I tend to research things quite a lot before I embark on a new project and whilst I know a fair amount about precious stones and the basic semi-precious stones I hadn’t really realised how much more was out there until I started delving deeper.
I started cutting the stones that I already had in my collection and although it wasn’t particularly satisfying work, it was good practice. When I was confident enough with my cutting skills I decided to have a look around for some more interesting pieces to cut. I did try and source locally but that was a complete dead end as you can imagine! Rock terminology is something that I was unfamiliar with and so when I was searching on the internet I wasn’t sure what I was meant to be asking Google for. It didn’t take me too long to work it all out and then before you knew it I was on Ebay and buying up huge boxes of rock slabs and having them sent here through Aramex at an absolutely ridiculous price! Shipping boxes of rocks to Doha is not for the faint of heart! But I didn’t care because I was completely and utterly hooked!
On my journey through Ebay I met some fascinating rockhounds who are not only passionate about their collections but are also very willing to pass on their knowledge to others. The first person that I ever bought anything from was Ken Diede and I found him because I was looking for very specific items and he seemed to have them all. When I was going through his Ebay page I began bidding on almost everything he had because his pictures are so amazing and clear that I just couldn’t help myself. He had items that I wanted and other items that I never knew existed! Ken sells these amazing 10lb boxes of off-cuts that I have been lucky enough to win on two occasions. These boxes are full of hidden gems. I’ve found rare turquoise and some amazing pieces of rare Bruneau Jasper tucked away in there. These boxes are particularly good if you are just starting your stone cutting career and need to practice on items that aren’t break the bank expensive. Because there are so many different types of stones in the box it gives you a feel for the textures and hardness of the stone and how to treat them when you are cutting.
After losing something on Ken’s page in a bidding war that I really felt that I couldn’t live without I found it elsewhere with on Don Knight’s page. I was lucky enough to have met Don just before he shut down his Ebay page. He now sells on Facebook. Don’t worry – I will put their details down at the end of my blog so that you can contact them yourselves. Don was just so kind and helpful to me back in the days when I didn’t know what I was really doing. He sent me boxes of rocks and he sent me extras just because he thought that they would interest me. Isn’t that just so lovely?! Don took the time to ask me what I was doing and to tell me about the stones that I was buying.
There are just so many gorgeous stones out there and you just can’t have them all so I have decided to keep my collection down to rare and unusual. I was looking at images on the internet at different types of Jaspers and picture rocks and I came across something called Vistaite Jasper. It is known as the rarest of all Jaspers. Once I heard that then I had to have some. I got myself back on Ebay and there was one lone piece of Vistaite Jasper on there sold by Kevin Daniel. I messaged Kevin to see if he had more and from there I began purchasing as much as I could get my hands on. Kevin asked me how I had heard of it and I told him it was through researching on the internet and he started to tell me stories about where it was mined and who by. He has been an absolute wealth of knowledge about this. And in turn I have been able to tell my customers the stories about where their stones come from and the people who mined them. It has been awesome to be able to tell people a bit of the history behind it all and it’s thanks to these guys that this information doesn’t get lost or forgotten. And I’m happy and glad that I get to bring this knowledge to the people of Doha whether they care about it or not! You know me, I love to talk!
Here is a small section of the e-mail that Kevin sent me about Vistaite Jasper. He has since sent me much more information on the subject which I will blog about at some point in the future.
‘Hoot Elkins and Shirts Quant dug the claim back in the 1960s and early 1970s, and according to Elkins’ daughter Judy, they dug the entire ridge where it was located and took everything, though folks do occasionally find small chips from their leavings. They were looking for a seam, but never found one as the mountainside where it formed had eroded away eons ago, leaving just an alluvial strew field. More recent reports of new “vistaite” finds look instead more like Skaggs jasper (very pretty stuff, but not as much variety of colors and jasper instead of silicified, high-silica rhyolite). I took the last of Elkins’ vistaite and met a couple of others who bought the last of the pieces dug by Quants, so there is not much left for cutting. The chunks they collected were mostly quite small, and the slabs you have were cut by Hoot Elkins in the years just after they were dug. He had a building full of saws that he kept constantly busy. I have a box of vistaite put away that I don’t intend to ever sell’.
I kept the last sentence in there as just in case you are as curious as I am to see what’s in that box!
Kevin has an amazing collection of stones and some super rare pieces and his knowledge on the subject is vast. He has been an inspiration to me and helped me massively on my journey. Honestly, rockhounds are just the nicest bunch of people!
Details to fuel your addiction; (in order of appearance on the blog)
Website: DD Rock Shop
Email: ddrockshop @gmail.com
Facebook Page: High Desert Cabs Slabs and Rough