Gifts for rock collectors are top of mind with the holiday season in full swing. Rockhounds are curating their wish lists with the same dedication they apply to their collections.
Our magazine writers have been reflecting on their most cherished rockhound gifts and what they hope to find under the tree. Whether it’s a practical tool, a book that has become a trusted companion or a beautiful specimen piece, these gifts reflect the essence of rockhounding – a shared appreciation for Earth’s treasures, minerals and jewelry.
We hope you’ll find inspiration and ideas for gifts for rock collectors and for celebrating the season with the fellow rockhounds in your life.
“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Silverton, Colorado — its history, mines, people, scenery and of course, the train. They also know that a good book is always on my wish list. Over the years, I have purchased over 60 books from Silverton local, Scott Fetchenhier of Fetch’s Mercantile. Scott is a geologist, miner, snare drummer in the town band and the author of one of my favorite books, “Ghosts and Gold,” the history of the Old One Hundred Mine just outside of Silverton. These days, the Old One Hundred offers tours and is owned by Bill Jones, brother of Bob Jones, editor emeritus of Rock & Gem magazine. It would make a wonderful gift if your rockhound has these same interests. I also included a second favorite book — a coffee table book of black and white photographs of San Juan County, Colorado mines, mills and Ghost Towns which tickles my fancy of mines and photography by local, Colorado photographer Thomas Livingstone, “Historic Treasures of the San Juan Mountains”–also purchased from ‘Fetch.’” – Sue Eyre
“I usually don’t receive rockhound gifts from my family because I have too much stuff already. Although, a couple of years ago, I did receive a slab of Davis Creek obsidian from my grandson who accompanied me on a rockhounding trip to Northern California and Southern Oregon.” – Bob Rush
“My rockhounding partner in crime (and dirt), Charles, gave me a mother-of-pearl necklace years ago that I adore to this day. I love the origin story of this mineral otherwise known as nacre and, as a Cancer and water sign, I do believe these natural gems of the sea resonate for me in calm and healing ways. We’re hoping to visit Washington D.C. for the holidays, so if Charles will indulge me in a visit to the Smithsonian’s mineral and gem collection at the Museum of Natural History to say ‘hello’ to the Hope Diamond (especially after enjoying Steve Voynick’s October article on its purported curse), that’s all I could ask for (okay, and maybe a new pair of Uggs).” – LA Sokolowski
“My father, Floyd Painter, was given a small assortment of Carboniferous plant fossils collected at Cloyd’s Mountain in Pulaski County, Virginia, by an anthropology student at Old Dominion University as a trade for some Native American artifacts. The fossils included some fossil fern carbonized imprints on shale, a small (6-inch) piece of a Lepidodendron trunk, the leaves of Sigillaria, a giant lycopod, as well as one large (9-inch) Stigmaria fossil of gray sandstone. My father gave me this and a couple of the smaller pieces for Christmas of 1991 or 1992. They are my favorites because they were part of the very first real forests in the world, forests composed of strange-looking, huge versions of plants whose modern relatives are so small that they are often not even noticed in the woods and fields. There is nothing quite like them in the world today and if I show them to people, they will hopefully remember them for the amazing things they are and not just think of them as some old shell. This year, I’m asking for a gift card to an airline to put toward fare for a trip to observe and/ or collect more fossils and minerals.” – Deborah Painter
“I know it is sacrilege, but I really do not need any rocks, gemstones or crystals. In fact, I really need to sell one or two thousand pounds of stones, but giving these away for holiday gifts is not always a thoughtful or personal gift. So, this year, I am buying my rockhound friends the agate book bundle by Marco Campos Venuti. The two books in this bundle are Genesis and Classification of Agates and Jaspers: A New Theory and Banded Agates: A Genetic Approach. Being a self-confessed agate enthusiast, I find the two books fascinating in their exploration of the origin of these beautiful gemstones and the photos capture some of the most wondrous agate specimens in the world. After reading these books, or just looking at the pictures, I guarantee you will never look or think about agates the same way again.
“This holiday season, I am asking Santa for the Deluxe Hardness Pick Set from mineralab.com. Sure, asking for a specific gift rules out the element of surprise, but it is something I really need in my lapidary studio and it is a gift that won’t need to be returned. This is a replacement gift because I have almost worn out my current pick set. It is an essential tool for me to identify rocks and gems quickly. I already have a specific gravity testing setup, dichroscope, refractometer and other gem identification tools, but the Deluxe Hardness Pick Set is my first line for identifying rough rocks and gemstones. It is not to be used on finished gemstones and lapidary art. Although my old pick set is still working, a new one will ensure accurate testing and I can give my old one to a junior rockhound in need.” – Mark Oros
“My favorite gifts are books, everything from field-collecting guides to the full range of Earth science topics. They don’t wear out and never lose their value or use. I’m hoping to get the Maine edition of the great Roadside Geology series by Mountain Press to add to my home library this year.” – Steve Voynick
“My daughters bought me an Estwing paleontological hammer with a leather grip and had it engraved with my moniker PALEOJOE. That hammer has seen a great deal of use and made some wonderful discoveries. My next wish is for a Marine Corps K-Bar knife and sheath. Believe it or not, it works great for splitting sediment while looking for dinosaur bones.” – Joe Kchodl
“My favorite gift was a UV flashlight that enables me to check out new specimens. Before receiving this gift, I had a little dinky light that was practically useless unless it was completely dark. This light is powerful enough to use while I’m standing up with the room light on. I am pretty certain my friend got it from Amazon. It’s a uvBEAST Black Light UV flashlight. For the holidays, my friends and family know that any type of geode that I do not have is welcome. The quest for this may well be the premise for a new Mission Impossible flick!” – Richard Gross
“The gifts I enjoy most are the ones I give. The first gift is a 350-pound polished malachite from Africa. It was given to the Alfie Norville University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum in Tucson in memory of my first wife who was a U of A graduate. The next gift is set to go to the Pima County Gem and Mineral Museum. It is a large mass of schist with several emeralds embedded in the schist and the upper part is a series of carved busts.” – Bob Jones
“My favorite rockhound gift? Art Clay Silver. It provides hours of fun transforming sand dollars and other little marvels tossed up along our local beaches into pure silver jewelry that I, in turn, can give as gifts throughout the year. For this year, Santa, bring more Art Clay Silver! Not to be greedy, but Art Clay Gold would be good, too!” – Jim Brace-Thompson
“My favorite rockhound gift was my first pair of good steel-toed hiking boots that I received for Christmas in 1980 when I was a sophomore in college. I was about to leave for my first real field geology class that January, and it was great to have a pair of boots that did not fall apart in the wilderness. Many of my fellow students had cheap boots that literally came apart at the seams in the mountains, but my quality boots stayed intact. As I recall they were a pair of Timberlands.
“The rockhound gift that I am asking for this year is for as many family members as possible to join me on a rock-collecting trip to the mountains. Field trips are more enjoyable with lots of people, but I will settle for anyone who wants to come. Getting family motivated to come on field trips is often a challenge!” – Robert Beard
“My favorite in my gifts for rock collectors list is an amethyst bookend from my daughter. She bought a pair of them and kept one for herself and I have the other. This is special because she is moving away from home for her first job. It has such a sentiment for me as my first child leaves the nest.
I do have some picks for gifts for rock collectors as the editor. These are great products for rockhounds to consider as they are making purchases this year. The first is an Easy Saw Rotating Clamp (www.easyrotatingclamp. com) for jewelry makers. According to their website, “It features a 360-degree rotating clamp that can securely hold a variety of materials, including sheet metal, carving wax, and coins.” If you do purchase this and make some jewelry with it, please share photos of your creations. I’d love to see them.
My second pick is the Tumble-Vibe 10 (No Drain 115V) Professional Rock Polishing Kit from Raytech (www.raytech-ind.com). This tumbler takes your game to the next level and is designed specifically for rockhounds. It has everything you need to immediately plug and play (minus the rocks).
Last but not least is a faceting machine from Ultra Tec. If you’ve been thinking about learning to facet gems, Ultra Tec offers top-quality machines and superb customer service to help in your journey. I like Ultra Tec so much that I’m often tempted to learn how to facet myself.” – Pam Freeman
This story about gifts for rock collectors appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe. Story by Pam Freeman.