This glossary covers some of the common jargon you may hear at the club meetings or read in the Breccia. If you have other words/phrases that you think should be here, or that you’ve heard and wondered as to the meaning – please send email to the webmaster to have it included here (


Wind deposited sedimentary rock.


American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (, a federation of regional federations, for example CFMS. A national association composed of seven Federations: Eastern, Midwest, Northwest, Rocky Mountain, South Central, South East and California. An annual meeting is held in conjunction with one of the Federation shows.


A banded, multicolored, variety of Chalcedony. It occurs in an infinite amount of colors and patterns, and no two agates are alike. It usually forms in rounded modules or knobs, the bands and patterns only become apparent when sliced open.
See the July 2006 Breccia (page 11) for more details.


American Lands Access Association ( ) An association focused on meeting the political challenges of increasing regulation and decreasing access to public lands that State and Federal agencies were imposing upon amateur fossil and mineral collectors. Their purpose of this group is to promote and ensure the rights of amateur fossil and mineral collecting, recreational prospecting and mining, and the use of public and private lands for educational and recreational purposes; and to carry the voice of all amateur collectors and hobbyists to our elected officials, government regulators and public land managers.


“Without form”, glassy, or with no crystalline structure.


a star shaped reflection or illumination in a polished rock or stone, like a star garnet, sapphire or rubies.

Audit Committee

A committee appointed to review and audit the Treasurer’s books for the past year. They report their findings to the Board and general membership.


(ben-EE-toe-ite) is a rare blue barium titanium silicate mineral, found in hydrothermally altered serpentine, and the only example of the ditrigonal-dipyramidal symmetry class. Benitoite fluoresces under short wave ultraviolet light, appearing bright blue to bluish white in color. It was first described in 1907 by George D. Louderback, who named it benitoite for its occurrence near the headwaters of the San Benito River in San Benito County, California. Benitoite is a rare mineral found in very few locations including San Benito County, California, Japan and Arkansas. Only gemstone quality material has been found in California. It is California’s official state gem.

Building Fund

Funds established a number of years ago to allow the purchase/lease of a building for the purpose of a meeting hall and workshop to be used by all club members and guests. These designated funds are invested in a number of funds till such time, as a proper place is located. These funds are the result of net profits from earlier shows and various raffles held during each year.


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers 261 million surface acres of America’s public lands, located primarily in 12 Western States. The BLM sustains the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. (Bureau of Land Management – California website)


The monthly club newsletter of SCVGMS. Also, the meaning of the word is “a rock consisting of sharp fragments embedded in a fine-grained matrix (as sand or clay)”.


Etymology: Middle French, diminutive of Old North French caboche, meaning “like a bald head”.
A gem or bead cut in convex form and highly polished but not faceted; also a style of cutting.
There are various styles – Simple: polished convex top, unpolished flat back. Low: a simple cabochon with a flatter top. High: a simple cabochon with a more curved or extended top. Hollow: polished convex top, concave back. Double: polishd convex top and polished convex bottom, but less curved. Lentil: a Hollow cabochon, but both sides are equally convex.
See the November 2005 Breccia (page 5/6) for more details.

Camp Paradise

Two one-week camps similar to Zzyzx except the location is 45 miles east of Marysville off E-21 (Clipper Mills). Facilities are a rustic church camp, rooms with double beds or bunk beds and RV parking is available. Bathrooms and showers are communal and located in each building. $395 per week includes meals and classes. No alcoholic beverages are permitted.
Classes include: Gem carving, beginning wire art, silver fabrication, lapidary, soft stone carving, faceting, copper enameling, lost wax and silver casting, glass bead making, PMC silver clay, advanced wire art and glass fusion.
Click on Forms at the CFMS website ( for the sign-up form. You need to check often because once the form becomes available the seminars fill up fast.


California Federation of Mineralogical Societies (, a federation of local rock, gem, and mineralogical societies and clubs, for example the Santa Clara Valley Gem and Mineral Society. An association of 137 or more clubs and societies throughout California and Nevada interested in the Earth Sciences and associated fields. Annual meetings are held at the yearly show held in association with one of its clubs and the first week in November.


“Cat’s eye” effect. An example could be tigereye or tigeriron.


Individual competition is frequently done in some of the study groups. The Cutaways often assign a type of material the members will complete of a stone of their design for the next meeting. The stones are collected and given to an anonymous judge for critiquing. The following meeting the critique sheets are returned with the stone. Judging is based upon the AFMS Rules system.
Annual Show: Individual cabochons and faceted stones, carvings and pieces of jewelry are often entered into competition at the annual show. CFMS judges are used to critique according to the AFMS Rules. Trophies and/or certificates are given for the winning entry. Individual cases can be entered into competition at this show using the entry categories provided by the AFMS Rules system. These are then judged per the AFMS Rules to determine the winning entries.


Surface covered by very fine crystals, usually quartz.

Endowment Fund

The CFMS started a fund that is to underwrite the majority of costs; that is, the interest/dividends from this fund is expected to provide the funding for these expenses. The principal of the fund is to be allowed to grow each year and donations are given to this fund from the local societies and clubs. The AFMS has also started such a fund to support its expenses.

Federation Director

Represents the SCVGMS club during the annual CFMS meeting and the November meeting. Each is a formal business meeting which address the actions accomplished and those to be accomplished by the various committees and establish future show locations. See the Breccia for current and alternate federation directors’ names.

Financial Advisory Committee

A committee appointed by the club president consisting of himself and the treasurer and a minimum of two members from the board. Their purpose is to direct the investment of the societies moneys.


reflects a different color under a short wave or long wave ultraviolet light. An example might be calcite, rubies, emeralds, zircons, or scheelite.


River deposited sendimentary material.

Founder’s Day Picnic

A Society picnic to commemorate the birthday of Hal Pearsall, a founding member. It typically is held on, or near, his birthday. Costs of the meat and soft drinks are often provided by the Society. A raffle is held for some top line gifts following the meal and then into a lively game of bingo.


derived from molten rock, magma. Lava is magma without the dissolved gases.

Installation Dinner

The December meeting is replaced with a dinner at some restaurant or at the club meeting hall usually held in the first week of December where the current officers are recognized and the incoming slate of officers are sworn in. Members are encouraged to donate new toys to the U.S. Marines’ Toys For Tots program who are represented at the dinner. The evening is concluded with socializing and conversation.


a rainbow-like play of color. An example could be opal, labradorite, or fire opal.


There are two forms of jade: Jadeite, also known as “hard jade”, and Nephrite, also called “soft jade”. However, they are chemically quite distinct. The jade found in California is usually Nephrite.
See the June 2006 Breccia (page 10) for more details.


Judges from the CFMS serve an apprenticeship at the CFMS level. This starts at the Clerk level and progresses through Learning Judge, Judge and Senior Judge positions. The AFMS Rules are interpreted and applied by this group at all state level competitions. The CFMS has a Rules Committee that provides input to the AFMS Rules Committee and administers the annual show competition. They tabulate the scores of the event and arbitrate any questioned decisions that may rise. A number of our Society members have served in these various positions up through the Chairman of the CFMS Rules Committee and the AFMS Rules Committee.


Lake deposited sedimentary material.


The word means “concerned with stones”, is an artisan who practices the craft of working, forming and finishing stone, mineral, gemstones, and other suitably durable materials (amber, shell, jet, pearl, copal, coral, horn and bone, glass and other synthetics) into functional and/or decorative, even wearable, items (e.g. cameos, cabochons, and more complex facetted designs).
The Wikipedia Lapidary entry can give more background.

limb casts

Limb Casts are created when agate is deposited in cavities formed by tree branches covered by volcanic ash. The wood burns away after being covered by the hot ash. Under the right conditions agate fills the empty space. The result is a piece of agate that has the form of a tree limb, hence the name limb cast. Some of these casts show the bark and wood textures. Pink and green limb casts are highly prized by collectors.


Rock changed in form by heat, pressure, and perhaps superheated water (E.g. marble).


Public Lands Advisory Committee. Since much of the useful rock collecting land is “owned” by the government. This committee watches state and federal legislation that may affect the gem and mineral society member access to such lands, and promotes advocacy when such legislation may be detrimental to general access to public land. This is a CFMS committee addressing the use of Public Lands in our nation. They provide a service of informing the clubs and societies about pending legislation and regulations. They keep a close pulse on the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Our interest in field trips causes our Society to have strong representation on these issues and concerns. See the Breccia for whoever the current club representative may be.


the property of certain crystals of exhibiting different colors when viewed from different directions under transmitted light. An example could be tourmaline, topaz, benitoite, amethyst, beryl, or aquamarine.


AFMS Rules is a publication of the AFMS consisting of near 100 pages. This document explains what areas and specifics for Lapidary, Minerals, Fossils, Carving, Petrified Wood, Jewelry, Educational and General items for competition. It defines the categories one can enter and explains how scoring is accomplished when competing. It serves as a good reference book for each of these and suggests general displaying topics for each.


The Santa Clara Valley Gem and Mineral Society … this website, serving the south bay region of the San Francisco, California bay area, primarily centered in San Jose and the surrounding communities of Santa Clara county.


Deposits laid down by water, wind, ice, or landslide transport.

Serpentine (or serpentinite)

The California state rock, is apple-green to black and is often mottled with light and dark colored areas. Its surface is often shiny or wax-like in appearance and has a slightly soapy feel. Composed of one or more of the magnesium silicate minerals.
See the September 2006 Breccia (page 10) for more details.


Silica refers to the combination of silicon and oxygen. The mineral quarts is made of pure silica. Whereas, other silicates such as feldspar contains sodium, aluminum, potassium, and calcium in addition to silicon and oxygen (silica).
Geochemists use the term “silica” to refer to the overall silicon and oxygen content of rocks. A rock may not contain any veins of quartz but have a high silica content, that is to say the rock “ingredients” may contain a large portion of silicon and oxygen.
See the January 2009 Breccia (page 5) for more details.


Silicon is the most common metalloid. It is a chemical element, which has the symbol Si and atomic number 14. The atomic mass is 28.0855. A tetravalent metalloid, silicon is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon. As the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, silicon very rarely occurs as the pure free element in nature, but is more widely distributed in dusts, planetoids and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. On Earth, silicon is the second most abundant element (after oxygen) in the crust, making up 25.7% of the crust by mass.
Silicon links up with oxygen (which makes up 55% of the earth’s crust) to form the most common suite of minerals called silicates, such as: quartz, feldspars, olivine, micas, thomsonite, jadeite, and prehnite. Since there is so much oxygen available silicon is almost found naturally.
See the January 2009 Breccia (page 5) for more details.


Silicones are largely inert compounds with a wide variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant, nonstick, and rubberlike, silicones are frequently used in cookware, medical applications, sealants, lubricants, and insulation. Silicones are polymers that include silicon together with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and sometimes other chemical elements.
Frederick Kipping was the chemist who pioneered the study of the organic compounds of silicon and invented the term silicone.
See the January 2009 Breccia (page 5) and Wikipedia for more details.

Snyder’s Pow Wow

The first weekend in May a San Andreas rancher, John Snyder, opens his ranch for a Rockhounds flea market. This takes place Friday through Sunday and has 200+ sellers available with material from all over the nation. Friday is Kids Day where the schools use the event as a field trip.

Zzyzx (Soda Springs)

A full week long seminar, similar to CampParadise, and is 50 miles northeast of Barstow held in the early spring with the opportunity to learn lapidary, silver fabrication, chain making, beading, soft stone carving, wire wrapping and a number of field trips.
Facilities are rustic, dormitory style rooms with bed, mattress and desk. Must bring bed linen or sleeping bag and other creature comforts. Cost is $395 for the week and includes three meals per day and the classes.
Click on Forms at the CFMS website ( for the sign-up form. You need to check often because once the form becomes available the seminar fills up fast.