Russell Boggs helps rockhounds identify their “mystery” rocks during the Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department’s seventh annual Rock, Gem & Jewelry Show on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Metamorphic mysteries: Rockhounds get pieces identified at Port Angeles show

PORT ANGELES — John Usher, who has been a rockhound for years, was stumped with a few pieces in his collection.

He was among several others Sunday who attended the city of Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department’s seventh annual Rock, Gem & Jewelry Show with hopes of having a few pieces identified.

“It makes you appreciate your collection better if you know what’s in it,” he said.

“These are going to last way longer than I am, so hopefully the next person who gets them can see what they are.”

Usher joined the Clallam County Gem and Mineral Association last year, but had previously been in a rock club in Montana for about 20 years, he said.

What fascinates Usher about minerals and gemstones are the shapes and colors of the crystals that are formed, he said.

“They are so perfect it’s just a miracle,” he said. “It’s the most beautiful thing in nature as far as I’m concerned.”

Russell Boggs, who completed master’s and doctorate programs at the University of California, Santa Barbara, helped people identify their rocks Saturday and Sunday.

He didn’t have any problems figuring out the rocks people brought in Sunday, but said that doesn’t mean he never gets stumped.

“There are things you can’t be absolutely certain of just by looking at them,” Boggs said.

Boggs, who has been attending the rock show for the past several years, said he just enjoys being able to help people figure out what they have and to disseminate accurate information.

“It’s just good to help people,” he said.

Boggs also provided tips for how to identify minerals while out in the field.

He pointed to a few online guides and said the easiest way to narrow down the type of mineral is by checking if it has a metallic luster and by checking how hard it is.

He had kits available that allowed people to perform hardness tests.

The vendors at the rock show were also knowledgeable and could help people, said Kathy Schreiner, the show coordinator for the Clallam County Gem and Mineral Association.

Vendors came from Clallam County and from across the country with polished rocks, rock slabs and chunks of rock, according to organizers.

One vendor cracked geodes. Others dealt with amethyst, larimar, fossils, beads and jewelry, Schreiner said.

“We have very knowledgeable vendors, so when someone comes they can answer their questions about rocks,” she said. “People are looking to find out what they have.”

For her, the highlight of the weekend-long event was seeing “so many happy people.”

She said that a number of people who attended the event Saturday returned Sunday for more.

“You see people going in and all of them leaving have bags, so you know they have something,” she said. “It’s nice to have a family event where people can have a good time and leave feeling good.”

For more information about the Clallam County Gem and Mineral Association, call Schreiner at 360-681-3811.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

John Usher, a new member of the Clallam County Gem and Mineral Association, looks over a vendor’s rocks and minerals during the Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department’s seventh annual Rock, Gem & Jewelry Show on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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