January 04, 2017

Grape Agate

A new type of chalcedony has entered the market recently, which is called Grape Agate.  It is properly named purple botryoidal chalcedony that looks like a bunch of grapes.  Grape Agate comes from Sulawesi, Indonesia and was discovered many years ago.  It wasn't until about a year ago that the Indonesian Government allowed for the material to be exported.  The Gem Shop has a limited number of these unique specimens available on our website.  These beautiful pieces are a great conversation piece and addition to any rockhound's collection.  Discover this new agate:

December 02, 2016

Elf on the Shelf Contest

The mischievous elf is hiding on our website!  Can you help us find him?  Every day at 9:30 am CST until December 24th , the elf will appear somewhere on our website.  If you find the elf, the item that he is hiding with will be 50% off!  Be quick to find him because once the deal has been claimed for the day, you will have to wait to see where he shows up tomorrow for another deal.  Check our Facebook page for clues and results of where the elf was hiding.

November 22, 2016

Ramshorn Plume Agate Pt. 2

First of all I would like to say that my friend Jake is the best agate tracker, prospector, and miner I know. He is responsible for producing major portions of the Bruneau, Morrisonite, and Rocky Butte Jasper in the market. Many of the Jaspers in Hans Gamma’s book “Picture Jaspers from the Northwest” were named by him.
Ramshorn Mountain curves around a large basin draining to the South. There are 20 or so small canyons that drain into this basin. There are 8 or so canyons on the east side of the mountain and another 20 or so canyons on the west side. The north part of the mountain is basically inaccessible except by horse, and takes more than one day's time.
When Jake and I started looking for the deposit we considered all these things and decided to systematically inspect the canyons in the basin first. It was unlikely that the deposit was on the north or northwest side of the mountain considering that an eight-year-old boy was there. Not impossible just improbable. The only access we knew of at the time was from a road that crosses the creek draining from the basin located about 5 miles north of Horse Creek Campground. It was a good 2 mile hike from the road to the bottom edge of the basin. We inspected two canyons each day we were in the area together. Jake would go up one canyon, I would go up the next, and we would meet on the ridge in the middle and compare notes. We found agate casts and other things but not the plume agate. Jake had more time to look for the agate than I did so he inspected many of the canyons by himself.
After 4 years we gave up on the basin and started considering the south and southwest side of the mountain. We discovered another very bad four wheel drive road going up the slope on the southwest corner of the mountain. This road could be driven only when the weather was dry and was a challenge for any four wheel drive vehicle. The road ended much higher on the mountain next to a beautiful mountain lake. Jake spent considerable time up here driving his four-wheeler from Horse Creek Campground to the lake and then hiking from there. He found some wonderful casts, some with plumes, in the second and third Canyons on the West Side of the Mountain.
Six years after we started looking for the plume agate Jake decided to stay in the area a little longer (the Wiggins Fork area is only accessible in July and August). In early September he was up high on the west side of the mountain when a sudden snowstorm hit. It is dangerous to be on the mountain at ten to eleven thousand feet elevation in either rain or snow. He decided to get down off the mountain as fast as possible and took several shortcuts coming off the cliffs and much to his surprise walked right over the deposit. The deposit was less that 50 yards from the trail on the way out. In fact both of us had walked by the deposit several times in the previous several years.
One year later Jake and I looked over the deposit and made plans on how to dig the agate. The vein extends straight down into the slope of the steep hillside. As far as we can tell the van might be twenty yards long. Float agate extends down the ravine for a long ways. The following was considered: 1. Because of the difficulty in getting to the deposit only 3 to 4 hours of work is possible in a one day trip to the area; 2. The deposit is small and digging straight down into the hill will only produce a small amount of rock; 3. The agate is good enough that every effort should be made to get all the agate possible and not miss any in the process.
We decided to carefully dig the float from the drainage below all the way up the hill to the vein. Jake and I started digging a 10 foot wide section from the ravine directly below the center of the vein. We started finding agates right away. For years we have been working our way up the hill in the same 10-foot span on the hillside finding all the agate that has been eroded from the vein above for centuries. This process took great discipline especially on Jake's part. Spending so much time tracking down a deposit, finding it, and then not working the vein was very hard. Any work on the vein itself will bury agate deeper that has eroded out earlier and is buried below.
We have approached the production of this material in a very disciplined way. In the years Jake and I dug here, I estimate that we have produced a total of about 500 pounds of agate. I am confident that the float in the hillside 10 feet to the left and 10 feet to the right of where we dug will also produce a lot of agate. I am hesitant to define in more detail the exact location of the deposit although with the above information it should not be that hard to find. If by chance the reader of this article finds the deposit I would only ask that you follow our lead in the digging of the rock.

November 21, 2016

Ramshorn Plume Agate pt. 1

The Quartzsite show is just around the corner and those of you who are planning on visiting for the first time are in for an unusual experience. The Quartzsite show is a unique rock show as you never know what you might find there, (referring to all the shows as a group). The following is a story of Ramshorn Plume Agate and how the Quartzsite show adds to the richness of the lapidary world.
About 20 years ago my good friend Jake, Darroll Jacobitz, and I were walking around the Pow Wow in Quartzsite Arizona. We were both dealers in this show and we're taking a break walking around to see what we could find. We came across a young man selling small quantities of rock mostly from Wyoming. Jake and I noticed a box of slabs with a strong green outside that looked very similar to some of the vein agate and limb casts that Jake and I collect every year in the Wiggins Fork area of Wyoming. While the slabs looked similar to agate we collected at Wiggins Fork, it had beautiful gold plumes on a dark green bass with clear agate on top. We asked the young man if it was from Wiggins Fork and he said no. It was from Ramshorn Mountain.
Wiggins Fork and Ramshorn Mountain are part of the same mountain range that extends out of the southeast corner of Yellowstone Park. Agate veins of different types and limb casts can be found throughout this area. Ramshorn Mountain is directly north of Dubois Wyoming and the Wiggins Fork collecting area is further north at the junction of Wiggins and Frontier creeks. The agate found in these mountains is mostly found between the 9 and 10,000 foot level of elevation.The agate looked very nice so we continued to ask questions. It turns out that the agate was found by the young man's father while hunting and he was at the deposit several times when he was a boy between 8 and 12 years old. All of the rock he was selling came from his father who had passed on. He could not remember where the deposit was and the only information he could provide us was that the it was found on Ramshorn Mountain close to the tree line in elevation. Jake and I decided to try and find it.

November 21, 2016

Unique Holiday Gifts

Get the rockhound in your life a unique present this year for the holidays!  The Gem Shop has several items that any rockhound would love to have.
     Agate Art from Steve Wheeler is one of these great gift ideas.  Steve Wheeler was a featured artist at the 2016 Agate Expo Art Gala Night. He specializes in micro-photography of agates and jaspers, and his work has been seen in Rock & Gem Magazine and several of The Gem Shop's Calendar of Fine Agates and Jaspers.  Steve’s goal in his ‘agate art’ is to create aesthetically pleasing pieces that would be appreciated by anyone, not just connoisseurs of gems and minerals.  These exquisite prints include micro-photography of Laguna Agate, Willow Creek Jasper, Coyamito Agate, and many other fine agates and jaspers.
     Pat McMahan's new book "Agates: The Pat McMahan Collection" is a book any rockhound would love to have.  The book features one of the most comprehensive collections of Sagenite, plume, and banded agates in the world.  1,150 specimens are featured from over 300 deposits in beautiful color.  Lively prospecting stories are also featured.
     The 2016 Agate Expo in Cedarburg, Wisconsin was the destination for many rockhounds this summer.  The commemorative DVD sets of the Agate Expo are a great gift.  Four different sets, each highlighting a different portion of the show, are available.  As a promotion from now until Christmas, when you purchase the complete DVD collection, you will also receive an Agate Expo Cinch Sack and T-Shirt.  If you purchase a single DVD set, you will still receive an Agate Expo T-Shirt or Hat.  
     Give the gift that keeps on giving all year long with The Gem Shop's 2017 Calendar of Fine Agates & Jaspers.  The calendar features 12 world class agate and jasper specimens in full color photographs.  For 2017, Laguna Agate, Chinese Agate, and Royal Imperial Jasper are just a few of the beautiful specimens that are featured.
     Start your holiday shopping early with these great gifts for the rockhounds in your life.

Agate Art:  thegemshop.com/collections/art

"Agates: The Pat McMahan Collection":

2016 Agate Expo DVD:

2017 Calendar:

September 28, 2016

2016 Agate Expo DVD Commercial

The 2016 Agate Expo DVD Sets are now available! The DVDs document this historic event, and each set highlights a different portion of the show. The Symposium, Exhibit Hall, Show Talks, Show Floor, Art Gala Night, and the Banquet are all featured in the DVDs. Watch the 2016 Agate Expo DVD commercial on our YouTube Channel to preview what these DVDs have to offer.
Order the DVDs on our website:https://thegemshop.com/collections/publications-1/dvd

September 15, 2016

2016 Agate Expo DVD

     The 2016 Agate Expo was a historic event, which showcased the greatest collection of agates ever!  Relive the 2016 Agate Expo with the commemorative DVD sets.  Each DVD set highlights a different portion of the show.  

  • Symposium DVD features all 12 speakers and their presentations.  
  • Exhibit Hall DVD features over 120 world class exhibits and interviews with many of the collectors.  
  • Show Talks DVD features all 10 speakers and their presentations.
  • Highlights DVD features the ribbon cutting ceremony, interviews with vendors, Art Gala Night, and the banquet, which includes Brad Cross' presentation.

These DVD's are a great addition to any rock club or rockhound's library.  If you missed the show, this is your chance to see what you missed.  The DVD's can be order separately or save $50 when you order the complete collection.  Pick up your copy today!

2016 Agate Expo DVD Sets:

September 14, 2016

Steve Wheeler Art

     Steve Wheeler was a featured artist at the 2016 Agate Expo Art Gala Night. He specializes in micro-photography of agates and jaspers, and his work has been seen in Rock & Gem Magazine and several of The Gem Shop's Calendar of Fine Agates and Jaspers.  Steve’s goal in his ‘agate art’ is to create aesthetically pleasing pieces that would be appreciated by anyone, not just connoisseurs of gems and minerals.  The Gem Shop is proud to have a selection of his art pieces available for sale.  These exquisite prints includes micro-photography of Laguna Agate, Willow Creek Jasper, Coyamito Agate, and many other fine agates and jaspers.  Discover the beauty in Steve's art:

September 14, 2016

South Dakota Jewelry

 Artist Mark Anderson has created five distinct necklaces exclusively for The Gem Shop.  These necklaces all have a South Dakota theme.  

-  Dinobone Necklace - The front of this pendant is an agatized dinosaur bone cabochon, which displays orange, red, and black coloring.  On the back is a dinosaur skull engraving.  The front half of the pendant is curved, while the backside is flat.  Agatized Dinosaur Bone can be found in South Dakota.  

- Dinosaur Skull Necklace - The pendant is a sterling silver engraving of a dinosaur skeleton.  Dinosaur fossils can be found throughout South Dakota. 

- Pasque Flower Necklace - The Pasque is South Dakota's official state flower.  When it blooms it is one of the first signs of spring in South Dakota.  This sterling silver pendant was hand carved and cast, with an Amethyst gem in the center.  The Amethyst's color represents the rich purple coloring within the flower.

- Swazi Agate Necklace - The necklace features a Swazi Agate Cabochon that is wrapped in sterling silver.  On the backside of the pendant the South Dakota State Flower is engraved, the Pasque Flower.

- Walleye Necklace - The pendant is a sterling silver engraving of a walleye skeleton.  The walleye skeleton is a symbol for walleye fishermen, and is the state fish of South Dakota.

The pendants are all hung on 18 inch sterling silver chains.  These necklaces are all handcrafted and quantities are limited.  Perfect for people who love South Dakota or very unique jewelry.  Discover these one-of-a-kind necklaces:

July 20, 2016

New Books

Three new agate books are now available at The Gem Shop!  Pat McMahan and Tom Harmon have put together their respective books with beautiful photography and great insights to different aspects of the agate world.  These books are all great additions to any rockhound's library.

Agates: The Pat McMahan Collection - The book features one of the most comprehensive collections of Sagenite, plume, and banded agates in the world.  1,150 specimens are featured from over 300 deposits in beautiful color.  Lively prospecting stories are also featured.

The World of Dendrites in Agate - by Tom Harmon with photography by Thomas Shearer.  Dendrites can form in agates from all over the world.  Discover how they are created and where to find them.  Beautiful images of many types of dendritic agate are plentiful throughout this book.

The Many Faces of Montana Agate Collections - by Tom Harmon.  Discover the beauty of Montana Agate and the formations, structures, inclusions, and other features that make this agate very desirable.  Learn about how they were formed and where to find them.