Jewelry and Lapidary

On Being Wrong: A Lapidary Inevitability

I’ve been involved in gemstone identification for decades, most of my life. In the beginning I didn’t have a lot of info at my disposal. There was only really whatever I could find at the library. We didn’t have references as Mindat.Org. I did what I could.

The photograph above is of two pieces of jade that I found about 26 years ago. They are from Washington and Wyoming. Well, wait a second. I posted this on a Jade Group on Facebook and was immediately told it was Serpentine. I argued and was offended. After all, this wasn’t a Jade ID group. Mind you, I made the identification when I was young. I was looking for Jade Slicks outside of Bothell, WA and stumbled on a fresh culvert. My story was that I thought it had to be jade to survive being ground by Glaciers into this shape. It’s a nice story I told myself. But I would find out, it was just part of a story.

One of the group members challenged me to do a specific gravity test. Now my Ego got in the way and I defended my position rather poorly thinking that my expertise was being challenged on a non ID group.

You know, I would have thought they would have had a hard time with the one on the right. After all, it is gray and cinnamon colored.

Washington has worthwhile Nephrite. Some of that Nephrite is mixed in with Serpentine and we have some of the best serpentinites in the country. Recent finds have proven that Washington Nephrite can rival the best in the world. The appearance varies. I was sure that this was jade. I was sure that Nephrite could look like this. And I’m still pretty sure it’s possible. But after arguing and being offended I had to do the specific gravity test. I weighed the stone, then weighed it suspended in water and divided the air weight by the water weight and I immediately left the Jade Group and the Identification groups. I had been wrong!

It’s not the first time I found myself being spectacularly wrong. I once thought I had found a rare tektite when it was a large piece of rock salt. I once argued with someone over her own name, albeit I was inebriated at the time.

So then, did I quit because I was embarrassed? Well, sort of. Yes, I don’t like being wrong, but that’s not all of it. You see, whenever someone posts something to an ID group, there is always someone out there who knows nothing about the stuff and is willing to make some remarkable identification of Bacon, weed, or some other food or drug. They give out joke answers. Or, if something is green, it might be Emerald despite the odds. Or it’s dyed Quartz Crystal (quartz crystal can only be coated. It cannot be dyed. Quartzite and Chalcedony can be dyed).

I really don’t care if I’m wrong. It’s OK. It’s inevitable. And I do like to argue or discuss things. But this sort of thing can prove to be too personal sometimes. Not in that I felt offended by someone questioning my expertise, that stings but it’s alright, I found I spent too much time every day, looking to argue with or correct people. And why? Is it my ego or is it my desire to teach or both?

I left the Jade group. I left Washington Rockhounds. I left the ID groups. After having left them for a couple of months, I can look back and say I am happy to be rid of them.

I joined Facebook to help advertise my livelihood. Joining groups does not improve the number of followers you might have. Posting your song to a song-posting-free-for-all group does not get you listened to. Everyone there wants you to listen to them. And that is Social Medias main problem. It’s my problem. It’s an internet problem. Facebook is not much help when it comes to expanding your audience.

So, the stone on the left is Serpentine as has been identified by members of the Jade Group I left, confirmed by a specific gravity of 2.63. The piece on the right is suspected to be Nephrite from somewhere Northwest of Casper. A certified Gemologists told me what it was before I told him what I suspected it was. He was shown the cabochon cut from this stone in a necklace. I’m not sure if he read the tag on the necklace first and just said it make me feel at ease. He ended up purchasing the necklace. The stone is not going to undergo a specific gravity test at this time.

Serpentine is worth considerably less than Nephrite on the most part. Is my serpentine slick any less interesting to me now that I know it’s not Jade? No, not really. It’s still a great find and nice to look at. I never wanted to cut it anyway. It survived being transported by glaciers and glacial waters. It’s special in-and-of-itself.

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