One of the American Geode founders in his coolest duds before growing up to be a prominent rockhound, prospector and miner.
Show this ticket for discount admission to the New York gem, mineral and fossil show
Show this ticket at the door for discount admission to the 2016 spring New York gem, mineral and fossil show. American Geode will be at the New York show and we hope to see you there. If you need more information about the gem, mineral and fossil show, and what to expect, please contact American Geode through our website American Geode.
Our friends at the New York Mineralogical Club and Excalibur Mineral Corp. are hosting the November gem and mineral show here in New York City.
This is a gem and mineral show we attend every year. As you enter the show, your first exchange will be with the New York Mineralogical Club, our beloved home base, and you will have a chance to join the club, or just learn about the club. Join the club however for some great prizes and gifts.
Now the show itself is full of the top dealers in and around New York City. You will have the chance to acquire very fine high-end pieces, very large display mineral and geode specimens, museum grade fossils, interesting one-of-a-kind artwork, as well as fine gemstone jewelry.
Make the trip the beginning or part of your day in New York City. You are not far from the American Museum of Natural History, and very close to the American Folk Art Museum, which is free admission.
We hope to see you there. Contact us via our “Contact Us” button if you would like to meet at the show, or at the hotel bar or after the show!
Print out this discount coupon, or show it from your phone at the entry booth!
Rockhounds follow lessons out in the wild, wilderness, desert and forest that are also valuable in the city. Rockhounds know to bring their own bags, backpacks, saddle bags or pouches with their gear, and also with their finds consisting of gems, minerals, fossils and other stones. For me, this also applies when I am out here in New York City. I bring a backpack, side-bag or saddle bag when I leave the apartment because I am a collector. Like most rockhounds, we are collectors, as well as adventurers and discoverers.
Hence, and the purpose and motivation of this essay, I find myself bothered when I buy a can of soda, or a few items from the grocery store, and the clerk insists on putting the items in a plastic bag. Even when I am carrying my rockhound bag, which is a Fred Perry airline bag, the stores in New York City automatically put your can of soda, or packet of peanuts even into a plastic bag! So now when I walk up to a counter, the first words I speak are “No bag please.” I have recently found myself saying, when asked “Do you want a bag?,” “No thank you. That would be such a waste.”
Now Joe and I have each, respectively been to Vietnam, but when I was there, a Vietnamese tour guide said to me that the plastic bag was the white man’s curse on his country. I saw that in Vietnam as well. We were on tours out in the Vietnamese forests, walking for miles, and then we would walk past a plastic bag, the same type of plastic bag passed out with every transaction in New York City.
The plastic bag is everyone’s curse on the environment here in America as well. New York City streets are littered with them, the trash cans are disproportionately filled with them, and the landfills will continue to grow in area with plastic bags.
American Geode is bothered by the amount of plastic bags that litter our forests and our cities. We hope that all readers will share this essay, follow our example to #banthebag, and refuse a plastic bag during your next shopping excursion, and treat every excursion like a rockhounding excursion, and carry your own bag!
For the most up to date events, check out our Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Newswire.
The Joy of Rockhounding
By Charles Snider
I read an article in the New York Times, and have seen this story played out in commercials for modern day sitcoms. We are becoming so dependent on our phones, or our laptops and the social media sites that they contain, that we can not watch a television program with another person in the room without engaging an electronic device. The experience of watching TV or a movie, or reading, or being with someone else is not enough these days. The story I read talked about the generation upon us now, being born and taught to utilize a tiny screen at all times, even while a person, a teacher is standing before them speaking. According to the article, we crave as many distractions as possible, and they are not human, nor are the natural.
This premise led me to reminisce about last year’s rockhounding trips. Leaving my phone in the car felt awkward, but someone knew where I was going, approximately, if I were to fall into a hole or something were to happen to me. It’s not like I needed my phone on me to dial 911 or call someone because I was in trouble. There were 2 fellow rockhounds with me. I just felt a little awkward at giving up that “distraction,” but when I did, and started marching into the woods, listening to my steps, and to nature, it felt like another world,,,and it always does when I go rockhounding.
Rockhounding, or amateur geology as it’s sometimes called, for me is a great retreat from all the distractions of modern life. The tools I carry, the provisions I bring, the clothing I wear, while modern, are not very different in design or purpose than what one would carry to go rockhounding 50 years ago. Back then, we did not these personal distractions on us, so rockhounding these days, turning off your phone, having your phone disable because there’s no signal, however you can get off the grid these days, rockhounding is one way to do it.
I believe we are losing the art of conversation, certainly of negotiation, and possibly sense of humor with our reliance on electronic devices. Rockhounding on the other hand requires all three of those parts of life. Conversation is a natural part of rockhounding with your crew, negotiation is required at the end of the day to figure out how to divide up the loot, and laughter and humor and fun is a common theme throughout a rockhounding trip. No devices required.
The last time I went with the Eastern Federation/NY/Long Island club group to the Herkimer Diamonds claim for instance, there were 3 of us lugging a jackhammer in a dolly, as well as towing all the other supplies like a trio of pack-mules. We met some lively characters along the way in their respective claims. There was one gentleman who goes by the name “Diamond Jim.” As we each anticipated, he told stories about how he found the largest Herkimer Diamonds ever and always finds the largest pockets. Then there was s dude named Montana at another claim. We learned later that he was living out of his van, and peddling Herkimer Diamonds to fund his gas, lodging (the van), meals, and I am not sure what the bathroom, laundry, or shower situation was, but we ended up hanging out with him for 30 minutes and helped him mine Herkimer Diamonds for gas money. Going back to the theme of this article, did I exchange numbers or anything from my phone with either gentleman? No I did not. We met along the rockhound journey, shared some banter and laughs, heard some laughable quips and tall-tales, and we engaged with each other without distraction.
So by design, rockhounding is one of the most social activities in which one can participate, and no phone or distraction can make it any better. Popular TV shows these days encourage you to watch for different content on your laptop while you are also watching the show, and Tweeting and other Social Media is encouraged and rewarded. Your multi-tasking is purely solo, and does not involve or include your friends, loved ones or good mates even if they are in the same room. Compare and contrast that to a rockhounding trip with your club, loved ones and family, good buddies and friends, and consider that any distraction on your phone would not enhance your experience, but take away from it. You need all your senses ready to lay your eyes on a giant Herkimer Diamond pocket. You don’t want to be distracted when a large garnet pops out of Connecticut schist. Walking the dried creek beds in Indiana seeking a rare geode covered with growth, or concealed underground, is not enhanced if your eyes were reading the screen on your phone, like we see commonly on the streets of Manhattan for instance.
To conclude, for me the Joy of Rockhounding is that it forces me to put down my phone, to expect no emails from the office, to be away from Social Media “friends” and among “real friends.” These days multi-tasking for work and entertainment is commonplace, and keeps us from cooperating and working together. Rockhounding demands cooperating and working together, and demands that we are more human and involved and engaged with each other.
Are all Herkimer Diamonds double-terminated quartz crystals? The answer is yes. Does that make all double-terminated quartz crystals Herkimer diamonds then? The answer is no.
Herkimer refers to the location of these unusual quartz clusters found in hollow “pockets.” Herkimer County is about a 4 and a half hours drive north of New York City. The name Herkimer comes from an American Revolution General named Nicholas Herkimer who died in battle in 1777.
Now the source and formation of Herkimer Diamonds is of particular interest to us here at American Geode because the Herkimer Diamond was formed in “pockets” not unlike the pockets that formed geodes. Most quartz crystals grow, over the course of millions of years attached to a matrix, attached to the surrounding rock or stone. So in those formations only one end of the quartz crystal grows to its point. With Herkimer Diamonds forming inside pockets, freed from the surrounding matrix stone, they grow points on both ends.
The Herkimer Diamond began forming nearly 500 million years ago in pockets within a sedimentary rock called Dolostone (Dolomite + Limestone). Sedimentary rock, different from its two cousins Igneous rock and Metamorphic rock, is formed by layers of mineral and organic matter under hundreds of million years of pressure. As more layers of mineral and organic matter are deposited, this increases the pressure and weight on the lower and earlier layers of sedimentary rock below. The Dolostone covered Herkimer County during the Cambrian Age, when Herkimer County was also the bottom of the sea that spanned across North America.
Now this is the part of the Herkimer Diamond formation that is similar to the way geodes are formed: organic material, plants and sea life would die and be buried under new layers of sedimentary stone. When these plants and other sea life would decompose under the rock, they release gases, and this gas is what formed the “pocket.” Evidence of this organic, plant material succumbing to decomposition is clear when you see the black shiny flakes of Anthraxolite that surround or leak from these pockets. Anthraxolite is a carbon compound and by-product formed when organic material breaks down.
So as the organic material decayed and broke down it became a gas, trapped below layers of sedimentary stone. Air creates its own pressure inside a substance, so the air pressure was carving out its own cavity from the inside out. These air pockets became the pockets we rockhounds discover as we crumble, break, and peel away layers of the dolostone. Over the course of 200-250 million years the layers of sedimentary rock increased and grew, and this increased the pressure and heat on the buried dolostone. Also inside each of these air pockets were various quartz and carbon elements and other compounds “feeling the heat” from being buried below layers of sedimentary rock.
Under this pressure of the sedimentary layers of rock, and the ensuing heat, the quartz and other compounds inside these pockets began to transform themselves. Finally, over the course of 300 million years, the glaciers that sat atop Herkimer County began to melt, and washed away layers of the sedimentary rock, and allowed the compounds and elements inside these pockets to cool down, and crystallize.
An important question to answer right now is “why are the Herkimer Diamonds double-terminated?” The answer is that quartz does not adhere to dolostone, so the quartz trapped inside these air pockets trapped in dolostone did not adhere to the surrounding matrix stone. This left the quartz crystals free to crystallize unattached to matrix stone, and allowed both of their ends to grow into terminated points.
Many Herkimer Diamonds are found attached to one another in a cluster. They did adhere to one another during their formation, but again did not adhere to the dolostone interior of the air pocket.
The value of Herkimer Diamonds is determined by their size, and by how opaque, or translucent they are. The more translucent and bigger Herkimer Diamonds are worth more to a collector or jeweler than the smaller opaque specimens. Knowing the history and background of the Herkimer Diamonds however lends a premium in our opinion when you are considering adding Herkimer Diamonds to your collection. They are not commercially mined due to various New York state laws limiting mining in the state, and most of Herkimer County is being used today by grazing cows, apple orchards, tart cherry trees, farms of squash, cabbage and onions, and wine grapes.
We have recently gained access to heretofore unmined and barren acres in the Herkimer County area on the same geologic slope and ledge as the traditional Herkimer Diamond mines.
We are in consultation right now with the owner about constructing a pole-barn over this new Herkimer mine so we can mine year-round. to keep updated on this exciting new venture to discover the first new Herkimer Diamond mine of the 21st century.