Gem and Mineral Clubs – The Essential Guide
From attending, volunteering for, and being members of gem and mineral clubs in New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and attending camps, seminars and intra-club retreats with people from all over the United States, we consider ourselves gem, mineral, and fossil club aficionados. So whether you are considering joining a gem and mineral show for the first time that perhaps you found on our Events page, or you are a veteran of gem and mineral clubs, this primer on clubs will prove to be a valuable resource on what to expect from a gem and mineral club and how to have more fun.
First, consider what you are seeking from a club. Is it the academics and education of gemology, geology, paleontology, or archaeology? Are you seeking rockhound partners and buddies? Are you seeking to use a work-shop for cabochon or lapidary arts? Are you seeking fellowship with a group that meets outside of their monthly meetings? These are questions to ask as you search for the club that is right for you.
The answer may be to join more than one club.
Each club does have a different style, and you can tell what that is from their homepage, or if they do not maintain a homepage, then ask someone from the club. We belong for instance to one club in Long Island who meet every Saturday in the basement of a natural history museum and they have a complete workshop! Saws to cut giant geodes in half, cabochon machines, polishing wheels, lapidary tools, faceting machines, and kilns to heat your wire-wrapping or jewelry projects are for your use each Saturday! In Texas, another club where I belonged had all that equipment in their own private clubhouse! Is a workshop something you seek to pursue and hone your hobby? If so, then find the club that offers that equipment.
Now the clubs like this may not always have a special monthly speaker, but the clubs who meet in a rental space, hotel banquet hall or college facility very likely provide different speakers each month. The clubs in big cities, where a workshop or clubhouse would be impractical, or impossible to acquire and maintain rely on other facilities for our monthly meetings and shows, so to keep our membership growing, those kinds of clubs keep a lively roster of speakers on their calendars.
Is your goal to get out and rockhound? Do you seek to explore old abandoned mines? A question to ask a club is do they throw and organize field trips? You can often times find out the answer on their homepage. There is often a “field trip” section, much like our Rockhound page. If you can’t tell, then ask the club. Sometime being in a big city can make field trips a challenge. Most people in New York City or Chicago do not have cars for instance. A field trip would require permission and arrangement to visit a site, a bus or fleet of vans, and if it rains, the field trip is canceled. Another very important benefit of rockhounding with a gem and mineral club is that they are often insured to visit locales closed to the public. The organized gem and mineral clubs arrange the trips in advance with the property owners, and insurance for the group is a requirement to step foot on the property or site.
Now not all big city clubs offer field trips and rockhounding. The age range of the club can also set the tone for interest in rockhounding and field trips. For a club whose members’ days of getting out and rockhounding are retired, you may not find rockhounding opportunities.
So what is the best approach to becoming involved with gem, mineral, and fossil clubs? The answer is to join more than one. The dues are annual and range from $15 per year to about $50 per year on the very high side. There is a club in Houston to which I still belong, I am in New York City mind you, but this club’s newsletter is chock full each month of so many good tips about polishing gems and minerals, cleaning rocks from the field, and other anecdotes, that like “Playboy” magazine, I subscribe to it strictly for the articles!
So join more than one club, like we have, as we have access to a workshop when we need it, field trips in the spring and fall, the chance to hear academic and scholarly discussions in geology and paleontology, and we are making new friends, and you will too, during the whole gem and mineral club experience!
If you have other ideas or feedback about gem, mineral, and fossil clubs, please click the “Contact Us” button on the left of the screen and tell us. Be sure to continue checking our Events page for the most up to date gem, mineral, and fossil club announcements along with breaking news in geology, paleontology, and natural history. #GetOutandRockhound