Gem-A-Nator

Wendell Thatcher helping us during our time on the Gem-A-Nator

We’d like to thank our friend Wendell Thatcher for personally referring us to the mine owner. Wendell is a dedicated and experienced rockhound and a very talented fire agate carver. Many of the hand carved fire agate gems in our personal collection were purchased through Wendell.

Fire agate jewelry by Jessica Dow and Mark Anderson of Different Seasons Jewelry and Lapidary.

Fire agate jewelry by Jessica Dow and Mark Anderson of Different Seasons Jewelry and Lapidary.

Fire agate pendant collaboration by Mark Anderson and Casey Swanson.

Fire agate pendant collaboration by Mark Anderson and Casey Swanson.

Washington State Jade Rendezvous

Filed under: regular postings — Gary September 17, 2010 @ 8:59 am
North Fork of the Stilliguamish

North Fork of the Stilliguamish

Ezekiel Hughes The Washington State Jade Rendezvous is being held this September the 17th-19th on the North Fork of the Stilliguamish. It is an informal gathering of the local jade community. It is being held on private property so it is invite only and RSVPing is required (“maybe” is OK) There is some camping space available and …individuals are encouraged to bring thier jades and “jades” rough or carved…or have their finds ID’ed. Folks may also set up a table or small booth if they wish to display thier collection or work…though this isn’t a commercial festival. There is no fee but you need to bring your own everything except firewood…that’s covered. The Squire Creek campgrounds are also available for overflow…or folks can just stop by and discuse jade for a few. One of the purposes of the gathering is to discuse the future of Washington State jade and gather resources for a future Washington State Jade Art Festival. To get on the RSVP list, individuals need to email me…I will then send you the directions and other details):
or contact me through Facebook:Ezekiel Hughes:
“Friend” me or request to join the RSVP Facebook: Group:

the Facebook page is also the place to make suggestions or offer to help. Currently we have about 60-75 showing up.

Gold Panning vacation – California

Filed under: regular postings — Gary September 16, 2010 @ 11:30 am

I was told about this fun family place to try your hand at gold panning.  I am going to check this out myself when I ever get down to California.

Visit Roaring Camp Mining Co.
in the California Mother Lode

Gold Panning California

Gold panning vacation

Roaring Camp is something special in the way of family recreation. It is an old goldmining camp on the Mokulmne River. In the past, it was accessibly only by horseback. Roaring Camp was once a camp for Forty Niners, but since it was so inaccessible, most of the gold still remains. Visitors can see our operating gold mine an can mine their own gold by panning, sluicing, dredging, and dry washing.

Panning - Don’t worry if you don’t own a gold pan yet. We carry our patented gold pan in our general store. It is the one featured at the top corner of this site (but you supply the gold!)

GOLD BEARING GRAVEL PILES This material is dug off bedrock and run through our screening plant removing the larger rocks (non-gold bearing material). We will supply a sluice box, water, settling pond and necessary equipment for your mining. Water will be supplied for approximately 3 hours per day (1 1/2 hours in the morning and 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon) and will take about 5 to 6 days to remove the gold from your operation. Piles are limited, advance reservations are recommended.

Gold panning

Gold panning pics

DREDGING - One dredge, 5″ maximum, or one equivelant piece of mining equipment per cabin is allowed. No limit on pans, sluice etc.

Everyone works together on the common operation and the gold found is divided equally between participants. Includes use of all mining equipment and the help from Roaring Camp’s Crew. Cost is $275 per person, plus cabin rent.


Rock Collecting: There are miles of unexplored canyon where you may find quartz crystals, jade, jasper, river rubies, arrowheads, etc.


Gold Map

Gold Map

Inquiries are always welcome!

Telephone: 209-296-4100


US Mail: PO Box 278, Pine Grove, CA 95665

Located just off Hwy 88 in Pine Grove.

Take Tabeau Road approximately 1/2 mile to Roaring Camp Office.

You are welcome to call for directions!




Empress of Uruguay-Worlds Largest Amethyst Geode

Filed under: regular postings — Gary September 15, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

The Empress of Uruguay – Frequently Asked Questions.

How much does it weigh?
2,500 kilograms, or 2.5 tonnes. That’s a lot more than a large family car and as heavy as TWO small cars! When The Empress arrived at The Crystal Caves in November 2007, two large cranes were needed to lift her into her current position.

How tall is it?
She is big! The Empress stands 327 centimetres or 3.27 metres tall. That’s nearly 11 feet in the ‘old money’.

What happened to the other half?
After being mined and brought to the surface (which took nearly three months) the front of this giant Geode was carefully removed in very small sections to reveal the beauty you now see. Those small pieces were all sold from the turntable display upstairs in the Amethyst room in the Fascinating Facets Gift Shop. Take a look when you visit, some may still be there!

Is it all real?
The Empress is very real. Because she is so perfect in every detail, some people doubt that such a thing could occur naturally and that she is in some way ‘man-made’ or enhanced in some way. Some even suggest that perhaps the Amethyst crystals have been hand made by jewellers and then put into place in the Geode! In fact there has been no polishing or enhancement of any kind and the Empress is totally natural. Apart from the removal of the front to expose the interior, smoothing of the rough exposed edge and a coat of black paint on the exterior back, she is exactly as nature made her, deep under the ground.

What about those crystals?
Each of the thousands of beautiful crystals were formed inside the Geode exactly as you see them now. They are unusual crystals because they are rated as “AA jewellery quality”, because of their deep purple colour, and their pristine condition. Keen observers will also note some large, beautiful white Calcite crystals that seem to be emerging from among the Amethyst. The geologists tell us that the calcite crystals were formed inside the Empress first, and then at some later period, the Amethyst crystals grew and ‘smothered’ most of the Calcite. Indeed, the visible Calcite crystals show signs of Amethyst growing on them, which would support this theory.

Empress of Uruguay

Empress of Uruguay

How did you get it here?

The Empress had a special crate constructed tightly around her, at the mine in Uruguay, and this was then secured in her own steel container and shipped out of Brazil to Brisbane. Following the 1600km road trip to us here, huge cranes were used to remove her from the container and to gently place here in her current position. The “Empress Room” was then built around her. A lot of work and expense, but all well worth it!
How much did it cost and how much is it worth?
We paid US$75,000 for the Empress in late 2007, and at least another $25,000 getting her here and set up as you see her now. We have since received substantial offers from people wanting to buy her. She is reputedly now valued at over A$250,000, but she is not for sale.

Why here?
Many people say they are surprised to see something so rare and “Special” in Atherton, rather than in Sydney, Paris or some other international city. When she was first found in that mine in Uruguay, she was first offered to our founder and still current owners, René and Nelleke Boissevain, because the Boissevains are long standing customers of this particular mine. René didn’t hesitate for very long before making the purchase. So the Empress is here because she is the most prized addition to the already impressive mineral collection belonging to our founders. René and Nelleke made Atherton their home back in the sixties, and so it is also the home of the collection, and of the Empress.

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The Art of Gembone: Fossil + Gem

Filed under: regular postings — Gary @ 9:51 pm

These macrophotography prints are perhaps the first gembone photographs to be featured in an art exhibit. Each photograph is a closeup of a polished section of dinosaur gembone ranging from one inch to six inches in diameter. The gembone pieces are wet with water and a brush prior to being photographed to enhance the color and contrast of the picture. The photos provide a connection to a special time in our earth’s history. In these colors and patterns, the magnificence of both the dinosaur and the incredible geological processes of our planet converge. It is amazing that such a rare natural wonder, created slowly over the course of 150 million years, can be appreciated artistically by human beings today.

August 23 at 9:00am – October 8 at 8:00pm

This is a gallery show with some of my macrophotography that will be running through October 8th. There is a reception on Sunday, September 19th from 2:00-4:00pm.

Scanlan Gallery, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, Austin, TX

6500 St. Stephen’s Drive
Austin, TX

Matt Hannon


Matt Hannon

“The Art of Jurassic Gembone: Nature’s Most Colorful Fossils” Features Photographs of Rare, Multicolored Dinosaur Bones

Austin, TX – September 2010 – “The Art of Jurassic Gembone: Nature’s Most Colorful Fossils” will be on display at the Nancy Wilson Scanlan Gallery from August 23 to October 8,2010. The exhibit, by artist Matt Hannon, will feature macrophotography prints of vibrantly colored dinosaur gembone from the Butler-Han…non Fossil Collection.

Hannon’s photography attempts to capture the unique patterns and colors of gembone, focusing on its artistic — rather than scientific — appeal. “The visual impact of these fossils is stunning,” says Hannon. “It’s hard to believe that they were created by nature’s own design over hundreds of millions of years.”

Gembone fossils are very rare. Unlike most dinosaur bones found today, gembones fossilized among gem-quality minerals, giving them vivid colors and patterns. They are primarily found in Colorado and Utah, but have on occasion been found in Texas as well.


Gembones have been described as the most rare and most beautiful fossils in the world... Simply defined, a gembone is the fossil of an animal bone that contains gem quality minerals. Gembone is also commonly referred to as mineralized dinosaur bone, silicified dinosaur bone and agatized fossil.

“The Art of Jurassic Gembone” presents a nexus of Art and Science. Art lovers will be drawn to the bold colors and patterns within the pieces, while science lovers will enjoy the opportunity to examine some of nature’s greatest treasures up close.

Matt Hannon is a digital media artist and filmmaker who lives in Austin, TX. “The Art of Jurassic Gembone: Nature’s Most Colorful Fossils” is the first showing of the gembone imagery captured for his upcoming documentary film “Gembone: Nature’s Most Beautiful Fossils.”

For more information, please contact Beatrice Baldwin, Scanlan Gallery curator at (512) 327-1213 ex. 135, or visit