The True Origins of Lithoi Minerals

“We purchased our first mineral specimens, and we were hooked.”


In 2013, I was looking for an activity to do with my son who was, and still is, interested in science.  We finally settled on rock collecting together.  We purchased our first mineral specimens, and we were hooked.  My first specimen in my collection was a small piece of malachite from China that I bought on eBay (shown in the picture).  While my son’s collection is nowhere near as organized as mine (I don’t force any collecting rules on him, and let him follow his own path), I think he may actually have more specimens than I do.  It’s amazing how people at the rock clubs will just give him stuff!

Shortly after we started collecting, we joined the Roseville Rock Rollers in California, a terrific group of people!  In 2015, I was elected Vice-President of the club and wrote several articles for our monthly newsletter, many of which I will reuse here in this blog.  My son was awarded with the Junior Rockhound of the Year award that same year.

In 2016, I was again selected as the club Vice-President.  In early 2016, I began doing the legwork for setting up Lithoi Minerals.  Life, as so often happens, intervened, and in the middle of the year, my family relocated to Colorado Springs.  It wasn’t until early 2017 that I truly got Lithoi Minerals off the ground and selling on eBay (seller: lithoiminerals).

My son and daughters (now that they are old enough) and I have now joined the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and are getting familiar with all that Colorado has to offer (and it’s a lot!).  This June, Lithoi Minerals will be a vendor at the Pikes Peak Rock, Gem and Jewelry Show – our first big show!

It is my goal to post on this blog at least once a week to show off specimens that are for sale, to provide interesting articles, or to keep you up to date on what I’m doing in the world of mineralogy.  So please, subscribe to this blog and follow lithoiminerals on eBay and on Facebook!

The Pike’s Peak Gem and Mineral Show – 2017

This past weekend was the 2017 Pike’s Peak Gem and Mineral Show.  Lithoi Minerals was a first-time vendor at the show and enjoyed a great spot across from the silent auction tables.  My son and I enjoyed talking to all of the visitors and providing them with affordable mineral specimens.  While Friday started out with relatively few visitors, Saturday and Sunday saw a large uptick in the amount of traffic.

The show theme was Pyrite, and Lithoi Minerals provided small pyrite mineral specimens to the children who came by our booth.  Besides the silent auction, the show featured a kids’ zone, a fluorescent mineral tent, door prizes, dinosaur displays, numerous exhibit cases, delicious food from the concession stand, and more than 50 vendors!

The show would not have been possible without the hard working volunteers from the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society (of which I am a proud member!).  Without them, Lithoi Minerals would not have been able to have this opportunity to present its affordable mineral specimens to the public.  For our first show, it was quite a success, and we look forward to growing on that success into the future.

The Final Frontier… in Rock Collecting

The following is an article I wrote in 2015 for my mineral society’s newsletter.  It was submitted to the annual American Federation of Mineral Societies’ Bulletin competition and it won the 1st Place in the 2016 Written Features category.

Image result for mars curiosity

Jarosite.  I had never heard of it, but it is a secondary mineral found in the oxidized zones of sulfide deposits.  It is formed by the reaction of dilute sulfuric acid in groundwater,  typically altering from pyrite.  The key word in that description is groundwater, and the reason it is key is because this mineral was just found on Mars by the Curiosity Mars rover.  

Back in January, the Mars rover was looking for a rock to drill to expose fresh surfaces for examination.  The rock that was chosen was named “Mojave” displayed many slender features approximately the size of rice grains that appeared to be crystals.  The scientists running the rover wanted to determine the mineral represented in the hopes that it would provide clues to the history of Mars.  Were they salt crystals left by a drying lake, or were they volcanic in origin?  

Whatever they were, minerals tell a story, and the scientists wanted to hear the story these minerals had to tell.  So, on January 13, the rover began drilling.  The drill essentially is a hammer and chisel, and the Curiosity team had no way of controlling the force of the hammering.  The “Mojave” rock shattered under the percussive force.  While this eliminated drilling for samples, the freshly broken rock faces did present an opportunity to study unweathered surfaces up close under the rover’s hand lens.

The rover was redirected to an alternate site, “Mojave II.”  The software was upgraded to allow for control over the percussive force of the drilling.  On the lowest setting, the rover was able to penetrate the rock and acquire the needed samples.  

Upon analysis by the rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on the rover, it was determined that the crystals were jarosite.  This was not a complete surprise to the Curiosity team as previous Mars surveys had suggested the presence of the mineral, but having confirmation was important.

The presence of jarosite would indicate that Mars did previously have a groundwater supply at some time.  But more importantly, it confirmed to rockhounds everywhere that we could someday have samples from other worlds, possibly even mineral species that do not exist on Earth.  Space… the final frontier.

Keep Your Labels

Labels are what differentiate a mineral collection from a bunch of rocks.  Creating your own labels is important, but so is saving the labels that your minerals came with.  A good label should provide a minimum of two things, the species and the locality of the specimen.


The species of a specimen can be identified by an individual with significant experience and knowledge, or by scientific analysis.  However, a label makes it a lot easier for those without access to those resources.  Therefore, it is very important that the label be as accurate as possible.  A label that identifies a specimen as tourmaline is next to useless.  There are 35 different species in the tourmaline group, and some of those species have their own varieties.  Specificity is a must to ensure accuracy.

Locality is the other part of a good label, and even more important than the species identification.  This is because it is much more difficult to determine locality with scientific means than it is species.  In addition, locality is one of the more important considerations in determining the value of a specimen.  Labels are usually the only thing that can distinguish a mineral from a locality where it is commonly found (and therefore less valuable) from the same mineral from a locality where it is extremely rare (and therefore more valuable).

Again, specificity is important.  There are over 62,000 localities for quartz in the world, so knowing that your specimen comes from Petersen Mountain Quartz Mines, Petersen Mountain, Hallelujah Junction area, Washoe County, Nevada, USA, makes that specimen far more unique than some random quartz crystal.

So the next time you are at a show, know that the label is for more than just selling you the mineral specimen.  It is written proof of the uniqueness of your mineral, and it can give you clues as to its value.  So find a way to keep the labels, whether attached to the specimen or in a separate label catalog; find a way to keep this important record with the mineral specimen.