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.
The 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
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.
|Terlingua Calcite: LW/SW together
|Terlingua Calcite SW alone
|Terlingua Calcite LW alone
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
|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
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
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
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.