The idea for this training originated from the concern that our NFMS Junior members are not learning about displaying or participating in competition. Displaying the material they have collected, whether self collected or purchased from commercial dealers, can be accomplished with this simple set of guidelines designed for Juniors. These guidelines are meant to be used at the Club level for local show displaying.

It is believed that this stepping stone or training facilitation needs to be different and not completely based on the current Uniform Rules. What matters is that Juniors of all ages have a chance to learn about competition outside the AFMS Uniform Rules in a structured environment that will eventually lead the Junior into competition. The highly detailed and refined AFMS Uniform Rules now in place are too complex for most Junior members to begin using with confidence.

What is desired is that our Federation Clubs will use these general guidelines to hold a simple and fun “competition” where any Junior can participate. The point here is not to “dumb down” the element of competition, but rather to facilitate interest in making the best possible display. The guidelines are designed with display categories, age grouping, judging, points and ribbons. Displays must be a Junior's own work and effort, with coaching from a parent, guardian, or sponsor. Rules of participation are kept simple and aimed at the Junior level. Simplicity will prevent intimidation and permit the Junior to be more confident and hence be more likely to begin competition. Juniors can participate as often as they want to practice. These guidelines are not intended to distract or prohibit any Junior from entering formal NFMS Show competition under the AFMS Uniform Rules any time they wish to start competition.

Judging will be education centered so the Junior will have written feedback for points taken off. If there are no experienced judges available at the Club level in local shows, then adult members who have display experience plus the ability to have patience and communication with Juniors or appointments by the Club President would be doing the local judging. Literally all judging criticisms would need to be fully explained so the Junior will have a primer to improve and work from. The main point will be the creation of a continuum of "soft" facilitation into the AFMS Uniform Rules now in place. People have fun when they are supported, but will usually not perform when there is negativity or fear that creates insecurity, even if it is just their hobby! This “practice” should build confidence in the Junior displayer to enter competition at Northwest Federation Shows.


We hope that you will work with your child or children if they have an interest in displaying their material. These guidelines are to assist you in understanding the process of entering a non-competitive display in your local club show. It is very important to have your support. Please ask questions and learn how to create an excellent display for the public to appreciate!


1.1 Decide what you want to display:

  • a. What do you like to collect?

  • b. Specimens from a special field trip?

  • c. What is the show subject or theme?

  • d. What will make your display “special”?
    (unique, best quality, complete collection, dramatic specimen, favorite).

  • e. Examples of your lapidary skills? (carving, cabs, faceting).

  • f. Have you made jewelry or gem trees?

    1.2 Communications from your display:

  • a. Present your display as if you are speaking to a new friend that you have not met yet. ("public speaking")

  • b. Purpose of your display is sharing the art of nature, public education and promoting your interests and club hobby.

  • c. Keep it simple without too much wording.

  • d. Coordinate colors that are pleasant to your eye & highlight your specimens.

  • e. Avoid use of excess “props” (feathers, sticks, photos, glass or plastics, wood, metal) in your case because they steal attention from specimens.

    1.3 Specimens you decide to display:

  • a. All same material or different types of gems or minerals.

  • b. Size may be large, small, uniform or mixed.

  • c. Quality should always be the very best you can provide.

  • d. Number of specimens should be just enough to make your display easy to
    view and not look too “busy” or over filled.

  • e. Large specimens in back of display case, smaller in front.

  • f. Always wash/clean your specimens before placing in case.

    1.4 Labeling your display:

  • a. Always have accurate names, correct spelling, punctuation and information.
    To help avoid mistakes, proof read twice, then ask someone to read labels.

  • b. Use uniform size of lettering on the labels and make letters large enough to read
    at about two feet from the front of case.

  • c. Individual labels for each specimen should include correct name of mineral
    and origin or where found. When found is optional if personally collected.
    Also can include chemical composition, but difficult to print on labels.

  • d. If all material in case is the same, identify on label at back or floor of case.

  • e. All lettering should be typed or laser printed on durable cardstock type paper
    rather than hand written. Plastic covered labels are too reflective.

  • f. Include your name & age in case UNLESS using AFMS Uniform Rules.

    1.5 Display case for your specimens:

  • a. Good cases are hard to find so begin by borrowing a club case for the show.

  • b. Typical cases are the Federation Model which are about two feet high, two feet deep
    and four feet wide, with glass front. Dimensions vary slightly
    because there are different builders.

  • c. Your case should always have a liner that is lighter color (white or pastels are
    best) than the dominant colors of your specimens. Dark or “flashy” liners will
    distract from the color effects of the displayed specimens.

  • d. Wash hands before installing liner in case to prevent finger prints.

  • e. Best lighting is clear, incandescent bulbs or tube fluorescent bulbs that are
    “cool white” type, not to exceed 150 watts total per case.

  • f. After you have arranged and labeled the specimens, be sure to clean the inside
    of the front glass before securing to front of case.


  • 2.0 Age 4, 5, 6 & 7

  • 2.1 Age 8, 9, 10 & 11

  • 2.2 Age 12, 13, 14 & 15; Above 15 use AFMS Uniform Rules. AFMS Junior defined
    as having reached 8th birthday & not yet reached your 18th birthday.


  • 3.0 Self Collected Specimens--any type, size or location. (must include name and location found. Date helpful if available)

  • 3.1 Minerals--micro, fluoro or any size, type or location. (must include name and location)

  • 3.2 Educational--any relevant to rockhounding or rock uses. (brief, to the point wording is best)

  • 3.3 Lapidary--tumble, polish, slice, faceting or carving. (must include name of material)

  • 3.4 Jewelry or Gem Trees. (must name stones, enamels or metals used)

  • 3.5 Fossils--any type, size or location. (identify name (genus & specie), location, age, or era if available)


  • 4.0 Showmanship--overall appearance, detail, arrangement 30 points. (Will your display stand out amongst the others?)

  • 4.1 Workmanship-- lapidary, jewelry, specimen preparation 20 points. (How neat and distinct is your work?)

  • 4.2 Labeling--individual labels, one label, group labels 10 points. (Accuracy? Deduct up to 2 points per error)

  • 4.3 Quality--color, size, rarity, definitive/classic specimen. 20 points. (Are your specimens the best you can find?)

  • 4.4 Educational Value--maps, graphs, print, history, uses 20 points. (Will the viewer learn something from your display?)


  • 5.0 Blue Ribbon 90-100 points.

  • 5.1 Red Ribbon 80-89 points.

  • 5.2 White Ribbon 70-79 points.
    60-69 points. No ribbon, but a thank you for participating note along with the judging sheet of detailed explanations that are "soft". Below 60 points. Would not be judged, but the displayer would need counsel from judges or judging director/assistant along with the parent or guardian or sponsor all at the same time to insure that they would try again with support rather than hard feelings. There will be no trophies awarded until the Junior participates in competition under the AFMS Uniform Rules at the Northwest Federation Show. The points used for this program are for training only and are not equivalent to the points system used with AFMS Uniform Rules. Remember, this program is designed for beginners training, when you enter your display in competition at a Federation Show, be sure you ONLY use the current updated AFMS Uniform Rules that are available from your NFMS Supplies Chairman.

    (Available through your NFMS Supplies Chairman)

  • 1. AFMS Mineral Classification List (most recent update)
  • 2. AFMS Approved Reference List of Lapidary Material Names (updated)
  • 3. AFMS Approved Reference List of Classifications and Common Names for Fossils (most recent update)

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