TUCSON HIGHLIGHTS 2003
report by Peter Lyckberg
No matter what the subject, the yearly Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is always worth a visit in February. The TGMS Show is preceded with 30 other shows of which the most important for minerals are The Executive Inn, The Inn Suite and the small Westward Look Show. For the one with a lot of time, who cans pend 2-3 weeks or more every year i Tucson there are always interesting minerals to be found at the other mor "bulk rocks", decorator minerals and jewelry oriented shows.
This short report will only highlight a few spots on the main MINERAL SHOWS as the author only had time to visit one week this year.
The Executive Inn show is really the show where most of the dealers are as close to original sources as one gets for specimens in Tucson. There are many Russian, Chinese, European, and American dealers who sell what is completely fresh unsen material which soon will end up at the other shows in Tucson. Every years there are many specimens here which disappear quickly and is beeing sold one or more times during the show.
To start with a few highlights. Axinite from Moscow had been collecting the famous Akshilau Miarolitic Pegmatites in Kazachstan ones mined for giant peizo quartz crystals (one 90 ton ! single crystal was reported from here in 1959. The crystal was found in a 70m thick eluvial just below the surface and measured 5.8*1.3m, but given the weight and studying preserved photgraph the crystal should have been larger. Probably one (the widest ?) face measured was 1.3m but the crystal certainly looks more rather 2m in diameter from photographs which would push its weight towards declared. Other reports state 20 m long ! but this seem to describe the lenth of two or more crystal in position as found) Now the new find comprises of fantastic color change Fluorapatite crystals usually from 1*2 to 2*4 cm in size but some reaching 6 cm in length. These have been known before but the offer was better and more extensive than ever before. Prices were from a couple of hundred Euros for the less attractive specimens to 5000 Euros or more for the finest specimens with two or several often rather gemmy crystals in a matrix of smoky quartz, feldspar and chlorite...
The color is an attractive salmon orange color in incandescent light changing to a pale yellow in daylight, thus showing a very strong "alexandrite" effect probably due to REE content (see photo).
It is very likely that tese have to be kept out of direct exposure to sunlight as to avoid faiding (test going on) but that should not worry a serious collector or museum. The best pieces remained unsold at the end of the show, pointing to the declining stock market in the US and the dependancy of this for the wealthiest of the american collectors, to the benefit for poorer Europeans collectors...
Perhaps it is again time for specimen to travel eastward overe the atlantic again.
Axinite also had some completely new large Morganite floater crystals to 15*10*4 cm in orangish tabular etched crystals recently collected from a miarolitic pegmatite in Transbaikal, Russia. The same company also had a suite of other interesting samples incluing very fine small spiky spinell twins of natie copper.
Mineralien Welt author and editorial board member Dr Jaroslav Hyrsl and Editorial board Member of the former World of Stones, now Mineralogical Almanac Dr Petr Schtacho, booth gentlemen beeing mineralogists from Prague, Czeck repuiblic and besides having a keen eye and a great knowledge of minerals also bring interesting specimens to shows for sale. Dr Szctacho had one wonderful bicolored Topaz (sky blue and salmon pink) from the world famous Chamber pegmatites of Volodarsk, Ukraine. This particular specimen also exhibiting very beautiful cluodlike inclusions of fluorite.
A sky blue fluorite specimen from Baian Obo in Mongolia was also offered for sale having unusually fine inclusions of "tourmaline" ? needles. Dr Szctacho also had a suite of fine quartz specimens with inclusions from Russia and former Soviet states one of the finest beieng a 9 cm clear crystal with remnants and visible shape of a stibnite crystal.
Faisal Umar of Tatara Minerals, Peshawar, Pakistan is the young Pakistani dealer often beeing the first one to bring completely new material of the best quality. In previous years he has brought the best Bastnäsites, the first Beryllonites, the first beautiful dodecahedral Magnetite crsytal in the association with gem peridote, in fact he had a chance to buy the very first and best gem Peridotes that came out but could not afford the lot. This year he had a couple of giant Kunzite crystal and a few small excellent completely new Magnetite octahedron groups to 5 cm from a new find in Pakistan. Besides a variety of Scandinavian material my brother Anders Lyckberg sharing room with Faisal Umar had a fantastic Seinäjokite material which he had not yet noticed himself ! It which went to a good place otherwise I would have bought it myself.
There are still many such small teams sharing rooms at the EI, many of them not making a living from mineral specimens but with a dedication to bring new material and the right contacts to do so. I should not give the tip, but the EI still has a good base of such dealers.
Tomas More of the Mineralogical record had also a display case at the entrance to the EI (hotel not choosen by chance) showing new material at the show ! A very good idea booth for buyers and sellers.
At the small Westward Look show principally aimed at a smaller fraction of collectors also posessing a thick wallet there were indeed some very fine specimens to be had and at more affordable prices than in the past. Perhaps the only real big new find was Wayne Thompssons giant Epidote crystals from Kenya (most 10-13*2-3.5 cm). Although not nearly as pristine at the Knappenwand brothers they still were impressive for the specie.
Rob Sielecki of Ausrock, and Australian mineralogist/geologist and full time mineral dealer had one amazingly fine Mimetesite (Mimetite) from his own collection. The specimen perhaps 15*15 cm had several dozen sharp hexagonal yellow Mimetite crystals 8-20 mm in size. Truly a fine specimen (photo on right).
The second fine larger Australian rock Rob had brought was a Kalgoorlie gold specimen, very rich plates with some quartz matrix.
The well known Arizona collector Gene Meiran had a one day exhibit of approximately 100 of his excellent primarily extremely fine gem crystals but also including silvers, copper, gold rhodochrositeï¿½ Next photos showing Gene newt to his wonderful case.
A new pocket at the Pederneira Mine had produced a couple of stubby thick very fine tourmalines as well as several large specimens of exceptionally long and pristine tourmaline crystals 15-30cm *2cm perched upon cleavelandite, quartz and lepidolite (photo below).
The theme of this years Tucson Gem and Mineral Societys Show at the Tucson Convention Center was minerals of the Andes. As usuall the exhibits were well worth the trip by themselves with for instance more fine pink Fluorite octahedrons on exhibit than ever beforeï¿½besides other goodies.
A north american case which also drew special attention was a suite of aquamarines, heliodores, bavenites, phenacites etc from the Orchard Quarry, Maine exhibited by Gary Freeman (Coromoto Minerals). Gary is not selling any specimens at all but has been mining this pegmatite the last few years for pleasure and indeed it was apleasure to see this exceptional recent suite. If you like pegmatites you should defeneately keep an eye on his website at: http://www.coromotominerals.com
(see photo on right).
One exceptionally fine and highly interesting exhibit display case was the one of Dan Kile, a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado. A large case was devoted to entirely self collected specimens from Colorado. Perhaps the most incredible were several light purple gem quality barite crystals from Colorado and several very fine Amazonite and Smoky quartz specimens, the finest beeing a perfect 30cm group showing half a dozen large fine green 6-10 cm amazonite crystals with two larger smoky quartzes (the largest 25 *12 cm) and several twinned amazonites crystals.
A private collector in California, exhibited several very fine specimens and cut stones. Perhaps the most fabuleous beeing a perfect geemy 5*2 cm Colombian emerals crystal on white calcite matrix (photo on left). There was also a very fine gold, a piece of jewelry named the Queen of Kilimanjaro (Tanzanite and Tsavorite) cut and rough Tanzanite.
Two cases were devoted to the memory of the extraordinary writer, collector and cutter Dr John Sinkankas. Some of his extraordinary achievements were highlighted and this gentleman has been of great importance and inspiration for several generations of mineral collectors, gem cutters, bibliophiles etc including this author. One of his masterworks Emerald and Other Beryls set a new Quality Level of single specie reference book, extremely well researched during many decades by a highy motivated and knowledgeable connoseur.
Now Minerals of the Andes were plentiful and a few highlights only are here referred to. The Smithsonian institution had brought a very fine group of Proustite and a large Colombian Platinum nugget (Pt was discovered in Colombia in 1751).
Bill Larson of pala International was showing his Big Mama Burmese Ruby ! (photo on right)
THE NEW find of this year were some tabular hexagonal "deep raspberry pink" "beryl" crystals from Madagascar. They might even be a new specie and rumors has it that they are extremely rich in Cesium (photo on left).
See you in Tucson 2004