Our final show of the year was last weekend on home turf, in Crystal at the Crystal Community Center. It was nice to do a show without needing a hotel as well.
While it was our maiden rock show at the community center, I am very familiar with the facility from my many years on the philatelic circuit. The Minnesota Stamp Expo is held there every July and I would set up a table specializing in Postal History.
But Rocks are the name of the game this millennium, and we sold some in crystal. Our largest individual sale included one of the rare WahWah Mountian Red Beryls we have in stock that came from my father’s old stock.
Also from his remaining inventory was a nice piece of white Australian Precious Opal.
On the other end of the scale, one healer was pleased to find that we carriers Pink Opal and Lavender Jade polished stones that she could use in her healing work.
We had a lot of fun introducing our new jewelry line Swedish Blue and learned a bit about glass and foundries from our visitors. We recorded our first sales and anticipate doing well with it.
One of the things we like about rock shows is the people. A lot of knowledge circulates around the tables and as a wet behind the ears newer rock dealer I love learning as I go and my customers tend to be my best teachers.
When we were in Denver this past September, we met a couple from Sweden who are silversmiths and worked with a stone they called Swedish Blue.
The stone is also known locally as Bergslagsten, which basically means it came from the slag pile of the medieval foundry in Bergslagen Sweden.
The slag gets its color from the impurities in the ores being processed at the foundry and is this case tended to be the blue color of Sweden.
The stone is then cut with attention being paid to the color variations in the stone itself. A practiced eye and skill can bring out the best aspect of any particular piece. After the stone is cut and polished it is framed with silver by my Swedish silversmith’s, resulting in a handsome piece of jewelry that speaks to and of Sweden, past, and present.
In the photo, you will see at the upper left a “not for sale” sample of the Swedish Blue slag, before cutting. Note the color variations that flow through the body of the stone. These variations are selected and enhanced by the stone cutter and then framed in silver.
There are four rings, priced at $81 each for three and $69 for the fourth.
There is one triangular pendant priced at $90
Then a set of four larger oval pendants followed by three more smaller ovals. The prices should be clear on the photo but ate from left to right, $90, $132, $120, $117, with all three smaller ovals at $60 each.
We are considering consigning this material to others for the holiday season, as we do not have any scheduled shows until Spring. If perchance one or more of the items are calling out to you – call out to us via email to enetwal at gmail.com. Let Earl know you saw it here first on the blog and you will get 10% off.
But hurry, it may be all gone in an instant if we decide to consign.
Joanies Rocks have been investing in new inventory for our customers. As a fledgling business, we have a ways to go but are pleased to have had a successful buying trip to Denver this fall.
Among the new material is an enhanced selection of Labradorite, one of our most popular items, a nice selection of malachite free forms, our first assortment of Amazonite, and a wide range of Lapis Azuli. More unusual are a selection of Chrome Chalcedony from Kosovo and Red Crater Agate from Turkey.
We also expanded into Jewelry a bit with a number of very nice items from Sweden made of Swedish Blue, we also invested in a nice set of bracelets and even more unusual a selection of Onyx lamps.
Last year we shared one of their 6 table booths with another dealer. This year we went Big and took an entire booth and still had trouble fitting all of our new inventory on the expanded real estate.
The good news for our accountant is that we more than doubled our sales from our prior year base. People were so friendly and seemed to love our selections. That was truly gratifying.
One unusual thing was the fact that we had a better Sunday than Saturday, in contrast to our normal expectations of doing 2/3 of our sales on the first day. We also enjoyed the fact that we seemed to have a steady flow of people and sales from start to finish.
The Malachite and Labradorite free forms were among our best sellers, and we were pleased with both jewelry sales and carved animals, angels, skulls, etc. The one newer acquisition that did not do as well was our Lapis Azuli. I personally love Lapis’ deep blue color and hope this is just an aberration. Experience, limited as it may be, is that what sells at one show will languish at another and thankfully vice versa.
For example, at a late summer show in Frederick Wisconsin, we were quite successful selling Thompsonite from the North shore of Minnesota, and it didn’t get a second look in Jefferson.
Maximizing Rock Show Real Estate
As we develop our business, we have been investing is static items, such as new table cloths for the Jefferson show and additional lights. We also brought out for the first time a glass case to protect, honor and display our new Swedish Blue jewelry and some of our pricier items such as cinnabar crystals, Wah Wah Red Beryl and other better stones.
We picked up a bracelet stand during a rock swap in Eau Claire and put it to use in Jefferson. It was a great way to display a variety of items while taking up relatively little table space. While the rack in the photo above is still pretty sparse, we filled to four rounds quite well and were pleased with the sales generated.
Swedish Blue Jewelry
When we were on our September buying trip to Denver, we met a couple from Sweden. They are introducing “Swedish Blue” to the American market. They have displayed in Tucson and Denver and are the silversmiths complimenting this beautiful material.
The stone itself is actually slag glass, from recently discovered medieval Swedish glass factory long since forgotten. Joan hates referring to it as slag, as the word seems to be unjust when the end result is so pretty.
The prices for this material are a bit higher than anything we have dealt with before, so the jury is out regarding our wisdom in taking this step. However, we are confident that the workmanship, beauty, and artistry will propel future sales.
Another Denver find was Amazonite, with its pale blue-green luster. We met a miner from Colorado who had a nice selection and picked up a few samples that display the crystal. We have carried inexpensive tumble-polished stones in the past, but the raw crystal form appeals to me more. The general tumbled material is a somewhat poorer grade of stone, while the material from Colorado was much better. In hindsight, I wish we have acquired more of this material when we were in Denver.
The biggest lesson I learned about the buying trip was learned at the Jefferson show. We will need to replace what we sold, and although we still have a pretty deep lineup, it would be even better had we spent more time building a relationship with the Amazonite miner and others.
On our next buying trip, we will focus not just on getting good material but on developing a trusting relationship with sources to more expeditiously replenish inventory without the 13-hour car trip it took to get to Denver.
The program for the May 3rd, 2019 meeting of the Anoka County Gem & Mineral Club was a live auction of items donated and bid upon by members. Proceeds of the auction will be used to support an ongoing scholarship the club has sponsored on behalf of a Geology student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
The goal for the night was to raise at least $1200. Based on the number of lots offered and the spirited bidding, we suspect that the goal was met, but we have not heard the official count as of this post.
Wayne Nelson served as auctioneer and did a fine job, keeping the process moving and stimulating bidding.
Joanies Rocks donated a large specimen of Amethyst and a Metal detector as shown on the picture above.
The club takes the summer months off and will meet next on Friday September 6th at the Robbinsdale United church of Christ. 4200 Lake Road in Robbinsdale, MN The meetings start at 6:30 PM and visitors are always welcome. Parking is in the rear of the church and the meeting is in the basement which is directly accessible from the parking lot.
While the club will not meet during the summer, it will help promote a Rock Swap on Saturday June 15, 2019 This event is open to the public and occurs in the Parking Lot of the United Methodist Church 16 2nd Ave SE in Osseo, MN The hours of the event are from 10 to 2
We traveled to Keokuk Iowa with other members of the Minnesota Mineral Club on April 12th for our second trip to the Keokuk area hunting for Geodes. We made the same trip with the club last year, which was marked by a major unexpected late season blizzard on the day of our return. This year, the blizzard was on the 11th and 12th, so we actually enjoyed getting out of town although the first 200 miles of the trip were very windy.
We stayed at the Super 8 in Keokuk, which was more than adequate and reasonably priced. We left at 6:00 AM to arrive by noon, with a scheduled 1PM rally of participants to hit our first target site, Vickers Geodes.
Due to our prior arrangements, Vickers had prepared a section of their location for some good old fashioned rock pick work, which most club members seemed to enjoy and find fruitful. I preferred to walk the creek area on the theory that the spring high water would have dislodged many geodes and in fact I found quite a few along the banks of the creek.
I mostly filled a five gallon bucket, and was happy to pay Vickers $25 for my winnings.
The next day we caravaned to a private farm in Missouri where the club has visited before. Owned by an Amish couple, we followed them in their buggy to an area adjacent to the Fox river which runs through their property. A large sandbar was accessible by wading in the swiftly flowing water a bit more than knee deep. Once on the bar, we were able to find geodes virtually everywhere we looked.
I also took the time to wade to a further down river shore line which was also very productive. There I spied two huge geodes in the middle of the river and was able to roll them to shore.
I used a 5 prong claw type garden hoe as my “picker” which save a lot of bending over. It also served as an effective cane which came in handy negotiating terrain and current. If I had one tip for other geode hunters it would be to get one of these. Much cheaper than the scoops advertised in rock and lapidary mags.
I managed to accumulate two five gallon buckets of geodes in relatively quick order, making an effort to stick to geodes of baseball size or larger, and many of softball size. Again, we benefited by being first pickers on the site after the winter and subsequent spring high water.
Amos and his wife Laura were wonderful hosts and helped us move our heavy full buckets up the steep bank to where our cars were waiting. Laura had made plates of cinnamon rolls that were warm and delicious and just the thing to reboot our energy levels after our geode hunting efforts.
Many of us then went to Wild Cat park in Hamilton Il, where we found another good source of geodes after about a half mile hike in the lower portion of the park. I settled for just a half bucket here as I am a wimp and didn’t relish the idea of hauling a full bucket back the 1/2 mile trek. The best part of this location is that it is free and open to the public.
That evening we all headed to Vera’s a restaurant next to the Super 8. We had a great time visiting with one another and recounting our day together.
The next day we started at Woody’s rock shop in Hamilton, which is open by appointment. There we found more geodes and other attractions. He had a table to broken Geodes that were available at $40 for a five gallon pail or 3 pails for $100. I picked up a pail’s worth, but was disappointed that the selection was not as nice as it was last year. Not to complain though – still a good deal from a dealer who mines tons of geodes year around. Most of which he sells at shows around the country.
Our final stop was at Jacobs Geodes.
Here we worked a cliff. I had tried to walk the creek through Jacobs but had enough of cold feet and did not find the picking very encouraging the first half mile or so. Perhaps it had already been scoured. So I joined the group at the cliff.
There I took a position and hammered away at a mud and shale section which produced a lot of marble to walnut sized geodes. I soon learned that they tended to cluster in layers and with experience was pretty good at knowing when there would be multiples. Before too long though, my arm tired and I was geode satiated. By now it was noon, and time to up and head back for the six hour trip home.
My total take on the trip came to just shy of 5 five gallon buckets of geodes plus those I bought from Woodys. Next step will be to crank up my lapidary saw and discover what’s inside.
Get Grounded in How to Identify 6 Major Igneous Rocks
There are three basic types of rock: Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic. Today we will look more closely at six major types of igneous rocks and how to tell them apart.
Igneous rocks are those created when Magma or molten rock from the interior of the Earth cools and solidifies. This cooling can occur as deep as 50 miles under the surface or as Magma is expelled from the Earth as Lava and solidifies in the air or sea. Those that cool and form underground are called Intrusive and those that form above ground are called Extrusive.
We can tell the difference between intrusive and extrusive rock by noticing the texture of the rock surface. In rapidly cooling magma, the resulting grains and crystals that form the rock are tiny in contrast to the larger grains and crystals found in rocks that cooled much slower deep in the crust. The longer cooling period for intrusive rocks, deeper in the crust and closer to the heat of the earths interior, gave crystals longer to grow. The result is that intrusive rocks have relatively larger grains than those of their extrusive cousins, which are fine grained.
This distinction of fine grained versus relatively larger grain size gives us our first classification clue. Fine grained, to coarse grained and somewhere in between, as the magma that was closer to the surface didn’t cool as fast as the extrusive rocks did, but cooled faster than their deeper down cousins.
The second step to our initial sorting of six major igneous rock types is to note the overall color of the rock. Is it relatively dark or light in color or somewhere in between?
The top row of the above table shows the fine grained extrusive rocks, the bottom row shows coarser grained intrusive rocks.
The rocks on the left are those that are lighter in color, with those on the right darker colored.
The combination of these two characteristics have given us a starting point to understand how to classify and recognize six basic igneous rock types. There is of course much more to the story, which we will explore over time.
The information for this post was based on the 1972 book by Gordon Fay called The Rockhounds Manual which can still be found online at Amazon and is highly recommended for any serious rockhound interested in learning how to identify and find rocks and minerals. Used copies are inexpensive and well worth buying and using. The link below will get you to Amazon where you can order your own copy.