So how does one get started collecting agate gemstones or rocks, fossils, and minerals in general? Usually you see a rock or pebble on the ground that catches your interest. If you pick it up and take it with you, you’re on the way to becoming a rockhound! The first rule to remember is the old adage ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. If you like it, that’s all that matters – be it a gem crystal or a mudstone river rock. I’ve always been partial to agate. It’s considered to be a semi-precious gemstone and is a variety of quartz.
Okay, so you now have a few items back at your residence and at this point there’s usually a crossroad. Did you just set the material aside or was your curiosity piqued? Either that’s as far as your interest is going to take you, or your want to know more about your finds. Alright, so you want to know more. Now you’re hooked. But where do you go to get more information? If you know a rockhound by all means ask him or her. If not, go to a local rock shop and someone there should be able to tell you about your finds. Actually, go to a rock shop anyway if you can. You may even be able to get collecting info on a local spot. Make sure to look around the store. This will at least let you see what other people collect and what may be found in the area.
Books are essential. Most rock shops will have them for sale. If there are no rock shops in your area, an outdoor store may also have them and certainly one of the larger book sellers should. In addition the internet has many sources. In Part Two, I’ll relate my own experiences getting started and in Part 3, I’ll share some lessons learned and things to keep in mind when rockhounding from guide books.