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Jerold Kyle is a self-proclaimed rock hound. But if you ask him, the whole thing is his wife’s fault.

Kyle, of Lodi, first got into the Stockton Lapidary and Mineral Club through his wife of 54 years, Phyllis Kyle. Phyllis Kyle has been a club member for 12 years and makes beaded, chainmaille and gem jewelry. Kyle got into the habit of attending meetings with her, but wasn’t involved until he won a weeklong trip to Camp Paradise. There, in the mountains north of Marysville, he learned to make cabochons, or small rock pendants.

“It’s difficult to a degree, but it’s not really all that hard,” he said. “It takes patience, listening, and just doing it.”

Two years later, he’s now the vice president of the club and the chairman of their annual gem and mineral show.

This year, Earth’s Treasures returns to the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds for two days of elaborate displays of gems, fossils and tools, plus demonstrations and tutorials on just how to turn those rocks into something worth keeping.

Kyle recently sat down with the News-Sentinel for an interview on his insight into the lapidary world. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

What’s your favorite rock?

My favorite rock is pumice which is plain, grainy, and black from volcanic flow. Why is it my favorite? I love seeing the wonder in children’s eyes when they see a rock float in water. I also love lapis lazuli and serpentine, which is the California state rock.

What was your most interesting find?

I was on a field trip with my wife and some friends in a Nevada desert. We were out on a hillside just after a rain storm. Despite the mud, it was a perfect time to look for Angel Tears, because they just shine after the loose dirt washes them clean.

How do you prepare gems and stones?

You slice the rocks with special saws to expose the interior designs, especially with a geode, then cut them into the shape you want. Then grind off any rough edges, polish it to a nice shine and then you can wrap it in wire. The whole process takes about half a day per piece. I can make about 24 in a week. My wife has thousands of dollars in saws and tumblers and other equipment. The club also hosts open house days where anyone can use their equipment in Stockton.

What makes a rock worth collecting?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is something out there for everybody, and every eye will be drawn to something different. You can have a whole range of cabochons out on a table, and everyone picks up a different one.

How would you convince a newcomer to join your club?

This hobby is based on the natural beauties of the earth. But that’s just an excuse. This is really an unbelievable social community. It’s gratifying to produce things of beauty. If you can do it with friends and camaraderie, it’s a wonderful thing.

Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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