The Incredible Shrinking Lapidary Journal

The January 2005 issue is 90 pages, much of it ads. The January
2004 issue was 98 pages. January 2003 was 106 pages. January 2001
was 138 pages. January 1999 was 170 pages. So basically, this
month’s issue is almost half the length of a comparable issue six
years ago.

Personally, I’d rather they raised the price and kept supplying the
sort of jeweler’s resource that LJ was in the 1990’s. (I still show
up at rock shows and buy old LJ’s at 10 cents apiece hoping to turn
up copies from the 1990’s that I don’t have in my collection).

At this rate, I don’t think I’ll be renewing again. I wonder how
others on this forum feel?


Don’t give up. Most of the jewelry magazines had a decrease in
EVERYTHING after 9/11

David Geller


I would not be happy to see this resource disappear because of a
boycott by readers. I believe Lapidary Journal has made a gargantuan
effort to meet the needs of all phases of readers.

We are already losing a wonderful publication, please not let us
cause the demise of another. I have seen on other lists the sneering
reference of LapiBEADary, that of course led to Lemmings jumping on
the Dump on LJ Bandwagon. Please do not allow that to happen on

Increased readership, requests and contributions of relevant
materials for inclusion in future issues. That is the way to see
individual needs met.

I met the Editor at a Faceting Seminar a couple of years ago. When
she was faced with the dearth of facet material in the magazine, she
simply said, send me material and it will appear. That is exactly
what has happened. No reason why we cannot do the same for whatever
we personally feel should be better represented in Lapidary Journal.

I will continue my subscription, I feel there is good reason to do

IMHO Terrie

Hi Mona,

Funny you should bring this topic up as I’ve been getting the usual
renewal notices lately from LJ and have yet to convince myself to
send it in. If LJ is trying to cut out some fat from the magazine,
sure wish it didn’t have to be the LAPIDARY part that’s melting
away. Guess I’ll stop into Borders every month now to at least
browse thru LJ & see if it’s worth buying or if I’ll save my $5 and
go buy a new rock instead!

Would Colored Stone be a better option to go with? Looking forward
to hearing what others have to say about all of this,

Happy Holidays :slight_smile: Carol

Ditto Mona.

I have noticed the same thing about the Lapidary Journal. I have been
a subscriber since 1997 but like all things it has changed and is
less in many ways when compared to what it used to be. It used to
arrive in my mailbox with a plastic sleeve protecting it, but now
arrives unprotected with the corners and edges already tattered or
the front or back page missing in part or in whole. My renewal
arrived in the mail last week. I think I will just flip a coin to
decide whether or not to renew for another year of cover to cover ads
and pseudo adds masquerading as current

    At this rate, I don't think I'll be renewing again.  I wonder
how others on this forum feel? 

Recently, the editor of LJ posted to this group, asking for
suggestions, gripes, etc. My main problem then was the
disproportionate amount of beading articles in a lapidary magazine
that is published by a company that has another publication already
dedicated to beads and beading. Her response was that a large
percentage of LJ’s advertisers are bead companies, and they have to
pay the bills. Seeing such apathy toward me, the subscriber, I
allowed my subscription to lapse. Now, I do not find myself in the
least surprised to hear that the magazine is shrinking and the ads
are growing.

I wonder how the bills will get paid when the circulation decreases
to the point that advertisers drop their accounts, too.

James in SoFl

I dropped my subscription quite some time ago for the same reason -
you are right, the magazine is shrinking. I have subscribed for
years and have all my back issues (well almost all of them). It
used to be one big fat magazine that could take days to read and
study. No more. And you are right - more and more advertisements,
less and less copy. They need to pay attention to what they are
producing or they’ll continue to lose readers. It started getting
smaller sometime around 1999 and has for the last couple of years
stayed around 98 pages with the exception of May and October. Now,
I check the newstands and should an issue appear that has something
I simply must have, then I’ll buy the individual issue, but that has
not happened for some time now.


Dear Mona,

Your observations are to the point. I get the sense that the L.J. is
struggling to survive. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that it
has swerved way off course from what it was. It has progressively
strayed from the original format of serving the interests of the
rockhound/lapidary hobbiests and has become essentially a haute
couture jewelry rag. On the other hand, you can’t ignore the reality
that the rockhound era is in decline and that lapidary is also less
popular. The people who manufactured lapidary devices have shrunk in
numbers and innovation while the unit prices have increased in
response to the shrinking market.

All specialty media morph in response to changing demographics and
public fancies…they really don’t have much choice. The issue is
one of whether those changes are relevant to market realities. It
could easily be argued that the jewelry market is also undergoing
rapid changes. Peoples leisure habits, clothing and style
consciousness and levels of disposable income will be important
factors affecting lifestyles in the near future. In essence, the
complexity of modern society and the rate of technologic and
economic change will probably make lifestyle changes more rapid and

There are over a thousand periodicals in Amarica and the survival
rate is probably about the same as Hollywoods’ success rate in
producing blockbuster movies. You can’t help comparing it to
Nature’s proflgacy…an animal or insect may lay ten thousand
eggs to acheive a survival rate of one individual ! Meanwhile, good
luck to L.J. !

It has served us well over several generations, but it will have to
meet many daunting challenges as it continues to attempt to stay
abreast of change.

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co.Los Osos, Ca.

I agree Mona, I personally read the older LJ’s to understand more
about ‘lapidary’ arts (hence the title I guess). The newer issues are
thin and little more than beading catalogues with 60 pages of
advertisements. I really feel for the faceters; their oldest, main
stream, print media and it’s decided that it needs to cash in on the
current ‘trends’. Just my rant :wink:

Happy Holidays,

lapidary in general is fast becoming a lost art! The government has
done it’s best to close areas where new finds may be and today’s
couch potato, computer geek, no contact, media fueled fearful
generation has neither the space, equipment, or desire to find
something that takes true physical effort. Truth is I see less and
less as the people that had that life die and their invaluable
collections get sold at estates sales for little of their real value.
It’s a shame We don’t encourage our schools to support these type of
activities as injury, insurance and liability costs skyrocket.

Ringman John
PS competing with third world is next to impossible

    I dropped my subscription quite some time ago for the same
reason - you are right, the magazine is shrinking.  I have
subscribed for years and have all my back issues (well almost all
of them). 

Ditto here - funny that they forget that advertisers will eventually
catch on that their ads no longer pull the sales (if they’re smart
enough to track them) … Because readers have stopped buying or
subscribing to the magazine.

I really lament the loss of good content; it’s been a very very long
time since I felt it had anything decent to offer someone who cut
stones and/or set them in metal. . . I like the bead articles,
especially about making beads, but they have now taken a bit of a
front seat, and the very very last straw for me was the unbelievably
lame pendant made out of a PMC-covered Cheeto. I kid you not. It
looked like something from my kitty litter box. There are hundreds of
artists making amazing jewelry from PMC (look at the entries for the
Saul Bell awards) and they keep doing these kindergarten projects!

There is almost nothing else out there for lapidaries and
metalsmiths that has how-to content as well as profiles and
informative pieces. I like ArtJewelry’s first issue but the second
didn’t have much interest.

    We are already losing a wonderful publication, please not let
us cause the demise of another. I have seen on other lists the
sneering reference of LapiBEADary, that of course led to Lemmings
jumping on the Dump on LJ Bandwagon. Please do not allow that to
happen on Orchid. 


I don’t feel it’s a boycott, and I’m certainly not a lemming - by no
longer buying the magazine I’m responding not to the increase in ads,
but to the decrease in decent content. A magazine can still provide
content relevant to its readership while cutting back its pages. I
refer to the PMC pendant made from a Cheeto, for one, that really
represents the nadir of what made me lose interest.

The market is, well, market driven. If Lapidary Journal’s own
research says that to stay alive they have to provide their key
readers with articles they want - like more bead articles or Cheeto
pendants that look like something from my kitty litter box-- then
that’s great if it keeps them afloat. I for one like the bead

But why buy a magazine that does not interest me just to keep it
afloat? That’s puzzling indeed.


This is the first time I have ever answered my own letter, but I
feel that I need to make some post script comments about my Lapidary
Journal comments. I wrote my critical letter yesterday morning and
came home yesterday evening to find the current L.J issue in my mail
box. Having read through it I am prompted to make the observation
that it seems to have improved markedly. There is a well balanced
presentation of “how to’s”, a great article on Oregon Opal by the
"Fraziers", a first ever Journal lapidary award series, etc.
etc…all in all, a very good job. Yes, it was a small issue and I
am shocked by lack of reference to the upcoming major shows. On the
other hand let us not be judgemental about size…quality is the
real issue.

One of the highest callings of any medium is to air grievances, When
we give vent to constructive criticism it creates a communication
path toward better understanding.The last thing a magazine wants is
to alienate itself from its readership. Those of us who are in
business have to constantly examine how we respond to our customer’s

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.

While I agree that it’s shrinking, and there isn’t as much true
lapiday material, I love the articles on fabricated jewelry, and the
short bits on shows and award winners, and the glimpse it gives me
of creative and beautiful work in all jewelry media. And it’s not
full of work that’s so “artistic” it can’t be worn.

I always thought that they may feel they’ve covered everything at
least once, and don’t want to repeat. Maybe they should go back to
some of the earlier issues - the ones in black and white, even - and
revisit those topics in light of new gem materials, new tools, and
whole new areas of emphasis such as PMC.


I am disappointed to hear so many people complaining that Lapidary
Journal has lost it’s primary focus and become a bead magazine. The
fact is that the issue that just arrived in my mailbox has a cover
article about “The Gemmies”, LJ’s new gem competition. I believe
that creating a new world class competition to support the lapidary
arts is exactly in line with their lamented lost focus. The
secondary article is on the Juniper Ridge Opal mine, another
lapidary issue. Almost every issue has a new stone to facet (I
believe the only issues where there is no faceting diagram are the
months when there were none submitted). They recently added the
Gemstone Price Index, a very valuable and timely resource. I think
they are doing an admirable job in continuing to cover the lapidary
arts. I personally don’t care much for beads, and have only a
passing interest in metalwork. So I tend to just ignore those parts
and focus on the issues that are important to me.

Lapidary Journal’s cover lists “Jewelry arts, gems, metals, beads”.
Like all print media these days, they are struggling to maintain an
identity and a consumer base. My experience is that the publisher’s
are very responsive to the interest and needs of their consumer
base. If you are not happy with the current direction that you see
the publication heading, rather than stopping your subscription I
would encourage you to write a letter to the editors, or even better
submit material for publication. I see LJ as a very valuable asset
to the lapidary and jewelry community. If enough people decide to
cancel their subscription and go on the newsstand plan, their won’t
be any issues on the newsstand. That would be a terrible loss, in my

Colored Stone magazine is a possible alternative to LJ, but it is
had a different focus and is more expensive. This is not entirely
accurate- but I tend to think of LJ as the magazine for hobbyists,
and CS as the magazine for professionals. LJ seems more interested
in presenting articles about “What can I do” and CS presents
articles about what the industry is doing.

I am a bibliophile, and have a large number of well thumbed
reference books, magazines, and catalogs in my workshop. LJ is an
integral and often used part of that material. Current issues as
well as older ones. I would miss it if it went away.

Epaul Fischer

I totaly agree, in fact I agree so complety that I am not renewing
when my scrip runs out


Lapidary Journal was a good magazine until it became a “Bead
Journal”. I will not renew. I wonder if they look at this teriffic
site? They could learn a lot. I just subscribed to "Art Jewelry"
which I think could develop into the great magazine we are all
looking for.

richard langbert

    On the other hand let us not be judgemental about
size.......quality is the real issue...Those of us who are in
business have to constantly examine how we respond to our
customer's needs. If you are not happy with the current direction
that you see the publication heading, rather than stopping your
subscription I would encourage you to write a letter to the editors 

I’ll restate the intent of my original, lemming-like post: Rather
than stopping my subscription, I did write a letter to the editor
about their content, not the smaller size of the publication. The
way in which she responded to my (her customer’s) needs was to tell
me, albeit in a somewhat nicer way, that I am out of luck. A large
amount of their advertisers are bead companies, so I may as well get
used to it.

I wrote this letter after the editor of LJ wrote to this group. She
was specifically asking for input on what we’d like to see in LJ.
After such a ridiculous call-and-response, there is simply no way I
will ever purchase another publication from Primedia while the
current editor is in charge of LJ. Even then, I won’t buy a
subscription to a lapidary periodical unless its primary focus is
actually the lapidary arts.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel an irresistible urge to go and jump
off of something (no cliffs here in SoFl).

James in SoFl who is checking the phone book for BASE jumping clubs


    It used to arrive in my mailbox with a plastic sleeve
protecting it, but now arrives unprotected with the corners and
edges already tattered or the front or back page missing in part or
in whole. 

Sounds like your beef is with the USPS not LJ! My copy still arrives
in a plastic sleeve and is rarely mutilated. If it is…it is the
USPS that has done it…not LJ! I have every copy of LJ since 1972
and have seen it go through various changes. At times I have liked
the changes…others I have not. I have had a number of articles
published in LJ as well as other mags. Each seems to fill its own
niche. Nonetheless, LJ is a valuable resource and I will continue
to get it for a long time yet along with others such as R&G and AJ
(which is a very impressive newcomer). Meanwhile, I agree with
Terrie that it is up to the readership to give direction to the

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

Or, issues with issues…

I’ve been a subscriber to Lapidary Journal almost continuously since
1961. Only recently, in July 2004, did I finally complete my
Lapidary Journal collection back to the first issue in 1947. Sadly,
I’m still hunting for a couple of the early Buyers’ Guides, when
they were separate publications rather than being the regular April
issue. In any event, I am a fan of Lapidary Journal. Even with this
sort of dedication I, too, have let my subscription lapse a couple
of times due to the changes the magazine has experienced since the
late 1980s.

The move of the editorial offices in the early 90s from California
to Pennsylvania was a marker for change in the size, format, and
content of Lapidary Journal. The change in overt ownership to
Primedia brought even more dramatic adjustments of content and
focus. However, none of these are really “new” sorts of events for
Lapidary Journal. Plus, in the annals of periodical publishing,
Lapidary Journal is a remarkable survivor - a niche publication
which has endured for almost six decades now.

The early years of LJ were unusual, and I’m really sorry that Leland
Quick sold his interests when he did: he was a truly amazing man,
and he brought some challenging content to the forefront of his
young magazine. He was interested in some very esoteric stuff, so
some of the early issues included topics verging on the scandalous -
stone healing and the use of stones by seers. He included art where
it pertained to esoteric stone use, and he also had a strong bias
toward hard stone sculpture; several early covers were of the work
of then renown West Coast sculptor Donal Hord (bare breasts depicted
on the cover of a 1950s mag!). All of this speaks to Quick’s vision
for post-WWII America. In addition, he traveled back and forth
across the country encouraging the growth of all the rock hobbies,
and the formation of clubs and associations. In short, he had a
"mission" and the Lapidary Journal was his major tool to put it
across to the public. For the first six or seven years his “letters
to the editor” column was almost entirely given over to lauds for
the magazine.

After Leland Quick left the helm the magazine changed directions;
there were fewer mentions of sculpture, there were no more
discussions of the more “woo-woo” aspects of stone use for healing
or any such stuff. The magazine had become “legitimate”, and the
editorial content was adjusting to meet the new direction of the
hobby of lapidary within the larger hobby of rockhounding. Still, LJ
focused public attention on lapidary, and served as both a sounding
board and a publicity agent for lapidary artists. During succeeding
decades there were other editorial adjustments, changes in format,
upsizings and downsizings to reflect the relative health of lapidary
as a hobby.

The real bellwether in lapidary publishing occurred in 1986, with
the cessation, after over four decades in print, of the magazine
Jewelry Making, Gems and Minerals. In its original guise as Gems and
Minerals, this magazine had been one of Quick’s early inspirations
(and aggravations, because he felt he could meet that need more
effectively). Its demise marked a new era in lapidary publishing,
because until June of 1986 JMG&M had been the official magazine of
the California Federation, the largest and most vibrant of the
regional federations within the American Federation of Mineralogical
Societies. It was a loss which never saw a recovery: publication
lead times had become such that a magazine with a national
readership no longer was able to serve as the official communication
of a federation, primarily due to the lead times required for
publishing the magazine itself. Lapidary Journal also went through
some profound changes in 1986, trying to adjust to the new playing
field in both the lapidary hobby and the lapidary publishing

The bottom line is that Lapidary Journal has never been a static
publication serving a static public. The magazine was created as an
innovation to meet the needs of a new and vibrantly growing hobby
after WWII. Following it’s first decade of existence it has rarely
led the way in any of the manifest changes which have effected
lapidary, or lapidary in the public eye. For most of the last half
century Lapidary Journal has mostly reported on, or reflected,
changes in rockhounding and lapidary. If folks want it to be a more
vibrant part of lapidary, then they need to get on the stick, and
submit timely articles about what they see/feel are the important
aspects of lapidary.

Whether Lapidary Journal continues to play any sort of major role
will depend as much on reader participation as it does on editorial
direction and the health of the lapidary hobby and marketplace.

just my thoughts on a complex topic

Jim Small
Small Wonders Lapidary