Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors

All About Rocks with Sapphire Cutting Form at the Bottom of Page

Stumping the Geologist

      Can one really do that? Don't geologists know everything there is to know about rocks? Would there really be one that would be so hard to classify one just couldn't do it?

      At the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology 5th Annual Symposium, there were some rocks brought, presented and looked at that were just mislabeled, disregarded and uncategorized at the Brewery where the map chat and rock IDing were to take place. The bag of various sizes, colors and formations just weren't that easy to say except for the thunderegg.

      So, yes, bring any rock to a geologist mostly they will pull out their specialty lenses, to peer deeper into the recesses of a rock to see if they can really speak intelligently about its origin. It's fun to watch, some funny names are given, but we never heard it was a "Leaveright" which is short for: you just don't want to take it with you so just leave it right there!!"

      Yes, you can really do that!!

Gem Faceting

      People ask, "Where can I get my sapphires cut?" Good question.

      In Great Falls the best place was the Yogo Shop as Phyllis would send her rough sapphires for a customer to Thailand and she swore by their quality. But with her closing her shop, the hole has to be filled.

      Some say there is Drew in Livingstone for whatever that means. But with a stop to Blaze N' Gems one finds that Thailand is not so trustworthy to him, but he has found good luck in Sri Lanka. He has a form for a person to fill out and it takes two months to get it back. I guess if you send in your summer's find, it makes for a fun package mid winter. See form attached on the rock page of this site. 

Agates Vary in Style, Color, and Images Embedded

      While visiting Blaze N' Gems on York Road, in Helena, a curious color of agates was front and center of his counter. "What's this?" was asked. More explanation of the many kinds and types of agates all over his counter was given. The cutting of these is unique along with the brightness. They call to you to wire wrap and hang them from your neck with a leather strap.

      The hard part is choosing your stone from the many kinds and types he has available. When they are not just a picture in a book that you can just see, but these you can touch, the greed or lust factor comes into play. Oh, my, just gotta have one.

      When one is in the business of sapphire mining, just what are you doing with agates all over your counter? Some of them are just too hard to pass up, especially when you have access to them from all over the world. Just dandy stones, reasonably priced in Montana. 

Metal Attraction

      "It's funny how metals like each other." says Andrew Luna, a rock hounder and cutter out of Helena, Montana. When he was given a rock to slice in his cutter from a mine in Montana from Blaze Wharton, he didn't know what he would find. But with the weight, one could tell it was lead and maybe gold. 

     For sure the gold sparkled and the lead was embedded, but the need for these two metals to form in the earth together signifies the significance of formational attraction eons ago.

      The question I asked when I saw his live video this new year was, "Can you crush it and get the gold from it?" In Great Falls at the Heritage Days put on by the Fly Wheelers at the fairgrounds, the machinery is in place to do it and gold can be had by this process. 

      Check out Andrew Luna live on facebook for opportunity to talk rocks. He offers up lots of experience with rock hounding in Montana. We are lucky with his resources for exploration with Montana minerals.

In the Winter in Montana, Find Rocks Inside

       New Year's Day to shop is perfect in Missoula. You don't have to dig in the cold, frozen ground, just scan the many shelves of Rockin' Rudy's store and you will find lots.

      The smokey quartz of the Radar Base out of Lewistown are found all polished and shiny, and cheap no less. There were rocks from the Sahara Desert, peacock rocks, orgonite pyramids for healing, colorful ones to buy by the bag for wire wrapping, and healing stones as well.

      It is hard to get out of the store without putting lots of specialites in your pocket for saving and to stop that lustful heart. My bag was full of happiness with rocks, and my account was reduced for sure.

       To add to your collection without much work, this is better than most other rock shops around the state because the cashier is so knowledgable about rocks. It will be a good experience for you to try the easy way. 

Slicing and Dicing Rocks

      As we were standing over the gravel at the Blue Jewel Mine, Bruce asked, "What do you do with your sapphires that are uncuttable?" I shared lots of ideas, but here is one for your winter rocking activities: How about slicing and dicing them with Andrew Luna's cutter and then carving messages on them with a small Dremel tool? Sell your wares; give them as gifts to co-workers and friends you meet.  

      Mark Amundson of Stix N' Stones rock shop in Great Falls gives his rocks as tips to waitresses. 

What's it good for? We got it here 

     Antimony, heard people mined it in Montana. Even though it is on the element scale, and people know and use it for things, just what is it significant for or used in? I'm curious. Is it of value?

    Wikepedia, the first source, says: it is used in batteries, solders, bullets, bearings, fire retardants, and microelectronics. It seems like there are some warnings that come with long term exposure to this metalloid. Curious how the mineral was found to work in so many situations, even though it is one of the oldest known discoveries on earth. 

What Can You Do With Your Rocks?

      When those smooth pieces of the earth find their way into your pocket and you bring them home, you ask yourself? "What should I do with these?"

      Some people turn them into a business by putting totems on them with carving tools and then selling them to people in stores for them to take home in their pockets as well. It is the symbolism that is put upon the stone that sells and gives the additional attraction to your rocks.

      You must admit, it might be worth a try. 

Yooperlite Discovery

     Ever go out looking for rocks in the riverbed or on the shore somewhere? A guy did that with an ultraviolet light at night and discovered a whole new kind of glowing rock in Michigan. Now the scientists want to study them. The one who discovered them first had to make up a name for the rocks, and then he started selling them on the internet. 

     Just think of what you might find with such discoveries in Montana? Lots of things always to be found in our land with totally new ideas. Rocks are just the best. But he started out in the dark to search for rocks. Would you? Good idea. 

     Check out the new discovery details. Totally interesting. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/man-discovers-glowing-rocks-called-yooperlite/ar-BBN1vAN?li=BBnbcA1

Celebrate with Rocks

     Bought a bag of rocks as a gift for two kids turning 7 & 8 today and it was a hot item at the birthday party. The cupcakes got ditched, the prizes to win, and the other gift openings were dashed. The two just wanted to check out their beautiful earth bounty and TRADE!! Rocks are a marketable means for kids to trade up and get something new and they know it. Rocks are show stoppers and party surprises.

     But what about big boys who have enough toys and it's their birthday?  Hmm..Top O Deep has some choices for you. Do you want a tub of nuggets and fine gold so it can be panned or do you want the nuggets in a container was asked. Shipment comes in just days, and you have real gold to give as a birthday gift for a grown man. Who doesn't want to find their own gold in their home? Check the details down below; you will be glad you did!!

What's this Rock?

     Asked a gal at a garage sale, "Do you have any rocks for sale?" She toured me around her yard and showed me what her husband, Fred Burrows, had bought at an auction and brought home.

     First, she showed off this red heap and said, "Do you think is slag?" Hmmm.... What's up with the additional white pieces embedded?

      Around the corner she showed me a "duck head" which was certainly aptly called, but when I turned it over, I asked, "Are you sure this isn't a dinosaur bone? I would have it examined because it just might be. I would take it to the Dinosaur Museum in Bynum, Montana and they could tell you for sure." People have common rocks that are key curious items. More always to know. Paxton Tutor was sure Mr. Red was slag and explained, but looked like obsidian gone red.

Everywhere in Montana People are Digging in the Dirt

     Even though the last holiday is passed for the summer, there are plenty of places still to explore in the fall of the year. Prospecting doesn't stop until the ground is frozen, then you just take your activities inside for more development and exploration of what you have.

      On the list to visit there are many, but as the guy sided up to me in the warm pool said, "Just how much gold do you have?" I said to him, you know, it is really not out in the plains, it is where mountains are formed and it washes down to lower levels. I know that searching flat is not where it's at.

     Sites and destinations to come, but on here you can find a tip: Prospecting Tips

Mineral Extraction

      It's not like taking out a tooth, it is a serious process of drilling, digging, testing, speculating, examination, and analysis, but the geologists in Montana along wtih investors find all kinds of mineral dandies clumped together or laying out there on the ground. 

      People collect examples by the droves and then donate it to the museums around the state so their gatherings can live on. Just to see how many different kinds of earth's blessings in Montana makes a person feel disbelief. 

      As those volcanoes erupted, cooled, and settled out millions of years ago, little did anyone know the parade of beauty it would be creating for adventure in the search for man and machine here in our great state. Butte, Montana has got it all!! But the mines are finding them too. 

Traveled the Montana Mining Geological Map

      Sat in my seat in Butte, Montana at Montana Tech and traversed the mountaintops and the valleys, looking underground from many feet down below hearing about the richness our state has to offer. 

      Heard about how the water has changed in the Berkeley Pit over the years; learned about the small mines and mineral exploration in Montana. Got the low down from the Department of Environmental Equality. Didn't know so many mines existed in the state of Montana. Heard about Montana's mineral influence at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

     Heard about the mineral potential that abounds here. Got the nitty gritty about how Montana's earth was formed so long ago. Made a possible connection for a trip to Crystal Mountain to find fluorite. The overflow of information from all the topics on this year's schedule was astounding. Posting lots of information about the event on my drop- down buttons. Check it out. 

      Put on by the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology. An amazing service for our state.

A True Rock Hounder

      Mike Gobla came to Butte, Montana to sell some of his rocks he has collected for decades across Montana, Colorado where he lives and in Nevada. He had quite an array of samples to choose from along with gold and silver certificates. 

      The cool part about his services was the fact that he could quickly print up the technical name for his rocks, but all kinds of other identifying information out of his head immediately.

       He is a dam engineer by day, but an avid Montana rock hound by weekend and vacations.

       Finding someone with that kind of knowledge is such a joy because it satisfies your need to know about rocks. My little cards with my rock purchases will be treasured long after they are turned into jewelry and gifts for others. 

Cutting Open Opal Rocks, Surprise!!

      When you cut a rock with a slit and wonder what's inside,  and then you are totally blown away with the beauty it beholds, just take a look at this video.  It's a huge surprise just like it was for those who discovered it. Dirty on the outside, but ginormously beautiful on the inside.


Rocks With Crusty Things Growing on Them

      Like what you see? Ever wonder how hard stuff grows on more hard stuff? What is worth of a museum entry in the rock world?

This dandy piece is at the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology Museum on the Montana Tech campus. It is certainly intriguing along with many other rocks of unusual natures. 

      There are rocks bequeathed to the museum from private collections that will knock your socks off. So worth the trip to Butte to see.

Local Rock Loving

      Rocks of all sorts right here in Great Falls in a garage!!! Not a store, but a guy who is selling some of his finds and they are all laid out in categories and they come with the tales that go with them of where they were found and what they are. 

      For a rock hound this is torture to see what we can lay our hands on and what feels good to own and have as your own personal stash. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found this kind of thing in Billings, but right here in Great Falls at a wonderful price. 

     Rocks I had never heard of before were calling to me. Oh, and the array of petrified wood and agates. Geodes are hard to resist and the dinosaur poop he gathers from out of Choteau. A wonderful selection. To me, it is Christmas shopping all over again. 

      If you want to know this guy, check him out on the online garage sale in Great Falls. He brings out the rock loving in your soul!!

It's That Time of Year

     Every year about this time the Trex Agate Shop has their annual sell off of all their rocks for the season before they close. The reduce the price on everything by 30% so if you have your mind made up about some dandy piece of jewelry or specialty rock, upcoming October is the month to plan on making a trek up there to do a little Christmas shopping or getting that one of a kind item you can't really find anywhere else. It is just the best shop for rocks of all kind even those that you use in make up to make your face shine, or to check out the pendulums for health purposes. It is worth the trip. 

Lighting Using Glow in the Dark Pebbles

     Wanna learn how to light the entrance to your home without using electricity? 

      There is a way to do it with natural elements available online from a company that has developed the ability to put illumination into their stones they sell. It sounds mysteriously beautiful.

      You can learn more by going to this website and checking it out. Making beauty for your home would be fun. https://www.coregravel.ca/core-decor/core-glow/

Befriend Andrew Luna and Check out the Rock Cutting Live!!! Love it

     If you are on facebook the most interesting thing around is to sign up for 406 Minerals and Advanced Exploration Sales so you can be ready  and notified when Andrew Luna goes Live and cuts rocks in his rock shop.  It is fascinating and captivating to see his two rock cutters going at one time, cutting big huge slabs of agates, unusual hunks of stone, and petrified wood. 

     You never know what he is going to get when cutting these pieces and it is always an adventure to find out what a given rock looks like inside. Some are a shocker, some tell tales, and others can flop.  It is always interesting and worth the rock news whenever he gets his Live element going. 

Check out our side bars here for more information by clicking on the button

Treasures Found at the Butte Gem and Mineral Show

A Mixture of Treasures

Being like a raccoon means you can collect shiny things, metal that filled in lines in the earth and look like a giant dollar, iridescent rocks and English pennies that are huge but not work much. Of course the need for a trilobite is always there.

Dollar Duplicates in Copper

Lots of choices of old silver dollars are minted up into duplicates only by using copper instead of silver. Perfect for Christmas gifts and shipping dandies overseas to family and friends as they slip in an envelope easily.

Strands of Rocks to Bead

It's hard to beat the the draw of strands of all kinds of rocks you can string into necklaces, bracelets, key chains, or art pieces. Such variety with holes already drilled in the rocks making it handy to link together in jewelry. 

Minerals and Fossils

A strange looking claw petrified from an underwater sea creature near Morocco, more shiny iron pyrite, and a petrified mini star fish. Got to see the creature whose tooth I purchased as it was a rock right now. Collectibles!!

Ever Wonder What to Do With Your Rocks?  Coral Barthuly, of  the Yellowstone Prospecting Group, Takes to Carving Hers Winning Awards...Worth a Try, Don't You think?

Rocks Can Counteract the Influence of Cell Phones

   With all the knowledge of what the influence of the electromagnetic influence has on the body and the damage it brings, who would have known that stones from our precious earth could neutralize it. But shungite does just that. At Eclipse Beads in Great Falls they sell this small little piece of protection that is taped to the cell phone so your body can be protected. For ten dollars one can't go wrong. All those studies that have linked health issues to these electronic influences on our body can't be that off track. Stop by and see Donella or call her up to get your safety net. Might be new to you, but the long standing testing bears up the truth. This stone is about 98 weight percent of carbon and is a non-crystalline mineraloid which is probably the most influencing factor in turning around the effects.

........Featured Stone........

Blue Amber Helps Heal 

      Blue Amber is the name given to the fossilized resin from the prehistoric leguminous tree Hymenaea Protera. ... It has a purifying energy, intrinsic to Amber, which helps to clear low vibrational negative energy, thoughtforms and entities that may be present within one's energy fields.

       Blue Amber is rare compared to the yellow/brown form of Amber, and its main source is from the Dominican Republic, although it has also been found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. This form of Amber is so called due to the slight blue toned hue it exhibits in strong ultraviolet light. The frequency of Blue Amber connects to the solar plexus and third eye chakras, cleansing and stimulating these chakras.

      It has a purifying energy, intrinsic to Amber, which helps to clear low vibrational negative energy, thoughtforms and entities that may be present within one’s energy fields. It helps to transform negativity into a positive joy-filled energy. 

      Via the third eye chakra Blue Amber aids one with one’s psychic abilities, increasing one’s inner vision, allowing one to have clarity of thought and to view life from a higher perspective bringing an understanding of one’s life’s path.The energy of Blue Amber helps to support one so that one is able to have insight into one’s life’s journey and brings an uplifting energy enabling one to move forward with a positive attitude and joy. The blue toned form of Amber helps to raise the vibrations of one’s physical vehicle and thus helps with one’s general health and wellbeing.

Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology

John Foley



ID Your Rocks


Does a picture tell it all? Asked John Foley, Museum Assistant, at the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology in Butte if he could he could tell what a rock was from a photo sent to him so the rock in question wouldn’t have to be presented to him in person. He thought he could.

You would think it would be simple. If you seen and labeled many rocks for many years, there would be some kind of category. If the place of pick up would come with the rock, that would help.

Recently put him to the test. Found a rock in a Thrift Store in Bozeman. Took photos from all sides and sent them to him. Stumped him!! Sometimes there are rocks that just fit the categories, especially mine that had rocks within rocks in it. He said he couldn’t tell much.

Step two: He asks, “Put acid on it. If it fizzes, it’s limestone. If it doesn’t, use the scratch test on glass.” Hmm..defining more steps to assessment.

Step three: just make a bag, pile or box to either send to him in the flat rate box or a personal visit to which he is expedient and comes up with the verdict and the scientific nomenclature. At least you know. It is worth a try either way to get your questions answered as to just “What kind of rock is this!!”




Butte Mineral Museum



Columbia Falls Rock Shop Related Stories



      Life from long ago can still remain on this planet in the form of  petrified remains.

     Here is one  of Renee's California finds from her search for rocks.

Rock Shop

renee at rock shop

     The choice is quite broad for fossils and rocks for Renee in the Rock Shop in Columbia Falls.

     Renee got  rocks that fluorescing under her black light flashlight.



     Any time you go to the Columbia Falls rock shop you will find Grey sitting under warm light on the counter to greet you.

     So sweet.



     Renee has an extensive knowledge of rocks and fossils.

     She is willing to share them with the public. Her collection has been gathered from her travels all over the country.



     For decades travelers to and from Columbia Falls have been able to gather this delicious spring water along the road side.

     Be sure to bring a jug for collecting.



Fossil Collection


Columbia Falls


lomaa gold

Loma Museum

     The Loma Museum was built like in the 1950’s; the displays are still the same as they were then. It is mainly a rock and fossil museum. It was closed for about 10 years and has just recently been opened on a regular basis.

     If you have a rock hounder in your family, be sure to take time to go there. They have very flexible hours and the museum is supported by an archeologist with a master’s degree. He is available for consult if you need him while you are there. His name is Gar.

     There’s a large dinosaur thigh bone, dinosaur body parts, sapphire display, an evolutionary diorama, historical displays of the area, and a room where you can buy all kinds of rocks really cheaply.

     I took a group out to a gravel dig nearby after we visited the museum. It was a productive experience as well as enjoyable. I brought home lots of rocks both found and purchased.

darrell at phillipsburg

406 minerals rock

406   Minerals

     If you want to know about rocks in Montana, where to find them, and how to extract them check out Josh K. Saksa at 406 Minerals and Advanced Extraction. Josh displays on his Facebook site many of his extractions that are just gorgeous and so unique you just want to own them. You can contact him anytime for more information in regards to beautiful rocks from Montana.

     He is an avid rock hound who knows the Montana terrain and seeks rocks and minerals weekly with many friends. He finds many things you would never know existed.

     He has a claim outside of Helena that he has buckets of black sand with garnets sitting right on top for sale for panning. In the future we might be able to prospect on his claim maybe. Check him out.

Scenes of classifying sapphires with Darrell Barnes, from Indianapolis

trex rock shop

Trex Agate Shop

     The history that the Trex Agate Shop has in my family is long. Every trip to Glacier National Park meant a stop at this Bynum Rock Shop with my family taking home their rock treasure of all kinds. You want a rock, you stop, and they have it! Recently I just stopped there and asked for dinosaur poop and they had it plus dinosaur bones petrified. I got glass balls with bugs sealed in them; once I brought back glittering fairy dust from rocks for my friend.

     Each year they have a big sale in October with large percentages off all their stock before they close for the winter. The fall would be a good time to buy gems and jewelry from all over the nation.

     It is a family owned business that has generations of rock knowledge to share with you. Right next door is the Dinosaur Museum open for tours and sells fabulous amber jewelry.

     Knowledge and contact with this Bynum Rock Shop is important to include in your repertoire of rock expertise. You will be glad you did.


darrell with the classifiers


Gem Mountain

     From surveying the cache derived from various sapphire sites in Montana the most consistently productive source is Gem Mountain in Phillipsburg Montana. A physical store can be found in the town of Phillipsburg along with many others on main street, but there is a site down the road where you can buy bags of gravel, wash it in their troughs, and search for your sapphires on pre-arranged tables.

     It’s a great place to take a family because you will be successful and instill the thrill of recreational prospecting in those who you share this experience with. You most likely find many sapphires that you can have cut in the future or make arrangements in their store.  Just remember that at the Yogo Sapphire Shop in Great Falls, Montana you can have your sapphires cut for $7.00; so you could possibly decline the local services there for cutting and bring your sapphires to the Yogo Shop. You would save yourself lots of money.

     The mine has summer hours and you have to watch for their closing time for the winter but their downtown store is always open to purchase gravel bag for your search.

     You can be very successful with your purchases at the mine. It’s a very nice place because the staff comes and checks on you regularly and encourages you along with teaching you how to find sapphires.

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© Central Montana Prospectors Coalition, Site Created & Written By Alma Winberry