RockHoundBlog

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.

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

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

gails_gems

Fire Agate Mining Adventure at Deer Creek Arizona

Submitted by Jessica Dow…

Please visit her website as well:

http://www.differentseasonsjewelry.com/

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_agate1

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 ep7@xmission.com.

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.

hello from an Oklahoma Mineral and Gem Society member

Filed under: Club Rollcall (hello's),regular postings,rockhound jewelry — Gary February 9, 2007 @ 12:08 am
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Hello Gary
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My name is Albert McBee. Many years ago, when I was in high school, I was a member of the Oklahoma Mineral and Gem Junior Society. Since then, the membership of that junior society dwindled away and ceased to exist due to attrition. Recently retired, I rejoined the Oklahoma Mineral and Gem Society through the internet. Since the OMGS meets in Oklahoma City and I live in Gore, Oklahoma some 2 1/2 hours away, I have yet to attend a meeting.
rose_rockBarite Rose Rock, Official State Rock of Oklahoma
My location is ideal for rockhounding along the alluvial plain and river bottom of the pristine clear Illinois River just two miles away from my front door. The thick gravel beds are full of agates and jaspers as well as a few plain opals that contan very little fire. The opals are very rare, and seem to be of the same texture as the rare Louisiana opals. I have only found three small opals, but I keep looking for more. The characterless opals are unusual, but virtually useless for jewelry due to their dark color. They do polish well, but i much prefer the agates and jaspers from the gravels.