Southwest Rockhounds

I rarely get time here to update, but rockhounding is alive and well in Arizona and elsewhere! I am no longer going to reply here to questions asked. Instead, please consider joining our Southwest Rockhounds group on Facebook. We periodically arrange for group ‘hounding, with members who know the sweet spots to search. Aside from Diamond Point and other obvious spots, our group digs have include can include private claims (with the full and enthusiastic approval of the owner) where you can find fire agates and amethysts, among other local…

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Diamond Point Revisited

I’ve written to you about Diamond Point, near Payson. While it’s still possible to find beautiful crystals there, a recent trip found that the entire area has been all but destroyed by a combination of logging and irresponsible digs. There’s garbage littering the area. Logging wiped out familiar landmarks, so much so I couldn’t find the particular sweet spot where we’d gone a few years back and found a respectably sized citrine, one spiked with rainbows. I can’t do a thing about the logging operations, tragic as they are; but…

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Stone Identification – Behavior

Illuminated Diamond

When we talk about mineral behavior, it’s not like you can give a rock a Time Out for acting up. Behaviors, in terms of stones, refer to the natural form of its crystal and what happens if you break it. Crystal Behavior This one only matters if you’re dealing with obvious crystals, vs. a stone that’s just a rough rock. Different specific minerals grow into crystals that have identifiable shapes and other clues to their species. For example, Fluorite crystals tend to terminate in pyramid-shaped points: four sides, more or…

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Stone Identification – Streak

Streak Plate

If you’re a child of the *mumbles a decade* you’ll remember a Ray Stevens song called The Streak. This is not about that song, but if you want to hum along as you read, be my guest. You find a stone’s streak by scraping it over a streak stone, generally unglazed porcelain tile in either black or white. If you don’t have an official streak plate and have an old porcelain bowl or plate, you can use the bottom of that as long as it’s not glazed. Minerals are just…

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Stone Identification – Hardness

Tumbled Stones

Moh’s Scale Possibly one of the most common ways to sort out what kind of stone you’ve found is a hardness test. When you can pinpoint how hard your mineral is, you can start to narrow down its family considerably. The standardized scale for mineral hardness is the Moh’s Scale, which starts at a 1 for talc (which can be scratched with a fingernail) and terminates at a 10, the diamond, which is the hardest naturally-occurring mineral. Notice I said naturally-occuring minerals. There have been harder products manufactured in the…

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