2012 Christmas Gifts: Ideas for the Rockhounds in your life!

Gift giving season is officially upon us and for the RockHounds in your life, we made this list of our top 10 suggestions for gifts this year! From stocking stuffers to the item that will make a certain someone squeal with joy, everyone in the office had our eyes set on a few of these items.

#10. Mindat.org Sticker Book – A few years ago Mindat.org published this cute stickerbook and the sticker sets were somewhat difficult to put together. The 10 sticker set is fun, one sticker for each number on mohs hardness scale. For $8.00, these are fun stocking stuffers for kids and adults!

Mindat.org Sticker Book

#9 Colored Mineral Tack – We love this idea, tinted mineral tack. One of the best ways to stabilize a specimen for display, the goal of using mineral tack is to hide it from view. The stark white color makes this task difficult, but these tinted tacks can be a close match for the matrix or crystal color, allowing you to not worry as much about the white tack being the thing distracting from your crystals. In little lumps of colored tack at $1.49 each, you could visit this eBay store and select a few colors and make a set. Every mineral collector NEEDS mineral tack, you can’t go wrong with giving a rockhound mineral tack!

Colored Mineral Tack

#8 The Mineral Art of Hildegard Konighofer – Hildegard Konighofer’s art is shockingly realistic, capturing the spirit of each crystal she paints. This book features dozens of her paintings, which feature a wide array of selections and locations. A beautiful way to cross the worlds of art and minerals together, these limited edition books are sure to be a long treasured item for any mineral collector. Available from Blue Cap Productions for $170.00

Hildegard Konighofer

Hildegard Konighofer
#7 A Rock Tumbler – Rock tumbling is a wonderful way to get something done with all the rock chunks pouring out of every knapsack and cardboard flat in garages of rockhounds around the world. Everyone, seriously, everyone, can use a rock tumbler! This website, RockTumbler.com, has everything you need to know about selecting a unit, and this Lortone is the perfect universal size and under $100!

RockTumbler.com most popular rock tumbler the Lortone Model 3a

#6 Cuprite T-shirt – If Copper is wrong, I don’t wanna be Cuprite. A funny pun that will be highly appreciated at any mineral club meeting, collecting trip, mineral show or geology class! Available in Small through Double Extra Large, this is a great christmas gift idea, available for under $20 shipped, fortysevenpress.com

Mineral Pun T-shirts
#5 Arkansas Diamond Combo – Diamonds! There is only ONE public diamond mine in the world and it is in the tourist friendly section of the rural south, Murfreesboro Arkansas. For a nominal fee you can visit the park and try your luck at finding a diamond. The Blue Cap Productions combo pack includes two DVDs, hosted by Glenn Worthington, one of young mineral collectors searching for diamonds, the other a professional video tour of the area. Everything you need to know about collecting at the Crater of Diamonds State Park is found between these two items! Over $10.00 off the retail price, both DVDs for $32.99

DVD set Find your own Diamonds in Arkansas
#4 Magazine Collection/Vug Book – For the book collector that has it all, we can certifiably say that they do not have a full set of The-Vug.com Quarterly Magazine. These sets were HARD to put together, as some of them were only available in Europe, some of them had very small print runs and they were all distributed around the world at different mineral shows. The publisher has made a few complete sets available, but it might be a wise option to buy the full reprint book instead. The magazine (and book) have tons of beautiful photos, articles, maps and information. Any rockhound would love to get this book as a gift! The Original Magazine set is $229.99, the book reprint of the entire series is $34.95

Mineral Website Magazine Book Reprint
#3 All in One polisher – The classic, workhorse all in one flat lap. The perfect item for so many various uses for the rockhound, from grinding matrix, making things display better, polishing cabochons, making freeforms, putting a window on an agate, polishing a face on a quartz crystal, the all in one flat lap is a great gift item for the rockhound in your life! A model like this one, with a series of different grit wheels, runs around $549.99 new. They hold their resale value for many years.

Ameritool All in One Universal Grinder
#2 Blue Cap DVD Sets – Blue Cap Productions produces these fantastic, high quality, in-depth videos of minerals, mineral shows and subjects related to the hobby. I have been witness to what happens when these DVDs are played in a room of mineral collectors…silence. Everyone is so fixed on the screen, looking at the beautiful crystals being presented. These DVDS are awesome, you can put them on anytime, you learn by experiencing all these minerals shown by the people who know them best! Blue Cap productions has these sets of DVDs, one that has all of the What’s Hot in Tucson DVD’s and the other has EVERY DVD produced by Blue Cap, with some great topics! We highly recommend these. $145.00 for the What’s Hot in Tucson Set and $315.00 for the whole production line, the most complete documentary of mineral collecting in the last decade.

What's Hot in Tucson DVD Package

Complete Blue Cap Productions DVD Set
#1 Best sized Sledge Ever – 12 pound short handle – You can NEVER, EVER, have too many short handled sledge hammers. If the rockhound in your life has never had one of these short handled sledges, they are in need of this eye opening experience. The short handle allows for higher accuracy and the ability to work in a tight situation. Short handles fit into your knapsack with ease, better than trying to haul that long handled sledge on a hike. At $34.95, these are a great gift item for your favorite rockhound!

Short Handled Sledge Hammer

And of course, rocks rocks rocks! Everyone loves rocks! Quartz Crystals, Kyanite, Tourmaline, Garnets, you can never go wrong with some rocks for the rockhounds in your life! We suggest checking out Jewels Fine Minerals on eBay, you can not go wrong with any single item in that entire selection. That dealer ships quickly and is worth checking out.

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Agate Collecting in Colorado – Wolf Creek Pass Zeolites

Near the border of Archuleta County in Colorado, Wolf Creek Pass and Treasure Mountain contain a deposit of silicates and zeolites that have made their way into mineral collections around the world. The collecting area, spread out over the rocky mountainside, is often referred to as Wolf Creek Pass. However, Wolf Creek Pass is actually a 10,000 foot mountain pass that wraps around Treasure Mountain and follows the Wolf Creek. The mountain does not bear gold or jewels, but the volcanic basalt deposits are near a very photogenic waterfall, Treasure Falls. Surrounded by scenic views, this basalt deposit is one of the most thrilling areas of Colorado. Hotels.com has great deals on hotels around Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

Quartz specimen with banded agate and a crystal center with a slight purple hue.
Quartz specimen with banded agate and a crystal center with a slight purple hue.
Photo by Mathew Marulla (marulla.com)

Treasure Mountain is named after the legendary stash of gold, left behind by a French expedition in 1790. Several search parties have tried to find the fortune of gold bars acquired from a gold deposit near the Peak of Treasure Mountain, but none have been successful in finding the bars or the deposit.

Much of the collecting area is adjacent to highway route 160 and in the boulders and exposed rock of the mountainside just north of the falls. The mineralized area is fairly large and boulders containing the material have been distributed across the area, both naturally and due to the construction of route 160 and Wolf Creek Pass. In fact, due to the close proximity to Archeuleta county to the south, part of the deposit crosses this manmade border separating the counties which only serves to cause confusion in geographic labeling of specimens from this deposit.

Map of the Treasure Creek Agate and Zeolite location
Map of the Agate and Zeolite locations around Wolf Creek.

Rounded amygdaloids fill the voids in the volcanic deposit of basalt, as with many occurences. These host crystals of quartz and about half a dozen zeolite minerals.

The quartz and agate are similar to that found in many other volcanic silica deposits. The agate is typically clear, white and/or shades of blue, often with alternating layers that make it desirable for lapidary use. Some have crystallized centers. Typically the crystals form on a layer of agate, which varies in thickness from miniscule shells to thick rinds. Sometimes the crystals are amethyst, making attractive specimens on dark colored volcanic matrix. Though the agate and quartz found here do not rival that found at many other locations, it is one of only a few still open for collecting.

Of course, the zeolite species are what makes the location a true Colorado classic. Analcime is typically found as very small crystals usually below 1 cm in size. However, at one location, analcime is found up to 3.5 cm. Chabazite occurs here, but not in crystals larger than a few millimeters in size. Heulandite is sometimes found as crystals up to 5 cm across. However, typically the crystals are only millimeters in size, lining the cavities and serving as matrix to other minerals. One such mineral is mordenite, which is found as well formed clusters of white fibers. These clusters, up to a few centimeters in size, were referred to as being one of the best locations for the species in the United States for many years.

Mordenite crystals in a vug of basalt
Mordenite crystals in a vug of basalt
Photo by Mathew Marulla (marulla.com)
Mordenite Crystals up to 2 cm long can be found at the location
Mordenite Crystals up to 2 cm long can be found at the location
Photo by Mathew Marulla (marulla.com)

Other associated minerals include globular common opal, small rhombs of calcite, and small pyrite crystals. The locality is also a classic locality for the clay minerals celadonite and nontronite, which form in abundance. Laumonite, natrolite and wellsite also occur in the deposit, but they occur rarely and only as small crystals

Isolated Heulandite crystal on matrix.  Specimen size is 6 millimeters
Isolated Heulandite crystal on matrix. Specimen size is 6 millimeters
Photo by Luigi Mattei
Several voids filled with celadonite
Several voids filled with celadonite overall size 10 x 5 x 3 cm.
Photo by Martins da Pedra

Due to the vast deposit and mountain conditions, this source of colorful quartz, agate and zeolites will always exist in the mountains of Colorado. Maybe the lack of gold is a bit disappointing for a mountain with such high aspirations, but to many mineral collectors around the world, the real treaures are the mineral collecting opportunities and the often-visited Treasure Falls.

If you enjoyed this article, it was originally printed in The-Vug.com Magazine, which was released as a hardcover coffee table book, collecting all 16 issues of the original magazine. It is 324 pages, hardcover and full color, available directly from the publisher at FortySevenPress.com For $34.95, it is full of great photos, articles, collecting locations and more! Get your copy to add to your mineral book library!

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The Curse of Illegally Collected Arizona Petrified Wood

Illness, Divorce and Attacking Ants – The “Curse” of Stolen Petrified Wood


At the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, stealing used to be a very prominent problem. People would frequently smuggle pieces of petrified wood they called “rocks” on their way out, leaving the park 12-15 tons short of these scientifically valuable fossilized minerals.

The Petrified Forest

Petrified tree branches and roots there had transitioned into a solid and rock-like state in a process called permineralization. It has spanned over the course of millions of years, leaving a terrain with smaller and larger pieces of petrified wood scattered everywhere.
Naturally occurring Arizona petrified wood plays an important role in multiple ongoing scientific studies, and their integrity had been put under risk by the rampant cases of stealing. After all, people who take tiny rocks don’t feel liable for the fact it amounts to more than a ton worth of stolen petrified wood per month.

Red Colored Agate Quartz replaced Petrified Wood
Iron inclusions in the stone cause the red color commonly found in petrified wood from Arizona

Trying to Combat Theft

Rangers would set up inspection stations on the road out of the park, run regular roadside sweeps and put up signs telling people to be more conscious of the regulations at Petrified Forest National Park, with mixed results.
In an unusual twist of events, however, the cases of stealing start to decrease as people become caught up with a certain mysterious “curse” that hits all thieves of petrified tree branches and roots. One of the odd psychological effects seen comes from the signage at the park. During years of having signs indicating that collecting was forbidden, theft was at an all time high. Without the signage, reported volumes of stone removed from the park plummeted. Possibly, the signs indicated that the wood is something WORTH stealing.

People Cursed by Arizona Petrified Wood

It appears that in the years of its existence since 1906, the Petrified Forest National Park of Arizona has been swept by people who return pieces of petrified wood and share stories of their misfortunes on small, sincere paper notes. The park now has them displayed in the aptly named Guilt Room. A single tour of the place persuades many people not to challenge the terrible “curse”.
The touching stories told by cursed individuals are nothing short of heartbreaking, and sometimes quite funny.

• A woman had stolen the unlucky rock on her honeymoon trip, which lead to a bitter divorce and a 20-year relationship with an abusive man.
• A man was dumped by his girlfriend of 3 years on his drive out of the park.
• One woman wonders if her husband’s early death and grandchildren’s pneumonia could be induced by the curse.
• Right nearby, someone writes about stomach cramps and diarrhea that followed the act of stealing.
• A different note tells a story of a group of five girls, each of them suffering the consequences of defying the curse that involved illness, vomiting, an attack of flying ants and many spilled drinks.

Legitimate or not, the countless notes found in the Guilt Room contain reports of seizures, hernias, giant blisters, plane crashes, drinking problems, divorces and other misfortunes that all link back to that time when their authors picked up the cursed rocks at the park.
At least their sacrifice has not been for naught, as it shames some of the visitors into keeping to the park’s rules to avoid a similar fate.

Red Colored Agate Quartz replaced Petrified Wood
Petrified wood is better when it is free of guilt, such as buying a slab from a dealer who specializes in wood, like Tom and Steven Wolfe of TomWolfeMinerals.com

No Happy Ending?

The stories keep coming and the rocks are returned. Sadly, the recovered pieces of petrified tree branches and roots can no longer be returned to their rightful place. With no way of knowing where each piece originated, important patterns of scientific research would surely be tainted.
Fortunately, both these “cursed” rocks and the sad notes that tell their story find a new home in the Guilt Room at Petrified Forest National Park, so the would-be thieves can be warned by others not to repeat their foolish mistakes.

Do not trifle with the curse of Petrified Forest!

Instead of risking for your note to be in the spotlight at Guilt Room a few years down the lane, why not buy Arizona petrified wood from TomWolfeMinerals.com? There are legal collecting spots outside the park as well as plenty of park adjacent places to buy wood, but for those who are just in love with petrified wood, Tom and Steven Wolfe of TomWolfeMinerals.com are passionate about petrified wood and not only do they have great petrified wood material from Arizona, but also from around the world.

Rarely, specimens of chromium rich wood are found, such as this green wood
While not from the petrified forest, this is found nearby, near Winslow Arizona. The green color is from inclusions of chromium, which is very uncommon.

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Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay 2012

eBay is a fantastic place to find everything for sale. While there are plenty of dyed, glued, misidentified and various other hoaxes online, there are also some fantastic dealers who are honest, well educated and provide amazing service. As per customer satisfaction results gathered by The-Vug.com, we present to you the Top 10 Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012!

Top 10 Rock and Mineral Dealers on eBay for 2012

#10 – Heliodor

Three generations of the mineral dealers, Star and Elena Van Scriver have a wide variety of minerals available. Specializing in Russian minerals and Moroccan minerals, this store has over 4,000 items to chose from, mostly as store items with buy it now pricing. You can view their store by clicking this link.

Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor
Missouri Calcite Cluster with Chalcopyrite from Heliodor



#9 – Benson’s Collectibles

Alan Benson has been selling minerals on eBay for several years, helping to finance his college studies. That’s right, this man helped pay for his textbooks with eBay! He has a fine selection of minerals from worldwide locations, with a focus on New Jersey minerals, as he is close to the locations. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California from Alan Benson Collectable Land



#8 – ScepterGuy

Joe George is an avid Quartz miner. The crystals he has dug out of the ground have made it into magazines, museums and fine collections around the world. Crazy scepters and amethyst from Hallelujah Junction, fascinating terminations and twinning in specimens from Washington state, this man does the hard work to rescue these crystals from the mountain! Not only does he have a fine mix of specimens, people love his acrylic bases and mineral tack, something somewhat hard to find. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Pink Fluorite on Matix from France
Pink Fluorite on Matix from France from Scepter Guy



#7 – Meryln8804

Christopher Stefano is a recent graduate, another self supporting college student for a time. Now he does his ebay and website while working two jobs and raising a newborn! What a guy, because his store is constantly full of great mineral, with a focus in the unique and uncommon minerals of the world. As a specialist in Michigan minerals, if you are looking for an interesting mineral from that area, contact Chris! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Copper Crystals from Michigan
Copper Crystals from Michigan from Merlyn8804



#6 – JMineral

A bad reputation is being cast on many Chinese dealers, as fake and treated minerals are common in many of their eBay stores. JM Mineral is an extreme exception to this, with amazing minerals, popping up on eBay often WELL before any American ever lays eyes on them! The new finds out of Mongolia has made this dealer shine! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Fine Tourmaline Crystal from California
Green Quartz Cluster from JMineral



#5 – Crystal Springs Minerals

Crystal Springs focus is South African and Namibian minerals. With so much to chose from in that area of the world, Crystal Springs Minerals is a great source from that area of the world. A richly stocked eBay store and constant restocking has made them a favorite dealer to buy from! People love their red quartz, green fluorite, gem crystals and interesting minerals from the Kalahari. You can view his store by clicking this link.

Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa
Ajoite inclusion in Quartz from South Africa sold by Crystal Springs Minerals



#4 – Open Adit

Open Adit is a fine dealer of LARGE minerals and FRESH imports. Evolving over time, the minerals have always been FINE and amazingly inexpensive! As importers of hundreds of thousands of minerals, Open Adit has found a great way to make large sized cabinet specimens available to the public by presenting them online. Weekly auctions and tons to chose from, if you need a colorful addition to your collection or a display piece, Open Adit is the place to go! You can view the store by clicking this link.

Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa
Green Fluorite Cluster from South Africa sold by Open Adit



#3 – Globe Minerals

Nik, the man behind the operations at Globe Mineral, has a FINE eye for natures beauty. One thing for sure, there is rarely a specimen that we would not like to have for our collection here at WheretoFindRocks.com! Colorful, bold and hand picked, Nik travels around the world hand picking selections to showcase on eBay. As eBay is Globe Minerals main distribution source, there is nothing held back, everything fine is presented on eBay and his customer service is top notch! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco
Vanadinite Cluster from Morocco sold by Globe Minerals



#2 – Jewel’s Fine Minerals

It has been a beautiful experience to watch this ebay dealer constantly improving the quality of the minerals, photos and service. It is almost impossible to imagine that Jewel’s Fine Minerals can get much better. A wide variety of minerals, this dealer is constantly traveling to mineral shows, buying collections and sniffing out all the great minerals to present to the public on eBay. The large amount of store items, weekly auctions and great attention to quality minerals makes Jewel’s Fine Minerals one of the accounts to constantly keep checking out! You can view his store by clicking this link.

Calcite and Fluorite from USA
Calcite and Fluorite from USA sold by Jewel’s Fine Minerals


AND, as a result of all the activity and customer feedback to The-Vug.com in 2012, the #1 Mineral Dealer on eBay…

#1 – Mineral Man 999

Mineralman999, Jasun and Mandy McAvoy, are legendary sellers of minerals on eBay. For good reason! They have had mineral auctions, ALL of them, starting at .99 cents, every week for over 7 years. Sometimes the sales prices of these minerals are in the THOUSANDS of dollars, but they ALWAYS start at .99 cents! Fantastic photos, minerals from all over the world, there is not a week that goes by that we do not find at LEAST one mineral that would be something worth fighting over! Classic minerals, new finds, gem crystals, gold, crazy locality specimens. MineralMan is THE place to visit each and every week. His #1 status is well deserved! You can view his store by clicking this link.

ineralman999 on eBay
Gold Crystal from Venezuela sold by Mineralman999

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Cummingtonite – We know you were looking for iron rich amphiboles…

As mineral collectors on the internet know, the jokes can often lead back to one mineral.
Cummingtonite. Eliciting snickers in a room of freshmen geologists (and honestly, still getting chuckles from aged field geologists under the right conditions). Lately it is the most popular iron rich amphibole mineral to be searched for on Google. We all know when we see that fact it is not because people are looking for their favorite ugly brown rock! Most minerals are searched for their beauty, this mineral can only claim its name as the claim to fame.

Cummingtonite is a rather uncommon mineral, hailing from the riverside on the far western edge of Cummington, Massachusetts. Here is a sample of the mysterious brown crusty amphibole they were mining. Scratching their heads, someone noticed this as an unknown mineral and dubbed it Cummingtonite, in honor of the town it was found. This is often the case, such as Elbaite, Annabergite, and Boleite.
Thick vein of Cummingtonite
Cummingtonite with label from original find
Cummingtonite Specimen
Garnets and Cummingtonite
This specimen pictured is from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. It shows a chunk of brown radiating crystals with embedded garnets. Donated by a prominent American Mineralogist Charles Upham Shepard, a man who submitted the approvals for Danburite, Microlite and others. He had one of the largest collections of minerals in the United States, donating specimens to various museums in life and death. He was a well respected lecturer on subjects of Natural History. Charles Upham Shepard graduated from Amherst College in 1924, the same year that Cummingtoite was accredited.

1824. Cummingtonite. (Dewey.)
“I have here given this name to a mineral found by ‘Dr. J. Porter in
Cummington. It appears to bo a variety of epidote. Its color is gray,
sometimes with a faint reddish tinge, unless when acted on by the
weather, when its color is yellowish. It is in distinct prisms, with oblique
seams like’ zoisite, and in radiated or fascicled masses, which are com-
posed of slender prisms. Luster somewhat shining or pearly. It is nearly
as hard as quartz, and sometimes makes a slight impression upon rock
crystal. Before the blowpipe it blackens, and a small portion melts, when
the heat is very great, into a black slag, which ik attracted by the mag-
net. With quartz and garnet .it forms a largo mass in Cummington.”
C. Dewey : Geol. Min. Mass.; Am. Jour. Sci., 1st series, Vol. VIII, p, 59.
1824. Cummingtonite. Lies by the roadside in the east part of
Cumnimgton.
Known to the common people for several years under the name.of copperas
rock; occasionally used in dyeing as a substitute for sulphate of
iron.
J. Porter: Min. Loc.; Am. Jonr. Sci., 1st series, Vol. VIII, p. 233.

Cummingtonite, the inspiration for snickers, memes and lame t-shirts, has a much more benign beginning!

With your knowledge of what Cummingtonite is, beyond a cleaver play on words, now I will tell you how you can go collect your very own specimen, along with brightly colored Lepidolite mica, UV reactive opal hyalite and shiny Hematite crystals. Far off in the desert of Arizona, nobody will hear your terrible off color humor besides your collecting partners. If you’ve ever been collecting petrified wood with a group of geologists who loudly exclaim “I’VE GOT WOOD!”, you have an idea of what to expect.

The location to collect Cummingtonite is just off to the north of the BBC Mine, a half hour away from Parker, Arizona.
The area is a wonderland of mineral collecting, with the BBC mine area boasting FINE crystals of Hematite, sometimes assosicated with Chrysocolla. Further to the North is the Planet area, filled with Barite, Malachite, Chrysocolla and all sorts of beautiful minerals. Fluorite, Gold and more copper minerals are found within 20 miles of this location, so beyond the oddball amphibole Cummingtonite, there are plenty of reasons to visit this area!

Map to Cummingtonite deposit
Map to Cummingtonite deposit
Open trench at cummingtonite deposit - Watch Your Step!
The location is a simple series of trenches, where you can find a very odd form of Lepidolite, normally known as being bright purple, here it is yellow. The hematite at the cummingtonite location is not nearly as nice as the hematite at the BBC mine. <---click to view photos on MinDat.org Cummingtonite on matrix from Arizona

The material from here is not even a tenth as nice as the crunchy material from Massachusetts, however, being able to collect your own specimen of this odd, uncommon material, is something to get excited about! 😉

If you would like a more “in-depth” view into this collecting location, let me advise you to check out the excellent Android App that will guide you to several locations around the Quartzsite/Parker area. Download this Android App for $4.99

We love you readers so much that we provided a google map pointing you to the locations.


View Cummingtonite and BBC Mine in a larger map

And I’m not completely innocent on the juvenile jokes…I am the proud owner of a Dickite specimen from Beaver Creek. 😉

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