Fluorescent Minerals:
A Colorful Hobby!
An Exploration by Elizabeth Pector
Since 1999, our famly has collected rocks on vacation. It's a fun hobby--part treasure hunt, part navigational challenge (there are some strange out-of-the-way places we've discovered, especially in the Western U.S.). In 2002, we discovered that some rock samples can glow! This can include both general classes of rocks (agatized wood, opalized wood or common opal), and specific minerals.

Fluorescent Mineral Society (FMS), which I have not joined but might join if this hobby keeps growing, has some good explanations about different types of luminescence (my photos on this page show examples of fluorescence, phosphorescence, and tenebrescence). FMS also explains different wavelengths of UV (ultraviolet) light. We have several rocks that are different colors in long-wave (LW) or short-wave (SW) UV light, and many more that only glow in one or the other. Finally, they have several pages on fluorescent minerals, starting with a general overview.

I've learned a lot about the subject from fellow enthusiasts. A few other places besides FMS that you might go online to learn about minerals include:

Stuart Schneider's Fluorescent Museum. Mr. Schneider is an attorney and writer who, like me, is a rock collector and hobbyist. His collection puts my tiny collection to shame...He also sells some fluorescent minerals and has published some books.
Franklin Mineral Museum This museum is on the site of the Franklin Zinc Mine in Franklin, NJ. Together with a nearby zinc mine in Ogdensburg NJ, Sterling Hill, these mines produced stunning fluorescent minerals, so that Franklin has been proclaimed the "Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World." Very commonly, two-color samples can be found. Three-color specimens are slightly rarer and more expensive, and for enough money you can get a four- or five-color sample. (I don't have enough money for this yet!)
Amazon.com Books about fluorescent minerals--I have, and can recommend, the first three. Very colorful pictures and useful background information about fluorescent rocks.

I have fluorescent samples from hot spots around the world:
North America: Arizona, California,  Nevada, New Jersey, Texas and Utah; Canada (Quebec and Ontario), Mexico, and Greenland.
Europe: England, Italy
Asia: China, Pakistan.

I've bought many on ebay, and have searched via google for other samples I wanted. Certainly, it pays to check out FMS society member shops. Check to see if you have a local rock shop...

My first photos are a collage of rainbow colors. I may try some more detailed single-specimen photos later, but this gives you a good idea of the range of brilliance & color available. Photos were taken with an Olympus Stylus, under either a 4W SW/LW lamp or a 6 W SW/LW lamp in a viewing box, with macro settings on the camera, in available light. They are fairly accurate representations, except that the blue-purple appearance of fluorite is bluer than I see myself.


Beth Pector

Terlingua Calcite: LW/SW together
Terlingua Calcite SW alone
Terlingua Calcite LW alone
Terlingua Calcite Phosphorescence--afterglow lasts 5-10 seconds after shutting off lamp
Longwave alone (note bright-yellow wernerite-diopside upper center, fluorite in front of the wernerite, fluorite-calcite in front of the fluorite alone, and pretty pink aragonite from Italy on right, and a bright orange rock whose name escapes me front right)
Shortwave alone (note paler wernerite with bright blue diopside back left-center; in front of it, red-green-lilac agrellite, eudialyte & thorite from Quebec, with fluorite to its right; aragonite from Italy blue-white in center right; green-orange Franklin NJ willemite-calcite upper right; Calcite & fluorite from Arizona red-purple lower left )
The bright orange on the left is halite from the Salton Sea in California...purchased from a wonderful dealer in Globe, AZ (The Globe Rock Shop). Also in view: red tugtupite from Greenland to right of halite; fluorite back left, scheelite to right of fluorite, bright-orange "something" (possibly sodalite from Canada), eudialyte from Arizona, Mont-St.-Hillaire sodalite (orange speckled), & yellow wernerite in front.
Under longwave, you see some pale yellow apatite (back left, from Pakistan), Hackmanite/sodalite from Canada (orange upper right), Willemite (Franklin, upper left), two beautiful quartz crystals from Pakistan, some Terlingua Calcite crystals (pink), fluorite from England (bright blue but usually purple), ruby (dark red in front of the calcite), green-fluorescing Adamite from Mexico (front left and front right),  and unidentified white & cream colored crystals sent to me by Mark, a private collector from the eastern U.S., also the source of the Adamite and the Pakistani Quartz.
Hackmanite doesn't glow under SW, but it absorbs energy to alter the chemical structure to make the rock develop purple coloration which later fades. The Hackmanite variety of sodalite can be found in Canada or Greenland...maybe elsewhere!
Here we see...a long "log" of agrellite/thorite/eudialyte left front (purple-green), and fluorite center front. Also...a beautiful sample of Nevada Virgin Valley Opal in the back (it's smooth, creamy-yellow in regular incandescent light), a similar opal piece right front corner, an unidentified blue-glowing piece in front of the back opal, the wernerite-diopside (obviously one of my favorites, yellow with blue spots). Scattered through the photo are bits & pieces from a "fluorescent grab bag".
Another collage...the color combinations are endless! In front of the opal piece in the back is a piece from the Hogan Claim in Arizona, nice multicolor piece with fluorite & other minerals. I forget what's in the piece with the blue-purple on top.