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After a hearty breakfast, we queued early with other buyers awaiting the opening of an international show, which features gemstones, cut gems, beads and finished jewelry. Security is very high; tension mounts as people jostle for position. Prior to our arrival, there was a six vehicle accident right at the show’s entrance as four cars tried to fit into a one-car space! Luckily no one was hurt. Amazingly, other than the two taxi drivers, people left their vehicles in the pile-up for the police/security guards to deal with and went shopping! Only in Tucson and only during the shows!
Being early allowed us first pick at the minerals we sought. From Russia, we purchase seraphinite, shungite and charoite tumbles, spheres, hearts, pyramids and/or eggs.
As we walk about the show, merchandise from Peru draws our eyes. It is the first year in Tucson for this mother-daughter team, who do not speak English. Being bilingual saves the day, as we sort out weight conversion, money exchange, and completion of sales receipt. Though this picture does not due their merchandise justice, hematite-included rhodocrosite hearts and eggs are added to our bounty. We are amazed to be greeted/recognized by vendors we haven’t purchased from in years. Truly you can make connections in Tucson which last decades!
Our next stop is at an outdoor show where we know calcites from Mexico can be found. We acquire orange calcite and green calcite by the case. Unfortunately, the blue calcite is very light in color – a washed out sky-blue – so we’ll look for it elsewhere.
Strolling about we are delighted by the sights and sounds of multiple cultures gathered in one place, working side-by-side in harmony. Tucson is such a special place! Focusing again, we are directed to a father-son team from Mexico, whose fantastic heart, bison and bear carvings join our purchases.
As we continue about this show, it starts to drizzle. Rain can be a problem in Tucson as streets/drains are not designed to handle lots of water and flooding can be an issue. Quickly, extraordinary amethysts from Uruguay and calcite geodes from Morocco are added to our collection as we have an appointment across town. We can already see that the freight from this trip will be double last year’s. Oh, my aching back!
Traffic is still light as we drive to locale specializing in minerals from Madagascar. What amazing stock! Labradorite freeforms, and hearts in polychrome, carnelian, and labradorite are bought in quick order. The rain is picking up, so we must get rain gear. Indian crystal and minerals are next on our list; tomorrow is another day.
Today, as usual on our first day, is dedicated to re-establishing connections and looking around to see what is new. It is always great to reconnect with friends from around the world!
On the way to The Strip, we noted and followed signs to a small, unadvertised rock show. Though we were early, the dealer waved & invited us into his showroom. There are outstanding Rhodocrosite stand ups (one-face polished specimens) he acquired when he purchased an old collection. The collection included tons of this material, enough to fill two garages! While he has been selling it for over a week, there are still beautiful specimens. This material is from an Argentine mine, which closed years ago after playing out. Rhodocrosite of this quality has not been on the market for eons. We could not resist; several spectacular pieces are coming home with us!
Their showroom features Thomsonite, available as individual stones or set in jewelry. The color and texture of this material is unique, reminding us a bit of ocean jasper. We were told that gem-quality stones are found only in a limited area of Lake Superior’s shoreline. This Minnesota mineral must be removed from its volcanic rock matrix – not an easy task!
A great assortment of Lake Superior Agates was also available. This agate is a beautiful chalcedony, banded with rich red, yellow, and orange colors; the colors coming from iron and copper ore in the soil. We learned that Lake Superior agates were dispersed by glacial activity during the last Ice Age. This stone is difficult to carve due to the natural flaws inherent in it; many carvings break during their creation. We are pleased to return with horses and rabbit carved from this stone.
Back on the road, we saw lots of U-Haul trailers and trucks carrying goods to the various shows. The majority of the gem & mineral shows don’t officially start until January 29th; many dealers are just now getting their merchandise. Reaching our destination, we greeted vendors who have helped us in the past and looked around for new material or items in short supply. We are returning with massage wands in nephrite, banded calcite and jasper from Peru.
Tomorrow is just a night away; can’t wait to see what we’ll discover and bring home!
We have been given a wonderful oppurtunity to hold rock & mineral shows in a Gainesville venue. On each of the first three Saturdays in December 2014, from 9am – 4pm, the crystals, minerals and other treasures brought back from past Tucson Gem & Mineral shows will be on display.
In appreciation of this blessing, we will pay it forward by offering specials/discounts on each Saturday.
On December 6th, take 20% OFF all bookends – choose from Sandstone, Agate or Orthoceras. They are all on sale this Saturday only!
On December 13th, we will have gift certificate specials: Buy a $25.00 Gift Certificate; get a $5.00 Gift Certificate FREE! Buy a $50.00 Gift Certificate; get a $10.00 Gift Certificate FREE!
On December 20th, take 10% OFF all Sterling Silver Jewelry – Moldavite, 7-Chakra, Amber, Gemstones, and more! The perfect gift for that special person in your life is on sale – today only!
Because of your support,we continue to thrive. Wishing all a Happy Valentine’s Day!
This morning we returned to the Madagascar minerals showroom to pick up our order. As we were chatting with the staff, the owner arrived with a fresh shipment of Ocean Jasper and Polychrome hearts, freeforms and spheres. We were fortunate to hand select these beauties. Though we spent more than expect, it was a great time!
We are now focused on our quest for quartz creations. All of yesterday’s walking has paid off; we found the cracked quartz obelisks. We also added quartz pyramids, angels and spheres from Brazil to our roster of minerals.
The various shows are very quiet today; buyers are just not here. There is much speculation that folks are staying home preparing for Super Bowl parties. Previously, we noted natural Ametrine crystals in the display area featuring the Bolivian Amethyst. Ametrine is a variety of quartz that has both amethyst and citrine in the same crystal. Both amethyst and citrine are colored by small amounts of iron. The distinct color zones within each crystal are due to the differing oxidation states and distribution of iron within the crystal. Ametrines have a rough exterior and do not grow into points like quartz or amethyst probably due interference with the growth of flat planes and sharp edges. These gemstones are also from the Anahi Mine and have distinct terminations and recognizable faces. These beautiful crystals are faceted, made into beads, spheres, and pyramids or sliced to show the zonal patterns within. We were just going to look, but somehow ended up with these in our basket! As our pictures did not show the beauty of these, we are using Internet images to show their beauty.
At the end of the day, we returned to visit and collect our order from India. Walking back to the car, we stopped to speak with vendors with a unique product. Fossil mammoth tusk and walrus tusk ivory is collected in Canada and Alaska by indigenous people, sold and transported to Indonesia where it is carved into works of art. Bats carved in fossil mammoth tusk ivory, as well as, birds carved in fossil walrus tusk ivory are coming home with us.
Tucson’s weather has turned; it is cool and overcast, with a prediction of morning rains. Regardless, we’re heading to a wholesale show to replenish our stocks. After registering as buyers, we’re in line with hundreds of others waiting for the show to start when the promised rains arrive. Cold water snaking down our necks with the temperature in the 50’s – an invigorating start to the day!
We acquired puffy hearts in Goldstone, Rose Quartz, Crystal, Bloodstone and Fancy Jasper, small banded Amethyst hearts, worry stones in Fluorite and Red Jasper, and animals of the Chinese Zodiac as well as others. After this purchase, we walk and walk and walk and walk and walk some more! This is a huge show!
We decide to go leave this crowd behind and travel across town to see what new material is available. Immediately, we come across a vendor from Madagascar who is unpacking cases of white calcite geodes and Celestite. He kindly allowed us to hand select egg- and sphere-shaped pieces in this light blue crystalline material to add to our bounty.
Next we return to the ‘Strip’ area where the merchants from Brazil are concentrated. Prices are all over the map, just like the gas prices in this town. (There is a wide range in the price of gasoline. Prices for standard 87 Octane can be found as much as 30 cents cheaper, simply by turning a corner and driving a couple of blocks.) Again, we walk and walk and walk and walk and walk some more! We are determined to find quality quartz products at reasonable prices. We’ll continue this search tomorrow.
At the end of the day, we enjoy pizza at Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza, a Tucson fixture since 1998. Everything is made fresh daily on the premises. They have a great selection in local beers. We were served by a marvelous employee, Becky, who knowledgeably guided us through our selection of drinks and pizza. Word to the wise: “Everything is huge at Rocco’s.” We could not finish the small, deep dish pizza, even though we had not eaten all day!
Today our focus is on finding the elusive Bolivian Amethyst points. Though we have seen reasonably-priced Brazilian Amethyst points, their color is not as intense as those from the Anahi mine. We’re going to explore in a venue which is the premier site for collectors and high-end dealers. As we stroll through the hotel lobby, Becky is drawn to a corridor at the end of which is a roomful of the Amethyst and Ametrine from Bolivia. What an amazing site! After going through the contents of 16 mineral flats and 6 shipping cases, three stunning points are on their way to Gainesville.
We continue to wander around, looking for merchandise and gazing at incredible specimens. The beauty of Nature is astounding. From the Azurite Sun specimens of central Australia to the antique coins and bottles of ancient civilizations, this show has something for every collector! As always, Black Tourmaline specimens draw our attention.
Uruguayan Amethyst geodes were fashioned to resemble shark jaws or the footprints of prehistoric creatures captured in stone. Beautiful!
We were fortunate to find Moldavite from the Czech Republic and Cactus Quartz [aka Spirit Quartz or Fairy Quartz] specimens from South Africa. Apparently a new vein of this material was found as some of the sampling are a deep vibrant purple!
As we were leaving this venue, we found bison and bear carvings fashioned from white calcite and serpentine. We could not leave without these.
Tucson’s weather is fantastic; perfect for hiking around town. The search for the Bolivian Amethyst and Watermelon Tourmaline continues as we travel down to the ‘Strip’, original site of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. In this area of town, fossils are prominent. The reconstruction of these skeletal remains is museum-quality. Children and adults alike are captivated by sight of this massive ground sloth.
We met a lovely vendor, or more precisely, a wonderful family from India. Their hand-made wands in amethyst and tiger eye are astounding, each having an exquisitely carved deity at the termination. We have just agreed to the purchase of the only double-sided amethyst wand, only to have it fall to the ground and chip during packaging. Don’t know who is more heart-sick, the young vendor or us! We console one another and look for other products. Charming mini pyramid sets in the colors/gemstones of the seven chakras are among the products we’ll be bringing home. As they were fond of saying, “The price is always good when you buy in quantity.” We are delighted by this new contact and promise to return when their remaining merchandise arrives.
Among the many vendors are the miners from The Weather Channel’s hit show, Prospectors; http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/prospectors/main. We are thrilled as we have watched their toils, triumphs and tribulations for the past two years. Becky is photographed with Travis, Amanda and Amanda’s daughter. Though normally reticent, she spends time sharing with Travis, praising his support of Amanda. As a buyer used to dealing with miners, it is wonderful to see a woman working a claim. Amanda is surprisingly shy when admired as a positive role-model.
Merchants from Afghanistan have wonderful light green ‘Jade’. Though their attribution is suspect (it may be Serpentine), the material is too lovely to pass up. During our discussion, we noticed a small mound of Afghan tourmaline which is being sold by the lot. Sorting through the material, two Watermelon Tourmaline pieces are brought out and added to our stash. Now negotiations become serious, finally a compromise is reach and all parties are happy. Score!
We end the day at Blue Willow Restaurant, a wonderful eatery featuring local cuisine. The herb-crusted rainbow trout is delicious and generous. Becky immediately remembered that last year we said we should share this dish as it is enough for two. Over-stuffed and desert in hand, we waddle back to our hotel.
We are on a mission today! In addition to our own needs, we have specific requests to fulfill so have set out to find Vivianite from Australia, Watermelon Tourmaline, and natural Amethyst points from the Anahi mine in Bolivia. Before we can focus on these, however, the Malachite room beckons! We are coming home with eggs, large hearts and spirit animals in this fantastic material.
To fulfill the expressed gemstone wishes & desires, we leave early and drive to South Tucson to see what treasures can be found at today’s opening show. Being early to a show has paid off – Charoite hearts are the show special! While one of us shopped for metaphysical specialties and Nephrite, the other hand-selected the best available charoite hearts, and small spheres and eggs. We are delighted with our purchases! Walking around the rest of the show, we do not find material to meet our immediate needs so we’re moving on to another show.
At this tent show, most vendors are just setting up. The weather has created havoc with merchandise deliveries. As the polar vortex freezes roads and bridges, trucks are not moving as usual. Merchandise is sitting at freight stations, costing vendors demurrage fees and lost sales. We feel for these kind folks – sometimes even the weather is against you. On the other hand, vendors who have merchandise are selling out sooner than expected!
We find a nice selection of Uruguayan Amethyst Clusters (with flat bottoms), but the salt lamps are stuck on a truck somewhere between Denver and Tucson. With our order in the books, we move on and come across Lapis lazuli worry stones in an assortment of sizes. As several individuals have requested these over the last year, they are added to our bounty.
We are driving across town to see our favorite Australian dealer. Having previously purchased their Boulder Opals and Silent Grove Smoky Amethyst phantoms points, we know the quality of their material. As promised, Vivianite cut & polished nodules are available. These are so unique that we purchase more than expected. But hey, when are we going to see these again … and we certainly wanted to offer variety and choice to our customers!
The start of this trip to Tucson was bumpy; as in, we were bumped from the first leg of our flight when the Atlanta airport was closed! We were lucky, however A wonderful AirTran Airways employee, Alfredo, re-routed us to Phoenix via Ft. Lauderdale on the last 2 seats available! After a long day, we finally arrived in Tucson around 10:30PM local time. Still we wondered … Was it just a coincidence that Alfredo was Idania father’s name?
Our first day in Tucson was spent orienting ourselves and touching base with friends. New and exciting material will be spotlight through this blog and Facebook page. Metaphysical tools, including 7-chakra sterling silver pendants, chakra wands and pyramids, and Reiki chakra hearts sets (pictured on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/rocknglass) will be in Gainesville soon. Additionally, spheres, eggs, obelisks in a variety of minerals were added to our cache. We were fortunate to find a vendor selling spinel spheres and eggs from Afghanistan.
Spinel is a very attractive gemstone, often confused with ruby, and found associated with calcite and dolomite. Its red color is similar to that of ruby, although slightly more pink. Spinel and ruby are chemically related gemstones, and have similar properties. Spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide, while ruby is aluminum oxide. The red in both gems comes from chromium. They also have similar luster (refractive index) and density. Although ruby is harder (Mohs scale 9), spinel’s relative hardness of 7.5 – 8 keeps it as one of the hardest minerals in Nature. Spinel is commonly found as octahedrons, but is well-known for a type of twinning that bears its name, Spinel Twin Law.
Like calcite, spinel can be found in all the colors of the chakras: black, red, yellow-orange, brown, green, pink, blue, and violet. Metaphysically, spinel brings lots of positive energy and vitality to all efforts. It is used to attract wealth and prosperity, to increase one’s physical energy and stamina, to reduce stress and depression, and to add momentum to spiritual journeys and help us move forward.
While traveling about this show, shopping and taking photographs, Becky was interviewed by Samantha Ptashkin for the local television station, KVOA; see excerpts at http://www.kvoa.com/news/tucson-gem-show-crowds-boost-local-economy/.
After a day of trekking, jet lag caught up with us. Looking forward to tomorrow’s treasures!