Gemstone Buying Guide and Exotic Gems

Filed under: interviews(new) — Gary December 5, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

Very informative books for rockhounds. Check out her site!

Where do you get your information?

  • From hands-on experience with the gems in the US and abroad.
  • Directly from dealers and jewelers who specialize in whatever I’m discussing. For example, I’ll interview several opal dealers if I’m writing about opals and I’ll have some of them check the accuracy of my sections on opals.
  • From appraisers and gem laboratories. I also have them check what I write.
  • From gem and jewelry seminars geared to the trade. Even though I graduated from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), I must keep abreast of new developments, sources and treatments.
  • From consumers and hobbyists. Sometimes they know more than “experts.”
  • From gem shows. This is one of the best ways to learn about gem pricing and availability.

Where do you get your photos?

I’ve taken many of the photos myself (those with no photo credits). The others I get from designers, jewelers, photographers and gem dealers. They get free publicity by having their name mentioned and I get free usage of the photos. There is no paid advertising in my books.


Gem and Jewelry Books

My name is Renée Newman. Gary asked me to do a blurb about myself and my gem books.
I became interested in gems while directing tours to Asia, South America and the South Pacific. Most of the time my tour groups stayed in plush hotels, and our “rockhounding” was limited to visiting jewelry factories and pearl farms. One exception was a stay in some huts along the Amazon River, where we were able to collect stones and plant materials, which the natives used for beads and other ornaments. One of the promised highlights was a visit to an Indian village, where we could see them dance, and then purchase the crafts that they made. The Indians were dressed in typical native garb and wore hats with feathers. As our bus was driving off after the visit to the village, one of the passengers motioned for us to look back. There we could see villagers taking off their Indian clothes and replacing them with jeans and western shirts and blouses. We all had a good laugh.
My passengers had lots of questions about the gems they saw, and in order to answer them, I decided to take some gemology courses at the Gemological Institute of America. I liked the classes so well that I decided to complete my gemological training at the GIA.
Afterwards, I got a job at a firm in downtown Los Angeles as a gemologist and jewelry quality control manager. However, it was always in the back of my mind to write books that would help consumers make wise decisions about the jewelry and stones they purchased. My first book was the Diamond Ring Buying Guide. It was well-received and readers asked me to branch out and do books on colored gems. Eventually I became a full-time author.
My books are available at major bookstores, jewelry supply stores and gemmological organizations and schools. The books most geared to rockhounds are the Gemstone Buying Guide and my Exotic Gems Series, which goes into more depth on lesser known stones, such as members of the feldspar family. Volume 1 includes rhodochrosite, sunstone and spectrolite jewelry by Mark Anderson and Jessica Dow from Different Seasons Jewelry

Different Seasons Sunstone Carving by Martha Borzoni

Different Seasons Sunstone Carving by Martha Borzoni

spectrolite pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

Spectrolite pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

Amazonite from Different Seasons Jewelry photo by Jessica Dow

Amazonite from Different Seasons Jewelry photo by Jessica Dow

. Amazonite, a green to greenish blue variety of microcline feldspar is also discussed. I didn’t see any of this feldspar when I visited the Amazon, although the name “amazonite” may originate from its resemblance to the color of the Amazon river or the green stones that Amazon natives wore when early German naturalists visited the area. Most Brazilian amazonite is found in the state of Minas Gerais, where crystals more than a meter high have been reported. Pikes Peak, Colorado is the best known source of amazonite in the U.S. Two slabs of Russian amazonite are shown in the fourth photo by Jessica Dow.
A new second volume of Exotic Gems will be available this coming February. It will include alexandrite, cat’s-eye chrysoberyl, dinobone, kyanite, andalusite, sillimanite, common opal, fire opal, tsavorite, demantoid, rhodolite, spessartine, almandine and other garnets. You can learn more about me and my books at

pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow

Pendant by Mark Anderson photo by Jessica Dow – rockhounding for kids of all ages!

Filed under: interviews(new),regular postings — Gary March 31, 2007 @ 10:57 pm
Was started in December 2003 by Jessica Chekal and her mother, Sherri Chekal. Jessy now maintains the site herself, since she’s learning how to use web designing software in her studies.
Jessy is a homeschooled kid who began a normal unit study in rocks and minerals in her Earth Science class and just really got bit badly with the rockhounding bug.
She went to a Rock and Mineral show with her family and was given $10 to buy a few specimens. By the time she had left the show, she was hooked.

Jason Hinkle on Amethyst, Carnelian, Plume and Moss Thundereggs & Bio

Filed under: interviews(new),regular postings — Gary January 28, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

opal_agate rock_pic

…If you share the same interest or just want to talk rock,feel free to email me and I’m more than happy to chat. Or if you happen to travel through my part of Oregon, be sure to swing in and say Hello…

The story of a growing addiction
Since the time I could walk I can remember my parents taking me into
the woods camping, fishing and our favorite hobby was collecting shed
antlers. Just like many young kids, I can remember picking up rocks while on
my adventures into the woods. Agates, Jaspers, Petrified Woods, Arrowheads
and more all made it home in my pocket. It wasn’t until the early 1990′s
when I was still in Middle School at the age of 12 or 13 I took a unusual
interest in Gold Prospecting. I worked on a farm and used my pay
checks to buy gold pans, vials, and eventually I saved enough to buy a
sluice box and metal detector. Rather than our normal shed antler collecting
grounds, we found ourselves traveling from the Pacific Ocean at Sixes River
to the east side of Oregon in the Sumpter / Granite area chasing the elusive Gold.
No matter where I went chasing gold, there was always a “cool rock” to be found
and stuffed in my pocket. As time moved along and my gold vials never really
seemed to fill up, I kept acquiring a high interest in Rocks, Gems, and
Minerals and slowly kept bringing home more of these treasures to sort,
clean and pile anywhere I had a empty void.After a year or so of collecting I made a visit to a second hand/antique
store here in my local town and made my first discovery of a stone
called The Thunderegg. I made several visits to this place until I purchased
every last Thunderegg in the wooden box where they rested. These
Thundereggs were already cut to expose the amazing variety of agate
interiors they held and is the start of a personal addiction, and the origin
of my now box upon box full of cut and polished Thundereggs.It was shortly after I caught the rockhound bug I was introduced to a
relative of mine who has been rockhounding for years. During hours
of visits I made to his home I started to learn the steps on how the rock
became the polished jewels you see in every rockshop.

UK mineral dealer interview- Rockhound

Filed under: interviews(new),regular postings — Gary January 18, 2007 @ 11:40 am

I met Sara while looking into Ethiopian opals and she had such a nice write up on her site I asked if I could post her article on my blog (above) and do an interview with her.  This is Sara:

black_opal_australianBlack Opal from Australia

Hello. My name is Sara Giller and I live in England. I have a website called Crystal Vine which has had a presence on the web for the last 10 years. I now work full time as a mineral dealer but my life began as a teacher.


I got my degree in Education back in 1984 and started work teaching mathematics mostly to children with special needs. The last 9 years of my teaching degree I worked for a Support Service helping children with emotional and behavioural problems.

I used to collect fossils and pyrites as a child on the Cornish beaches when we went on holidays but my interest got re-kindled when I went on holiday to Israel and came by a mineral shop with large slices of unusual agates. I became hooked.


Roger Weller, Geology Instructor- Cochise College. Interview and Site History.

Filed under: interviews(new),regular postings — Gary January 13, 2007 @ 8:23 pm


Pictures: R.Weller/Cochise College.

I was able to interview Roger Weller, an excellent source of mineral knowledge I must say! One of the great things he is doing that I must point out is he is getting his students to put their term papers on the net so anyone can learn, here is what he said-

” It always bothered me that student term papers were tossed away after they were graded. This is a terrible waste of human effort. By having students create geology web pages in place of term papers, they can share their discoveries and efforts with the rest of the world.”

About his site:

There are several reasons why I started my geology website:
1. I have a large collection of Bisbee minerals and I wanted to share it with others.
2. I disliked the high price of geology textbooks and the fact that they are changing every 18 months, so the students couldn’t resell them.