Welcome

The non-profit, Friends of Mineralogy (FM), a national organization founded in 1970, includes nearly a dozen chapters from coast to coast, whose members share a common love of minerals. FM’a objective is to promote, support, protect, and expand the collecting of mineral specimens, while furthering the recognition of the scientific, economic, and aesthetic value of minerals and mineral collecting. Membership includes collectors, museum curators, mineralogists, and earth science educators.  The organization is affiliated with Mindat.org, the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA), and the Mineralogical Association of Canada (MAC).

Among its many activities, FM regional chapters sponsor symposiums, and collecting trips to quarries, mine dumps, and mines across the country.  FM has made its voice heard whenever proposals are made to close mineral museums or collecting sites.  National FM co-sponsors symposiums held annually at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, and contributes support and speakers to other mineral symposiums.  FM presents annual awards for best article published in each of the following publications: The Mineralogical RecordRocks & MineralsMineral News, and Mineral Monographs.  It also gives awards to the best institutional and individual educational exhibit cases displayed at the Denver and Tucson gem and mineral shows.


Please send tax-deductible donations to support Friends of Mineralogy, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, in care of Dr. Bruce W. Bridenbecker, Treasurer, 7528 Lucerne Vista Ave, Yucca Valley, CA 92284, made out to Friends of Mineralogy.

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  • by friendsofmineralogy 3 weeks ago
    This beauty is NOT a mineral. It's an opal! A mineral is defined as a solid, naturally-occurring chemical compound with a defined chemical composition and specific crystal structure. Opal does not quite meet all of these conditions. While opal occurs naturally and has a defined chemical composition (SiO2·nH2O; hydrated silica), it does not have a defined and latticelike crystal structure, and therefore is classed as a mineraloid. Instead of a latticelike crystal structure, opal is made of tiny spheres called "colloids". The colloids are arranged in close-packed planes, which may meet each other at varying angles and depths. This structure can cause the hazy or milky sheen of common opal, as well as the iridence of precious opal. The play of color in precious opal is the result of the diffraction and angle of light in the voids between the planes of colloids. In general, the largest void sizes produce red colors, and smaller voids can produce green, blue, and purple. Pictured: Precious opal from Andamooka Opal Fields, South Australia. Photo by James St. John, used under cc.
  • by friendsofmineralogy 2 weeks ago
    Next up in our  #MineralMonday  trip through the native metals: Silver! Found in ore veins, native silver can be found in cubic or octahedral crystals, but more often as fine wires. While bright and shiny fresh, it is frequently found oxidixed with the same dark patina that silver jewelry and cutlery can develop. Top to bottom, the three dark samples at right in this photo are small but representative samples of crystal silver from Kongsberg, Norway, silver wires from Potosi, Mexico, and a 'sponge' of wires from Aspen, Colorado, USA. Silver can be found in veins with calcite and silver sulfide minerals; the sample at left, a small section of an ore vein filling from the uncommon silver locality of Daye Co., Hubei, China, is a good example of this association. Fine silver wires, visible toward the bottom of the sample, are coated in a fine layer of calcite and are nestled among small calcite crystals. The upper part of the sample shows a mix of unidentified dark-colored minerals in a mass of amorphous calcite. As interesting and intricate as native silver can appear, native silver is not the most important commercial source of silver. Most silver is smelted or
  • by friendsofmineralogy 1 month ago
    On 13 February 1970, a few dozen prominent specimen mineralogy advocates met at the home of George A. Bideaux in Tucson and proposed a national organization of not more than 100 people to advocate for specimen and locality mineralogy. The idea of keeping the membership to less than a 100 disappeared after the first year, when essentially all the leading mineral enthusiasts of all educational backgrounds wanted in. One of the new society’s goals was to minimize the perceived professional/amateur, degree/non-degree divide in the mineral community. This new group wanted help fill this education gap with knowledgeable, self-educating people who were thrilled with minerals for their beauty, properties, where they came from, how they were formed, and how we got them out of the earth. More than 50 years later, FM remains committed to this mission. Watch this space: here on Instagram we plan to provide fun and interesting information about the science and history of minerals and mineral collecting, alongside promotion of our regional chapters and affiliate organizations. What would you like to see here?
  • by friendsofmineralogy 1 week ago
    Copper! Far more abundant than gold and silver, and perhaps the prettiest of the major industrial metals, copper also makes beautiful mineral specimens.  #mineralmonday  These three small copper specimens demonstrate some of the fascination and special properties of copper. The bright sample of crystallized copper at right (2 cm across) and the tiny wires in and on a small calcite crystal (approximately 1 cm wide) are both from Bisbee, Arizona. The third, at upper left, is a copper replacement of a previous cyclically twinned aragonite crystal from Corocoro, La Paz, Bolivia. Replacements of one mineral by another that result in the new mineral keeping a previous mineral's shape are called pseudomorphs. Copper pseudomorphs are much more common than pseudomorphs of many other metals such as silver and gold, because Cu ions have a much greater ability to travel easily in groundwater, and it percolates easily as copper sulphate solution. The copper ions have an affinity to combine with whatever else is available--when that "whatever else" is oxygen, the copper may combine to produce cuprite (Cu₂O), which are the tiny dark reddish crystals on the bright Bisbee sample. When the "whatever else" includes carbonate ions, the copper may combine to produce
  • by friendsofmineralogy 4 weeks ago
    ...Dad? Is that you? The "Father of Mineralogy," Georgius Agricola, was a German scholar who was one of the first Europeans to apply empirical observation to the study of minerals and ores. His De Re Metallica, published posthumously in 1556, discussed applications in mining, smelting, and refining metals, as well as the geology of orebodies and mine construction and ventilation. This text was an authoritative work on European mining for two centuries. Agricola wrote in Latin to an audience that had not yet standardized the names for many rocks and minerals, and so he placed emphasis on exact terminology and precision of language when trying to understand and teach complex topics. Today's study of mineralogy and earth science does the same. While many hobbyist groups will use informal and trade names for minerals that can create confusion, we endeavor to use approved scientific terminology (while explaining trade or informal names as they come up) so that we are all 'speaking the same language' about our amazing world.
  • by friendsofmineralogy 3 weeks ago
    Our first Mineral Monday is gold? That's *ausome*! You know gold. It's the stuff of rings and currency and empires. Chemically, gold (chemical symbol Au) is a remarkably inert metal that is much more resistant to chemical attack than most other metals; this is why it stays bright and does not tarnish like sone other precious metals like copper or silver, and why gold jewelry and artifacts buried for thousands of years stay as bright as a brand new pendant. Native gold (gold found naturally in a pure state) often occurs as very small particles embedded in rock, often in association with quartz and/or sulfide minerals. It can also be found in the form of free flakes, grains or larger nuggets that have eroded from the gold-bearing rocks to end up in stream and river beds. In this photo, three forms of crystallized gold that were found in-situ are next to very small nugget and gold dust particles that were panned from streambed deposits. The largest of the clusters is 1.5 cm long, and is a more uncommon form of crystallized gold, very fine wires in a sort of spongy texture. The gold cluster at left was etched from quartz,
  • by friendsofmineralogy 12 hours ago
    Mineral Identification 101: Part 1 Color is often not much help - in fact, it can often cause problems if relied on for identification! Those three lovely pieces might all be pink, but they are three distinctly different minerals: calcite, quartz, and fluorite. So, how can you tell which is which? Other diagnostic tools! These three samples have distinctly different forms to their individual crystals which can give the answer without any additional tests, but there's other clues to be had. One is much harder than the other two, and one of those two softer minerals will react with a little acid. Still stumped? Future Mineral ID 101 posts will walk you through it.  #minerals   #science   #mineralcollecting   #crystals 
  • by friendsofmineralogy 2 days ago
    When asked to describe a metal, most answers will include some variation on "solid." For the most part that's correct, but there is one exception to this rule: mercury. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at human-friendly temperatures. Since it doesn't become solid until temperature drops below -40°F (-40°C), native mercury is only found in nature in small liquid metallic drops and films, like the tiny droplets visible on slide 2's charming older thumbnail specimen from Sonoma County, California. The presence of mercury in northern California was fortuitous for the 19th-century gold miners, because mercury (aka 'quicksilver') was used extensively in hydraulic gold mining to help the gold to sink and separate from the flowing water-gravel mixture. Although large-scale use of mercury in gold mining stopped in the 1960s, it is estimated that over 50,000 tons of mercury used in California for placer mining have not been recovered. Liquid mercury is an intriguing substance. Mirror-like drops of mercury released from a broken mercury thermometer will skitter across a floor or countertop in a way that seems to defy friction; drops nudged together will rejoin like nothing happened. Liquid mercury was previously in widespread use in household thermometers and
  • by friendsofmineralogy 1 month ago
    *Intro to Mineral Collecting* Do you want to know more about mineral collecting, or want to encourage a young person who just loves rocks and minerals? This flatlay shows one great kit that could be an excellent start. . What do you need to be a mineral collector? . 1. Mineral samples you like! We can get into nuances of different collecting philosophies another day. For now, collect what you like, either purchased or "self collected." . 2. Recordkeeping methods! Here, a simple pencil and notebook are a great start. You may be sure there is no way you'll forget what a piece is and where you found it, but over time that knowledge is sure to fade without some record. . 3. Mineral identification tools. Less key if you're purchasing identified pieces from reputable dealers, but it's always great to have the ability to test your mysteries. Here, we have abhand lens magnifier, an acid bottle, streak and glass plates, and a hardness probe. We'll get into how to use these another day. . 4. Most important: knowledge and learning! A simple classic guidebook is a fantastic starting reference, and often more reliable than going into the weeds with
  • by friendsofmineralogy 2 weeks ago
    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Although the advent of internet sales in the last two decades has in many ways revolutionized how minerals are matched up with collectors, many collectors' favorite way to purchase new pieces is still in person, from personable dealers with a variety on display. The first slide is a portion of the 1883 painting Der Mineraloge (The Mineralogist) by Raphael Ritz. The central figure is thought to be German mineralogist Gerhard vom Rath (1830-1888), examining mineral specimens from a nearby quarry in a house in Binn, Switzerland. We do not know anything about the woman and child in the painting-- are they Rath's wife and child helping with the proceedings, or are they local people presenting Rath with more pieces to choose? Either way, Rath is carefully examining pieces arrayed on tables around the room, deciding which are worthy of taking home for further study. It is likely that the local miners or miner's family members have brought a variety of local mineral specimens to this room expressly for Rath (and other interested buyers or dealers) to see. In turn, Rath or other dealers would then take those pieces out to
  • by friendsofmineralogy 1 month ago
    Friends of Mineralogy National is on Instagram!
  • by friendsofmineralogy 1 month ago
    Gasp! Stunning color to the amazing aquamarine gem crystals from the Medina mines of Minas Gerais, Brazil featured in the latest Mineralogical Record. Just got my copy! Over 3,000 carats of aqua gem rough were mined from the region in October 1983 alone. Check it out! Reposted from  @themineralogicalrecord  Well this was certainly worth the wait! https://mineralogicalrecord.com/back_issues_years/2021/  #mineralcollecting   #fineminerals   #crystals   #aquamarine 
  • by friendsofmineralogy 1 month ago
    Ahh, summer. So hot! The mud puddles dry out, water becomes scarce. What's left behind? Evaporite minerals! This large specimen of thénardite is an excellent example. Thénardite is sodium sulfate, often found in association with common evaporites like halite (sodium chloride; table salt) and gypsum (calcium sulfate). This large piece is an old-timer from Camp Verde Salt Mine, Yavapai County, Arizona, USA. Like large salt deposits found in many places, the Camp Verde deposits were formed in a large lake, during seasonal periods of acute dryness when evaporation of the very saline waters and left behind the salt and gypsum as layers within the sediments. While the deposits themselves are approximately 13 million years old, the salt mines at Camp Verde are also ancient, worked by native peoples for at least 2,000 years. A commercial mine operated here in the 1920s and 1930s, but the deposit doesn't have the purity required to make commercial mining economically viable in the modern period. This specimen was purchased by noted collector Kay Robertson in the 1960s. Because thénardite can degrade in the presence of water or humidity, she stored it with desiccant in this glass container. Still looking pretty good for something that
  • by friendsofmineralogy 6 days ago
    Have you ever had the heartbreak of accidentally dropping a mineral and watching it shatter into many pieces? Most people clean up and just resolve to be a little more careful. But after René-Just Haüy accidentally dropped a friend's calcite in 1781, he ultimately created a whole new field of science. Haüy noticed the shiny broken side of the calcite crystal, and wondered at its smoothness and if it would break similarly in the other directions. It did: "I tried to divide it in other directions, and I succeeded, after several attempts, in extracting its rhomboid nucleus." This experiment inspired him to complete a great many more similar experiments on a variety of crystals, to break them down into the smallest pieces possible. Working without modern tools such as x-ray diffraction, Haüy's studies were limited to careful observations of crystal cleavage planes and habit, and use of a goniometer, an elegant mechanical instrument for measuring angles of an object. With these tools, Haüy ultimately concluded that each type of crystal has a fundamental nucleus or “integrant molecule” of a particular shape, which could not be broken further without completely changing or obliterating the chemical and physical nature of the crystal,
  • by friendsofmineralogy 4 weeks ago
    Know what you are lighting up this weekend? All the beautiful bright flaming colors of fireworks are derived from minerals. When fireworks explode, the heat from the explosion causes metal salts to absorb energy from the heat and to emit light of different colors. The color of the light depends on the type of metal or combination of metals present, because the electrons within different metals will excite to different energy states that emit light of a specific energy and that will produce a characteristic color. The heated elements of strontium (usually obtained from celestine, strontium sulfate) produce red light. The addition of sodium salts (from sodium nitrate or sodium chloride) will produce a yellow to orange light. Copper compounds, while producing blue light on their own, will produce lovely purples when mixed with the red of strontium. Green light is from barium (derived from barite, barium sulfate) combined with chlorine. Flashes and bangs and sparks come from aluminum powder or iron filings.  Many consumer fireworks are made in China, but the raw materials in American-made fireworks may also come from all over the world. The USA produces quite a bit of copper, but imports most of its strontium from