Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Wild Caught

Some people like collecting minerals and gemstones at shows — where someone else has done the hard work of digging. Others still thrill to the chase, reveling in the discovery of raw beauty in often remote areas. Field collecting is no longer a matter of “driving into the desert, throwing the old Packard into low gear, and trundling across the ground while hauling in likely rock from the open door” — as an old rockhound once told me. This method may not have been legal even then, but it certainly isn’t legal now. State, national, and just “empty” land is a lot more fiercely guarded these days. It’s still possible to do your own collecting, but you need to do your homework first.

Collecting on Public Land

Your first stop when collecting on public land, says veteran collector Scott Stepanski, is your state’s geological survey website. This will offer you a wealth of information about collecting restrictions on state lands, collecting sites, available minerals, and, most importantly, laws.

For example, searching online for “Oregon” and “state geological survey” took me to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral

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