Building a Great Mineral Collection: How to Care for Gemstones

Close-Up Photo Of Assorted Gemstones

You purchase a beautiful emerald for your mineral collection but forgot to maintain it properly. One year later, you find it in your drawer with much of its luster lost. Why? In our recent blog, we discussed guidelines for investing in gemstones. Now, let’s take a look at how to care for your investment. You need to be aware of the dos and don’ts regarding the maintenance of gems. One wrong move and they can lose their shine (and value) for life.  

Gem Maintenance Overview

In addition to a mineral’s rarity and alluring beauty, they are prized for their durability. In fact, their natural toughness is one of the main reasons why gemstone collections have become such a popular mode of investment today. However, you would be wrong to think that given their literal rock-strong build, these ornate stones don’t require any maintenance. 

Whether you plan to sell them down the line or not, it’s essential to know how to care for them. Improper storage and negligence in cleaning these minerals regularly or with the wrong substance are rookie mistakes many gem collectors make. This can have an adverse effect on the beauty and brilliance of these stones. This, in turn, can greatly reduce their total worth and hence, any potential profits you can make by selling them.

Here are some important tips on how to look after your gemstones and maintain their exquisite beauty.

Cleaning Your Gems

A 2 carat diamond being held up by tweezers

It doesn’t matter whether they are tucked away safely in a box or displayed openly on your shelf. Gemstones need to be cleaned periodically. Cleaning is quite easy and should only take a couple of minutes. 

Generally, all you need to do is rinse them with lukewarm water. This washes off the dirt and dust that may have settled on the surface. In some cases, you might need to add a bit of soap or other mild detergent to remove hard stains. 

If you have just mined a piece from a public gemstone dig site, you will need to clean it more thoroughly to get rid of all the soil and grime. 

Depending on the size and texture of the stone, a small cleaning brush with soft or medium-hard bristles would suffice. Most of the time, a toothbrush or paintbrush works well, so grab one and gently scrub.

Clean it in a slow, circular motion. Avoid scrubbing too harshly as it can scratch the stone. 

For very small-sized gems that are hard to clean with a brush, dip them in a bowl of soapy water. Then rub each piece gently between the tips of your fingers to remove the dirt stuck to it.

Once clean, immediately dry the stones using a soft, lint-free cloth. 

Pro tip: Never wash your gemstones directly in the sink as you risk losing them easily.

Cleaning Specific Gemstones

The Diamond
“Diamond” by nikilok is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The above method of cleaning is generally safe for most rock minerals and crystals such as emerald, jade, granite, amethyst, corundum and others that are similar in chemical composition. 

However, you should try to research about the nature of each gem in your collection. This is because some of these tend to be of quite a sensitive nature. Cleaning your minerals too frequently or with water that isn’t at the right temperature can dull their luster permanently.

For example, turquoise and amber have a relatively lower resistance than most gemstones. Using detergents or warm water to clean them can result in a change in color due to chemical reactions. 

Here are some important considerations for some of the common minerals that require extra care to handle:

  • Peridot – Peridot is quite soft compared to an average gemstone. Avoid putting too much stress otherwise it may crack.
  • Turquoise – Store it in an airtight box or plastic bag as moisture from the air can stain its surface over time
  • Garnet – Garnet is heat sensitive so avoid prolonged exposure to warm water
  • Pearls – Wash them with plain lukewarm water. Dipping them into chemical solutions can discolor the outer layer
  • Aquamarine – Keep in a soft pure cotton cloth after cleaning as aquamarine is prone to scratches. 
  • Opal – Do not wash it with warm water as it is extremely sensitive to heat. Wrap in a soft fabric before storing it. 
  • Sapphire – Keep it away from stones like diamond and ruby as their hard edges can scrape its soft surface 
  • Diamonds – Being the hardest of all gemstones, they bear heat and pressure well. Mechanical cleaning is often the go-to method for restoring their shine. However, always hand clean it properly first to avoid scratching during the mechanical cleaning process.

Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Some expert level gem collectors like to use special equipment such as ultrasonic cleaners. These home kits are basically made for cleaning crystal and stone-embedded jewelry. Most of them have a steam and boiling system to take your gems from dull to dazzling in no time.

It is quite an efficient and effective way to maintain a large assortment of gemstones in prime condition. But it is usually not recommended for beginners.

The heat and concentrated chemical solutions used in these cleaners can damage your stones if there is a slight oversight on your part. Plus, it is not suitable for all types of stones. If you want to use such advanced methods to restore the shine, it’s better to leave it to the professionals. 

Take your collection to a jeweler and they can clean it for you.

How to Store Gemstones

Opal sterling silver bracelet
Opal sterling silver bracelet hand made in Belize

When it comes to storing your gemstones, just remember this one cardinal rule: keep them away from heat and sunlight at all costs. 

Heat and light, especially ultraviolet rays in sunlight can have an adverse effect on the color and durability of these minerals.

Stones like amethyst and quartz can become dull and tarnished if kept under direct sunlight. Storing your gems in a high temperature environment can also dry up their natural moisture. 

Microscopic water droplets play an integral role in holding the structure of mineral rocks together. Reduced water content can cause a fracture in these stones. 

Also, remember to always wash your hands thoroughly before touching any gemstones. Chemicals from hand moisturizers, perfumes or even the natural salts and other compounds in our sweat can be damaging for their natural glitz. 

End Note

Building a gemstone collection is fun and exciting. But you must remember that although mineral rocks have high resistance, they are not indestructible altogether. To maintain their beauty, you need to store them properly and clean them periodically.

Follow these tips on how to care for gemstones and rest assured they will retain their shine and luster for years to come. 

Investing In Gemstones – What You Need to Know

Photo of a diamond shaped gem
Photo Splash.com

Gemstones have always been a valuable commodity and there is no reason why they won’t continue to be so in the future. If you’ve got your hands on the right stones, similar to gold, their price will rise even when the economy is falling in shambles. If you’re planning to invest your money in something valuable, gemstones might be a good place to be, because there will always be people who’re willing to purchase them! 

One common misconception is that only people who have a lot of money can purchase them and take advantage of the excellent returns they’re known to be associated with. However, the truth is that you don’t have to have deep pockets to step into the world of gemstones. Anybody can invest in minerals, provided that they have enough knowledge, time and patience. Gems might not change your financial portfolio overnight, but your patience may pay off.

While investing in gems is definitely worth it, the greater benefit comes to those who follow a set of guidelines. This blog talks about some of the important things that you need to know.

How To Get Started Collecting Gemstones

Before you can start investing, you need to have clarity about the extent you want to be involved in. Depending on that, there are two ways you can do this.

Hands-On Approach

In the hands-on approach, you’ll be involved in the process yourself. You do everything yourself. You’re the investor who buys the gemstones and holds the asset, and it is you who sells them later and earns a profit. The good thing about being involved yourself is that you have maximum control over the amount of profit that you make and the gems that you deal in. However, the downside is having the hard asset in your ownership puts extra work and costs on your shoulders, including the cost of insurance. 

Hands-Off Approach

You always have an option to invest in gemstones through a proxy. You can invest in stocks of a mining company and enjoy a share in the profit. In this type of approach, you don’t have to have the gemstone in your possession. It is the best option for people who do not have the time to buy, sell and look after the hard assets themselves. With the hands-off approach, you can even diversify your investment portfolio and invest in multiple gems in stocks and stock funds.

Top Rules for Making Most Out of Your Gemstone Investment

Like we mentioned above, following certain guidelines can increase your chances of making great profits. Like any other investment, you can’t expect returns if you don’t do the right things. Let’s have a look at the top rules that you must follow if you’re stepping in the world of gemstones.

Buy Right

The first and the most important rule when it comes to investing in gemstones is to buy them correctly. You don’t necessarily have to purchase the expensive, high-end minerals for maximum profits. You can earn significant profits from cheaper gemstones. The key is to buy the right ones. The cost basis of the gemstone you’re investing in should allow a built-in profit on the day you acquire it. You must secure a margin of safety. The largest factor that determines how good a profit you’ll generate is paying the right price. You should have ample knowledge of the minerals that you’re buying. You should have the basic knowledge of how to deal with them. The key here is simple – to buy the right gemstones, so make sure you do the necessary research. 

Avoid Bad Buys at All Costs

You won’t be lucky all the time. The chances that you’ll end up with a bad buy are always there. Although the rule is to avoid bad buys at all costs, what is it that you should do in case you do end up buying the wrong gemstones?

If you end up buying the wrong gemstones, you shouldn’t hold on to it in hopes that it will give you a good return any time in the future. A bad buy today will be a bad buy, even after years. As a rule, the value of gems increases with the rate of inflation. Hence, a bad buy today might never turn into a good asset. Therefore, your priority should be to sell it off as soon as possible. Finding a buyer is always more difficult. However, if you hang in there, you might be able to sell it off at an inflated rate.

At times, a gemstone that is high in demand today may suffer a major hit in the future. A great buy may turn into a bad asset later. For example, back in the day, blue topaz was a highly rare and demanded gemstone. However, in the 1960s, a technique was introduced that could convert originally white topaz into blue ones. As a result, blue topazes became readily available, and there was a massive drop in its value. Therefore, when you’re investing in gemstones, you need to have enough knowledge that you can predict the future to some extent.

Find Your Own Buyers

Unless you own a gem-related business, you aren’t likely to get a retail price for your gemstones. You need to look for your own buyers, like jewelry dealers and auctioneers who’re most likely to pay a full wholesale price for the gemstones. How skilled you’re at selling makes a significant difference here. If you’re weak at selling, we suggest you not to invest in gemstones. Selling gemstones doesn’t come easy!

Consider Markup Before Investing

You might believe that higher-priced gemstones will give you greater returns, but you’ll be surprised to know that lower-priced gems have a higher markup as compared to the expensive ones. The markup is usually five times or more in the case of lower-priced gems. As with more expensive ones, the markup is usually three times the wholesale rate. Therefore, another important rule to keep in mind is to consider the markup before investing in any mineral. 

Add Value

The price of a gemstone can drastically jump if you incorporate the right measures. Between a rough and cut gemstone, the cut will be more in demand. Similarly, a gemstone in finished jewelry will be more valuable between a loose gemstone and finished jewelry. Consider adding as much value to the deal as you possibly can to make the most out of your investment.

Closing Word

Investing in gemstones, like any investment requires you to do extensive research to make sure you’re choosing in the right ones. The right start will increase the chances of the tables turning in your favor. However, the wrong investment rarely gives any returns. Following the guidelines mentioned above will help you make the most out of your investment. Take your time studying before making an impulsive decision! 

5 Best Places to Go Gem Hunting in the US

Close-up of a large amethyst mineral rock
Photo from unsplash.com

Eager to find a variety of real gemstones that can take the total worth of your collection to the next level? 

Roll up your sleeves and hold on to your digging tools for you are in for a real adventure!

From sunstones and emerald to sapphire and even diamonds, there is a wide range of treasure hunting possibilities. Here, we have listed down some designated public dig sites that are considered the best spots for gem hunting in the US.

Emerald Hollow Mine, North Carolina

Emerald Hollow Mine is one of the most interesting geological locations in North America. While it is located in Hiddenite, North Carolina, it is anything but concealed from the public. In fact, this is the only emerald mine in the world that is open for public mining.

Here, you can not only hunt for gems but even turn them into a stunning piece of jewelry via the help of local artisans right there on site. 

At the sluiceway, every visitor is given their own bucket of ore that comes down the line straight from Hiddenite’s emerald mine. However, gorgeous green gems are not the only thing you will find here. 

The place is also rich in other natural stone formations including amethysts, aquamarine, topaz, and more. So, keep an eye out for them as well.

This gem hunting site also consists of a family campground along with a RV park with modern amenities.

All in all, Emerald Hollow Mine is a must-visit for every gem collector. However, if you wish to avoid crowds, consider visiting later during the day as this is often the destination of choice for local school field trips.

Jade Cove, California

If you are hunting for jade, the Big Sur mountain in California is the place to be. Although its rocky and rugged terrain is praised for its dramatic scenery, what makes it all the more attractive is the treasures hiding beneath it.

Jade in Jewelry
Beautiful Jade in Jewelry

Jade is one of the most precious gems in the world – and this place holds lots of it. Whether you dive in for a swim or take a stroll along the beach, you are sure to find some precious gems at Jade Cove located at the South corner of the Big Sur.

For the best results, try to visit this place during the winter season. This is because the rough undercurrent naturally brings many gemstones to the shore. Make sure to look between the boulders as well as in small piles of gravel along the coastline.

Keep in mind though that Jade Cove is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Therefore, compared to typical gemstones dig sites, this place has a relatively strict guideline for the do’s and don’ts of jade hunting. 

Research and read them carefully before you book a trip to the Cove.

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

A supplement to the Nashville News of nearby Nashville, Arkansas, advertising diamonds mining in the early 1900s (public domain)

Fancy taking a trip where you return with free (yet 100% real) diamonds rather than just some nice photos and your average run-of-the-mill souvenirs?

Well, this is exactly what a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas has to offer! 

This aptly named place is basically a volcanic crater. Billions of years ago, it saw some serious volcanic activity which resulted in magnificent rock formations and crystallization of buried carbon. Today, it is a hotbed of diamonds hidden deep under the surface. But still, not so deep that an average person with no or little experience in mining won’t have a hard time finding some. 

The Park features a total of 37 acres of plowed field. Visitors can dig right in for a variety of rocks, minerals, and gemstones. 

Whatever you find is completely yours to keep. But you will have to really work for it because the park does not allow the use of battery-operated or motor-driven mining tools. 

Nonetheless, a shiny diamond glistening in the soil makes every drop of sweat completely worth it.

Morefield Mine, Virginia

Morefield Mine is located in Amelia County on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia.  Not so long ago, the place was populated by military suppliers looking for minor metals and strategic minerals such as tantalum and mica, respectively. 

After the end of World War II, the mine was bought by a private investor who turned it into a field for gem hunting. 

Morefield Mine is rich in amazonite, but it is known to contain a total of over 80 different types of mineral rocks and gemstones. 

The mine is around 2,000 feet long and is located more than 300 feet beneath the ground. The owners periodically open up new excavation sites by blasting the cave. So, visitors can rest assured that their trip will be quite fruitful.

Royal Peacock Opal Mine, Nevada

If you are more interested in collecting one-of-a-kind gemstones regardless of what their true value may be, a trip to the Royal Peacock Mine won’t disappoint.

Located in Virgin Valley in Nevada, this region is touted for its exceptionally large and unique black fire opals that are unlike any other found in the world. The place holds the record for one of the largest opals ever found. The ‘Gingko Log,’ as it came to be known, weighed around 130 pounds and measured almost 16 inches at its widest.

A black fire opal is generally not very expensive. But with extraordinary colorations featuring green, yellow, blue, orange, red, and even purple hues, it surely makes a fine addition to any gem collection. 

End Note

There are many places to go gem hunting in the US. But the ones mentioned above are the most popular among avid collectors due to the high turnover. They are the top gem hunting hotspots where you most probably won’t be returning empty-handed from.

12 Fascinating Geological Facts

A rocky terrain

Geology isn’t limited to the study of rocks; it also encompasses the study of how these rocks change over time and often gives us clues about Earth’s history, and it provides geologists with information about plate tectonics, Earth’s climate over the years, and how life has evolved on Earth since its inception.

Geological wonders never cease to amaze people. From subtle geochemical changes to massive volcanoes, there is so much information that you can’t help but feel fascinated at the marvels of our home planet. To help you see what we mean, we’ve listed down some of the most fascinating geological facts that will leave you smitten! Let’s dive into them right away!

Potential Volcanoes

How many times have you watched movies where volcanoes erupt and cause mass destruction? And most of these movies are based upon facts. The Mount Vesuvius volcano at Pompei is a perfect and riveting example. Well, what would you do if we tell you that there are as many as 18 volcanoes across the globe that can possibly erupt at ant time? What’s worse, all 18 of these potential eruptions are situated in Hawaii, Alaska and the West Coast of the United States! 

  1. Rubies and Sapphire Are the Same Minerals  

Rubies and Sapphires are two of the most widely known and commonly used gemstones around the world. A ruby is known for its characteristic deep red color and sapphire for its breathtaking blue color. However, did you know that both Ruby and Sapphire are the same minerals? They are both made from the mineral corundum. Corundum has a basic chemical formula Al2O3. What makes the two gemstones different are the traces of other components. Ruby gets its characteristic red color from traces of iron, whereas Sapphire gets its blue color from traces of titanium or chromium.

Diamonds Come in a Variety Colors

Most diamonds are transparent; however, thanks to the movie Titanic, people are more aware that colored diamonds exist too. Although colored diamonds are extremely rare, you’ll be surprised to know that diamonds come in a variety of colors, including brown, blue, orange, yellow, green, purple, pink, red, milky-white, gray and even black. Of all the colors, red diamonds are the rarest and the most valuable!

Yellowstone is Not a Supervolcano

There’s been a lot of hype around the Yellowstone volcano. People speculate that it is a supervolcano that will erupt and destroy the whole of the U.S. If you’re one of the believers of that theory, we hate to break it to you that Yellowstone probably won’t erupt to that magnitude. 

The quantity of magma beneath Yosemite is quite small at present. Even if it does erupt, which it is not likely to, it will not destroy America. The result will probably be some minor damage in its surrounding areas. 

According to experts, the chances of Yellowstone erupting as a supervolcano in the next thousand years are as low as 0.00014%. You might have a better chance of winning the lottery.

Glaciers are Causing Earthquakes in Great Lakes Region

You might think that the fault lines on the west coast are the only area where earthquakes can occur in the U.S., but they are quite common in the Great Lakes region, and this is because of the glaciers in the region. These earthquakes are a result of Earth’s rebounding after being squashed by the glaciers from the last ice age. 

No Country Owns Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the few areas on this Earth that remains uninhabited (if you don’t count a few scientists and lots of penguins). If you’ve ever wondered which country owns Antarctica, you’ll be surprised to know that no country owns this part of the world. It is a neutral zone that is not owned by anyone. 

However, it is difficult to say how long that status will remain, as due to the melting of glaciers, numerous oil reserves in the continent have been exposed. It’s a situation that keeps developing and something to keep an eye on for sure.

Antacids are Chalk

Many people complain that antacids taste and feel like chalk in the mouth. Well, that is because antacids are chalk! Chalk is typically calcium carbonate, and that’s what antacids are made up of. So, if you think you’re gulping down a chalk mixture, that’s what you’re probably doing!

People Automatically Float in the Dead Sea

This is because the water of the Dead Sea has such a high salt concentration that the water is a lot denser than the weight of humans. Humans, being less dense, automatically float over the surface of the Dead Sea, without even having to try!

Asia and America will Form a Supercontinent

This geological plan might fascinate you the most. Scientists predict that in about 200 million years, America and Asia will collide and form a single supercontinent that will be centered at the North Pole. Scientists have even given a name to this supercontinent – Amasia!

The North Pole and the South Pole Can Reverse

We’ve grown up with the fact that the North Pole forms the upper extreme of the Earth while the South Pole forms the lower extreme. What if we tell you that our magnetic poles often reverse? The South Pole and the North Pole reverse their magnetism, flipping the directions around. It is predicted that it might do so once again in 1,000 – 10,000 years. 

San Francisco and Los Angeles Might be Neighbors in the Future

The Earth is constantly slipping along the fault lines of San Andreas at a rate of two inches per year. This means that in the next 15 million years, San Francisco and Los Angeles will become neighbors.

20% of Earth’s Freshwater is in the Great Lakes

You’ll be amazed to know that 20% of the entire world’s fresh water is in the Great Lakes. This percentage doesn’t include the polar ice or underground aquifers. 

Closing Word

While we may not realize it, our Earth is constantly changing. We may think that we’ve managed to uncover most of the Earth’s secrets, but you will be amazed to know how little you know. The Earth holds untold secrets that will take us almost forever to find, and that too might not be enough to uncover it all! These geological facts are just a few of the long list of known facts. There is so much more to know!

The Science Behind the Age of the Earth

How do you calculate your age? You simply subtract your birth year and current year. But when it comes to determining the age of the sprawling sphere which we call home, Earth, it becomes a bit trickier. Let’s explore what science has to say about the age of the Earth.

The age of the Earth couldn’t be guessed by anyone before the process of radiometric dating came into play. In 1898, the pioneer of radiology, Marie Curie discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity. The atoms either decay or lose energy by emitting radiation in the form of electromagnetic waves or particles. Later, in the year 1904, Ernest Rutherford, the famous physicist determined how this decay could let them explore the age of old rocks.

With this exploration, Arthur Homes, who was completing his geology degree in London, acted as a helping hand by developing a new technique of dating rocks using the uranium lead method. He applied this technique to the oldest rock and got to know its age. Applying the similar technique to calculate the age of the Earth made him reach the conclusion that the Earth was at least 1.6 billion years old.

But wait, this is not the actual age of the Earth! The Earth’s age has always been hotly debated among the scientists over the years. That is why several revisions have been made. Later, in 1920’s, an unknown scientist declared that Earth’s age was approximately 3 billion years. This suggested that the Earth was even older than the universe, which itself is 1.8 billion years old.

Later, the scientists declared that radiometric dating of the fragments from Canyon Diablo iron meteorite was the best estimate for calculating the age of the Earth. From those fragments, they got to know that the true age of Earth was 4.56 billion years.

Since then, scientists have been using radiometric dating to determine the age of extraterrestrial objects such as Earth, meteorites, space rocks and moon rocks. For many years, scientists have tried to determine the exact age and now that they have discovered its age using the radiometric dating, they are using it for several other space objects as well.

Interesting Facts About the Earth

View of Planet Earth from Hubble Telescope

Located nearly 93 million miles or 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) away from the Sun, Earth is the largest of the terrestrial planets—or the four rocky planets closest to the Sun in our solar system. (The rest are gas giants).

This third rock from the sun is the only planet in our solar system that is not named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. The name Earth is at least 1,000 years old and is an English/German word that simply means ground.

It takes roughly 24 hours for the Earth to complete a full rotation, but that is gradually slowing. This deceleration is almost imperceptible, but has the effect of lengthening our days. It is happening so slowly, though, that it could be 140 million years before the length of a day increases to 25 hours.

First photo of Earth from space which shows the south polar ice cap
First photo of Earth from space which shows the south polar ice cap

The first photo of Earth from space was taken on October 24, 1946, by a V-2 test rocket launched from New Mexico. From there, we turned our attention to the closest body in our solar system: the Moon.

While the Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite, is only the fifth largest in our solar system, in terms of percentage of the size of the body it orbits, the Moon is the largest satellite of any planet in our solar system.

Astronomers hypothesize that the Moon was formed 4.5 billion years ago, not long after Earth, from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body.

The first unmanned spacecraft to reach the Moon was one from the Soviet Union’s Luna program in 1959, and the first manned lunar landing being Apollo 11 in 1969. The last manned spacecraft was Apollo 17 in 1972, and since then, the Moon has only been visited by unmanned spacecraft.

NASA started to plan to resume manned missions for the construction of a lunar base by 2024, but the program was canceled in favor of a manned asteroid landing by 2025 and a manned Mars orbit by 2035. But in 2019, NASA started making plans for not only going back to the moon by putting the first woman there and even more exciting, manned trips to Mars!

What is Gravity?

Girl Jumping
Photo by Zachary DeBottis from Pexels

It’s invisible. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it, but if you fall off a tree you will definitely feel its presence. It is gravity. One of the mysteries of the universe that keeps us together, literally.

Explanation

Simply put, gravity is an entity that draws objects inward and when this happens, interesting things occur. All planets’ moons rotate around their planet due to the its gravitational pull. Planets rotate around their stars, because of the stars’ gravitational pull, and stars rotate around their galaxy’s black hole, which has a mind boggling gravitational force within it.

How Gravity is Formed

Nebulas contain random masses of gas and dust. When this gas and dust start combining, gravity begins to build, which then attracts more matter to combine with the building of gas and dust. Subsequently, the mass can become so big that planets can be formed and the forming mass gets larger, stars will be created. And onward it goes, (over billions of years), eventually entire solar systems are created, all due to the mysterious force of gravity.

Our moon has gravity as well, but since it is much smaller than Earth, it only has a minimal effect on our planet. The oceans feel the moon’s gravitational pull, which is why we see tides moving in and out.

The Moon’s Influence of Title Waves on Earth

In summary, the more massive the object is the more mass it has and the stronger its gravitational pull will be, so gravity is proportional to mass. In addition, the closer an object is to another object, the stronger its gravitational pull will be on that object as well.

What is Gravity? Explained in more detail below.

How to Start Your Own Gem Collection

gems and minerals on display
Learning about gems and minerals is exciting and informative

Need a hobby? How about collecting gems and minerals? Mineral collecting is both exciting and informative. Exciting because of the intricate colors and shines the different varieties have and informative because one must learn their geology in order to really appreciate them.  It is a historical trip back in time to discover the hidden gems of the earth.

If you are a beginner who is looking forward to creating a collection of your own, you don’t necessarily have to start out with making huge discoveries of these beautiful gems. You can start right at the beach or your very own backyard if you have one!

Here is a guide on how to start your own mineral and gem collection as you explore the intriguing world of these minerals and rocks.

Start with General Research  

The internet is your best friend as it is full of information on literally anything and everything, but always make sure you are using reliable sources. Learn about the unique features and characteristics of each mineral so that when you finally come across one, you can easily identify which one it is.

Begin Close to Home 

Since you are a beginner, you don’t have to go to specific places or locations to look for these gemstones. Start close to home and explore your current locale. Learn the geology of your own area and be on a lookout for caches or interesting geological features that might catch your eye.

You are likely to come across different types of rocks that look unusual, have a mix of colors and will be a great addition to your collection.

Join a Mineral Collector’s Club

There are book clubs, movie clubs and meetups both in-person and online where people from different parts of the world come together to discuss their favorite hobbies? 

You can easily find such a group online which you can join and get in touch with people who share your interest and connect with them. That way, you get to learn the many things minerals have to offer, along with tried and tested methods to mineral and gem collection.

These clubs also often list exhibitions and events that you can attend and learn more about how to start your own collection.

Get Your Hands on the Right Tools 

Mineral collection obviously involves some kind of digging and excavating for which you need to get your hands on all the right tools that you will need for creating your collection.

As a beginner, you will just require a few basic tools such as a magnifying glass, safety glasses, gloves, bucket, a small shovel and a box to carry all the minerals and gems that you will find on each trip.

The above tools make an excellent beginner’s toolkit, and since you are just starting out, you don’t need to worry about getting advanced equipment anytime soon. You can keep adding more items to your basic kit once your collection begins to grow, and you become more skilled at different collecting techniques.

Identify Your Findings 

It is very important that you identify all your findings because that way, you will learn all about the features and characteristics of each mineral type that you find. There are two simple ways to go about this.

First, you can put your web searching skills to good use and take help from the online community to help identify your specimens. You can even search for mineral books that list the types of minerals and gems with a geological glossary.

Second, head to the nearest museum in your area and consult a mineralogist who will help you recognize your findings.

Label Your Collection 

To make this entire process even more fun and engaging, you can label your collection by numbering the specimens, giving them unique names, mentioning the locale details, historical significance, as well as noting down the features such as color, texture, etc.

This will not just add to your knowledge, but if one fine day you were to start a career in geology, keeping such records will come in really handy.

Invest In Nice, Quality Boxes to Keep Your Minerals Safe 

It is imperative to keep your gems and minerals extremely safe so you can look for nice, quality boxes, cases or even a display cabinet to store your collection. However, if you wish to be a little creative, you can search for DIY projects and create your own containers. 

The best thing to use for this is egg cartons. They are sturdy, durable and can be easily transformed into attractive containers to hold your specimens. You can paint them and even decorate them with accessories if you like.

When storing your collection, make sure that each mineral or gem is at a safe distance from each other. This is done to prevent them from banging against each other. Some of them are likely to be very fragile, so it is best to have dividers between each mineral.

Beautify Your Collection 

For most collectors, the ultimate goal is to collect enough, which can be displayed later at a geology fair or exhibition, website or even sell them.

If you wish to do the same, you must beautify your collection. One way to do that is to trim all the specimens properly to remove sharp edges and balance their look and feel.

There are numerous trimming tools for fine mineral specimens that will help you make your collection stand out by enhancing their features and appearance. 

Are You Ready to Have Your Own Gem Collection?

Building a gem or mineral collection isn’t really difficult; you just need to be a little inquisitive, adventurous and bring out the explorer from within you.

It is truly a very exciting hobby, and once you have you have a full-fledged collection, you can display your beautiful specimens at different mineral shows and events!

Understanding the Earth Systems

View of planet earth from outer space

Earth science is an important part of geology. Earth science deals with the physical composition of the earth and its atmosphere. Without understanding this branch of geology, knowing how the earth works is not possible. Earth science involves many aspects, including the earth’s atmosphere and rock formations, and it is here where we will be focusing our attention.

Earth system

Five interconnected parts compose the Earth’s atmosphere. The collection of materials and processes of one part are different from that of the other. However, they are not independent, as each part interacts with the other. 

A number of gasses make up the earth’s atmosphere including 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gasses. The atmosphere is present way above the earth’s surface and becomes thinner as it reaches the space. The earth’s atmosphere consists of five layers. The first of these layers is where weather and clouds are found.

All the life present on earth is known as biosphere. This includes all things that inhibit the earth including remains of the deceased. All the life present on land and in the ocean such as plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, etc. make up the biosphere of the earth.

Consisting of all of the rocks of the earth’s crust, whether it is the rock that lies underneath the crust, the rock near the earth’s core or the core itself, comprise the lithosphere and is the planet’s solid outer core. The Lithosphere is where major catastrophes such as earthquakes and volcanoes occur.

Hydrosphere is all the water that the earth encompasses including all the oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater, water vapor, and even a pool of water. About seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water and a good part of this water is the ocean. Water is a major necessity of life whether it is used for drinking, cooking, cleaning or agriculture purposes.

Finally, we come to the cryosphere. Cryosphere includes all of the planet’s frozen areas such as snow, glaciers, and ice present in the sea. Covering the earth’s surface, Cryosphere is usually visible during the winters.

Is There Anything Scarier than a Tsunami?

What on earth scares you? (Pun intended).

Many would answer war, hunger, terrorism, poverty and even death. Things like these make the havoc wrecked by natural disasters quite puny. Every once in a while we hear about a cyclone killing hundreds, a volcanic eruption that destroys villages, a severe earthquake that brings mass destruction and death or a tsunami that just sweeps away entire towns along its path.

Natural disasters are a reminder that we are only human. That even the best defenses cannot save us from the forces of nature. And the tsunami happens to be one of the most fascinating natural disasters to study.

A tsunami is a sequence of oceanic waves forming due to an earthquake, a volcanic eruption or a landslide that occurs under the surface of the sea. The underwater world is a mysterious one and yes they do have mountains down there too! There are times, although rare when these waves are the result of the impact of a giant meteor that falls into the ocean.

The waves of a tsunami can reach a height of or more than One Hundred Feet!

Ever wondered what causes a tsunami?

Tsunami is a Japanese word. It translates to “harbor wave” (tsu=harbor + name=wave). The Pacific Ocean has the “Ring of Fire” which is the most tsunami prone region in the entire world, with around 80% tsunamis occurring there – a reason why Japan has a long history of tsunamis.

However, the worst tsunami in history occurred in the Indian Ocean in 2004. It was caused by an earthquake that equates to twenty-three thousand atomic bombs. The waves originating from the core of this tsunami wreaked havoc on the coastal areas of 11 different countries that included India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Maldives, South Africa, Kenya and Somalia. The death toll reached a tragic count of 283,000 lives.   

It is observed that the first wave of the tsunami is usually not the most powerful one; the ones that follow gain strength, height and destructive momentum. The average speed of a tsunami has been recorded around five hundred miles per hour – at that speed, it can almost compete a jet plane!

In the United States, the states that are most exposed to the risk of a tsunami include Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, California and Alaska. Out of these states, Hawaii that is most prone to the tsunami. On an average, the state gets at least one tsunami each year and there is a severe one that hits them every seven years. The worst tsunami to ever hit Hawaii was one that occurred back in 1946. It hit the Hilo Island at a speed of five hundred miles per hour with waves as much as thirty feet high!

How Tsunamis are Created (Wikipedia Public Domain)

Tsunamis don’t lose their energy as they travel. They could cross entire oceans without losing their momentum. Unlike other natural disasters, it is possible to predict the estimated time for the tsunami to hit. Scientists can derive that based on a calculation related to water depth, distances and the timing of the cause.

.

Howard Fensterman Minerals