• Collect Agate Gemstones Part 2

    When I was a kid of about six, my uncle had a rock shop down on the coast. My grandparents lived near him and when we would visit them, we would also visit my uncle at his shop. I remember there were really cool things in the display cases and rocks were spoken of in a very important manner. They had value. You could do things with them.

    I was then introduced to collecting by being taken the short distance to the beach. There were people there with buckets looking through the gravel.  At first, of course, I didn’t know what agate gemstones were so I just started picking up pebbles. I took my prizes over to be inspected and was told nothing that I had in that first batch was a keeper. Through trial and error I started to get my collecting eye and eventually brought back items that met with approval. I was finding treasure! Subsequently, every time my family would drive to the coast, I’d want to go collecting agates on the beach.

    One time my father and I accompanied my uncle to the central part of the state to collect thundereggs. These are little geodes that can have an agate, jasper, or even an opal center surrounded by a rock matrix. I remember turning off the highway onto a very bumpy dirt road and going eight miles to the site.  There were a lot of people digging there.  My uncle must have been successful because he had some extra thundereggs to give me.  I still have the three I acquired that day. One has a nice red agate center, another has green moss agate inside, and the last has a crystal center.    We also visited a site where leaf fossils could be obtained.  I still have the one I was given.  Withing the last couple of years, I was at a thunderegg site that I would swear was the same place we visited on that trip long ago.

    Alas, my uncle couldn’t earn enough with his shop to make ends meet. So he moved to the central part of the state and made dentures until he retired.  When he died some years ago, I was given what was left of his rock collecting tools.

    As I grew into early adulthood, I maintained my interest in rocks but collecting took a back seat. Fast forward about 10 years to when a friend of mine invited me camping. I had done some camping when I was a kid, but had not thought about it for years. While camping, my friend talked about hunting for obsidian, which is volcanic glass. This got me thinking about rock collecting again. Some time later I stumbled across a guidebook to rock collecting locations in the state. I was amazed by all the places there were to collect and all the different kinds of material to be found. Previously I thought the only places to collect was at the beach and at the thunderegg beds. This started the mental ball rolling again. It didn’t take very long before the camping trips stopped being just about camping and became rockhounding expeditions. I’ve never looked back.

    Beach agates

    Beach agates

  • Collect Agate Gemstones, Part 1

    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.

  • Agate Gemstones – A Lifetime Of Fascination

    Agates are a variety of quartz.  Quartz is silicon dioxide and the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust.  The word agate itself is named from the Achates River (now called Dirillo) in Sicily by the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus.  It’s amazing when you think that when you combine an atmospheric gas, a grey metal-like element, toss in some impurities, and mix it with certain geological conditions, you get – agate gemstones!  And quite a variety too. 

    It seems that many people have a phase during childhood when they collect rocks.  Invariably there will be agates among the treasures.  Some of us are lucky enough never to have outgrown that fascination.  We call ourselves rockhounds.  Rockhounding is what we do whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Are you one of them?

    Laguna Agate Gemstone