Snapshots from the Tucson 2001 Gem and Mineral Show
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Superb Minerals from India
Best Western Executive Inn - Jan 28 to Feb 11 - 333 W. Drachman - Phone: 520.791.7551
Inn Suites Hotel - Jan 28 to Feb 11 - 475 N. Granada - Phone: 520.622.3000
Mineral and Fossil Marketplace - Jan 28 to Feb 11 - 1333 North Oracle Road
TGMS 'Main Event' Show - Jan 8 to Feb 11 - Tucson Convention Center

Monday, Jan 29th / Sunday Jan 30th - The weather has been improving with partly cloudy skies and some sunshine but is not yet quite up to snuff with daytime temperatures in the sixties. However the forecast is for gorgeous browsing weather with sunny skies and highs in the seventies and even possibly eighties by this weekend.

For some time I've been stopping to admire and photograph specimens in Superb Minerals from India's room at the Executive Inn. Superb Minerals is owned and operated by KC Pandey and his family who are prominent dealers of mainly zeolites from quarries in the Deccan Traps in India. Superb Minerals has been expanding its presence at Tucson and now has a major tent show at the Mineral and Fossil Marketplace, as well as a room at the Inn Suites Hotel and a booth at the TGMS Show at the Convention Center.

Pictured above is a plate of interesting yellow, botroyoidal fluorite on a plate of quartz from the Mohodri Mine, Nasik, India. The plate was about 6" across and the largest fluorite was about 1 1/4" in diameter. This piece wanted $1000.

Above is a rather pretty aquamarine crystal with interesting growths on the crystal's termination. This aqua measured about 3" long by 2" in diameter and wanted $2000. This specimen is from Paplam Patti, Karur, Tamil Nadu, India.

This cavansite with stilbite on matrix is a real eye popper. The white druze of stilbite over the matrix provides an aesthetic contrast and background for the electric blue cavansite balls, the largest of which was about 1/2" in diameter.

I've been on the lookout for some nice cavansite balls to make some earrings and possibly a matching necklace for a lady friend. However, I don't think KC would have appreciated me picking them off of this choice $5000 piece from Poona, India... ;)

There aren't very many quartz collectors who wouldn't also drool over this handsome formation of chalcedony crystals from Nasik, India. It is about 5 1/2" overall and the gemmy chalcedony crystals averaged about 5/8" in diameter. That's a quarter included for scale.

I've been swearing I'm going to do a radical winnowing of my mineral collection to specialize in quartz. If I had done so and liquidated my fluorites, tourmalines, galenas, beryls, calcites, et. al. prior to the 2001 Show, this $600 chalcedony would probably have gone home with me for my quartz collection. The problem is I just don't seem to be up for the surgery...

Above is a 9" or so plate of green apophyllite, pink stilbite and rusty colored heulandite that KC brought out from under the counter for me to inspect and photograph. The largest apophyllite crystal is about 1" or so in length. This piece was reserved for showing at Superb Minerals' booth at the "Main Event" show at the Tucson Convention Center during the last 4 days of the Show, where KC told me it would be priced at $5000.

Like everything else, the most exceptional and high end Indian zeolites command major money and that's mostly what KC shows in their rooms at the Executive and Inn Suites motels where the cost per square foot for the display space also commands major rupies. But the Indian quarries and mines in the Deccan Traps region where most of the exported Indian specimens originate are very extensive and productive, humongous in fact, compared to most other specimen producing localities. The result being the bar for the creme de la creme is very high with these specimens and there are large numbers of Indian zeolites available that are very nice indeed which can be had by silver picking collectors with modest budgets. With everyone lamenting the high cost of mineral specimens these days, I think Indian zeolites can provide some fantastic opportunities for intermediate and more advanced collectors to add some very handsome and showy cabinet sized pieces to their collections without breaking their bank accounts.

Last year Superb Minerals very significantly expanded their presence and offerings at Tucson with two large tents at the Mineral and Fossil Marketplace Show, which is located behind the Sonoran Desert Marketplace building between the Executive Inn and the Ramada. I discovered Superb Mineral's tent show last year and was impressed with the fantastic selection of Indian zeolites covering many tables there. I knew the best pickings were gone as it was late in the 2000 Tucson Show by the time I'd discovered the tents and I was out of money by then anyway. But judging from what was left here at the end of the 2000 Show I figured the Superb Minerals tents definitely merited an earlier visit this year, and as it turned out I figured right.

Above are interior views of both of the Superb Minerals' tents at the Mineral and Fossil Marketplace Show, which collectively housed about 150,000 specimens. A special thanks goes to Superb Minerals' employees Aaron Larson and his wife Marsha and sister-in-law Cari, shown conferencing above right, for their gracious help and facilitation with acquisition for my report. Aaron, Marsha and Cari's enthusiasm and appreciation for the specimens they tended was contagious and they were all obviously hard core rockhounds enjoying their work at the Show.

The more common species available here included apophyllite, stilbite, heulandite, okenite, prehnite, gyrolite, calcite, scolecite, mesolite, natrolite, corrundum, quartz, quartz var amethyst, chabazite, and laumontite. Rarer species included goosecreekite, stellerite, powellite, yugawarlite, cavansite, thomsonite, babingtonite, mordenite, and julgoldite. The localities represented encompassed Mumbai, Poona, Raigad, Mahad, Nasik, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Gujarat, South India, Jalgaon, Bihar and Orissa.

Needless to say, Aaron, Marsha and Cari all have Indian minerals in their collections too...

Above are several of the tables which were completely covered with seas of inexpensive large miniature and small cabinet sized zeolite specimens. I selected several pieces I thought nice for virtual door prizes from the group shown above, where the prices ranged from about $3 to $12 or so per piece.

One table was covered with showy scolecites. Scolecite [CaAl2Si3O103H2O] is a member of the monoclinic crystals system whose name comes from the Greek for "worm". Scolecite specimens with slender prismatic, divergent groups of crystals like these are rather eye catching. They are also delicate and I can tell you from experience they don't ship very well. Getting them back from the Show in one piece can be problematic unless you very carefully pack and baby them going home.

The Ahmednagar scolecite shown above is about 8" overall and it wanted $100. That's a penny included for scale. Above right is a close up of the vertically striated crystals which were about 1/2" across. While scolecite is easily damaged, these crystal tips are not broken. Close inspection with a loop reveals the crystals characteristically terminated with a covering of fine, needle like spikes.

Above is a matrix piece about 13" overall which was covered with radiating clusters of fine scolecite crystals exhibiting a somewhat different form than the specimen shown above. That's a quarter included for scale. The detail above right shows off their transparency and slender, blade-like habit. This specimen wanted $200.

Above left is a smaller sheath of the scolecite. This pretty hand sized specimen was about 4" overall, in very good condition and only wanted $10.

Above right is an overview of the scolecite table, the entire contents of which was offered as a lot for $1500, including the lone ranger Kulu Manali, Himachal Predesh quartz sitting on one corner thrown in as a bonus, shown at left. The quartz was about 10" overall and was asking $160 by itself.

I think these white okenite "puff balls" with associated minerals in basalt vugs from Bombay are very aesthetic and collectable, and there were several scores of them shown in the Superb Minerals' tents to cherry pick and select from. Shown above are several in the 10" overall size range that I thought quite pretty and they really had some "presence". The specimen on the left featured a druze of small apophyllite crystals overlain with many smaller okenite balls and was priced at just $100. If large numbers of the smaller balls tick your clock you are in luck as all else equal, that type of specimen did not seem to command as high a price as those with fewer, but larger okenites.

In contrast the specimen above right was about the same overall size but featured a lesser number of larger okenites. It also featured pretty druzes of prehnite and quartz underlying the okenites. This piece was catching a lot of eyes and comments as browsers encountered it and it wanted $300.

Fellow Old Pueblo Lapidary Club member and dealer friend Rob Kulakofsky stuffed some hundred dollar bills in my pocket prior to the beginning of the Show to make some specimen buys of opportunity for Arizona Mineral Company which he has recently taken over and is currently in the process of revamping and expanding to include specimens from world wide localities. I was impressed with the aesthetics and values on a number of these basalt vug specimens with okenites and associated minerals and I snapped up several of them on Rob's behalf.

I've seen enclosed specimens in vugs which are also open in back displayed with a backlighting technique which can be very effective. One of the okenite specimens I procured for Rob was not only open in the back, it also had a small opening in one side that provided a perfect fiber optic port for dramatically side lighting a single large okenite ball central in the cavity where it had grown atop nice prehnite crystals. Another had the "more is better" aesthetic and was carpeted inside with a layer of larger okneites and some associated prehnite bleebs.

Shown above is a large plate covered with prehnite crystals. It was easily 2 feet across and the largest prehnite crystals on it were over 2" in length. This piece is from Bombay and it wanted $1500.

I was on the lookout for some schorl tourmaline for lapidary work and I found a great buy on lapidary grade schorl from Bihar, India at Superb Minerals, your pick of the pile for $5 per pound. I selected a couple of handfuls of these which only weighed out to about a pound. While that's enough schorl to keep me in jewelry projects for quite some time, in retrospect I wish I had acquired even more to have extra to spread around to some of my fellow club members and lapidary hobbyists, and I intend to return here to purchase some more of this schorl before the end of the Show.

Above left is a stilbite rose in an apophyllite lined basalt geode. This pretty piece is from Bombay and it was priced at $100. That's a quarter in front providing scale.

Above center is an interesting Jalgaon vug fragment with stalactitic chalcedony overlaid with some apophyllite crystals. This $45 piece was about 4" overall. While the chalcedony is pretty enough in its own right, what really made this piece interesting to me was the brassy colored layer of material resembling pyrite or some other shiny sulfide of that ilk underlying the chalcedony. When I inquired of RC Pandey (KC's brother) regarding its identity, he related that he was unsure regarding it, and had only seen a couple of other pieces like it.

Above right is a 3" apophyllite lined vug harboring some characteristically coffin shaped heulandite crystals from Nasik. I thought this one had high cool factor and apparently I wasn't alone in that. I forgot to record the price on it and when I returned to fill in my notes it had already sold and left the tent. I seem to recall it wanting around $100, but I looked at a lot of rocks here...

Above is a natrolite spray with stilbite and laumontite on prehnite in basalt country rock. This 4-banger Bombay specimen was about 5" overall and it was priced at $100. I wouldn't have been surprised if a closer scrutiny revealed another species or two.

Above is another Bombay basalt vug specimen, lined with calcites and carpeted with pink stilbites on the bottom. Note also the little calcites that were perched atop the stilbite crystals in the close view above right. This piece was about 7" overall and wanted $250.

Pictured above is another Bombay basalt vug rock with three prominent and classy calcite crystals single filing out of a pocket containing four more. It is about 5" overall and the calcite crystals are about an inch long with perfect 3-sided terminations. It also has some minor associated laumontite and I thought this piece had superb aesthetics. It was priced at only $50. Somehow I initially left this one on the table but after working on these pics at home I realized "Bob, what were you thinking?!" and beat it back down to Superb Minerals the very first thing the next morning and snagged it in what I consider to be a lucky save.

Another Tucson friend of mine also stuffed some money in my pocket to find some nice $50 class rocks for him to send each of his nephews for Christmas. I bought this piece with Tom in mind as it is not quartz, if you know what I mean. But as much as I like to facilitate Santa Tom, there's a real danger of me going Grinch on this one and I'm just going have to check it out very carefully with my loupe for quartz before I turn it over...

Shown above is a pretty little basalt vug filled with delicate, radiating mesolite sprays. This specimen was about 5 1/2" overall and the sprays were about 1/2" in diameter. This little cutey wanted $100.

Here is a pretty $200 vug fragment covered with stalactitic chalcedony. It is about 9" overall and the longest stactites are about 2" in length.

Above is a pretty plate with apophyllite crystals on chalcedony. It was about 9" overall and the largest apophyllite was about 2 1/2" in length. A quarter on the table below it provides scale. This specimen was priced at $195.

At left is a basalt vug fragment harboring a stilbite ball approximately 2" in diameter, with heulandite crystals to the right of the ball and apophyllite crystals to the left of it. This Nasik specimen was carrying a $200 price tag.

Okenite with Prehnite on Quartz

The January 23, 2001 Nashik Times article reproduced below announces the opening and dedication of a mineral museum in India. KC Pandey is of course very proud of their new mineral museum, which will be operated as a non-profit trust by the Pandey family. Note the Tucson architectural influence in the museum building...

All that gitters is gold - by Asmita Bharati

"KC Pandey picked up mineral collection as a hobby at a very young age. In 1978 he joined the aviation wing of the Indian Navy and retired as Chief Air Artificer. He groomed his hobby and studied about the Indian minerals specially of Deccan Plateau. After his early retirement in December 1993, he focused on the great potential in the market and established the first private limited company - Super Minerals, India, which has specialized in zeolite minerals of the Deccan Plateau. His younger brother RC Pandey, executive director of the company, joined him in 1986.

When spoken to, KC Pandey said that "I had started the collection out of hobby, but later we came to know that there's importance and value for these minerals abroad. I sell such stones from all over India to Westerners."

He further said that "I have worked for the Navy and also had this feeling since childhood that I should do something to make my nation proud. When I gained financially, I utilized it to make my dream come true and so I conceptualized this museum, which is the first of its kind in Asia. It is our way of giving something back to the society.

He further informed the National Association of Museums, India will hold its annual conference at the museum called "Gargoti" on 10th, 11th and 12th March 2001, where Mr. Pandey would be the host. The D-Day would be 12th March 2001, when the museum would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The museum is located at D-59, MIDC, Malegaon, Sinnar at Nashik District.

Mr. Pandey said that seven years back, he chose Sinnar as the location for Sinnar was at its peak, being called a five star industrial estate, with an airport in the offing, apart from being a link with the upcoming express highway.

Built on an area of 13,000 square feet, the museum is beautifully designed by Mr. Pandey himself. As one enters the museum one is enchanted by the statue of 'Bharat Mata' located centrally. This 8.5 foot high statue has been made by sculptor Madan Garge. Then there are the showcases for display of minerals. On the first floor, there are showcases for expensive stones and minerals, including one for minerals, that give out light in laser lights, informed project manager Dinesh Singh Rajput.

The collection of stones and minerals with the Pandeys, who are exporters of Indian geological specimens is simply amazing. The collection includes apophyllite, stilbite, heulandite, okenite, gyrolite, chabazite, etc."

Superb Minerals Executive Inn Room 161 - WWW: Superb Minerals of India Email: Shyam Castle Brahmgiri, Nashik Road, Maharastra India 422101 Phone: 91.253.555237 Fax: 91.253.554598

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