Monday, November 9, 2009

Rockhounding Trip to Rainbow Ledge (Ridge) for Beautiful Agate...........The Polished Pebble

As promised, I have pictures & more from our rockhounding trip yesterday 11-8-09 to Rainbow Ledge (Ridge) for some of the well known beautiful agate. Since the location is a couple of hours away, our day started early. And lunches had to be made & packed beforehand, so I was up at 5am.

We left town at 6am. Traveling over the mountains into the desert is aways an interesting drive. I like getting out early. Less traffic & every now & then a spectacular sunrise. And on this trip we saw an eerie sunrise. It was foggy going over the Tehachapi Mountains. And the wisps of fog caused the rising sun to play peek-a-boo thru the different layers. I wish I had stopped & taken a picture, but with the truck traffic it would not have been very safe - so we drove on.

We were traveling to Ridgecrest. Where the Indian Wells Valley Gem and Mineral Society was having their annual show. It was there that we were supposed to meet up & be guided to Rainbow Ledge. The Indian Wells club owns the claim on this area & non members are only allowed to collect at certain times. This was going to be our first time there, so we were excited to actually see the site.

Arriving early, we relaxed outside the show area until we saw people moving around. Once we got inside, we registered for the field trip & were told that the member running the trip would make an anouncement when we needed to gather to go. We checked out the offerings availble from the different vendors. The assortment was great & there were some pieces I would have loved to buy. But, things are too tight right now - so all I could do was look.

It seemed like it was getting pretty late & one of the vendors said that he thought that the trip should be going soon. We looked over at the clubs table & everything for the field trip was gone. We went over & asked & were told they already left! WHAT??? No one made any announcement - I guess the leader just met people outside & thought he had everyone. Luckly, we were able to scramble some directions from some other club members & off we went.

Now, we didn't break any land speed records - but they had about 20 min. on us. We found the right turn off onto the dirt road & went 4 wheeling. I knew that they were not going to be going very fast in with a group. And we could see their dirt trail up ahead. We caught up to them, just as they were reaching the claim. So I guess, no harm no foul.

Up The Hill

Now, I have been to plenty of rock collecting sites. And while many are on flat land, it seems that the best stone is almost always up a mountain or a canyon. And you just have to work your way up to find the best pieces. Rainbow Ledge is that kind of place.

A Long Way To The Top

The weather was perfect. Nice & sunny, with just the slightest breeze. Now, if I could just find the right rocks! My helper on this trip was my youngest, Andy. He was just looking to get out of town for the day, HA. At first he was grumbling about the climbing to get to the rock - but after a while he was enjoying himself. And it was alot easier with him to help carry stuff back to the truck.

"There's got to be some good rocks here."

As you climbed closer to the top, the rock rubble became more of a challenge. And you didn't want to fall on this stuff. It was sharp!

Rock & Stone everywhere

But, the real work was finding good quality pieces with solid structure, not all fractured up. And nice color combos. You couldn't just pickup anything, you really had to look.

The Top!

Andy made it to the top of the mountain. By time to go - I was still not there. No loss, we still brought home lots of pretties. I would have stayed another couple of hours but the field trip leader wanted to get us all out of there...... All in all, it was a great day.

What did we bring home?

And some closeups.......


My saw will be humming for quite a while of these beauties.....

Remember, for your Gemstone Cabochons

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rockhounding trip this weekend!!!!..........The Polished Pebble

We have been keeping our noses to the grindstone here recently. Trying to get stuff cleaned up & put up. And that has left little time for anything other that slabbing stone since I can do that while I work on something else. Also, since the time change - it gets dark way too early.

But Sunday we are making a trip to Ridgecrest for the Indian Wells Valley Gem and Mineral Society's 54th Show. They also have a field trip to their CLAIMED site - "Rainbow Ledge", also known as Rainbow Ridge. The always beautiful & varied jasper & agate by the same name. This is the only time the club allows non members to collect since someone went in there & made a mess with machinery & explosives. That incident nearly cost the club their claim. So now it is closed to other collectors except for this yearly trip.

I have a couple of pieces from the area, but they are pretty fractured. I can work around the fractures for  some nice cabs, but I am really excited about not only getting some primo rough. I really want to see the location & maybe some other areas that might just produce some different agate or jasper designs.

An added plus is just getting out. I love to get out a see other places & be able to do some checking of areas around know locations. Sometimes it pays off, others not so much. But hey - the hunt can be just as much fun as finding. Plus, it is not too far from home. If we do find something of interest.

It will be a long day & I plan on taking lots of pictures. Mondays post should be very interesting. Remember to check back.

Your outlet for Designer Gemstone Cabochons -

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wind Polished Agates & Other Natural Stones.........The Polished Pebble

As a lapidary - one who cuts, grinds, shapes & polishes gemstones - I have also continued to collect & use "Natural Finish" stones in my personal projects. Heck, I even drag home rocks that I never intend to cut. They are just Pretty Rocks, and they are just as important to me as my other stones.

When I was young, on vacation, my mother would bring home unique looking rocks. Driftwood, bits of rusted metal & anything else that caught her eye. She would use them inside & out for decoration. So, I guess it was not surprising that I did much the same as I grew up & looked for inexpensive items to decorate my home & yard.

Now, don't get me wrong - my home & yard don't look like a junk yard or something like that. It is just that I tend to use rather unconventional items in different ways.

That brings me to my latest topic - the use of wind or stream polished stones in jewelry. Truth be told, I have been using such items since I was in high school. Even then looking for something different, natural & beautiful. Something that no one else had - or could just go to the store & buy.

I did a couple of Google searches, looking to see if anyone was marketing such items. The pickings were pretty slim. But not everyone even know what I am talking about so here are some pictures.........

Botryoidal Black Agate Pocket

The above picture is one of quite a few pieces I picked up on our last trip to Wyoming. Notice the natural polish. It is a sweet little piece 1" tall by 3/4" wide. There is some host rock attached to the back that I plan on triming. This little beauty would make a great centerpiece for a pendant.

Blue - Black Agate with a Druzy Pocket

Another Wyoming find, this piece has one of the most desired centers around. Druzy is "Hot" right now in jewelry designs. The demand for good pieces is thru the roof. Right now this piece measures 1 3/4" long by
1 1/4" wide. There is also some host rock to trim on this piece. It could also be split in half, depending on its final design.

Blue - Black Agate with white accents

One of my favorite pieces I brought back. When you hold it in your hand it looks like a heart that has kind of melted & deformed slightly. The only thing this little pretty needs is to be put into a pendant that will highlight it's unique natural design. It measures 1" tall by 3/4" wide.

What about something different?

Botryoidal Agate Nodule from the Geode local

This little bubbly ball needs some more cleaning, but it shows the fun design that could be worked into a unique jewelry piece. It measures in at 1" by 1" by 3/4".

And this?

Flat Jasper Nodule

This very earthy piece was found in a jasper local. There were large broken nodules pieces littering about a 100 ft area. Nothing really spectacular about the big pieces. But I found this little guy in the rubble. The chip was already there. This piece measures almost 1 3/4" tall by 1 1/8" wide and 3/8" thick.

Pieces like these are one of a kinds. And for the most part, unless you are the one out there looking for them, not available to buy. Until now.........

We are going to start listing some unique "Natural" pieces in our website. Pieces that will allow those up for the challenge, to design truely one of a kind works of art.

The pieces pictured here were from our latest trip to Wyoming. They were being sorted for use. I have additional pieces that we will also feature for sale starting 11-15. Until then, you can just dream.

We have also recently purchase a new camera & will be working on replacing the current pictures on the website to ones that give better detail. Please excuss our mess during this change over.

For your designer gemstone cabochons -

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wyoming Jaspers, Agates, Opal & Geodes,OH MY!.........The Polished Pebble

Well, we have been home for a while. And some of the "Must Due Before Winter" jobs have been crossed off the  list. In between everything we managed to get alittle cutting done. And alittle closer evaluation of just what pretties we brought back from our Wyoming trip.

So I thought I would give you a few pics & some info.

Assortment of gemstone rough from Wyoming

The first picture shows a piece of chocolate brown jasper with bredicated common opal, a piece of jade & quartz, & a piece of golden japer. I am really excited about the jasper & opal piece. It was found as float & search as I may, I couldn't find anymore. It is waiting for us to fire up the big saw, as it is too big for the 12".

closer look

This picture also shows what we think is rose quartz. It is a monster piece & we hope it will fit in the large saw. You can also see the opal in the jasper better.

Geodes & Agate Nodules

Direct from my secret local, are a few Geodes & Agates Nodules. I brought home some last year along with some pieces. Figuring that I could cut the pieces for cabs. Was I wrong. You see, most of the geodes are a mixture of Agate & Calcite centers. So, when the Geodes broke open the Calcite got stained & broken down in structure. And if I did find some solid, it soaked up the cutting oil like a sponge. I tried - but for the most part it didn't work out well.

This year I concentrated on either whole Geodes or solid Agate Nodules. Here are some pictures of a few I have cut.

I will be cabbing a few soon - so we should know how they work out. Right now they look like some winners.

I also picked up some black agate, should make some nice cabochons. There are some pieces that are wind polished & I am thinking about using them as is. I LOVE natural finish items, the texture is so organic.

I found this great old jar on a trash dump at the Ranch

And there are NO empty jars at my house - it was only fitting that I filled it with smaller pieces of black agate for this trip.

That is just a peek at what we brought back from Wyoming.

Oh, we have recently been camera shopping & I think we have found something that will give us better pictures to share & not cost an arm and a leg. We'll have more info on that & MORE Gemstone & Lapidary stuff soon.

Don't forget - for your Gemstone Cabochons


Monday, November 2, 2009

Missing In Action........The Polished Pebble

It has been a long - but short month & a half since our last post. It can be funny how life takes it's twists & turns. Some you can see coming & even plan for them. Others, you just buckle down & hold on. This last 6 weeks has been a mix of both.

One of our planed events was our last trip to Wyoming. Each year for the first two weeks (or so) of October Randy & I travel to Wyoming for hunting season. He hunts Elk, I hunt rocks. Last year, I was the only one bringing anything home. This year, we brought home rocks & Elk meat.

From a hilltop near the Medicine Bow Mountains

The weather reports were not good as we approched the trip dates. And while the first few days were nice, the weather gods were ready to snow on my parade. And snow they did. And hunting for rock in the snow - well it just doesn't work. To top it off, Randy got his Elk (before the snow).

Looking out across the high plains.

Since we stay with family while we are back there, you just can't get there & then leave right way to go out rocking. So, the first day there was spent visiting & resting from the long drive. The next day looked good so out we went. Randy out hunting for Elk, me for rock. The weather report was saying good weather for a couple of days, so I took off for the farthest point I was planing on visiting this trip.

First stop was Agate Flats. Now, you would think with a name like that - you could just step out of your truck & find lots of stuff. WRONG!!!! This place has been pretty much picked clean. There are stories of wagon loads of "Sweetwater Agates" being carted out of here long ago. I knew that, but I still wanted to check it out.

Sweetwater Agates from Agate Flats - Wyoming

Well, they were right. That place was picked clean. The picture above is all I found & I spent quite a few hours there poking around. Sadly, I left that morning without my camera - so I have no pictures of the flats. But they look much like the high plains.

You might ask why I stuck around if the pickings were so slim. Well, it is hard to explain. I love getting out & walking & looking. And when I do it just seems that the time flies by. Plus, you never know when you might stumble across something that others might have overlooked in their haste.

By the time I got out of that area & back on the highway there was not time to drive into the Jeffery City area. I was alittle over 2 hours from the ranch & needed to be back for dinner. So I took another side road & found some interesting rock - and then headed back.

A road to the middle of nowhere.

The weather forcasts were still saying I had a couple of days of fair weather. So I went out again the next day. I was going to be going to one of my favorite collecting areas (so far). Visiting a ranch that I have permission to collect on & checking out some more BLM land near it. This trip is a hour plus drive on a dirt road out in the middle of the high plains. While making this trip I am always watching the weather. If a rain storm blow in - the roads turn to snot. And even with 4wd it can be impossible to drive.

I go directly to the ranch first. They have graciously allowed me to collect on their property, with the understanding that I will NEVER reveal the location of what I collect there. And I won't, ever - so don't ask!

So, what exactly is it that I find there? Geodes! Glorious, beautiful geodes & agate nogles.

Cut and Polished Geode from 2008 trip

Above is one of the largest I have found to date. It is about the size of a softball, most are about quarter size. I have not had a chance to cut any othe the ones from this years trip yet. I spent the whole day there, hunting geodes & other agate pieces. They are not plentiful - but well worth the time & effort. Luckily the weather held & it was a perfect day.

The next day, the weather was supposed to turn bad late - so I got out and made a trip toward the Medicine Bow mountains. I love the mountains, with their trees & streams. I am happiest when I am in a grove of trees with a stream. I started my hike in a area that is prime hunting (Elk, Deer etc.). There were a number of hunters camps set up where I parked.

Since I do my rock hunting during the busiest big game hunting time - I wear my "Great Pumpkin" outfit. Depending on the weather, it can consist of an orange safety vest, and a orange fishing hat. Or if it is colder, with wind - I have a heavy Blaze Orange coat & a Blaze Orange knit cap. I even have Orange gloves! I don't hide when I am out there.

This day, I was doing more exploration than anything. As I left the parking area, I caried my backpack, with food, water, rope, cell phone (yes, I had service), firstaid kit, extra jacket & my rock hammer. I got many a funny look from confused hunters - where was my rifle? And why was I out there by myself? Those that ask - I just tell them I hunt rocks not animals.


Up the mountainside I went. It was a beautiful day & I did a number of miles in my travels. Found a couple of interesting rocks (nothing to write home about) & saw lots of wildlife. Since I went the opposite way as the hunters I saw a couple of deer, a fox, lots of squirrels & a BIG BEAR track. With the camera protected in my pack as I was climbing, no pictures. And I was kind of in a hurry to ge out of the area I saw the bear track in - as it looked fairly fresh.

Small creek running down the mountain.

Alittle closer look.

Thru the trees, looking out.

Working my way down the mountain.

I kind of made a circle in my travels on the mountainside, so when I got back to the parking area, I came in from the opposite side. As I was walking to my truck, a couple of hunters said a few of them were concerned that I was gone so long (guess they thought I souldn't have been there in the first place). I told them I was a big girl, was perfectly fine & had a great time exploring. I didn't tell them about the deer - they can find them for themselves.

I came back to the ranch that night & Randy had gotten his Elk.

The next day loomed gray & WINDY. Before long the rain & snow rock hunting today.
And it snowed, & snowed. And then some rain & MORE SNOW!

Just a little dusting.......

Here it comes!


And more.....

It just kept snowing......

A little break....


Now, those of you that get snow alot are probably thinking - What a baby? No, not really. I didn't have a big problem with it. My problem was I was stuck in someone elses house for FOUR days. It isn't such a big deal if you are home & you can go about doing your stuff. Bless those who we stayed with. I was nice & warm & dry....but, I was ready to come home.

I have lots of rock to cut from the trip. Tomorrow I will post some more pictures.

Glad to be back!
Checkout the website for new treasures from our trip soon - at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jade, JADE & more JaDe The Polished Pebble

We have been working on adding more cabochons to the website - and one of the finished cabs is Golden Rain Jade . We had gotten this gemstone rough from a longtime friend who's parents once owned a rock shop (here in Bakersfield) & a jade mine in the mountains above Fremont, CA.

The story goes, that there were many grades & different types of jade in this claim area. Some had black, feather like dendrites. Some had white inclusions, and most was beautiful gemmy green jade. Different shades where throughout the mine area.

But there was one inclusion that brought a premium price. That was the jade that had golden tendrils through it. It was called Golden Rain Jade. Sadly, I don't know the reasoning behind the popularity. I don't even know if our friends ever knew - there was one buyer that would pay a higher price than any of the others. Just so he would have all that was for sale.

Our friends sold tons of Jade from the late 1960's thru 1970's until there was a falling out with their partner that ultimatily lead to my friends losing their ownership of the mine. I don't know the statis of the mine at this time - but my friend thinks the new owner lost the claim many years ago.

When they were selling off their remaining stone I was able to get a few choice pieces. Some bigger than my saw can cut at this time. Many that are just waiting their turn.

Our friends were quite surprised when we uncovered this one piece of the Golden Rain Jade. They thought it had all been sold. I offered to let them keep it - but the declined. Too many rocks, not enough time & they were downsizing

That brings us to today. I had finally gotten around to slabing that piece & have one cabochon finished & listed on our website. It is a beauty, but that's what you would expect from Golden Rain Jade - right?

Don't forget to checkout the new Gemstone Cabochons on our website - The Polished Pebble  your source for quality designer gemstone cabochons for your jewelry needs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hey, what is that stone??????? The Polished Pebble

OK, so we have touched on the importance of knowing the actual name of the Gemstone material your are working with. And if you are a lapidary, letting your customers know so that they can pass that info on to their customers.

And at times that can be challenging. Because most of the rough stone is purchased from others. At Rock & Gem Shows, estates, online sellers - the list goes on. While I personally love to go rockhounding, I could never justify only working what I found. So, the quest goes on.

There are a number of ways to uncover the identities of different gemstones or minerals. Some are as easy as looking on others websites. Venture out and look around. On alot of the available material the names & origins are easily found. Other times the info you seek could be difficult to find.

Once you start handling assorted material, it is best to expand your resources. There are a number of books that will help you in your quest. And an added bonus, you may just learn alittle more about the stones you are working with.

One of my favorite sources of info is . It is the website of Ron Gibbs. He shares his love of gemstones & photography with all that care to visit. Along with the most unbelievably beautiful photos, Ron sneaks in a lesson or two on just what make that stone so special. All in easy to understand text.

Ron has recently published a book - Agates and Jaspers.

A fantastic look at those wonderful works of art that could have only been made by mother nature.

This full color book is - in my opinion - a must for anyone that works with agate & jasper, in lapidary or in jewelry.

Check out Ron's website at or for more info on his book, go to

Be sure & tell him Connie @ The Polished Pebble sent you!