Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dinosaur Bones Aren't Just for Archaeologists

With Halloween coming up, I thought I'd talk a little about bones- dinosaur bones. :) These aren't scary and they aren't what an archaeologist would typically be interested in. No, I am going to discuss Gem Bone or agatized petrified dinosaur bone.

Blue Gem Bone in patinaed sterling silver

Digging up or picking up a gem bone is a relatively rare occurrence. It is illegal to gather any from Federal lands where much of it is found in the American Southwest, almost exclusively where the states Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet in the Jurassic Era Morrison Formation.

Gemmy Gem Red Dino Bone in Sterling Silver

Agatized Dinosaur Bone, or, Gem Bone for short, is the name given to dinosaur bones which have been petrified. The cells in the bone have been replaced by agate, making them hard, colorful and easy to polish for cabochons. The colors are caused by different kinds of minerals in the soil or water such as chlorite, chromium, iron and manganese. The best material is colorful and has distinct cells in a web like pattern. Dinosaur bone comes in many colors with gold and red being more rare. It has a Mohs hardness of anywhere from 3.5 to 6.5. (Due to the varying completeness of the the agatizing process.)

Blue Gray Dino Bone

I love cabbing Gem Bone. It's a wonder to me that the rock I am working used to be part of a dinosaur! Besides my awe, it is just a fun rock to cab. The rock itself is almost always ugly and gives little hint at the gem cab that it will become. The picture above is hands down the most glossy cab I have finished of dino bone. I wasn't sure I even wanted to waste time on it- the rock was so uninspiring. Gem bone has a particular odor, as well. Not bad, but different. You can't smell the finished cab, but you can smell it while cutting it.

Golden Brown Gem Bone in Bronze

Before I began cabbing, I bought few dino bone cabs because they tended to be expensive for the quality that I wanted. However, since I now cab, I can pick up slabs that don't look very promising knowing that in the end, I could end up with some gemmy cabs. It's kind of a treasure hunt, or, a gamble- whichever you prefer. I prefer treasure hunt. :)

Small Really Red Dino Bone Pendant in Sterling Silver


An update on my nephew who has leukemia. He is now in remission. YAY!!!

An update on my grandson. If you remember, last year he had some trouble. We really pushed to have him tested for gifted, but they refused. Well, it turns out that he was, in fact, recommended by two of his teachers last year for the gifted program. This year they will have to lower themselves to testing him. He tests Tues.. It is basically an IQ test. I know he will score high and when he does, I will make it a point to make sure the principal knows it.

I am really disgusted by the admin at this school. You may have heard a recent national news story where some kids were playing with toy guns in front of their house before school (not the bus stop). They were kicked out of school for the school year. But, they may be allowed to go to the "bad boys" school before the year is up. That was the same school as my grandkids' and the same pigheaded administration.   --- OK, rant over ---  I can't help it.


  1. Tela, you have been on my mind. I do hope that your health is on the upswing. I use to be a PUVA nurse and so I get what you have been going through. By the looks of this awesome dinosaur post, you have been busy. The fossilized and agate bones seem to have a pretty low mohs hardness. Does this make it easier or harder to work with creating a cab at this soft state? Just curious.

    Yesterday my friend called to tell me that she just became aware of a lapidary class in Chicago and would I like to take the class with her. My initial reaction was "sure enough," but then my mind went to all the equipment and the skill set that I would have to learn and I thought then that it was best to leave it to Tela to make the world cabochons!! I bowed out of taking the class, but it really gives me a new appreciation to think that you had to make that leap of faith a while ago and look at what you have done with it!! Thanks always for sharing what you do with all of us. It is really fascinating.
    Your friend, Susan

    1. Hi Susan, I have an appt on Tues with a new derm doc. I'm hoping to finally get on something else to help with my hands. Yay! Can't stand it anymore.

      The pieces I pictures weren't all done recently. Only the third one was done and listed on Etsy recently. My hands ares still but I do have some days better than others. I can't cab, though.

      The Mohs varies in the slab. You can cab the softer stuff, but it doesn't look as good or take a great shine. Often times, it can be stabilized which will harden it. Usually, I just work around the soft spots and just use the really hard agatized areas. But, for a really gorgeous slab, stabilizing is a great option and far as I know it doesn't affect the value. Stabilizing is very common, esp with certain stones. More on that another time. :)

      Susan, I'm really surprised that you didn't take the class! You would have loved it! Maybe you can get involved with a local rock club and give a try before you really invest anything in it. A lot of ppl I Know of just use the equipment at their clubs and they are happy with that. :)

      Thanks for commenting... I love hearing from my friends. :)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.