Hawaii In A Bottle

Self collecting is great but most of us can’t go around the world to chase specimens or go back in time to get them. Case in point is this old stock Hawaiian sand from Geological Specimen Supply, mentioned in my last post.

This sand is over twenty years old, predating the ban on removing sand from the Islands.  This specimen comes with great labeling, a summary of the fuller descriptions RC provides on his site. Did you know that Waikiki’s beaches actually came from Long Beach, California? Read on and then take a look at what I am seeing under my scope.

“Sand is derived from whatever material is locally available. Beaches are uncommon on the seacliff-ringed Island of Hawaii. Occasional small coves have sand derived primarily from basalt unless there is a coral reef offshore. This sand was collected from a small cove near South Point, Hawaii, where a local concentration of cobbles of basalt and coral was the source material for this sand. The sand is primarily coral and basalt, giving it a salt and pepper look, with occasional small shell fragments adding variety to the mix.”

“Hawaii’s white sand beaches at Waikiki were initially an import, from California. In the 1920s and 1930s sand was barged from Long Beach, though the import of California sand was abandoned in the 1970s and the beach is now maintained with locally dredges sand composed of coral and shell fragments. A locally famous black sand beach occupies a cove southwest of Hilo, where the sand is entirely basalt. At Mahana Bay, near South Point, the greenish sand is composed of grains of olivine that weather out of the basalt.”

“Set of five tubes, 16 ml each, optically clear polystyrene with screw caps. The plastic tubes are practical in a classroom and are somewhat student resistant, though a cap can be unscrewed. Good for student examination. When this sand is gone, it’s gone. A recent law prohibits removal of sand from Hawaii’s beaches.”



The focus of our attention.

Here are images just taken under my microscope. These are single focus shots, so the foreground and background focus aren’t the same. Really good photographers take a number of shots at different focal points and then have software combine them to produce a perfectly focused imaged. I’m trying to learn to do that.



White material is probably coral, dark material basalt, and the green is olivine or peridot. Shell fragments, too. Olivine is thrown out from deep within the earth during volcanic eruptions, mixed up with basalt at the same time. Basalt pieces can make up a black sand beach, the lighter peridot may weather out of the basalt and collect together, producing a rare green sand beach.



Closeup of a peridot or olivine grain, exhibiting poor conchoidal fracturing.



A shell, sharpened in Photoshop.



Unsharpened and from a different angle. Any difference?



Another shell, this one red.



Basalt with olivine from the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. This is what tribal member Stevie Joey mines on his peridot claims. His site is Peridot Dreams and you can learn all about gem grade peridot there. He is receptive to inquiries about touring his claim.



Specimen tube. Buy several to trade.

How Diamonds are Made And Free Gemology Courses

Paul Gian writes,

Hey Thomas,

I was searching for information on rocks and minerals today when I came across your blog: https://thomasfarleyblog.com

I liked your rockhounding related articles and also noticed you are currently working on a new book. Anyway, I happened to have two resources that might make good additional resources for your readers!

The first one is a list of free gemology courses and resources which I have compiled a couple of years ago: https://beyond4cs.com/free-gemology-courses-and-resources/

The other is more recently created, an animated infographic on how diamonds are formed and created.

Check it out here: https://beyond4cs.com/how-are-diamonds-made-and-formed/

Either way, would love to hear what you think about them! 😀

Cheers,

Paul Gian

NB: Check out more article links below the infographics:

how diamonds are made and formed

Credits: Beyond4cs.com

32 Green Gemstones (How Many Do You Know?) from the IGS

The International Gem Society has produced another outstanding article with great writing and photographs. I’ve clipped just a little to give you a hint. The IGS is to be congratulated for producing such high quality work:

https://www.gemsociety.org/article/green-gemstones/

—-

 

SUMMARY

Since ancient times, emerald has been synonymous with “green.” However, there are so many more green gems, giving you plenty of alternatives to the classic emerald. Learn how to assess color and quality in green gemstones and which gems are best for everyday wear in an engagement ring.

READING TIME: 19 MIN

tsavorite ring

This ring features a favorite stone among jewelers and collectors, the green garnet tsavorite. © Kat Florence. Used with permission.

 

——

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An Apology Regarding My Book

As a professional writer I am embarrassed to write this. I do not give excuses about my work. I communicate and cooperate with my editors, I beat word count, and I always meet my deadlines. Always. I keep my word.

However.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the release date for my book is now September, 2020. I apologize to everyone to whom I promised a release date of early 2020.

In the upcoming months, please send me any updates on your mine, claim, business, or activity. I’ll incorporate these changes into upcoming revisions with my editor.

Again, I apologize for this major change that was only revealed to me today, weeks after I submitted my MS before deadline and under word count.

I could not have anticipated this and I regret that the good publicity that could have come to you sooner will now be more than a year away.

——

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Rockchuck Gem & Mineral Gallery in Schurz, Nevada

I had a happy time recently visiting the Keadys at their rock shop in Schurz, Nevada, a tiny town 34 miles north of Hawthorne Nevada. Only 90 miles south of Reno. Their store is at the intersection of South Highway 95 (Alternative) and US-95 itself. See the map below. Schurz is quite close to Walker Lake.

Rockchuck Gem & Mineral Gallery

4045 S. Highway 95
Schurz, Nevada

(760) 978-4567

https://rockchucknevada.com

Chelsea and John Keady are miners, lapidary artists, rockhounds, and all-around good people.  Bryan Smalley affectionately refers to them as “The Kids.” These young people represent others like them who signal a bright future for the rock and gem trade.

 

They built their store themselves and everything that goes in it. They sell material they have either personally sourced or dug themselves. That includes Green Mist variscite and this Hellsfire agate. They carry many local rocks and gem material and fashion much of that into jewelry. John and Kelsea sell ready-made jewelry at the shop and they are always ready to do commission work.

 

A store highlight is a huge crystal they recently installed.

 

The Keady’s are now keeping the store open more often. Call first, though, to make sure they are there, and not off on one of their claims. If you can’t visit them at the shop, you might catch them at Quartzsite in January. They try to get there each year.

This store is a memorable stop on any drive from Las Vegas to Reno, or on any travel through central Nevada. Rockchuck is big on Facebook so check them out there if you want to keep up with all their latest happenings.

https://www.facebook.com/therockchuck/

 

The store is right on the Highway. They’ve put up new roadsigns. And you can get fireworks nearby after you’ve loaded up with rocks.

 

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Bryan Smalley and Hidden Treasure Trading Company in Goldfield, Nevada

I visited Goldfield, Nevada twice this past week, stopping in each time to check on Bryan Smalley’s Hidden Treasure Trading Company. Byran continues to do fine things in Goldfield.

Bryan runs one of the Southwest’s most interesting rock and gift shops. His rock shop complex encompasses three buildings; don’t leave until you look into all three. Bryan carries jewelry, much of it local, much made by himself, maps, books, cabs and slabs, and some rough.

Check out this wonderful jasper he is now cutting. He has hundreds of pounds more.

Hidden Treasures Trading Company
489 Bellevue Avenue
P.O. Box 512
Goldfield, NV 89013
775-485-3761
775-485-3485

Bryan is expert on local rockhounding and accomplished at lapidary. He does knapping and can talk authoritatively on making flintlock strikers from locally collected chalcedony. Need advice on polishing? He has it.

Ask locals where Bryan is if you can’t find him. Try the Dinky Diner. Goldfield citizens won’t mind you asking, in fact, they are very friendly. You should give a wave to people as you drive by. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find his shops at first. Drive around. You’ll enjoy your time.

Bryan has a minimal web presence but he is busy with real life, finding rocks, cutting rocks, and making jewelry. When investigating the nearby Gemfield Gem claims, make plans to see him. Well worth the effort.

bsmalleyhiddentreasure@gmail.com

Yes, he made that door himself. And the shop.

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Keep That Spray Bottle Handy!

Found this crazy looking piece on or near the east border of Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, where limited, non-commercial collecting is allowed. In response to the photos I posted to Facebook, Joel Coombs on The Rockhound Connection responded, “I believe that rock is slightly metamorphosed limestone. I have found smaller pieces with the same colors. Put a drop of pool acid on it. If it effervesces it is limestone.” I did put some acid on the back of the rock and it did indeed fizzle. This all agrees with Jim Boone’s identification of plain looking limestone in the same location.

I found it on the side of the road, a dusty and dirty rock but one showing interesting markings. My spray bottle revealed what I thought might be great material for a cab or a slab. (If I wanted to do that since I rarely get around to lapidary.) A friend pointed out, though, that the red areas were rusty splotches, possibly iron or hematite related and that being soft would not easily cab up. Something like Superglue might be applied to those areas, then the whole piece sanded later on.

I decided to keep it as it was. A former rock shop owner suggested clear glossy spray lacquer which could always be sanded off later. The first picture is of the rock wet, the second is after three coats of spray, now dry. The third picture is of the untreated back. Given the ease of effort, I think the spray worked out well for this particular rock.

How did I find it? I was volunteering on Tuesday to help fill in potholes on Gold Butte Road, the somewhat paved road that provides the main access to the Monument. Right now, under the direction of The Friends of Gold Butte, many volunteers are helping out on this multi-day project. Clark County and BLM are also supplying workers and cold patch. I found the the rock on a break. But I had my spray bottle nearby. https://www.meetup.com/Friends-of-Gold-Butte/

Bill Depue, Founder and President of Diamond Pacific Tool

Today I had the great privilege of meeting Bill Depue, Founder and President of Diamond Pacific Tool in Barstow, California. He founded Diamond Pacific in 1973 and they have been in continuous operation ever since. In good times and bad, under Bill’s management, they have never missed a payroll. Anyone who has run a business can appreciate and perhaps be in awe of that five decade accomplishment.
 
Running late on time while traveling back to Las Vegas, I called Diamond Pacific to see when their gift and rock closed. I wanted to take photographs for my book. The woman on the phone said that it should be open until four and that they would see me when I got there. I told her I was an hour away and at at 3:30 PM I arrived. The parking lot suggested most of the employees had gone home.
I introduced myself to the man at the counter but he didn’t tell me who he was or what he did for Diamond Pacific. By his age, he said he was in his nineties, I assumed that he might be a retired employee or possibly a volunteer from a local rock club. I started peppering him with my usual questions for rockhounds, about when he started collecting, collecting areas that he liked and so on.
He said his favorite rock gem, or mineral was agate, and that one reason was because so many nice specimens came from the Mojave Desert. He enjoyed making cabs, and he never used a template. As he talked, however, he seemed to be extremely knowledgeable about Diamond Pacific and offered to show me the factory, a tremendous opportunity.
 
After several photographs, I determined him to be a long term employee. I asked when he started working for the company. “Well, I started it in 1973 . . . “ Started it? Yikes! Who was I talking to? I asked him his name and he identified himself, being more modest than anyone should be capable of. He said that Diamond Pacific now sells lapidary equipment in over fifty countries.
Anyone who has worked a cab knows Diamond Pacific. Now, I know The Man.

Greetings From Plymouth, California

A few days ago I had to leave Las Vegas on an emergency trip to help out some friends. The couple I know owns a hundred acre horse ranch in Amador County, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Their spread is near Plymouth. The heart of California’s Mother Lode Gold country.

When this husband and wife first bought their property I came out with my gold detector. I was delighted to find broken quartz everywhere. Most displayed iron staining and many contained vugs or cavities.

Alas, only a small speck or two of gold was found in a shallow ditch running through the acreage. The nearby creek had been dredged for gold but my friends didn’t own any of that stream. Nor did they own property containing any tailings.

Never-the-less, the many small pieces present might be useful one day for tumbling, as their dark vein patterns contrast nicely with the quartz matrix or host rock. Even if you can’t find gold, you can often find something else.

Iron staining and vugs are signs of mineralization and activity within a rock. Something has acted on the stone. Most quartz is barren, white colored with no character. Sometimes called bull quartz. You look for character when you look for gold. Decomposition or crumbling quartz is another sign to watch for.

Having said all this, the finest gold in quartz I have found displays no other minerals save a scattering of the gold itself. My specimens are milky to near pure white with only gold showing in the matrix.

The lesson is that if you have the time, detect all quartz, even that which looks sterile. If you don’t have the time, limit your search to quartz that shows mineralization or the effects of forces which have altered the rock.


 

The quartz on the left shows iron staining, the material on the right shows vugs. These have not been cleaned and both show the clay soil of the area.


 

The larger rock might make one or two interesting slabs. The smaller pieces might be tumbled.

 

 

A Little More From Oatman, Arizona

Sixty years after this article was published, the area near Oatman is still producing fire agate. If you’re willing to work at it. I mean, really work at it, with sledges, chisels, and breaker bars. Out in the field, you’ll find promising rough, the agate fixed to its host rock. On the bench, it’s lapidary skills and some luck to produce a finished piece that might flash red. I’ll report in my book on a fee dig operation that puts you on the path to this goal, finding a rock that properly worked might turn into a fine example of the king of agates.