Collecting Rocks, Gems & Minerals is a polished reference

A pleasure to peruse, “Collecting Rocks, Gems and Minerals,” written by Patti Polk, who has more than 20 years of rock collecting, cutting and polishing experience, is a beautiful, full-color guide that focuses primarily on the rocks and minerals that the majority of people are interested in for lapidary, jewelry or specimens for display. Some organic specimens, such as amber, bone and coral, are also included in the discussions.

Rocks Gems Minerals Z5685.jpg“Collecting Rocks, Gems and Minerals” is written and organized so as to be uncomplicated enough for the beginner to understand, but with enough valuable information and details for the experienced lapidarist. Its easy-to-use, quick reference format is arranged by category and color of stone. Color tabs on the edges of the pages help you find your way around with ease.

Among other things, listings include judicious facts such as value per specimen, where it occurs, chemical makeup, hardness and what the item is used for. As there are still plenty of opportunities for you to find these million-year-old treasures in the field, Polk even includes the basics of “How to Locate and Collect Rocks and Minerals,” including safety tips you should follow and basic supplies you should have on hand, as well as what you can do with the specimens once you have them.

More than half of the book is dedicated to lapidary — how specimens are prepared and displayed — and there are crisp, clear images for every rock, gem and mineral sample included in the book. Lavishly illustrated, the title boasts more than 650 color photographs; there are dozens of beautiful examples of different agates alone!

The double-layer, softcover binding should be durable enough to hold up in the field, and will most certainly come in handy at a gem and mineral show. This book gives you a look inside that chunk of rock you may have found in a dry creekbed or elsewhere. I would have liked to have seen more images of specimens “as found” in the field to aid in sight identification for beginners, but there are many books, magazines, websites and other references listed in the “Resources” section in the back of the book for help in this area. And several valuable native mineral examples are pictured, such as silver, gold and platinum.

Polk’s purpose in writing this book “was to create a book that combined the many different aspects of the rock and mineral collecting fields into one cohesive work.” She has a lot of experience and specialized knowledge; that she shares her decades of rockhound and lapidarist lessons with us in this book, and her excitement, affinity and skill at lapidary, gives us enough of a look at what’s inside many geologic finds that might just be enough of a boost to take someone from merely appreciating rocks and minerals to being a true “collector.” ?

Collecting Rocks, Gems and Minerals: Identification, Values, Lapidary Uses, by Patti Polk, Krause Publications, 2010,, 800-258-0929. Softcover, 272 pages, $17.99. (ON SALE now for $12.23)

Karen Knapstein


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