Monday, February 18, 2013

Tales of the Tucson Gem Show

Let me share a few tidbits from the just concluded 59th Annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. [Right, my snapshot of the fluorite showcased on the official show poster]

The running gag among mineral dealers is that if something isn't selling, you have two options - cut the price in half, or double it. And with a thriving and growing global market for high end specimens, prices on many items are spiraling.  One colleague told me of a pyromorphite [update 2-21-13:  I mistakenly wrote "polymorphite" initially.  Thanks to Fleetwood Koutz for spotting the error] he sold three years ago for about $4,000 as part of a package deal along with a few other pieces from his collection. He spotted the same piece for sale at this year's show for $46,000.

Another colleague was seen almost floating along the show's main floor.  He snagged a 9 kg (~20 lb) Canyon Diablo meteorite piece from the Kristalle folks.  Apparently it's been sitting in their back room for the past 15 years.   Canyon Diablo meteorites are the fragments from the impact that created Meteor (Barringer) Crater in central Arizona.  Most fragments are small. One this size gets people excited.

Kristalle held their annual dinner party at a rented estate in the Tucson Mountains west of downtown, during the Westward Look Show the previous weekend. The theme this year was the 1950s and guests came in appropriate attire.  The Kristalle party is one of the most sought after events of the mineral season in Tucson, with dinner prepared by one of Tucson's leading chefs. 

Terry Wallace, former director of the UA Mineral Museum and now Principal Associate Director for Global Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory, made this his 40th show in a row.  Terry is also editor of the highly acclaimed "Collecting Arizona" minerals book that was published last year in celebration of the Arizona centennial.  He graciously autographed two more cases of that book for the AZGS' Arizona Experience store in Tucson.    The copies he signed for us last year were sold almost as fast as we put them on the shelves.

John Rakovan [right], professor of geology at Miami University, was volunteering at the Mineralogical Society of America booth on the mezzanine but was also proudly showing off his new book on "Apatite,  The Great Pretender."   Copies of the book arrived at the show from the printer on Friday.

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