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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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.

Poor, Poor Porphyritic

Every trade or hobby has difficult to pronounce words of art. Like porphyritic, an adjective describing large crystals in an otherwise fine grained rock. Pronounce it poor-fer-itic. The crystals don’t have to be overlarge or dramatic, just bigger than the groundmass or matrix that surrounds it. In my book I will have two examples, one quite pronounced, Chinese writing stone, and the other, andesite.

Difficult words act as roadblocks to learning. We stumble over them, and in recovering we try to regain our balance by moving on. Without learning. I am hoping, therefore, to retain interest in difficult words and concepts by including photographs of them.

This rock is causing me problems. It isn’t polished, so it looks less attractive  than it otherwise would. And the shadows are bad, although my new cameral setup can overcome that.  Perhaps I will  polish it at my lapidary club. Or perhaps I can put some oil on it to make it look slicker.

“Chinese Writing Stone Slab for Lapidary or Display – Chinese writing stone, or Chinese letter stone, is so named for it’s resemblance to Chinese writing characters. It is also know as Porphyry. Background is a dark greenish-black charcoal limestone matrix with Andalusite crystals – This Chinese Writing Rock form is from Australia.”