My name is Albert McBee. Many years ago, when I was in high school, I was a member of theMineral 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 and I live in some 2 1/2 hours away, I have yet to attend a meeting.
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 rareopals. 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.
Most of the stones I find are fist sized or smaller. The prettiest are the red stained agates containing the fossils of coral and sponges. Most of these are small, near golfball size. They’re large enough to cut on a trimsaw and shape into cabs or freeforms for the tumbler.
The winter weather has kept me indoors a lot, going stir-crazy most of the time. I found a hobby that is rapidly becoming more than I had planned…
I started picking up interesting rocks down on the Illinois River… some looked like they were full of fossil shells and other stuff. The rock saw proved that they were agates and jaspers… containing the fossilized remains of coral and sponges that lived in the shallow warm seas that covered most of south-central
Silicon rich waters percolated through the fossil-containing limestone, depositing it’s dissolved silicon compounds and converting the soft limestone to agates, jaspers and opals.
Anyway, I began to cut the stones with my diamond bladed saw, shaping the small slabs and tumbling them to a high polish. I drilled holes in them with diamond drill bits and then created jewelry with it.
I also bought a bit of Australian opals on the internet, then made pendants with them, incorporating the opals in the design.
I currently have about 50 pieces on display for sale at MarVal Trout Camp here in Gore.
I do have a number of CZ rounds and colored faceted stones of various sizes and shapes available including aquamarine, topaz, onyx, sapphire and very small diamonds cut in Brilliant, Marquis, Emerald (square), Trillion, and pear shapes.