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.
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.
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