Maplewood Rock & Gem Club

Filed under: Club Rollcall (hello's) — Gary November 28, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

A big hello to the Maplewood Rock and Gem club in Edmonds WA.



Maplewood Rock & Gem Club fosters community spirit by encouraging the lapidary arts and and appreciating the earth sciences of geology, fossils, minerals, and gem stones. Members join together to enjoy each other’s company as we explore new avenues of learning through field trips, lectures, seminars, craft workshops, and special shows and events.  Maplewood welcomes adults, youth and junior members who actively contribute to the growth and liveliness of the group.

Contact us at:

Maplewood Rock and Gem Club welcomes new adult members for $20 per year, and $15 for juniors. Family memberships are $45.

Meetings are held once a month. Visitors are encouraged and heartily welcomed! We have several programs throughout the year as well.

Meetings start at 7:00 pm.
Board Meetings – 1st Thursday of each month
Regular meetings – 3rd Monday of each month

Very nice news letter- click here for PDF

-nice article on septarian nodules in above PDF:

…Septarian concretions or septarian nodules, are concretions containing angular cavities or cracks, which are called “septaria“. The word comes from the Latin word septum; “partition”, and refers to the cracks/separations in this kind of rock. There is an incorrect explanation that it comes from the Latin word for “seven”, septem, referring to the number of cracks that commonly occur. Cracks are highly variable in shape and volume, as well as the degree of shrinkage they indicate. Although it has commonly been assumed that concretions grew incrementally from the inside outwards, the fact that radially oriented cracks taper towards the margins of septarian concretions is taken as evidence that in these cases the periphery was stiffer while the inside was softer, presumably due to a gradient in the amount of cement precipitated.

The process that created the septaria, which characterize septarian concretions, remains a mystery. A number of mechanisms, i.e. the dehydration of clay-rich, gel-rich, or organic-rich cores; shrinkage of the concretion’s center; expansion of gases produced by the decay of organic matter; brittle fracturing or shrinkage of the concretion interior by either earthquakes or compaction; and others, have been proposed for the formation of septaria (Pratt 2001). At this time, it is uncertain, which, if any, of these and other proposed mechanisms is responsible for the formation of septaria in septarian concretions (McBride et al. 2003). Septaria usually contain crystals precipitated from circulating solutions, usually of calcite. Siderite or pyrite coatings are also occasionally observed on the wall of the cavities present in the septaria, giving rise respectively to a panoply of bright reddish and golden colors. Some septaria may also contain small calcite stalagtites and well-shaped millimetric pyrite single crystals….

Lapidary Artisan Specializing in Spectrolite

Filed under: rockhound jewelry — Gary November 27, 2010 @ 11:48 am

Gail  considers himself a lapidary “hobbyist”, although his spectrolite gems are as good as any we’ve ever seen… he gets exceptional rough and has a magic touch with the material. Some of Gail’s cabs were published along with our spectrolite jewelry in Renee Newman’s Exotic Gemstones Vol 1. He also cuts beautiful opal:)

…I’ve never met someone with so much knowledge on spectrolite ~ from the perspective of cutting, the history of the material, the differences between spectrolite versus labradorite, etc.

J. Dow

Gail O. Clark -

Gail is a great asset to the rockhound community.  Here is his story and works below.  Check out his link in the article to see if he is selling any right now-

Like the experience of so many other rockhounds I began with my wife and I carrying home attractive and sometimes unusual  rocks as we hiked the scenic mountains of Idaho. Though I had the usual introductory geology courses in university classes the information, while interesting and often fascinating, really wasn’t applicable to hands-on rockhounding.  But it helped to develop a greater interest in rocks and what might be done with them.

My initial introduction to this fascinating activity was a collecting trip to the Spencer, Idaho Opal Mines, about a three hour drive from my home. After using a spray bottle and small rock hammer to actually locate, identify and pick up some exquisitely colored opal from the bull dozed hillside, I decided then and there the family budget could likely stand the strain of buying a six-inch trim saw and an accompanying six-inch flat lap from the congenial owners of the Spencer Opal Mines. . Besides, I told my wife that if I ever produced anything of value, she would get first choice. Presently she has lots of pretty stones!

Over time, and during retirement, we joined the local rock club and took part in the club’s field trips.  We visited much of central and southern Utah as well as several locations in Idaho and Wyoming and found that the club members were about as nice and helpful to beginners than we could have ever imagined.  There truly is something special about rock people. Soon we had accumulations of dinosaur coprolite, petrified wood, fossil fish,  geodes, jasper and way too many other specimens to list here.

Little by little, I purchased additional equipment…lots of additional equipment ranging from a larger slab saw and tumblers up to  my prized Diamond Pacific Genie.  Learning  about the two large rock and gem shows in Denver, Colorado and Tucson Arizona, we decided that at least these two splendid shows had to be seen first hand.  We have attended both several times.  It’s great to leave the Rocky Mountain winter behind and spend some February time in sunny southern Arizona!

Opal continued to be my primary lapidary interest and I spent significant time and money cutting various types of Australian opal, Brazilian opal, Nevada opal, Mexican cantera opal, and even some delightful and costly man-created Gilson opal.  About eight years ago I “discovered” spectrolite, the brilliantly colored feldspar that is a cousin to common labradorite.  In doing research for an article for Rock & Gem, I found that true spectrolite’s origin is solely the mines in southeastern Finland.  Since that time the majority of my lapidary time has been spent with spectrolite, a superb and fascinating stone that I continue to work with.  I import all my rough material from Finland and order only the highest quality material the mines provide.  It’s costly but very rewarding to cut and polish.









In the latter part of 2008 a new opal discovery was made in the Welo region of northern Ethiopia.  I had previously worked with the older, well known chocolate colored southern Ethiopian opal that proved to be a exercise in futility as this brownish material was unstable, cracked for no apparent reason and was extremely disappointing.  But I decided to try the new Ethiopian Desert Crystal opal from the Welo region and I was immediately hooked by the beauty and unparalleled fire in this new Welo opal.  Since then I have been splitting my lapidary time between spectrolite and Welo opal and continue to enjoy both these unique and gorgeous treasures from the earth.

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Welo Opal

Once I was firmly involved with lapidary a friend told me that I’d soon have to start selling finished stones to, as he put it, “support your habit”. He was correct.  Selling huge numbers of stones is definitely not my all consuming purpose.  Instead, I sell a limited number of finished stones of spectrolite and Welo crystal opal on eBay under the name  gails_gems . To set up a Web site would probably detract from the personal pleasure and sense of accomplishment of lapidary as well as cutting into my lapidary time so I have chosen not to do this.  I do sell a sufficient number of high quality stones to pay for my lapidary interest and can do so at what I have been told are reasonable prices. A Google search on spectrolite and/or Welo crystal opal will lead you to my finished stones.  I typically list a few Welo opals and a few spectrolite stones each Sunday morning. Though I certainly do not consider myself an expert I’ll gladly try and answer any email questions about spectrolite and Welo opal.

For many years prior to retirement I was an active amateur astronomer, spending many late nights in the mountains away from city light pollution, observing the wonders of the sky.  I used to write articles for Astronomy magazine, as well as Sky & Telescope and other publications.  As a book reviewer I was sent the latest astronomy publications and kept up to date on this exciting field.  However, the mirrors of my telescopes no longer gather light from the ancient reaches of the universe; instead, they gather dust while much of my spare time now involves the intriguing world of rocks. Hard to say which is most exciting: rocks or the sky.  I am glad I have had experiences of both.

(Mr.) Gail O. Clark


Fire Agate

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens,Rare Gems,Rare Rocks!,Sent in Flickr photos — Gary November 11, 2010 @ 1:40 am

Wow, this picture was taken by Tom Shearer.  You can see more of his rock pics here:



Trona Blow Hole Crystals

Filed under: Coming Events,Video — Gary @ 1:33 am
Trona Blow Hole

Trona Blow Hole

On November 13th, Saturday, come to Zzyzx Gallery of Natural Science in Downtown
Los Angeles for a virtual recreation of the popular, but far away mineral dig,
the Trona Blow Hole!

Zzyzx Gallery will be dumping out over 50 gallons of unsearched crystals from
the blow hole dig. Everyone is invited to come into the gallery for free, pick
out a fair amount of crystals from the pile and receive an information sheet
about the minerals. 100% free.

Of course, while you are at the gallery you get to see all sorts of fine art
illustrating minerals, animals and all sorts of nature. In addition, our gem
carving exhibit will be on display and you’ll get to bring in any minerals you
have for free appraisal and identification.

Zzyzx Gallery of Natural Science, on the corner of 7th and main street in
downtown Los Angeles! Parking lots have specials for $5.00 daily parking and
you can visit us and enjoy the vibrant sections of downtown! If you haven’t
been downtown in a few years, the areas have really changed for the better. We
are home to Gallery Row, the Jewelry District, wonderful historic buildings, art
museums and the ultra inexpensive fashion district. Downtown Los Angeles is a
great place to spend a few idle hours any given Saturday!

The annual Trona California Gem Show features three digs, one of which is the Blow Hole dig. This is MY favorite dig! They have a truck that has a big tube that goes into the ground, they set off a charge and water and crystals spray everywhere! Well, this year the truck had tipped over. I filmed some footage of the fallen truck with my friend Christy to add to my video field guide series. Just some random raw footage from the 2008 dig.

Southern California Rockhound

Filed under: regular postings — Gary November 10, 2010 @ 9:33 am

Just a hello to a fellow rockhounder in Southern California.  He seems to be very busy with all his rockhound activities but enjoying it none the less.  I found his blog while checking where my traffic was coming from (backlinks).  Thought I would give his blog some exposure since he is sending visitors my way.

A blurb from his blog…

I’ve also been busy with the three local rockhounding clubs thus far this year (Santa Lucia Rockhounds, SLO Gem & Mineral Club, and the Orcutt Mineral Society). of which I’m a member of each and a vice president in the former two.

Central Coast Rockhounding

My Central Coast Rockhounds Yahoo Group is thriving of late with lots of great content provided by a core group of contributors including your’s truly.

This activity seems to be a reflection of the renewed interest in the rockhounding hobby in Central California this year.

I have not made it out to rockhound this year which amazes and distresses me given this has been an El Nino rainy season with lots of runoff and wave action to promote erosion, a rockhound’s greatest friend.

I hope next week to get out and get after it so we’ll see.

There are many options: Ant Hill in Bakersfield, Templeton biconoids, Highway 46 West Summit biconoids, San Simeon State Beach, Villa Creek, Shell Creek fossils, Toro Creek/Hole-in-the Fence Beach, Montano de Oro State Beach, Cuesta Ridge, Salinas River, Adelaida-area mercury mines, Gaviota Coast, etcetera.

Read more here-

Rockhound Websites

Filed under: regular postings — Gary November 9, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

Interested in starting a rockhound related website?

You need a brandable domain name so everyone will remember it plus know what it’s exactely about just by reading the name.  These two are perfect for rockhounding and are for sale-

Contact for more details.


Filed under: Rare Gems — Gary November 8, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

Apatite is infrequently used as a gemstone. Transparent stones of clean color have been faceted, and chatoyant specimens have been cabochon cut. Chatoyant stones are known as cat’s-eye apatite, transparent green stones are known as asparagus stone, and blue stones have been called moroxite. Crystals of rutile may have grown in the crystal of apatite so when in the right light, the cut stone displays a cat’s eye effect. Major sources for gem apatite are Brazil, Burma, and Mexico. Other sources include Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the US.

Gemmy Green Apatite Crystals with Calcite on Matrix, Cerro de Mercado Mine, Durango Mexico

The name, ‘apatite’ comes from the Greek word ‘apate’, which means to cheat/deceive. It was called that because it can easily be confused with amblygonite, andalusite, brazilianite, peridot, precious beryl, sphene, topaz or tourmaline.

Rose Creek Mine

Filed under: Rockhound Travel,Video — Gary @ 10:06 pm
Rose Creek

Rose Creek

Operating since 1952, Rose Creek Mine is one of 3 state licensed gem mines in Macon County, North Carolina. Centrally located in Western North Carolina in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, we are near waterfalls, white-water rafting, AT Trail hiking, museums, antique shops, historic train rides and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

In our Gem Mine you can find Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet, Amethyst, Citrine, Moonstone, Topaz, Smoky Quartz, Rose Quartz, Quartz Crystals and more! All equipment is provided and we help beginners. You dig your own dirt in our mining tunnel and wash the dirt away in our covered flume. Mine rain or shine. Mining is a great field trip for church groups, scout troops, senior citizen groups and others. We have an educational program that will fit your needs. Scouts can work on their geology achievements and badges.

Rose Creek Mine Gift & Rock Shop. We have rubies, sapphires, garnets, emeralds and so much more. We also have special buckets, gem kits, lapidary supplies, jewelry, Opals and a world class collection of minerals. Last new miner accepted at 4pm. Dig your own dirt, first bucket free with admission. Help for beginners, equipment supplied, covered flume line, clean restrooms, covered picnic tables, snacks. Group rates available as is gem dirt to go. Five miles north of Franklin on Hwy 28, left on Bennett before river. 115 Terrace Ridge Dr. For mining info call 828-349-3774.

Click here for website

Rose Creek

Rose Creek

Gem Mining Rates

  • Major Miners (over 8): $6.00 each (includes 1 free bucket)
  • Minor Miners (8 & under): $4.00 each (includes 1 free bucket)
  • You dig your own bucket of dirt in the mining tunnel.
  • All refill buckets are $4.00

Special Mining

  • Super Buckets – $40.00
  • Mega Buckets – $75.00
  • Mini Buckets – $10.00 – $20.00 – you keep the bucket
  • Bags of Gem Dirt to Go – $3.00 ea. or 2/$5.00

What to Bring:

Bring ziploc bags or a plastic butter dish to take your stones home in (no glass). Rubber gloves are handy if it’s chilly or you have a nice manicure and a hat and some sunblock if it’s sunny although we have a covered “flume”.

The wooden benches can get hard as the day goes on so you might need a cushion to sit on or old towels work well too and you can use them to wipe your hands. Wear old clothes and tennis shoes or boots and bring a plastic bag to put your muddy shoes in and an extra pair to wear in the car. Bring a picnic lunch, we provide picnic tables to eat out of rain or sun, plan to spend the day! And you will need to bring the camera for those pictures to show friends you played in the mud in North Carolina and found beautiful gem stones.


Filed under: Rockhound Travel — Gary @ 9:56 pm
Ruby mine

Ruby mine

6771 Sylva Rd.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734

Located 4 miles north of Franklin at the foot of Cowee Mountain just off Highway 441,, Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine is open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. until “The Last Person Leaves”. Two covered flumes allow you to mine rain or shine. Mining instructions for the novice on premises. Free Admission. Refreshing picnic area by shade trees & running brook. Cold drinks and snacks are available in the gem shop. Buses, large or small groups welcome. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more. Gem dirt to go is available all year. Family owned and operated.
LOCATION: 6771 Sylva Road, 828-369-5271.

You can Find anything from Ruby, Sapphire, emeralds, Amethyst, Garnet, Topaz, Smokey and Rose Quartz and may more.  Native Buckets are available along with enriched buckets.  We also carry International Bucket, with stones from all around the world.



Salted Mine

Filed under: Rockhound Dictionary — Gary @ 9:39 pm

Salted is an interesting rockhound term. It’s used by fellow rockhounds to describe a mine company that “enriches” the earth around/in the mine with gems/minerals that may or may not be native to that mine. Some mine companies tout it as a good thing and if they are up front and honest about what they are doing then it’s alright I believe (so everyone can find a gem/mineral when they go hunting – they payed for it right???).
Although there are other mine companies that do it quietly and tell no one. Is this fair/ethical? You can decide for yourself I guess.