Anyone else think my rabbit looks like that little robot in Hitchhiker's Guide?

Monday, March 31, 2008

My rabbit apparently didn't want his picture taken! (Don't worry, he is always compensated with many treats!)
But doesn't he rather resemble Marvin in the recent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie?

♫♪♫♪♫♪ Birthday Sales Event @ Bijoutery! ♫♪♫♪♫♪

Sunday, March 30, 2008
Sales all week at Bijoutery!

To celebrate my birthday this week I'm running a different sale each day for a week!

Just wait for a revised invoice upon purchase for the discount, or if you want to go ahead and pay you will be refunded the discount amount!

Check it out at

Stone of the Week - Quartz Revisited

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Since I continue to get so many questions about Quartz, I thought it might be good to feature my first post about it as its kinda buried under all the others! I've also added a few new photos! The next blog in my series will feature a type of quartz called Jasper.

Thanks also to all my readers since this very first post - you've helped keep this going!

Stone of the Week - Quartz

For the first in my series about stones, I figured Quartz is a good place to start since there is such a variety of it. Quartz is the most abundant mineral on the Earth's surface, due to its resistance to weathering. When it does weather, it is still often in pieces or grains that end up in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Quartz is a versatile stone, used for many things besides jewelry, such as lab equipment and industry. The ancient Romans cut quartz into round balls that were polished and carried around by wealth Romans to cool their hands during the summer months. One weighting 106 pounds is currently on display at the National Museum in Washington D.C.

Quartz is often seen as crystal points, but can occur in other forms such as this egg shaped quartz.

Quartz comes in many forms, usually as hexagonal prisms, although these are often imperfect. It can also form as large massive bodies. Quartz crystals can grow to enormous sizes – one in Brazil weighed 40 tons, while another in Kazakhstan was 70 tons. Quartz crystals can be singularly terminated (has one point) or as a double terminated crystal (two points on either end) which is less common. It is also common in geodes, which are round rock formed by bands of minerals (often some type of quartz) accumulating on top on each other, and can have a void in the center with crystals.

Examples of Quartz inside geodes

The variety of color in quartz is due to impurities within the crystal, and a number of these have different names. Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline (microcrystalline) form of quartz with very small crystals – hence you don’t get the hexagonal crystals but often appears as smooth and banded. Other cryptocrystalline quartz includes agate (multicolor, banded), onyx (like agate with straight bands, multi color or black), carnelian (reddish orange), jasper (opaque, multi-color), aventurine (often with shimmering micas, commonly green), prase (green), plasma (dark green), heliotrope or bloodstone (like plasma but with dark red spots), sard (reddish-brown), and moss agate (has dendritic patterns of manganese).

A variety of quartz, including amethyst, jasper, citrine, carnelian, agate, rose quartz, double terminated quartz, and rutilated quartz.

Other quartz varieties include amethyst, which is a purple color due to the presence of manganese or ferric iron, and is perhaps the most valuable form of quartz as a gemstone. Rose quartz gets its color from traces of manganese or titanium, and can lose its pink color when heated. Smoky quartz is a dark brown color, is caused by irradiation; a very dark brown /black type is also known as morion. Citrine is commonly a pretty yellow or orange color due to inclusions of iron hydrates. Tiger’s eye is a fibrous form of quartz that is typically a yellow-brown color, but with the addition of impurities can appear as other colors.

Rutilated quartz occurs when quartz forms around rutile, resulting in a crystal that has little shoots of rutile running through it. Similarly tourmalinated quartz can form in the same way, though these shoots would appear black.

Quartz can also be rutilated, having golden rutile through it, or tourmalated which has black tourmaline in it. This occurs in quartz veins, where the quartz forms around the rutile or tourmaline. These minerals are essentiall 'trapped' inside the quartz.

If you have a stone you would like to know about, please feel free to leave a request in the comments section. Have a mystery stone? Leave a link in the comments to a picture of it, and it may be featured as a part of this series!

Quartz Facts:
Chemical composition: SiO2
Color: Most common white/clear, but occurs in many colors
Habit: Commonly 6 sided (hexagonal) prisms, also massive
Fracture: Uneven and conchoidal
Cleavage: None
Luster: Vitreous
Hardness: 7
Specific Gravity: 2.65
Streak: White
Occurrence: Worldwide

A Guide to Rocks and Fossils by B. Busbey III, R. R. Coenraads, P. Willis, and D. Roots. Published 2002 by Fog City Press. ISBN: 1877019518

Rocks, Minerals, & Fossils of the World by C. Pellant and R. Phillips. Published 1990 by Little, Brown and Co. ISBN: 0316697966

Wikipedia – Quartz.

New Etsy Team for Scientists!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
We're in the process of forming a team for scientists on Etsy - check out our thread for more details at:

Currently we are discussing the team name, so far the favorite seems to be Mad Scientists of Etsy! There is also a discussion about team membership - a poll is available on the left side of this blog to voice your opinion about it! (Please only vote if you are interested in joining the team!)

If a team name and membership options can be decided on in the next few days, then the info will be submitted later this week to Etsy so we can become official!

Please feel free to contact me with questions or suggestions!

EDIT: Names have been narrowed down, and a new poll is available for final name selection! Both polls are open until 3/21/2008 at 6pm central time.

Stone of the Week - Garnet

Monday, March 17, 2008
Garnets are actually a group of minerals, of which there are 15 different mineral species. Each mineral has a similar chemical make up -> X3 Z2 (SiO4)3 where X and Z can be different elements. It is these different combinations that make up the variation of minerals, although Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Aluminum (Al), and Iron (Fe) are the most frequent. Out of the different minerals, there are several common garnets: pyrope (dark red), almandine (red to violet red), spessartite (yellow, rose, orange, reddish brown), grossular (white, yellow, yellow-green, brownish-red, orange, black), and andradite (colorless, yellow-green, brown, black). Within each of these are several varieties as well - hessonite and tsavorite are both types of grossular garnets for example.

This display at the National Museum of Natural History in the US shows some of the variety of color just within the grossular species.

Some of the most valuable garnets are also the rarest. Blue garnets are a type of pyrope garnet, that was discovered in the late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar, and has since been found in the US, Russia and Turkey. It is one of the few garnet species that changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light. Another sought after garnet is Tsavorite, which belongs to the grossular garnets, and is a brilliant green color. Tsavorite garnets were first discovered in a deposit in Tanzania during the 1960s, which extended into Kenya. The only other known location for these rare garnets is in Madagascar. Uvarovite is another bright green garnet that is one of the less common species, and is found in Russian and Finland.

Uvarovite is a spectacular green garnet, and is often sought after for jewelry.

Garnets are common world wide, particularly in metamorphic rocks such as marble and schist; pyrope garnets are usually associated with igneous rocks. They are abundant in the US, Brazil, South Africa, England, and Australia. Gemstone quality crystals are used in jewelry work, the most common being the red garnets. It is also the birthstone for January. Garnets have also been used as an abrasive for sand blasting, in cutting, and as part of some water filtration units.

Garnets can be found in nice crystal forms, such as the grossular garnets on the left. However the deep reds are a popular color found in jewelry.

If there's a stone you would like to know more about - drop me a line! Have a mystery stone? Feel free to post a comment about it, including a link to a picture, and it could be featured on this blog!

Garnet Facts:
Chemical composition: X3 Z2 (SiO4)3
Crystal System: Isometric/Cubic
Color: Varied – red, green, yellow, brown, black, blue, orange, clear
Habit: Well formed crystals are common, as well as massive and granular.
Fracture: Conchoidal
Cleavage: Indistinct
Luster: Vitreous, Resinous
Hardness: 6.5-7.5
Specific Gravity: 3.4-4.6
Streak: Colorless/White
Occurrence: Worldwide

A Guide to Rocks and Fossils by B. Busbey III, R. R. Coenraads, P. Willis, and D. Roots. Published 2002 by Fog City Press. ISBN: 1877019518

Rocks, Minerals, & Fossils of the World by C. Pellant and R. Phillips. Published 1990 by Little, Brown and Co. ISBN: 0316697966

Wikipedia – Garnet.

Happy Pi Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008
Happy Pi Day!!!

What's Pi Day you might ask? It is a day celbrated by many a geek around the world, all for that special mathematical constant π which equals 3.1415926.... Pi continues indefinitely, and so far it has been tracked out to 1,241,100,000,000 (over 1 trillion) digits after the decimal place using a computer.

Check out the official Pi Day website at or the Wikipedia explanation about Pi Day at

Need some suggestions how to celbreate Pi Day? Check out this Wiki How To article!

Update and more Etsy Treasuries!

So if you haven't noticed by now, I did not get up a new 'stone of the week' article last weekend. I have been just crazy hectic with school - we're at that midway point, so its time for projects and midterms already. But never fear - a new one will be posted this weekend - featuring Garnet!

In the meantime, here's two more of my lastest treasuries. Both are already gone off Etsy, but I've included info on how to find more about the items!

First is the 'Weird and Wonderful Etsy' treasury, featuring all kinds of neat and sometimes crazy stuff found on Etsy (crocheted dinosaur skull = awesome!). Inspired by a thread on Etsy, these items and more can be found here

A Whiter Shade of Pale was a treasury inspired by the song by the British band Procol Harum, which has been sung by several people including Sarah Brightman and Annie Lennox. Featured sellers include NatureMandalas, kalyn828, PreciousMeshes, 47bonanza, recycledideas, JudyStalus, duchessofdirt, CozyColeman, karenssoaps, BrassPaperclip, elementclaystudio, and bluedogrose. (Notice how I still managed to include rabbits into the treasury! And yes, Herbalina the Bunny - pictured top left - is a real rabbit!)

And that's it! Check back this weekend for the Garnet feature!

Adventures in Geology - Cedar Sink, KY

Friday, March 7, 2008

So my first field trip this semester was last week to a place called Cedar Sink, Kentucky. This was part of a lab out in the field for my geomorphology class. Geomorphology in general is the study of landforms - including classifying them, what processes form them, and sometimes the interactions between them and humans (how geomorphology can affect us, as well as how we affect the landscape).

Cedar Sink from an overview point.

Cedar Sink is located in south central Kentucky, inside the Mammoth Cave National Park, which is also the location of the largest known cave in the world, Mammoth Cave. Cedar Sink is aptly named because it is a collapse structure – also called sink holes or sinks. That is because this region is karst terrain, where the landscape is influenced by the dissolution of rock (essentially dissolves). When the rock is dissolved it can result in the formation of caves, as well as a variety of other features including sinkholes which are depressions in the ground formed by the removal of soil or rock.

A view of some of cave areas and one of the sinkholes filled with water. Blue arrow is pointing toward my professor to give an idea of the scale.

However, we weren’t there to study the sinkholes, but rather the hill slopes. The main point of our lab was to do sketches or profiles of the hill slopes. We also tried to determine what processes created them, as well as any that are resulting in the removal of the material on the hill slopes. These kinds of processes are important to understand, as they affect other processes such as groundwater movement, and can have an impact on human activity as in the case of land slides and rock falls.

Another side of the area that leads into a cave. As you can see from the ice cicles it was very cold that day!

Stone of the Week - Fluorite

Sunday, March 2, 2008
Fluorite, also known as Fluorspar, is made up of calcium fluoride (CaF2). The name fluorite is derived from the Latin fluo, meaning "flow", because it is slightly dissolvable in water. Fluorite belongs to the Isometric crystal system, otherwise known as the cubic crystal system. This means that its most basic form (properly called a ‘unit cell’) is a cubic shape; hence the crystals are commonly cubic.

Fluorite can be found in a vareity of beautiful colors including blue, pink, blue-green, and purple.

Fluorite can occur as a variety of colors, including green, blue, purple, pink, yellow, and white. These colors can occur as angular banding, commonly referred to as ‘chevron’ banding. A neat property of fluorite is that it is fluorescent – in fact this is where the term fluorescent came from. When held under UV light, the electrons inside the fluorite become ‘excited’ resulting in their energy level increasing – when they come back down from this ‘excited state’ light is released. Usually in fluorite this will be blue, but other colors are known to occur.

Fluorite can often be found as cubic crystals (left) and a bit more rarely this gorgeous chevron banding (right).

In the United States, the state of Illinois is the most abundant location for fluorite, and is the official mineral of Illinois. This area is often called the ‘fluorspar district’, and was mined until 1995 when the last mine closed – now it’s a popular location for rockhounds to collect specimens. Another famous locale for fluorite is in Castleton in Derbyshire, England. Here there is a unique blue and purple fluorite called ‘Blue John’ and is used for ornamental stone. Fluorite is a popular stone for jewelry work, though care must be taken as it is a ‘soft’ stone with a hardness of 4 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Fluorite makes for a beautiful stone to use in jewelry and ornamental work.

If there's a stone you would like to know more about - drop me a line! Have a mystery stone? Feel free to post a comment about it, including a link to a picture, and it could be featured on this blog!

Fluorite Facts:
Chemical composition: CaF2
Crystal System: Isometric
Color: blue, green, purple, pink, white/clear, yellow, brown, red, black
Habit: Crystals, Granular, Massive
Fracture: Uneven, Conchoidal
Cleavage: Perfect
Luster: Vitreous
Transparency: Transparent
Hardness: 4
Specific Gravity: 3.3
Streak: White
Occurrence: Worldwide, but most commonly in the US and UK
Other: Fluorescence, some specimens may exhibit thermoluminescence


Rocks, Minerals, & Fossils of the World by C. Pellant and R. Phillips. Published 1990 by Little, Brown and Co. ISBN: 0316697966

Wikipedia – Fluorite.