Guide to Collecting Rocks

Once you have determined you want to start a rock collection, the first thing you must do is decide what you want to collect. To begin, you may just start with rocks you find around your home and local neighborhood. Pick rocks that are attractive to you and unique in some way.

Good organization skills are key when starting any type of collection. Rock collecting, stamp collecting, sea shell collecting, and coin collecting all have one thing in common: Organization. In order to display a great collection, you must be organized. The process begins with your first specimen. Here are the steps to Organizing your rock collection.

Steps to Organizing a Rock Collection

1.  Identification - Once you have a rock specimen, you need to identify it. There are hundreds of different rock types that can be identified, but all rocks can be grouped into one of three basic types of rocks, Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic. Begin by determining the type of rock.

2. Labeling - Now that you have identified your rock type, label it.  Write down on an index card the rock’s common name if you know it, the type of rock it is, where it was found and the date it was collected.  By labeling your rocks, you can now organize them into groups which can then be stored together or displayed.

3. Cataloging - Cataloging is an extension of the labeling process.  A catalog is a written archive of your rock collection.  Each rock specimen has its own label which identifies it.  Your catalog keeps a record of all your rocks.  As your rock collection grows, your catalog will also include information on where your rocks are stored.  An example of cataloging can be found at your local library.  You can search for books by using the library’s card catalog or computer catalog.  Because everything is very well organized, you can find what you are looking for quickly.

4. Display - The last step to organizing your collection is to decide how you will display and store your rocks.  By displaying your rocks both you and others can appreciate their natural beauty.  When displaying your rocks be sure to keep the rock specimen and label together.  If you keep your rocks in small cardboard, plastic, or wooden containers they will be easier to display as well as store.  Using a protective container is an especially good idea for fragile samples.  Acid free tissue papers can be used to protect especially fragile specimens.

To learn more, check out this information about building a mineral collection and find out how you can print out some free mineral labels to keep your collection organized.

Now that we have talked about how organize your rock collection, let's look at what to collect