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Oregon Sunstone Adventure

When your state has one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world and you’re in the rock business, of course you’d want to go check out the area where they are mined. After 28 years of being in the biz, I finally got a chance. Our teenage kids had just got out of school for the summer and we decided to take a road trip to the Oregon Sunstone mines.

The mines are 7 hours from Portland in south-central Oregon, so we broke up the drive by stopping to see Oma and Grandpa in Bend. From Bend, we headed straight down to the Spectrum Sunstone mine. Most of the terrain in the area is pretty monotonous, but every once-in-a-while, you come across some interesting rock formations and vegetation. The last hour of the drive is along a gravel road and all we saw was miles and miles of low sagebrush, with the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in the background.

When we arrived at the Spectrum Sunstone mine, we were first greeted with funny signs (“All adults must be accompanied by a miner”) and second, by a large snake in front of the office door! As soon as we got to our camp spot, while the rest of the family was setting up the tent, I started filling my pockets with sunstones. I spotted them all over the ground. They were literally everywhere! These are the low grade sunstones, but still a pretty, translucent pale yellow.

The next day we started out early while it was cool. We chose to pay $200 to sort through a load of mined rubble that hopefully contained some of the nicer sunstones. We were looking for stones with “schiller,” which is the pinkish sheen the copper inclusions make, as well as red and green sunstones, which are much more rare.  It took the four of us about 4 hours to go through the pile. We found a dozen pieces with schiller and a bunch more nice-sized lower-grade pale yellow stones.

While sorting, we had another visit from an unusual creature popping out of the rubble — a very large cartoonish bug unlike anything we had ever seen before. (Check out the picture!) With the internet’s help, I’ve been able to identify it as a Jerusalem Cricket. Even though it was only the middle of June, it was extremely hot down there with absolutely no shade. The second time I applied sunblock, I forgot to ask someone to apply it to the back of my shoulders and got sunburned! So if possible you may want to consider going there in May or October.

The evenings were magical, as we were able to see the night sky without any light pollution and with a horizon that stretched for miles. It was also great physical therapy to bend our heads up to look at the stars after bending our heads down all day to look for sunstones!

Camping at the Spectrum mine is free, and they even have flush toilets and showers. They also have a couple of tee pees and some cabins for rent, and they waive the fee to stay in these if you pay to dig. You can also camp and gather sunstones in the public collection area right next door. The various private mining claims comprise 20 acres within the 2 square miles of public collection area on BLM land.  The public collection area, however, has no water and pit toilets.

If you’re a rockhound or a parent looking for a fun road trip/activity to share with your kids, I highly recommend this trip! Just remember to take sunblock (and apply it liberally!), work gloves, some form of shade and a bucket to put your finds.

Crystals and stones can be so healing. I get an uplifting feeling from the sunstones. Many people believe that the crystal healing properties of Oregon sunstone include, leadership, optimism, good will and good luck.



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Rock Story Contest 2017

All of us at The Fossil Cartel love a great story. We could tell you stories for days about all the rocks and goodies we have in our store. That got us thinking, we bet you have great stories about your own collection of fossils, minerals, crystals, and other rock specimens. Choose just one story to tell us and you could win The Fossil Cartel Storytellers Contest.

We’re giving away a thunder egg, the book, “Gem Trails of Oregon” by Garret Romaine, and a $50 gift card to The Fossil Cartel for the 1st prizewinner! The first and second runner up will each get a $10 gift card.

Do you have a story about a stone or fossil in your collection that is funny, spiritual, unique, or just awesome? It is your time to be a storyteller and share your story with all of us at The Fossil Cartel, our fans and social media followers!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Tell us a story about a stone or fossil in your own collection.
  2. You can either write your story in less than 300 words in a Word document or PDF, OR you can record a video telling your story in less than 3 minutes, upload it to YouTube and email us the link. Make sure to send a picture of the stone or fossil in your story. If you’re submitting a YouTube video link, make sure to show your stone or fossil.
  3. Our team at The Fossil Cartel will pick a winner based off how unique and interesting your story is.
  4. Please submit your Word document, PDF, or YouTube link May 1 – June 1, 2017 to
  5. We will notify the winners on June 7, 2017.

When you submit your document or YouTube link you give The Fossil Cartel permission to showcase your submission on our blog and social media pages including Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Also by entering this contest you opt-in to our email list.

No purchase is necessary and the 1st prize is valued at $79, and the first and second runners up prizes are valued at $10 each.

Contest presented by:

The Fossil Cartel
333 SW Taylor Street

Portland, OR 97204

Again, please submit your Word document, PDF, or YouTube link May 1 – June 1, 2017 to


Here’s an example of a written story submission:

“Back when I was in high school I was part of the most rewarding and amazing team in an organization called DECA (an association of marketing students).  There were 18 of us on the state officer team and we were all in our junior or senior year of high school. All of us were from different cities and towns throughout the state of Washington. We became a family after spending a year traveling around the state together. When the year was over one of my fellow state officers gave each of us a carved heart stone from The Fossil Cartel. He did this because we would consistently refer to our experiences as DECA love and would make a heart shape with our hands.

17 years have gone by and I still have the picture jasper heart from The Fossil Cartel. It has traveled with me to different corners of the US and has had many homes starting with my college dorm room. It now is next to my bed in my side table in the first home my husband and I purchased this year. I cherish this picture jasper heart stone as it carries a bit of nostalgia and memories I never want to forget.”

-Meagan H.

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Denver Gem and Mineral Show 2016




All August I was dreaming of being at the Denver Gem and Mineral show in September and finding beautiful treasures to bring back. It’s a highlight of my year and now that time has come and passed. It was wonderful as usual. There was only one year it wasn’t so great: when the area experienced heavy flooding and many of the vendors’ booths were under water!

Now we’re tasked with unpacking everything, getting it out on the floor and on our website. It’s like Christmas for us – unwrapping all the goodies! See below for a list of some of the new booty.

Besides the beautiful weather in Denver, the only other thing that stood out for me this year was an experience one of the vendors shared with us. The Schlanskers have been around a long time and are a large wholesale business. It’s a family business started by Mr. Schlansker, who was later joined by his retired school principal wife, her sister, and now the grown children. Speaking of children, I remember one year at the Denver Show when Mrs. Schlansker held my infant daughter so I could have my hands free while I selected merchandise. 14 years later, she shares pictures of her grandchildren with us and we get to know her children who will probably eventually take over the business.

The Schlanskers have been very successful and have grown their business into a big operation. They also run a tight ship; they cross their t’s and dot their I’s. They are hard-working, honest, tax-paying people. Mr. Schlansker travels a lot to buy minerals and fossils from all over the world. In many countries, using cash is more effective and practical than credit cards and money orders. A week before the show, the Schlanskers got notice that the main bank they do business with (one of the biggest banks in the country) had closed all their accounts with no given reason. They could only speculate it had something to do with the Patriot Act due to their seemingly suspicious dealings with cash and all the traveling. Apparently the banks are not able to differentiate between diamonds and semi-precious minerals like we sell, and are afraid anyone dealing with cash and stones of any kind is a potential terrorist and/or money launderer.  Not only was it very disruptive and a great hardship for them to suddenly lose all their bank accounts for no reason, it was also invalidating. When you’re a good person, doing the right thing, you’d expect people and institutions to treat you with respect. This must have felt like a slap in the face. They told us other vendors have had similar experiences, and they suggested we create a Patriot Act compliance policy to post on our website as well.  Hopefully, they will find another bank that wants to do business with them and take their money.

Here’s a little list and some pics of some of the goodies we brought back from Denver. Please be patient with us as it takes weeks to get all unpacked and out on the floor.

  • huge smoky quartz clusters
  • all sizes of great single, unpolished  quartz points including large
  • tumbled larimar
  • hand polished small green kyanite,
  • flat sardonyx small tile-like pieces
  • sardonxyx spheres
  • all sorts of great massage wands
  • shattuckite jewelry
  • super 7 jewelry
  • small kunzite
  • ruby crystals
  • small sapphire eggs and hearts
  • lots of sulfur specimens from two diff. locations
  • great ruby earrings
  • lots of obsidian-sm. sheen obsidian spheres and palm stones, rainbow obsidian spheres and hearts
  • fossil starfish
  • different ammonites from Madagascar
  • bright light green serpentine marbles
  • aqua aura points and a few clusters
  • aurora quartz points and clusters
  • small meteorites from a different location
  • many diff. size fluorite slabs
  • lots of great soothing stones
  • gemmy chrysoprase, rhodochrosite and larimar  beaded necklaces
  • cut and polished coprolites
  • mini selenite lamps with LEDs
  • quartz, amethyst and rose quartz wands
  • shungite pyramids
  • kunzite pendants
  • large polished garnet crystals
  • labradorite bookends
  • men’s rings
  • blue kyanite in quartz
  •  large and medium rough rose quartz
  • Fluorite, sodalite, rose quartz and carnelian bowls
  • A grade tumbled ruby in zoisite,
  • , etc., etc…….


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Finding Dendrites in Germany

Rockhounding is great for many reasons. One is that it takes you places you wouldn’t normally go. Whenever I travel, I try and recall if I know about any cool stones that come from the area. In May I went to Southern California for a wedding and remembered there is a famous tourmaline mine in San Diego County! We had a great time driving into the remote mountains and digging for tourmaline the morning of the wedding.


Our most recent incidental rockhounding trip was a dream come true. We got to dig for one of my all-time favorite rocks, manganese dendrites in limestone in Germany. I’ve been selling these unique rocks for 27 years and always yearned to see what it was like there. The main purpose of our trip to Europe was to attend a family reunion outside Munich. The dendrites are found in a region of northern Bavaria which was a couple hours out of the way from the rest of our itinerary. The dendrite location is usually listed as Solnhofen, a small town, so we headed there from southern Bavaria on a warm sunny day. On the way we stopped for lunch at the nearest small city, Eichstaett, and discovered there is a quarry just outside the city where you can dig for Jurassic fossils, and also find dendrites. All the people digging there were only interested in fossils, so we looked through the giant pile of castoff rocks. We had a blast finding rough dendrites in various sizes, and even found some water bug fossils (Saccocoma). Follow this link if you’d like to learn more about the region, where they’ve been mining limestone since Roman times for building purposes — and where they found the first Archaeopteryx fossil!


We then headed to the nearby town of Solnhofen, where most of the limestone tile businesses are located, and found a rock shop next to the train station selling prepared cut dendrites. They look a lot better when they are cut into squares or rectangles. It makes them look more like a scene in a framed picture. The store owner, Guenter, was very friendly and made us a wholesale deal for cut dendrites, so now we have our largest selection ever of cut and rough dendrites in our store. Guenter noticed my husband’s pyritized German ammonite pendant and asked if we had more like it to trade him for dendrites. Even in Germany where they come from, people seek out these particular ammonites because they’re so awesome and rare. We still have a good stock of those at the store, so get some while you can! Click here to see some on our website.


Our journey next brought us to the picturesque small medieval city of Noerdlingen on the “Romantic Road” through Bavaria.  The walled city center was the backdrop for the movie “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” when Charlie and Willy Wonka fly out of the factory in the glass elevator. Our hotel in the city center had ammonite fossils in the floor tiles. After that, we kept seeing ammonites in the floors in other places we visited, including Verona, Italy — right in the sidewalks! Verona’s Roman amphitheater was built of pinkish marble containing ammonites, too. It’s interesting what you see when you keep your eyes open.


To learn more about dendrites, click here to read one of our older blog posts. Find out how they trick people and how they’re formed. Our dendrite search brought us not only fine dendrite specimens, but a fun adventure off the tourist track. Do a little research before your next trip and you might have some different, unexpected adventures!

  • Entrance to fossil dig. Look how big the it area is!

Kent's find

On the road near the dig, we noticed this house that was covered in dendritic limestone.
On the road near the dig, we noticed this house that was covered in dendritic limestone.
Top of the heap
Top of the heap
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Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2016


The 2016 Tucson Gem Show was amazing as usual. This year we were especially impressed by all the gigantic specimens. There usually are some extremely big pieces at the show, but this year topped the charts. We saw the largest amethyst cathedrals we’ve ever seen as well as some odd specimens such as ruby in zoisite concretions the size of cantaloupes, a football-size pink tourmaline crystal and a humongous kunzite crystal! (See pics below.)

This year was fraught with some sadness as a vendor we’ve been buying from for the 26 years we’ve been in business passed away in September. We’re used to seeing the same people every year and when people start disappearing, it impacts me greatly. That’s just about the only thing that puts a kink in the “Groundhog’s Day” feeling we get every year:  same place, same time, same people, same weather, etc.

One thing that struck me this year is that I noticed more than ever, how much I love the stones. Not only how much I appreciate them, but as in the verb love:  how much care I give them. There are many vendors and buyers that toss their merchandise around as if it were landscaping material to be shoveled into someone’s backyard. Since most vendors do not wrap our purchases for shipping, we have to go through each box and rewrap everything we’ve bought. As we wrap each piece, I often gaze lovingly at them with great appreciation. We wrap each piece protectively with an affectionate touch.

I also noticed I was finding myself a little jealous of the buyers who are able to purchase massive quantities of things. I caught myself in my jealousy and focused instead on how we purposefully and carefully select the highest grade specimens for our customers. We may not wind up with a million of something, but we get the best! After all, it’s not the quantity that matters — it’s the quality!

We’ve started unpacking, pricing and putting everything out on the shelves. We’re excited to have you see all the new and wonderful goodies we brought back for you! I now understand our customer’s dilemma when they have a hard time deciding between 2 or 3 great pieces. I have the same problem shopping for the store! Here are some of the things we’re especially excited about:

  • Pyrite balls from China. These are black concretions with lines of druzy pyrite circling the stones. Some of them have a design that look like secret symbols inscribed in the middle.
  • Super 7 and Auralite 23 crystals!!!
  • Blue Lace Agate drilled pendants, earrings and tumbled. The quality on these is so gorgeous, I almost cried when looking at them. We also got to meet the son of the owner of the only blue lace agate mine, in Namibia! He was at the show to dispel the myth around the closure of the mine.
  • Faceted rhodolite garnet stud earrings. If you’re a rhodolite or purple fan, you’re going to love these! Cute design and unbelievable quality stones.
  • DIOPTASE! We haven’t had dioptase specimens in years. The ones from Kazakhstan got so expensive, but we found some decent affordable ones from Africa.
  • Madagascar carnelian bowls, hearts, eggs, spheres and slabs. This material really gets me, it’s so pretty. The bowls are to die for. We’ve never had those plus slabs of this material before!
  • Green fluorite clusters from China. I just love these. They look like light green ice. We had just about sold out of these, they’re so popular. We’ve replenished the stock!
  • Bright, deeply colored amazonite eggs and blue calcite spheres from Madagascar.
  • Lots of great Spirit Quartz
  • Carborundum
  • Amazing star ruby rings
  • Splash copper
  • Satin/velvet malachite
  • A bison jaw
  • Cavaniste
  • And much, much, more!
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Rose Quartz

Pantone Color of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity

Rose Quartz From Madagascar 21 50 A (1)

Fashion and rose quartz have always fascinated me, especially why people wear what they wear and how fashion reflects the times. We’ll take a look at both topics. You can take any point in history, look at the popular fashions and get a sense of what the political, economic and social atmosphere was like for that period. I studied fashion history in college along with social psychology and learned that with this knowledge, you can actually prognosticate what fashions will be popular in the near future. There are companies whose job is to do just that.

Take, for example, Pantone, the world-renowned authority on color. Pantone creates the leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries. The Pantone® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer. One of the most important things they do is choose “the Pantone color of the year” every year. Here is their definition of what that represents: “A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” The whole world of design looks to them for direction.

Pantone Color of the Year: Rose Quartz and…

This year for the first time, they chose two colors; Rose Quartz and Serenity (a pale blue). Rose Quartz can be used in fashion, and here is an article where In Style discusses how to do this. Here is an explanation of their choice:

“As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

The prevalent combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity also challenges traditional perceptions of color association: “In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.”

We are happy they picked the name of a stone this year! Rose quartz is a favorite stone of many people for good reason. With its pretty soft pink hues, it’s a calming stone as well as a stone for love; especially self-love and unconditional love. I myself fell in love with rose quartz 30 years ago when I acquired a huge chunk of it. It’s been with me ever since, softening the energy in my home and reminding me to love myself.

Rose quartz is the pink variety of quartz and forms in large masses. Its color comes from trace mineral inclusions. Rose quartz is found all over the world with some of the largest sources being Brazil, Madagascar and South Dakota. Much of the darker and more translucent stones come from Madagascar. Sometimes, rose quartz will exhibit a star pattern on the surface like star sapphire or star ruby. These stars occur when microscopic rutile has aligned itself along the same axis within the stone. There is a sister to rose quartz called “Pink quartz” that forms in crystals but it is very rare.

Since rose quartz forms in masses, it is a great stone for carving. We have all sorts of rose quartz carved into shapes here at The Fossil Cartel including: animal carvings, bowls, eggs, spheres, lamps and candle holders as well as a large variety of jewelry. Some rose quartz can fade in the sun, so be careful not to leave yours exposed for too long.

Rose quartz is a lovely stone that everyone should have. If you don’t, think about adding it to your collection today or even giving it as a gift of love or friendship. Click here to view our online selection of rose quartz.


Susan Landa,
Owner of The Fossil Cartel

  • Bracelet Rose Quartz Tumbled (1)
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Garnet and amethyst: January and February babies are so lucky

January Birthstone is Garnet

January’s birthstone is garnet which is known to inspire passion, love and loyalty. The most popular color is red, but did you know garnet also comes in several colors? The garnet family is one of the largest in the world. Garnet actually refers to a group of silicate minerals and has a variety of looks depending on their chemical composition, but they all share a common crystal structure which is rhombic dodecahedron or cubic.

Pyrope and almandine garnets are the more typical reds. In the orange hues, there is hessonite and spessartine, also known as mandarin garnet. The more purplish garnet is rhodolite which is a mixture of pyrope and almandite. Andradite comes in yellows and yellowish greens. Grossular garnets probably have the widest color range, from colorless through yellow to reddish orange and orangey red, to a strong, vibrant green.

Gemologists break down the groups even further. For instance, demantoid garnets are a bright green variety of andradite and is very sought out by collectors for their beauty and rarity. Tsavorite (another green garnet) and hessonite are varieties of grossular garnets. Another rare, emerald green garnet is uvarovite and forms as druzy which means minute crystals on top of a host rock which can make it look very sparkly.

Garnets have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. Sometimes you might even notice garnet crystals in granite countertops! It’s a 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, so it wears well as jewelry.

February Birthstone is Amethyst

February’s birthstone amethyst is the purple variety of quartz and is also about a 7 on the hardness scale, making it a popular gemstone for jewelry. The Greeks believed amethyst could prevent intoxication, so it has become known as a stone for sobriety. The Greek word “amethystos” may be translated as “not drunken.” Other healing properties for amethyst include protection, meditation, memory and motivation. It is considered one of the most spiritual stones, promoting love of the divine.

Amethyst’s color is caused by iron and/or manganese inclusions. Amethyst comes in massive form as well as crystals, making it a great stone for carving. For instance, we have a variety of spheres, eggs and carvings out of amethyst. Spirit Quartz or Cactus Quartz are amethyst crystals coated with smaller crystals and come from South Africa. Amethyst is found all over the world with the biggest deposits being in Brazil, Uruguay and Africa. Other sources are Russia, India, USA, Canada and Korea. Large cathedral-shaped geodes of amethyst come from southern Brazil. I had the privilege to visit the mines many years ago. The miners dig tunnels into hillsides and chisel the geodes away from rock bed walls. First they drill a hole to see if there’s anything inside worth taking out. Once removed, they take them to a warehouse where they cut them open and hose them down. Some of the formations were as big as me! It was a wonderful experience to see the mining in process.

Amethyst can also occur together with citrine, the yellow variety of quartz and is known as ametrine.

Both amethyst and garnet are beautiful stones, easy to find — and are quite affordable!

See more on our Facebook and Instagram pages!


  • Amethyst Sphere
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A Wonderful Evening Celebrating Our Customers

Customer Appreciation

We are so thankful for our customers! We had a fun night with our customer appreciation night! On December 5th The Fossil Cartel was very happy to offer dinner, shopping, drinks, and a special sale at our 2nd Annual After Hours Holiday Shopping Party. The free event was such a huge hit, it sold out with over 120 RSVP’s! If you missed this shopping event, don’t worry, we’re thinking about doing a summer event, too.

Please take a look at the pictures below from the event and see just how packed it got in our 1350 square foot store. Everyone enjoyed a Thai dinner from our friends across the street at Bangkok Palace. Susan’s husband Kent was pouring beverages all night long, and Jem and Jule, Kent’s and Susan’s kids, were helping customers find what they were looking for!

It was a fun night for everyone!


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Stones for Managing Change

Managing Change

In a world of constant change, the one thing you can always count on is change. Expectations may go unmet, but if you expect change you will never be disappointed. Managing change is not easy, but this blog post will show you some stones that may help you manage the change that comes into your life.

While change happens in and around us all the time, managing change can be unsettling and we are often naturally resistant. We feel more comfortable with stability and change is by definition instability. Do you think that you have problems managing the change in your life? You’re not alone!

Manage the Change in Your Life

Bearing this in mind, what can we do to maintain stability in an unstable world of constant change? Here is a great article about managing change in your life.

Stones can provide that stability. Like a tuning fork, stones sympathetically vibrate with the world around them. And they can realign vibrations close by, replacing discordant noise with harmonious music.

If you think of yourself as a musical instrument, and if you ever feel out of tune due to the inherent instability of constant change, stones can help you re-tune yourself.

There are many stones that help with this re-tuning process.

For support during changing times, tiger iron and labradorite work well. As an aid to accepting change, chrysanthemum stone, chrysocolla, larimar and rose quartz are very helpful. Bloodstone is good for adapting to change. Chiastolite, fire opal, rutilated quartz, rhyolite and seraphinite are good stones for facilitating change.

What Stones Help With Managing Change?

Also: ametrine, danburite, lepidolite, charoite, Herkimer diamonds and malachite are all stones that can be aids to people in transformational or transitional states.

In an unstable world what better thing to spend a little money on than stability? What better way to stimulate yourself and the economy than to buy stones that can help turn noise into music, discord into harmony?

  • Herkimer Diamond Cluster