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Getting Started Collecting Rocks and Minerals

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/23/2007 | Hobbies
Nearly everybody likes to collect something. Collecting is fun, and allows you to keep and build an ongoing inventory of something you love and enjoy looking at.

What do you like to collect?

Rocks and minerals are popular items to collect, because you can admire their beauty, hold them in your hands, display them various ways, and trade them with others. It's very easy to see the attractiveness and potential value in a rock, unlike other collections such as stamps or coins which are hard to evaluate with the naked eye.

Rocks are also very easy to start collecting, because they are everywhere you look. There's nothing to say that your rock collection has to be of a certain type or value of rock; if you collect rocks simply because you like the way they look and feel, that's fine too.

This means you can start your collection by picking up rocks from your yard, your driveway, or a nearby street or park. Once you get really into your new collection, you might want to join in a group that's going on a field trip to collect special rocks.

There are three ways most rock collectors get their specimens: picking them up from field trips, buying them, or trading them.

If you'd like to start going on field trips, look for a local rock and mineral club to join. Members of the club will know what rocks and minerals can be found in which local areas, and will have interesting specimens to show you. It will be a lot like just collecting rocks from the ground on your own, except that you will have some guidance, expertise, and camaraderie to help you along and make it even more fun.

If you choose to go on your own, you'll probably want to get a good book on identifying rocks and minerals, with big colored pictures in it, so you know exactly what treasures you have.

One of the best places to collect rocks is at a road cut, where the highway goes between two steep rock cliffs. Look for veins of different colored or sparkling rocks and minerals as you drive by, because that will indicate a good place to stop and look for rocks that have been blasted from the cliff during road construction.

Sometimes there are rules on what kinds of rocks or minerals you're allowed to take from nature, so be sure to check your particular state or provincial laws. Also, be very careful when working on the side of the road; keep away from the traffic, and watch out for falling rocks or broken glass on the ground.

If you are breaking rocks off rather than picking up ones that are already free, be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves, and use a proper rock sledge made for this purpose.

If you're more interested in buying or trading rocks and minerals, then your local rock and mineral club is a good place to start once again. They will likely hold regular Gem and Mineral shows where you can get some good deals to add to your collection.

You'll soon discover that collecting rocks and minerals can be a lot of fun. Good luck and enjoy your hunting!