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What you found in your mine run material

Here's a forum for you to share with other people what
it is that you found after cleaning your mine run material.

I will post everything verbatim that I receive from you so you can see what others are finding:

The Great, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly   


Vladimir Suvorin (Russia)  March 7, 2011 

Hi John,

On a photo the received results are represented. They are very modest. I think, that I can expect the best results from processing 2 kilo 8-16 cm.



Don. Ortega, (Texas)  August 9, 2010 

Hi John,

This is the best one. The largest Benitoite is about 1.7 long along the longest dimension.

Don. Ortega, (Texas)  July 29, 2010 

Hi John,

The mine run came today. I got 10 pieces. Almost all of them have visible neptunite. The biggest one has a natrolite layer about 1.5 cm thick and I can see both neptunite and benitoite on the perimeter. Just seeing this one piece already makes the money I spent well worth it!



S. Hardinger, (Los Angeles, CA)  July 25, 2010 
As promised here are a few words concerning the last batch of  benitoite rough that I etched. Feel free to use this on your web site,  with any editing as necessary.

I ordered 2 kg of 8 cm and less benitoite rough, which was shipped  quickly. The lot contained about 30-40 pieces, a few of which had visible benitoite. After three weeks of etching (and waxing, and  removing wax, and etching more, and ultrasonic cleaning, and ammonium bifluoride treatment and...) only two or three pieces failed to yield at least a neptunite thumbnail or better. About 15 pieces had benitoite of various quality (but no significant gem rough). Many  joaquinites and a few djurelites were also found, but no jonesites or silvers. Here are pictures of my three favorites from the lot.

#1 (The Face): Four complete benitoites to 1 cm, resembling a face.  The barren area contains a few tiny joaquinites, so it was not trimmed  away



Y. Dain, (France)  December 29, 2004 

Hi John !

I had finished to wash my rocks !

There are two killer specimens of benitoite in them !!!!
The second one have a twin of benitoite on the top of the specimen !!

I'll buy some more in few days.

Best regards
Y Dain

Frank Dechert 

I finished cleaning the third kilo I ordered.
I did manage to find three pieces with Benitoite.
The rest were disappointing,compared with the earlier kilo's.
I have attached three photos: before, after and the pieces with Benitoite.

Best regards

M. O'Neill - November 2, 2004

Hi John,
I've gone through about half of the 5 kilos I ordered and just wanted to post what I've found so far.

rock1 - 6x4x2 cm  The large neptunite is 2cm long and 6.5mm wide! it's huge! (unfortunately some minor damage to the left side)  The longest neptunite on the rock is 2.5 cm.  The benitoite partial measures 1 cm.

rock2 - 8x4x4 cm   This rock hosts a 1cm double terminated benitoite, a couple of benitoite partials, and neptunite to 1cm.

rock3 - 2.5x2x1   A small piece that hosts a single terminated benitoite measuring 7mm.

rock4 - 9.5x7x6 cm    This rock hosts over 40 neptunite crystals to 1.5cm!

Michael O'Neill - Washington

Michel Tournier 

Hi John,

Hard work,17 hours work to clean the specimens....but it's really a pleasure when we love minerals and when the hope is teasing our own efforts...I got a problem with the real proportion of hydroxyl of sodium.  The first proportion was probably too important so the matrix (schist) began to melt. I stop every thing and began to rinse a lot with water and
and went on with a light proportion of dilution of hydroxid sodium.....!  So the result after such a hard work. Some specimens with unfortunately nothing. Five others with small cristals of Neptunite (no more than 1cm for the longest), 3 specimens with some small cristals of Neptunite and one small cristall of Benitoite of 3 mm but not very well crystallized,and one piece with two cristals of Neptunite of 13 mm long and 3mm and the best one and the last was a piece with two large and long Neptunite cristals of 33 mm and 25 mm long and 3 mm large well formed, very small cristals of Joaquinite(first time) and several crystals of Benitoite of deep blue but very  small (from 2mm to 3-4 mm) not so easy to see with the eyes but of course very nice with a magnifying glass. So I am very glad of course I would have liked to got a good specimen of Benitoite ...but I got some beautiful of Neptunite.

I spoke to my friends and some intend to order something to you.

Thanks a lot
Best regards

Sherman Marsh 

Hi John 

I received 13 pieces of mine-run material as follows in my 2 kg order:

1. 6.5 oz
2. 1 oz
3. 3.5 oz
4. 3 oz
5. 6.5 oz
6. 3.5 oz
7. 2.5 oz
8. 1 oz
9. 5 oz
10. 5.5 oz
11. 2 oz
12. 13 oz
13. 18.5 oz
Total 71.5 oz = 4.469 lb = 2.03 Kg

All of the pieces had some natrolite coatings. Most of the natrolite was less then 1 cm thick indicating that any xls underneath would be usually less than 1 cm. Upon inspection with a hand lens only one had any benitoite present but, seven of the pieces had visible neptunite along the edges. Pictures were taken before and after treatment so a comparison could be made.

1. Another disappointment. This was one of the larger and heavier pieces and had a small area (0.5 cm) of broken massive benitoite showing. After days of acid treatment thatís still all there was, nothing else.

2. A very small piece that didnít have much promise. Treatment revealed that this was a correct assessment.

3. This piece showed some neptunite along the edge, under the natrolite. Treatment revealed the first benitoite xls in the entire lot. There are 3 benitoite xls on the specimen; two are very small (1.0 mm) and one is slightly larger (3-4 mm). There is also a broken, somewhat larger xl on the edge of the piece and 2 small (3 mm) xls growing in a small pocket. These xls are not terminated as they have grown to both sides of the pocket. There is also one very small (<1 mm) joaquinite xl.

4. This was a small piece but had good coverage of natrolite. The natrolite cover was thin, generally less than 0.5 cm and there was nothing showing. Although showing promise, the end result was still nothing showing.

5. What a disappointment!! This piece had a lot of relatively thick natrolite on it, although it was somewhat irregular. After almost a week of acid treatment, it turned out to be nothing!

6. This piece showed some promise as there was visible neptunite along the exposed edges under the natrolite covering. The natrolite covering was, however less than 0.5 cm thick so no large xls were expected. Upon cleaning, a nice field of neptunite xls to as much as 1 cm long were exposed along with 2 joaquinite xls less than 1 mm. No benitoite

7. Had hopes for this one as it had the thickest natrolite of any of the pieces, over 2cm thick. What a dud! Nothing at all.

8. This was a very small piece with a broken neptunite showing. Didnít hold much hope for this one and I was right.

9. This was a very irregular piece with natrolite in a wide, deep fold in the schist. Treatment revealed a small benitoite (0.5 cm) on one end and 3 joaquinite (1-2 mm) on the opposite side, at the bottom of the fold.

10. This piece showed some small neptunite xls on the edges under 0.5 cm natrolite. Treatment revealed one large neptunite xl over 1 cm long and 0.5 cm wide. There are 7-8 much smaller neptunite xls and 5 joaquinite xls (<1 mm).

11. This piece had a 0.5 cm coating of natrolite totally covering it. Treatment revealed two small groups of neptunite to 0.7 cm long and a scattering of five joaquinite xls.

12. This piece held promise of a nice selection of neptunite xls. A lot of neptunite was exposed along the edges and the natrolite covering was somewhat thicker at almost 1 cm. Treatment exposed an abundance of brilliant neptunite xls to 1 cm and covering about 60% of the piece. Two joaquinite xls less than 1 mm and 4 djurleite xls (1-2 mm) are also present. No benitoite. This was the best piece out of the 13 I received.

13. This was the largest piece (amounting to 26% of the entire shipment) and although there was 20% waste that had to be removed before treatment, there was good natrolite coverage over the rest. A small broken neptunite xl was exposed in one area.
Unfortunately, this was the only xl on the piece with the exception of 3 small (<0.5 cm) neptunite xls. This was particularly disappointing as it this piece represented a large portion of the shipment.


Sherman Marsh

Roger Williams 

Hi John & Steve
Thank you for the mine run material .I just started etching a few specimens . I have bought from you for the second time. I have never had any thing close to this size before.  I have sold most of the specimens. The money I make has been almost paying for my finishing of jr.college towards a degree. Sorry to ramble on and get off track. Here are some pics of this specimen I am talking about. The large gem is fully terminated  with no damage what so ever 2.5 cm 1.5 cm . thanks for your time and thanks again I couldnt be happier with the material you have sent me.


Photos by Roger Williams

Ted Hadley 

Thanks much for having me over and providing me with such good Gem Mine material. I feel certain that I will find many goodies in the rocks I purchased. I throrughly cleaned and examined each piece. One small rock in the handfuls you selected for me shows a whole face of a 1 cm clean, gemmy benitoite.  I found so many promising pieces in the 4lbs you selected for me that I don't think I could have a reason to complain. Sure, there were a few throwing rocks, but most was quite nice material. 

Even though I haven't started etching anything yet, I would like to ask that you let me know next time you get new mine run material in so I can come and make another purchase.  I would expect to spend another $1000 +/- then also. I would be most interested in larger pieces with thick natrolite.

Thanks again,


Dan Evanich 

Hi John!
Long time since we emailed or even talked.  Please send me a copy of MinRec volume 15, #4, showing neptunite on the cover.  Just let me know how much to send via PayPal.  My address has changed since last year.  No more Gilory (I'm now 30 minutes further away from San Benito and Clear Creek).  I plan to see Steve P this coming Monday.  I have to feed my Mine-Run habit.  There is nothing left in my garage to etch.  Also attached are a few digital images of my latest neptunite creation.  Overall size is 3" x 2.5" x 3" with at least 18 main neptunites ranging in size to 3.5cm long.  Most are from 2.0 to 3+ cm.  It's a really different 3-D looking specimen. 

Dan Evanich

Photo by Dan Evanich

Billy Constable

Hello John,
    Thank you very much for the mine run.  It's nice material, with definitely good composition.  It took me a little while to get going with cleaning operations, but I made a modest stab at it with the prescribed method.  I did not manage to take pictures before I got started, but I did at a later period, so the before pictures are actually after the acid baths, with wax on them and leftover sludge.  The after pictures are as they came out.  I since have done a bit of scraping.  I'm not sure if this is too good, but it did expose little niches of the crystals, and allow me to get a close look at the situation of the crystals.  I'm a little nervous about bathing them again, since I don't want to dislodge crystals.  Also, I've manage to put a little grunge on the benitoites, and on some of the neptunites, which I guess will come off if I soak the specimens.  I'm not sure what the soak is you suggest, maybe an isotonic or something.  Sounds like a jewelry cleaning bath.  Anyway, I'll send you the pictures- I looked at the website, and it looks nice.  They'll come one by one since that is usual with photos.
I probably will go for some more later, just getting all tapped out going into spring.  Oh- I meant to tell you I got one really super specimen, and another very good one (the ones in the pictures)  There were also a couple more with really nice benitoite specimens.  There are a couple more which possibly might show something if I can etch them some more.  In those, I don't know why, but the natrolite appears to be a little harder.
Thank you,
Billy Constable

Photos Billy Constable

Rick Kennedy - California

Hi John and Steve,

(to see more of this lucky find visit the last report from the 2004 Tucson Show)

I have been making good time etching material from the last 20kg order. I have pretty much finished the smaller pieces and was working on one of the somewhat larger ones when Lady Luck dealt me a winning hand.  This rock was about 15 X 10 X 7cm unetched and had Benitoite showing at two places, disapearing under an area of crossite.  The first surprise was that the crossite did not contact the Benitoite as badly as first thought, the second surprise was that all of the Benitoite I saw turned out to be one huge 1.5 INCH crystal!  As I continued to etch I was at first disapointed to find that the termination was in pretty bad shape, as the piece already had damage at the edges, but they say every cloud has a silver lining, this one was bright blue!  From this damaged crystal I plucked the two largest pieces of clean facet rough I have ever had, 7.37ct  and 9.03ct.  And just for icing on the cake, there were several smaller undamaged tabular crystals on the remaining matrix that make for a very nice specimen.

So for your viewing pleasure, here are pics of the original specimen, the specimen I'm left with, and both pieces of rough.



7.37 cts                                                              9.03 cts

The finished Stones (August 28th, 2003) 5.07 cts and 2.22 cts respectively. About $25,000 
worth of gemstones for $1,000 and a lot of specimens too! Thanks!!  Rick
Photos Rick Kennedy

Terry Fish - Oregon

Hi John

I finally got my photos back. Sorry it took soooooo long.

I have a before and after picture.

Terry Fish

Photos Terry Fish

Richard Palley

Hi John

I wanted to show you this specimen that i have just about finished etching.  i bought it from you as part
of a parcel of mine run ore.  the quandary was that I could see a lot of bens and neps tightly sandwiched in
a narrow seam of natrolite running through the crossite matrix.  i soaked it for two consecutive days in a 1 to 4 acid to water bath, then was lucky enough to be able to lift off the majority of the enclosing crossite.  what beauty lies beneath!  thankyou so much for the wonderful specimen and the fun, sweat and tears that goes along with this hobby (obsession!).

Richard Palley 

p.s.  the third jpg is one of the small pieces i
unroofed off the main specimen.  very gemmy complex

Photos Richard Palley

Jim Baxter - Illinois

Hi John

having a great time with the kilo of mine run I got. It's a blast seeing stuff emerge. Definitely a learning curve though. I got greedy on the best of the neptunites so far and 'one more etching' robbed me of a lot of natrolite that I wish I had back. You mention on your site even more noxious chemicals to further clean specimens. Some of my neptunite crystals still have some whitish stuff on them and look a lot less clean than those on your site even after the alkalai bath. Any final finishing tips?

I would like to order another kilo of the mine run if that's ok. Still interested in specimens that look promising for benitoite. You did a great job with the last batch. Three had small benitoite crystals, not killers like the ones on your site but enough to whet my appetite for more. If you don't still have my MC# and address on file let me know.

Craig Bonda - Illinois - Hi John,
     Okay.  My photography is pretty bad, but attached is a jpeg showing the specimen after processing.  The specimen is really quite interesting and much prettier. 
     The overall size is 7.6 x 5.1 x 3.5 cm.  As you can see, the rock has a druse of glassy, benitoite crystals from 1mm to 8mm.  All are terminated, some double terminated, and none (as far as I can tell) are damaged.  The crystal at the top center is gemmy, as are several others, and displays a perfect 2-11 face pointing left.  Most of the crystals, though complete, have natural fractures.
     The crystals are generally a deeper blue than the photo shows.  There are also numerous neptunite crystals to 2mm scattered throughout.
     I now have a great appreciation for what it takes to prepare one of these specimens.  For this rock, I had to remove most of the natrolite to expose the fairly small crystals.  I think I did that part okay.  But I was lucky that the crystals were anchored in the crossite so did not come loose as the natrolite gelled in the acid.  After washing in water and soaking in sodium hydroxide solution I was surprised to learn that a lot of the surface is a bluish clay that, I think, should be removed.  I learned to do that with a dental pick, and with great care.  I lost two 2mm benitoites before I really got the hang of it and learned what not to do.  As it is, the specimen could use some additonal cleaning, but I think I've about reached the point where I'd better stop messing with it.

Thanks and best regards,

Picture by Craig Bonda

James Corliss - Louisiana - I found this specimen with a 2+ cm doubly terminated crystal of neptunite in the 1 kilo of mine run material you sent to me.

Picture by James Corliss

Rick Kennedy - California - I just wanted you to know that I am very pleased with the order for 10 kilos that I received last month.  I have etched some very nice specimens including a miniature with a 1.5cm Benitoite perched next to a 4.5cm Neptunite!  I have also etched a 3.0cm Neptunite that is doubly terminated, but the real find was a piece of facet rough that came out when I split a seam that was barely showing anything. Imagine my surprise when out popped two nice Benitoite crystals over 1cm across on matrix and a piece of clean rough that weighs 3.71ct and should cut a stone over one carat clean!  That piece of rough alone pays for the entire parcel!

Martin Wells - Australia - There are two main large neptunite crystals on the sample, each about 1cm long and both terminated.  There are also 3 smaller crystals present, each also terminated.  I must admit I did enjoy seeing the neptunite slowly emerge from the matrix, and hopefully will have the chance again. 

picture by Martin Wells

Phillip Ellison - England - I received the 2 kilos of mine run material and was at first aghast!  Five days later I am the proud owner of a 2 cm+ benitoite crystal with neptunite!  I could not be happier.  I feel like I found my own specimen.  Please send me two more kilos.

Glenn Morita - Washington  Well I just finished cleaning the last of my batch of mine run.  Most of the pieces had small (<3mm) benitoite crystals with two that had 5mm highly included and fractured benitoites.  One piece had some very nice neptunites to 16mm x 5mm.  This is the one specimen that meets or exceeds the cost of the batch.  Overall I am pleased although I wish I had found a good benitoite to go along with the neptunite.

Steve Henegar - Tennessee - I received the benitoite rough I ordered a few days ago.  I wasn't expecting to see crystals already exposed.  Some of the neptunite already visible looks pretty good.  I can't wait to get started etching the natrolite to see if any benitoite crystals emerge.

Andy Stevens - Minnesota - I got one great piece in the small lot I ordered. There are at least 20+ fully terminated neptunites emerging from natrolite. The longest ones are 1.5 cm. With a single 1.5 cm doubly terminated crystal. Also a small partial benitoite on the side. Very exciting stuff

Dan Evanich - California - I've gone through three batches of the mine-run material and, in processing it, have learned a lot about the characteristics of neptunite and the associated matrix material.  I am very pleased overall with my purchases from both you and Steve Perry and plan to pick up some more soon.  My favorite finds include primarily neptunite specimens.  One was a double terminated 4cm crystal with another 2.5cm double terminated tabby laying across the middle.  The neat thing was that there was a small terminated benitoite right in the apex of the two crystals!  Here's a photo or two of some of the finished material got one great piece in the small lot I ordered. There are at least 20+ fully terminated neptunites emerging from natrolite. The longest ones are 1.5 cm. With a single 1.5 cm doubly terminated crystal. Also a small partial benitoite on the side. Very exciting stuff

Photos Dan Evanich

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