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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!
Well, our last day in Tucson was bittersweet. We’re happy to have packed and shipped our merchandise home. Equally, it’s always sad to say goodbye to our friends from other countries.
As there is time before we leave, we looked around for next year – items/vendors we might have missed. There are some of the amazing sights in every show, either center stage or tucked away into various corners.
We leave Tucson with the promise to return – see you next year!
This is our last day of shopping; always a mixed blessing as we know that packing and shipping merchandise awaits us. We’ll see how productive our various contacts and previous searches turn out.
To begin, we returned to the showroom from South Africa and purchased small, polished Pietersite slabs. We hand selected for color and chatoyance. These are spectacular pieces!
We decided to give one last sweep of the ‘Strip’ and scored! A vendor from DR Congo was unpacking their newly-arrived shipment. Malachite pyramids and Chrysocolla/Malachite tumbles joined our packages. Sadly, we learned that malachite is no longer mined. The government is crushing all this beautiful material to extract the copper. Copper mining is one of the revenue streams for this administration/country. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of families are without income as artisans/carvers have no material with which to work.
Close to the ‘Strip’ are various smaller tent shows. As it was still early, we roamed through these, looking for the new or unusual. We found beautiful Drusy Quartz decorator pieces. These light pink specimens are combined with amethyst or tourmaline. Unique and quite gorgeous!
At one of the Australian mineral showrooms, we acquired pyramids made from Serpentine or Lepidolite. The Australian material is different from the South American varieties. Each is deeper in color and variegated with quartz. Very pleasing to the eyes and all the higher senses!
This morning we started by returning to the showroom of a vendor from Peru. Yesterday he had not finished unpacking, so the tumbled Pink Opal was still in the barrel. After picking up this beautiful pink material, we decide to go to a show we had not visited in a few years.
As we drove up, we reminisced about having to ‘tip’ the parking attendant for a spot in bygone years. Today there is plenty of parking; this show is much smaller than in the past. We walked around, chatted with a dealer regarding the altered show, and learned that many of the vendors had moved to a new location. As we walked back to the car, we passed a room with small hearts in rose quart and crystal. During discussions, the gentleman mentioned that his son had the same hearts in other material at the new location. This reinforced our decision to travel to this new wholesale show.
After registering as buyers, we went directly to their booth, where his son was waiting to show us hearts Clear Quartz, Green Aventurine, Rose Quartz, Sodalite, Lapis lazuli, Fancy Jasper, Carnelian, Labradorite, Unakite and, for fun, man-made Goldstone and Bluestone. We also acquired puffy hearts in Howlite and Mookaite. We are delighted by this new contact and promised to return.