It was sunny today with a high of 72 degrees. The weather forecasters turned out to be all washed up with their predictions of impending precipitation, but the Bob's Rock Shop forecast turned out to be right on the money...
Today was the first official day for the Gem and Lapidary Wholesalers 'Jump Start' Show, traditionally considered to be the actual "start" of the Tucson shows. G&LW Jump Start usually gets local media coverage as a 'Beginning of Another Tucson Show' segment on the Tucson evening news. Acquiring some Arkansas crystal from one of the dealers there has become somewhat of an annual Show tradition for me
Jump Start is a wholesale only show, and appropriate business credentials are required to obtain badges which must be displayed to gain access to various controlled areas at this show. I arrived a little before noon and there was a fair crowd and a bit of a wait to obtain badges at this station in the lobby of the Rodeway Inn. This show is off to a good start. Shown at center is the pool in the courtyard of the Rodeway, a pleasant area to browse in. There are numerous dealers in the rooms surrounding the courtyard, but they are hidden from view in this picture by all the flora.
Crystal Heaven was set up around back in room 155, adjacent to a large parking lot. In addition to their room they had 16 tables laden with Mt. Ida quartz specimens from the Crystal Heaven mine, and a special area set up for the display of large specimens weighing up to 500 pounds. I've become friends with mine owners Stuart and Annette, who also happen to be tying the matrimonial knot this year in Tucson during the Show. I never thought I'd be putting up a wedding picture or two in the course of a Bob's Rock Shop show report, but hey, it could happen...
Stuart and Annette had you-pick tables outside starting at $2.50 per pound and running up to $15.00 per pound. Shown above left are specimens on a $5.00 per pound table. There were plates, clusters, and single points in a variety of sizes to choose from. Shown at center is one of many clusters I found attractive. This specimen was from a $10 per pound table. It was about seven inches in length and weighed four pounds. Shown above right are a sea of cyrstal clusters on display inside their room, where they had large $25 and $40 per pound shelves. These more primo specimens tend to be smaller, so a pound goes a way. I didn't see any Japan law twins.
Of course, like most dealers, Crystal Heaven makes price allowances for quantity purchases. A not insignificant amount of their market is retail shops and jewelry makers catering to the metaphysical trade.
Most of the quartz crystals I have acquired from Crystal Heaven find their way into gemstones cut by myself and other hobbyist faceters. Shown at right is a flat of 'optical' crystals which are good candidates for faceting rough. Stuart and Annette keep an eye out for clear crystals that are broken or with damaged terminations that render them undesirable as specimens, but would make good, economic faceting rough. While colored quartzes like amethyst, citrine, ametrine and smoky are generally considered more desirable for gemstones, a well designed and cut, water clear quartz makes a beautiful stone. There were fine stones inside some of these crystals and you could take your pick of this flat of faceting rough for $5.00 a pound. That works out to about 2 tenths of a cent per carat...
Crystal Heaven is starting to get into some facetable smoky. It is a very pale bronzish-grey color but getting darker as they dig ever deeper. I high-graded out a couple of very nice pieces of that material from a select batch saved for my perusal before placing the rest of it out on the $5.00 per pound table. So many stones to cut and so little time...
The Gem and Lapidary Wholesaler's Show is appropriately named. This show is heavy to jewelry, beads, bulk commercial cut stones, industrially manufactured lapidary items, cast findings in base and precious metals and gift items. This show is large enough to have its own 208 page show guide. After Jump Start, the 'regular' G&LW show carries on at this location as well as a major show in a second location, the Holiday Inn Holidome.
In addition to the dealer rooms at the Rodeway, there is a large Event Center building and a large tent crammed full of dealers catering to these markets. If I have any money left at the end of the show, I may buy myself a new watch from this "Watch Liquidator's" booth, shown above left on an isle in the Rodeway Events Center building.
It is a little known fact that many mineral collectors are also closet case beaders. I'm afraid I'm just not one of them, but here's some eye candy for those of you who are. This artwork is the product of Mexican Huichol Indians. The beads are applied over figures carved from wood.
The bead work is done entirely by hand and eye. I was rather awestruck when I found out the artists who make these objects do not draw out patterns on the wood carvings first. The beads are laid out and applied in ornamental patterns originating directly from the 'mind's eye' of the beader. No two are alike. Shown above at left is eye detail on a jaguar, also shown at center. This piece was about two feet high and wanted $2,500. The interest in this work was substantial and the booth was crowded. They weren't all lookers either. I recently acquired a young maroon bellied conure, a South American parrot. I found the bird shown above right to be attractive too, but not as good looking as my Zookie, of course. This dealer showed many smaller beaded pieces in various forms such as snakes, lizards, fishes, and bowls, starting at about $10 and going up from there with size and complexity. The jaguar looked to be the top dollar predator on the table.
Shown above is the large tent at the Rodeway show, and an interior view down the length of it. There's billions and billions of beads in this universe.
One vendor at this show had some tableware and accessories which would interest many lapidary hobbyists from a "wonder how they did that" perspective. These vases, plates, bowls, serving trays, candle sticks, napkin holders and other accouterments were cut, lathe turned and fabricated from Pakistani onyx and brecciated and banded marlstone. Some of these pieces were pretty large. The marlstone plate shown above center was easily pushing 18 inches in diameter. It was priced at $115. The largest onyx vase pictured with it wanted $300.
A handsome bowl and plate set from onyx is shown above right. The largest bowl was easily a foot in diameter and priced at $200. The smaller and easier pieces cost correspondingly less. I doubt I'm going to making any of these in any of my Old Pueblo Lapidary Club classes, but just knowing what goes into making a cabochon gives me an appreciation for work on this larger scale.
While there's not nearly as much lapidary rough available at the G&LW Tucson shows as at the Congress Street Expo or along the Strip, there were several dealers in the big tent at the Rodeway showing some nice material. The turquoise rough was shown by Zia Turquoise, a New Mexico based company. However, the rough in this tub originated in China. It was priced at about $30 a pound, which is very cheap as turquoise goes nowadays. This stuff is known as "Chinese Red" or something to that effect. Primo Arizona turquoise is very rare and sought after, and goes for significantly more money. Above right is a large slab of Russian charoite, shown by Moldavite Mining. It was about two feet long, and not for sale. If it were, you can be sure the price would be pretty breathtaking.