So ok, there weren’t any dinosaurs, no live ones anyway, but lots of fossils and mineral specimens, some of them costing in the 10’s of thousands of dollars. And an entire bench made of agate, probably weighing several tons. Apparently, that’s how a mineral show differs from bead shows, jewelry shows, and gem shows. There were in fact very few gems to see at all, but tons of cheap stuff (beads, agates, crystals) and lots of people walking around who believe in the special powers of rocks.In short, I really thought I was in the wrong place at first, especially since there didn’t seem to be a distinction between wholesale and retail. And even I don’t want the public to get the same prices at which I buy.
But after spending a little more time looking around, it turned out to be quite fun, and worth recommending. First, there were several dealers that had gemstone rough. I don’t use rough very much, and I think the prices weren’t that low, but it was very helpful for me to get an idea of how to judge it. For instance, if it doesn’t look perfectly clean, it’s not going to get cleaner when you cut it (a simple truth which we forget very easily when looking at glitter). I actually got very lucky picking out some pieces of Australian black opal rough. Opal rough is stored in water so you can see how it might look after polishing, and a lot of it is pre-shaped: the rocks are split open and the sandstone and other stone cut off so you can see how much opal there is and how it looks. I dipped around in little wet bowls for a good hour, but I in the end I found three pieces totally worth having (and a larger one that was already finished).
|Black Opal Rough (Wet)|
|Polished Fancy Shape Black Opal|
Then, at the other end of the huge hall in which the show was held, I found a German mineralogist, a guy who also deals in rough, but largely the quality that goes to schools for cutting, or is used for industrial purposes, or sold as is in mineral shops. Jochen Hintze lives partly in Tanzania and partly in Germany, has an M.A. in geology and has experience working in the mines. He can converse in Swahili with the locals, and he has written articles in trade journals. You can look at his ridiculously vast collection of specimens athttp://www.jentsch-mineralien.com/en/uebersicht/5/A/1/Lehrmineralien.html (but you need to be able to read German I’m afraid).
|Sphene and Tanzanite Slices|
|Tanzanite Slice on Silver Sheeting|
On my upcoming trip to Germany, I hope to pay another visit to Jochen Hintze; he has a whole house full of mineral stuffs he told me. If not, I’ll have to wait till the next mineral show in the spring. Or maybe my dream destination, Tuscon, if I can ever swing that.