Ste-Marie-aux-Mines Show report part 2

28 June 2010

Things have definitely been hotting up at the St Marie show - at least temperature wise! The sunny weather is definitely welcome, and for the first year in a while there was no rain or thunderstorms, but within the halls which lack ventilation, and are filled with heat-producing lights on the booths it is unbearably hot to sit all day. The many beer vendors were could hardly keep up with demand!

Friday was a relatively quiet day in terms of foot traffic, so it was great to see the aisle busy on Saturday and Sunday.

Busy street within the show
A busy street within the show on Saturday.

Taking a walk around the Grand Theatre (Prestige Space) where our booth is located, there was some fantastic minerals on display.

Firstly to the booth of Watzl Minerals of Austria, owned by brothers Rudolf and Anton, who have a constant selection of fine specimens. They had three new specimens of Strontianite from Oberdorf an der Laming, Styria, Austria. The specimens were found in 2003, and have since been in the collection of the miner who found them - Mr Petzlberger. Sadly he passed away, which has led to the specimens appearing on the market for the first time.

Strontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Austria
New Strontianite specimens from Oberdorf an der Laming, Austria.

They also had several Fluorites from Weisseck Mountain, Lungau, Salzburg, Austria. The Fluorites have stepped cubic form and are a very deep purple, appearing almost black, but are beautiful bright purple when back lit. This locality will be featured in the next issue of the Mineralogical Record. The pocket found containing these Fluorites was very large (approx 8 - 10 m x 3m) and was 45 m deep into the mountain.

Fluorite, Weisburg, Austria
Gorgeous purple Fluorite from Weisseck Mountain, Austria.

Yet another great mineral to catch my eye was this sexy pink Fluorite on Quartz from Chamonix, France. The Quartz crystal is a floater and is fully crystallised the whole way round.

Fluorite on Quartz, Chamonix
Fluorite on Quartz from Chamonix, France

Onto to the booth of Andreas Weerth of Germany, he had this lovely Rhodonite from Broken Hill, NSW, Australia. The Rhodonite crystals are in very good condition for this locale, and are nicely offset by the Galena matrix, with a large well formed crystal over 1cm in size.

Rhodonite in Galena, Broken Hill, NSW, Australia.
Rhodonite in Galena, Broken Hill Mine, NSW, Australia.

Pregi Gemme of Italy featured this very large Beryl var. Morganite specimen from Urucum, Minas Gerais, Brazil approx 15cm in height.

Morganite from Urucum, Brazil
Morganite from Urucum, Galilea, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Marcus Budil of Fine Minerals International always has a great selection of gem minerals:

Gem Minerals
Colourful Gem minerals from Fine Minerals International, from left to right:
Morganite from Konar, Afghanistan; Tourmaline from Konar, Afghanistan; Tanzanite and Calcite from Merelani Hills, Tanzania; Aquamarine from Shigar Valley, Pakistan; Diopside from Merelani Hills, Tanzania; Emerald from Colombia; Topaz from Dassu, Pakistan.

Alain Martaud of France had some new specimens of Baryte from Serifos Island, Greece. These specimens were collected between 2003-2009, but this is the first time they have been on the market. Prior to this, Barytes from Seriphos have not been seen on the market from the mid 1970s! These specimens were also in combination with Siderite and rarely Fluorite.

Baryte, Seriphos, Greece
Baryte, Siderite, Fluorite (small cubes centrally on the Siderite) from Serifos Island, Cyclade Islands, Greece

Alain also specialises in French minerals, and had several excellent specimens on display:

Axinite, France
Axinite from Le Rocher d'Armentier, Bourg d'Oisans, Isere, France, with sharp and gemmy crystals, displaying excellent colour.

Red Sphalerite from La Mure, France
Gemmy red Sphalerite with Dolomite and Boulangerite inclusions from La Mure, Isere, France.

Opposite our booth is Astier Mineraux of France. They always have a really great display with well chosen and beautifully presented minerals. They had two specimens of brightly coloured Orpiment on Baryte from Peru.

Baryte and Orpiment from Palomo Mine, Peru
Baryte and Orpiment from Palomo Mine, Peru.

Back out into the rest of show, we visited the stand of Hammad Gems, who always have a really nice selection of specimens at very reasonable prices. This show, owner Shafiee Muhammad had fantastic Spessartine Garnets on Feldspar from Dassu, Haramosh, Gilgit, Pakistan - deep red colour, bright lustre and excellent condition. I quickly snapped up this one featuring star shaped Mica dotted with Garnets, somewhat resembling a butterfly.

Shafiee Muhammad, and the specimen
Shafiee holding the my new acquisition, Garnet on Mica and Feldspar : )

Garnet on Feldspar
Spessartine Garnets and Feldspar from Dassu, Haramosh Mts., Pakistan

Indian dealers Large Wings International had new Powellite specimens from India

New Powellite from India.

They also had a funky selection of botryoidal Fluorite on Quartz matrix from Nasik, Maharashtra, India in a range of colours. This is an unusual form for Fluorite and India produces the best specimens.

Fluorite from Nasik, India
Spherical Fluorite on matrix from Nasik, India.

Pauli Minerals had this interesting curly Malachite - a form I have not personally seen before. This specimen was found in the last year, and is very unusual. It is from Brixlegg, Tyrol, Austria. Specimens of curly Malachite have been found at Cannington Quarry, Somerset, England but this is a much richer specimen.

Curly Malachite from Brixlegg, Austria
Curly wires of Malachite from Brixlegg, Austria

You have to love the things you seen on different booths, such as this sign seen on a Chinese dealer's table:


M and P Clavel had a case of gorgeous sky blue Fluorites with Quartz from Le Burg, Tarn, France. Very eye catching.

Fluorite from Le Burg, France
Fluorite from Le Burg, France

Fluorites from Le Burg, France
Fluorites from Le Burg, France

Seen on several booths around the show was these new Epidotes from Mali. They were quite chunky elongate tabular crystals - doubly terminated in a 'bow-tie' form, quite interesting to see. This location is well known for its prismatic crystals with botryoidal Prehnite.

Epidote from Mali
Epidote from Mali

This show I had the pleasure of meeting Umberto Righi of Sofi Mineraux, France. Apart from having some great minerals, he was also an expert in mushrooming collecting and was kind enough to take some of our group mushroom picking in the hills around St Marie, showing them which ones were safe to pick and eat. They were delicious!

Umberto of Sofi Mineraux
Umberto Righi of Sofi Mineraux in front of his booth.

There are several areas at the show that have exhibitions. One is the
Espace Culture and Passion, which is a marquee holding several different exhibits. One particularly interesting exhibit was by the Mezica Lead and Zinc Mine in Mezica (Miess), Slovenia. This is a tourist mine and museum, and had many of their Slovenian specimens on display. The mine is famous for its well crystallised Wulfenite specimens, which display a range of habits.

Wulfenite, Mezica
Wulfenite and Baryte specimen, the Wulfenite showing bi-pyramidal form.

Wulfenite, Mezica
Wulfenite and Baryte, the Wulfenite with bi-pyramidal form, Doroteja (925m), Helena Mine, Mezica, Slovenia, collected in 2005.

Wulfenite, Mezica
Wulfenite with tabular form

Rutile in Quartz, Slovenia
Rutile and Quartz, also illustrated behind, from Veliki Graben, Krajno Brdo, Krasnja, Slovenia. 2001 (I am not sure if this is the museum acquisition date or the date of discovery.)

Some interesting facts on the mine - the deposit stretches 64 square kilometers on the surface, with 1000km of shafts dug since 1665, and in two hours of visiting you would have seen less than 1% of the shafts.
Also of interest is that the mine offers underground biking! There is a 5km cycle route through solid rock tunnels. The mine is definitely worth a visit if you are lucky enough to visit Slovenia. For more info visit

Also in the Espace Culture and Passion was an exhibit by Philippe Duboeuf on the locale Le Beix, Puy-de-Dôme,  Auvergne, France. Philippe has coauthored a book with Jacques Jalicon on the history of the Le Beix Mine, France. This mine is famous for its gorgeous electric blue Fluorite specimens which have developed in the Quartz vugs. The mine closed in 1977. There were several maps/cross sections of the mine on display.

Le Bei
Philippe Duboeuf in front of a map of the Le Beix mine, holding his new book about the Le Beix mine - a history on the mine, the miners, and those fabulous Fluorites!

If you would like to obtain a copy of this book (published in French), please contact Philippe on email:

In the Grand Theatre (Prestige Espace) there are several exhibits each year. This year was Minerals of Brittany, France, and a glittering exhibit of minerals from La Gardette Mine, France.

Staurolite from Brittany
Twinned Staurolite crystals from Coray, Brittany, France.

Quartz from Brittany
Quartz from Guisseny, Brittany, France with interesting form.

La Gardette, Bourg d'Oisans, France is well known for its exceptional Quartz specimens, and there was many fantastic pieces on display. The Quartz is water clear in sharp prismatic crystals which act like prism to disperse light into its spectral colours creating flashes of rainbows through out the specimens.

Activity at La Gardette is known since 1717, when glass cutters searched for the Quartz crystals to use in gem cutting. Gold was discovered not long after, but it was never found in quantities that would be profitable to mine. Quartz specimens found their way into cabinets of curiosities and become in strong demand as the world grew interested in collecting minerals in the 18th century. Since then the search for specimens by both glass cutters and mineral collectors has keep the site alive.

Glittering Quartz from la Gardette
Gorgeous specimen on Quartz, with growth of prismtic crystals all the way around, with rainbow flashes.

Quartz from La Gardette
Quartz with a large Japan-law Twin from La Gardette.

Quartz from La Gardette
A large specimen of glittering prismatic Quartz - fabulous in person, unfortunately the photo does not capture the liveliness of the specimen.

La Gardette is also know for other minerals such as Chalcopyrite and also Gold.

Chalcopyrite from La Gardette, France
A large Chalcopyrite from La Gardette

Gold from La Gardette, France
Native Gold in matrix, from La Gardette, France

Walking around the show you are never quite sure what you will see - on this corner was a three piece band entertaining the crowds and dealers.


And here Wayne has found himself a new car - a Citroen.

Wayne and his new car
Wayne and his new car.

And so ends another Ste Marie-aux-Mines show, we hope you have enjoyed reading our reports from here in the Alsace, France. I know we say it at the end of every show report, but in the mineral collecting world the shows really are the highlight - the fun of walking around and looking at the thousands of specimens on display to find the perfect one for your collection, and just to see the sheer variety available, and also the enjoyment of meeting up with friends again, and the enthusiasm that collectors have for their hobby. We are already looking forward to our next show!

Author: Robin
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