Snapshots from the Tucson 2001 Gem and Mineral Show
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Executive Potpourri
Best Western Executive Inn - Jan 28 to Feb 11 - 333 W. Drachman - Phone: 520.791.7551

Monday Jan 29th - Today I began a tour of the mineral show at the Best Western Executive Inn. The weather has improved over the last several days and we've had some periods of sunshine but for the most part it's been a cloudy and chilly beginning for the 2001 Show. The high today was 53° and the low last night was 32°. However, the forecast is for sunny skies for the remainder of the week with daytime highs approaching the 70s and overnight lows in the freezing range and I expect the browser activity to really crank up with the sunny browsing weather.

The Executive Inn is a public show at another of four locations for the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show, which are organized and promoted by Martin Zinn Expositions. The mineral show at the Executive Inn is highly regarded and retail customers and traffic are welcome by most of the participating dealers. The Executive Inn Show, located at 333 West Drachman, has been the premier show for minerals for many years and is an absolute must see for any Tucson Show goer interested in collecting minerals. The fossil show at the Ramada Inn and Mineral and Fossil Marketplace show are clustered together within easy walking distance of the Executive Inn at the intersection of North Oracle Road and Drachman.

If you attend the Executive Inn mineral show, be sure you do not miss and neglect to visit the dealers and their rocks in the two story Annex Building behind the front building here! There are nearly a hundred rooms in the Annex Building, and every one of them is crammed full of wonderful minerals specimens. Really seeing the entire show at the Executive Inn requires several full time days of browsing. Yes, I know it's a tough job, but hey, somebody has to do it... ;)

I stopped by Evergreen Mining Inc., to visit with Jose Vesga, as he often has some nice Coscuez, Columbia emerald specimens to show. The best of them seem to go pretty fast so I figured I better see Jose early in the Show to get some pics for my report. At first I thought I'd already waited too long as his cases in the Ballroom at the Executive in were filled with cut stones but nearly devoid of any specimen crystals on matrix.

When I asked Jose if I'd already missed the specimens he pulled out several emerald on matrix specimens from under the table, explaining that most of his specimens had already been spoken up for sight unseen, and that he was holding them for special customers who had yet to arrive for the Show. Because Jose was confident these pieces were presold I won't publish the individual prices as a courtesy to their new owners but Jose put me at liberty to share that they range in cost from $7,000 to $12,000 dollars.

The first specimen Jose brought out was this matrix piece with multiple, terminated emerald crystals on calcite. There was a nicely perched individual crystal on top and also a prominent cluster on the side. The matrix was about 4" x 3" x 2" and was populated by about 8 major crystals and several minor ones. That's a penny in the overview image above left providing some scale. I zoomed in on the prominent cluster, which contained 4 crystals the largest of which was about 3/8" in diameter.

Next out on the table was this pretty specimen with a single terminated prismatic emerald crystal perched on calcite matrix. The triangular shaped piece of matrix was about 3" x 3" x 2" and the crystal was about 7/16 inch in diameter and and about 1 1/4" long.

Next Jose brought out a little larger crystal on matrix specimen with a single large terminated crystal embraced by calcite and several minor crystals. The matrix on this piece was about 4 1/2" x 3" s 2" and the crystal was about 5/8 - 3/4" in diameter and about 1 3/8" long. This piece was quite pretty but there was etching from a contact on the most forefront edge of the crystal which no doubt impacts its value some.

Pictured above was the final emerald specimen on matrix specimen Jose brought out, and it was a real beauty with some associated pyrite crystals. The matrix was about 2" overall and consisted of some shaley country rock overgrown with calcite and is shaped so as to provide a perfect natural stand for this specimen. The larger emerald crystal is about 1/2" in diameter by 1" in length, and the smaller emerald is about 3/16" in diameter by 3/8" long. Both crystals exhibit aesthetic complex terminations.

Jose isn't saying unless his customer turns down their 'first right of refusal' after getting here and inspecting this piece, but this one gets my vote for the creme de le creme and top dollar getter out of the lot Jose brought out from under the table.

Jose also showed a nicely terminated detached emerald crystal in one of his display cases, which I'm holding in hand above left. This crystal weighs in at 47 carats and it wants $5000. Hey, just fabricate a bell cap for the crystal, hang it from a chain and you've got a necklace fit for a princess with a 47 carat emerald for just over $100 per carat! Too bad I don't have the five grand as a lady friend of mine has put in her order for a necklace with "something green in it"...

If Kathy's "something green" means emeralds, they're a lot more likely to come from me via this pile of smaller loose crystals offered by Jose, your pick for $10 per carat. Now this is a close-up shot and these stones are not large, running from about 1/8" to 3/8" in length. I've cherry picked and purchased some of Jose's $10/carat emerald crystals at previous Shows for jewelry projects, as well as some beautifully terminated "micromount" specimens, but needless to say the best of them go very fast. Many of these stones are really too small to facet into conventional gemstones, but I think emerald crystals like these mixed in with a little creative jewelry making thinking might have some interesting and economic (for emerald pieces anyway) results. Now that I've told you all where I get my emeralds, I guess I'll just have to have Jose start keeping the $10/carat pile of crystals under the table for me, eh? ;).

BTW, if you're by chance interested in turnkey, faceted Columbian emeralds for jewelry, Jose has cases full of them starting at $100 per carat and running up to $400 per carat. Most are emerald cuts of course. When I asked Jose if he had any creme de le creme stones that cost more that $400 per carat he produced a stunning $6000 per carat stone from under the table for my inspection and drool over that was reserved for a special Evergreen customer.

Evergreen Mining Company Executive Ball Room - Email: ci_esmil@hotmail.com Jose V. Vesga, Cra. 7 No. 13-67, Of. 810 PO Box 14767, Bogota, Columbia Phone/Fax: +57.1.213.4179


In room 159 at McNeil Minerals I found this unusual and rather pretty stalactitic "Zeiringite" (a varietal name for zinc laden aragonite) on quartz from the Monte Cristo mine, Marion County, Rush Arkansas. "Zeiringite" is named after the mining town of Zeiring, Australia. The matrix was about 9" overall with the longest of the mushroom shaped stalactitic growths being about 3/4" to 1" long. I thought this cabinet sized specimen had a nice presence, very interesting aesthetics and a lot of appeal for someone looking to add an unusual and unique piece to their collection. This is one that needs to be hand carried to its new home as it would be difficult to ship via the post office or a freight carrier and get to its destination in one piece.

McNeil's Minerals Room 159 - 1175 Mt. Moriah, Memphis, TN 38117 Phone/Fax: 901.683.8133


One the my first stops on my first Tucson Show report was in Room 157 to visit with some fine cubic pyrite specimens from Navajun-(La Rioja)-Spain brought to Tucson by Piritas De Navajun Ltd. I think these pyrite specimens are very appealing and have always figured I'd wind up adding one to my collection sooner or later, but I've yet to take the plunge. I still recall seeing a small cabinet sized specimen of one of these Spanish pyrites at one of the first Tucson Shows I attended that I considered to be one of the most aesthetic specimens I'd ever seen due to the way its interpenetrant cubes stacked up. It was like a frozen fractal and really had a cool "presence". However, I also recall it carrying a hundred dollar price tag, which back then seemed to me an overindulgent amount of money to pay for a rock. I've since overcome that problem, but then again, a hundred bucks doesn't buy as much mineral specimen nowadays as it did back then...

Above left is an overview of the display shelves and tables along one wall. The shelves held primarily matrix pieces from miniature to cabinet sized, and the tables held many stacks and strings interpenetrant pyrite cubes that were free of matrix. While both types can be very handsome, I tend to prefer the matrix pieces, especially those that have been cleaned and prepared in such a manner as to perch the cubes atop the remaining matrix, with the matrix also serving as a natural base or display stand. I noted specimens ranging in price from $10 to $1500 along this shelf and table.

Above right is an assortment of miniature sized specimens averaging around 2-3 inches in overall length with interpenetrant cubes free of matrix. I noted prices on specimens in this group from $90 to $250 and thought some of them quite aesthetic.

Pictured above right are some pyrite cube sets that were offered from $40 to $60. The largest cube in each set was about an inch on edge and I counted 23 cubes in the $60 set. A friend of mine gave me some money to buy him a cube set but I decided to hold off after learning Piritas De Navajun Ltd. had some larger sets available at their room at the Inn Suites show, which I will be visiting in a few days. Tom is a violin maker and he's planning to make a nice stand for the set to display them. These cube sets definitely loose their cool factor once all jumbled together in a box...

Shown above right is an interpenetrant cube specimen perched on matrix like I like 'em. The longest cube edge on this specimen was about 1". Someone else must also like them like I do as this specimen was asking $900.

The top dollar getter I saw on the shelves was this $1500 stack of interpenetrant cubes shown above left. The largest cube measured about 2 3/4" on an edge. That's a quarter standing up on the edge of the base beneath it for scale. Looks like $1500 still goes quite a ways with these pyrites, but of course I have seen them priced even higher.

Shown above right is a string of interpenetrant cubes in hand. The string is about 4" in overall length and the largest cube is about 1" on an edge. This pretty specimen was priced at $220.

Above left is another interpenetrant cube specimen perched on matrix. This string was about 4 inches long with largest cube edges of about an inch. However, the matrix pieces go for premium prices and I think this $400 piece also had better aesthetics than the similar sized $220 piece that was free of matrix.

While I've seen the price on these pyrites go up since I first admired that $100 one some years ago (so what's new?), you can still score a very pretty piece with multiple cubes in the $15 to $25 price range if it doesn't have to be a large one. The small miniature sized specimen I'm showing in had above right features 4 cubes, the largest of which has a longest edge of about 7/8" and this little jewel only wants $15.

Piritas De Navajun Ltd. Room 157 - WWW: www.piritas.com Guzman el Bueno 11-6-3 28015 Madrid Spain Phone: 34.91.5433878


Tucson is a year around gateway for Mexican minerals and a good deal of my own collection acquired over the years from the Tucson Show consists of Mexican specimens. I stopped by Peter Megaw Minerals in room 148 as Peter specializes in Mexican minerals, and I had noted a nice pseudomorph that I wanted to photograph for my report when I made a preliminary pass on Peter's Room a couple of days earlier. The pseudo was unfortunately long gone by the time I returned, but there were of course lots of other nice Mexican specimens to check out and photograph here.

Pictured above are two hemimorphites from Level 5-6 of the San Judas Orebody, Minas Ojuela, Mapimi, Durango, Mexico. Peter pulled these out from under the table (the bathroom, actually) as they had already been reserved by a customer, but not yet paid for. Shown above left is a miniature sized cluster of bladed crystals that's about 3 inches overall. It was priced at $250.

Above right is another cluster of bladed hemimorphite crystals, this one on contrasting matrix which forms a natural stand. This specimen was about 4 inches overall and it was priced at $500.

Shown above left is a very pretty miniature sized cluster of Vera Cruz amethyst crystals, about two inches overall with about 20 violet tipped crystals that averaged about 1/2" in length. Once relatively ubiquitous, high quality specimens of Vera Cruz amethyst are much less available and have really escalated in price since I became interested in it and conscious of going rates for it some years ago. This piece wants $325.

At center above is a miniature acanthite that's easy on my eyes from level 590, Mina La Sirena, Guantajuato, Guantajuato, Mexico. Acanthite is silver sulfide, an important ore of silver that is commonly associated with galena, tetrahedrite, and nickel-cobalt ores, and with chalcocite, native silver and silver halogen minerals as a secondary mineral in the zone of sulfide enrichment. This specimen was priced at $250.

Pictured above right is an $850 miniature pyrargyrite from the 425 Level C Block, Santo Nino Vein, Mina Proano, Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico. Pyrargyrite is silver antimony sulfide, also an important ore of silver that is commonly associated with galena, tetrahedrite, pyrite and other silver bearing sulfo-salt minerals.

Peter showed some nice cabinet sized specimens in his room too. One of them was this dedritic calcite from West Camp, Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico. It was about 18" overall and priced at $250.

Peter Megaw Minerals Room 148 - WWW: www.imdex.com PO Box 65538, Tucson, AZ 85728 Tel: 520.529.2231 Fax: 520.797.3955


While at Peter Megaw Minerals I met John Cornish, who is an accomplished field collector hailing from Port Angeles in Washington State. John was helping Peter mind his room and just happened to have brought several primo cabinet sized specimens of a new find of heulandite with mordenite that was made by Lanny Ream in the Challis Volcanic Field in central Idaho. Lanny has authored an article to be published in an upcoming issue of Rocks and Minerals magazine on this material and locality, which is being heralded as the finest heulandite and mordenite find ever in North America.

Heulandite and mordenite are both members of the zeolite group. Heulandite is sodium calcium aluminum silicate hydrate [(Na,Ca)4-6Al6(Al,Si)4Si26O7224H2O], named after John Heuland, an English collector. It belongs to the monoclinic crystal system and is known to occur in colorless, white, gray, yellow, pink, red, brown crystals with a vitreous, pearly luster.

Mordenite is calcium sodium potassium aluminum silicate hydrate [(Ca,Na2,K2)Al2Si10O247H2O], belonging to the orthorhombic system and known to occur in colorless, white, and stained yellowish or pinkish crystals with a vitreous to silky luster. The mordenite occurs in this specimen as the fine white fibrous, cotton-like material associated with the pink colored heulandite crystals.

John related that Lanny Ream first learned of the existence of this locality from a 1920's Smithsonian article, which must have been rather vague as to the exact locality, as Lanny spent six years or so hunting and chasing it down in a classic tale of rockhound sleuthing, research and treasure hunting. John laboriously collected this heulandite and mordenite filled vug in andesite along with other specimens over July 4th last year working on the country rock with hand tools. He related the the site is very remote, with just one house within 40 miles or so and that it was the only place he had collected where you could watch wild horses after he was done digging for the day. He said beware of the black stallion.

John also related that the Smithsonian had expressed an interest in the specimen detailed in the above views but hadn't yet seen it, so this one may well be Smithsonian bound. This specimen was about 12" overall and lined with heulandite crystals averaging about 3/8" to 1/2" in length. Good work John!

John and Gloria Cornish Room 148 - Email: j&gcornish@tenforward.com 40 Cedar Glen Lane, Port Angeles, WA 98362 Phone: 360.457.7630


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