TGMS Main show report - part 1

13 February 2011

Hello from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Show! This is the show that began them all, and is a must for any one visiting Tucson. It features many of the important dealers in the business, plus has wonderful displays, and is very supportive of the collecting community.

Firstly we must congratulate Wayne and Dona Leicht of Kristalle for their 40th anniversary in the mineral business, 1971 to 2011.

The TGMS's show has the theme of Californian Minerals. As many people will already know, Wayne and Dona are well known for their interest in the Californian Gold rush, so in order to celebrate both Kristalle's 40th year and the Californian theme, we decided to get into a Gold Rush mood.

The Ladies
The ladies are ready to greet the collectors.

Wayne and Dona
Dona and Wayne as the Miner and the Madam

Some fun
Oh oh, was someone stealing? Luckily the Tucson police are on hand

Dave and Liz
as was the Sheriff

The ladies
Audrey, Liz and Tana

The Tucson Mayor visited the show for the Grand opening, cutting the ribbon to reveal a case of large Californian Spodumene crystals. We had the pleasure of meeting him.

Tucson Mayor
Tucson Mayor

Grand opening
Cutting the ribbon and revealing the case.

The case featured brand new Spodumene var. Kunzite mined in Dec 2010 at the Big Kahuna II zone, Baker Boulevard Level, Oceanview Mine, Pala District, San Diego Co, CA, USA.

New Spodumene crystal, with a cut stone in front.


This specimen is named the 'Big Kahuna' and is approx 30cm in height. The specimens are a violet to grey to green colour, however if placed in the sunlight they will turn pink. Spodumene is strongly pleochroic, which means that the colour appears different when the crystal is viewed in different directions, you can see that the colour is much stronger and more violet when viewed sideways.

Now down to business:

We have posted a video of our showcase on youtube, please use the following link to view it:

Here are some pictures of our minerals on display - please let us know if you would like any further information on any of the minerals in the video or the pictures.

Some of our finest minerals.

Silvers, Opals and Aquamarines

Gem Minerals
Gem Minerals - many pink Himalaya Mine, California Tourmalines


Bisbee Azurites

Wulfenites and Mimetites

Native Silvers from Germany, Kongsberg, Spain and other locations

There were a few new exciting finds on display at the show. The first was the new Pyromorphites on Malachite from Brown's Open Pit, Rum Jungle, Northern Territory, Australia. These were mined in August of last year. Specimens from Rum Jungle area came out in the 1970s. Brown's Open Pit is a conventional polymetallic mine (Copper, Lead, Zinc, Cobalt, Nickel) and is currently on care and maintenance. The old Brown's prospect falls within the new open pit.

Mining ceased for reassessment in 2008, and amazingly stopped about 1 foot from the Pyromorphite mineralization, otherwise these specimens would have been lost. The initial pocket was noticed as a small hole with a green lip on the face of a 5 metre pit bench, about 3 metres up from the pit bench floor and was investigated by Dave, a geologist at the mine, and was very excited to see the light twinkling off the Pyromorphite crystals inside the pocket. The pocket was a few metres below the old dig line.

The specimens are Malachite, fibrous to botryoidal of varying shades, dotted by small lustrous Pyromorphite crystals of yellow to green colours.

Australian collector and geologist Paul was called in to appraise the potential for the specimen, and the management of the mine were agreeable to rescue the specimens. The mining company has been very supportive of the project, covering initial costs, and the rest of the proceeds from the sale are going to local organisations such as the volunteer fire fighters.

Dave and Rum Jungle
Dave and the selection of Pyromorphites on Malachite from the new find at Brown's Open Pit, Rum Jungle.

Several pockets were uncovered with slight variations in the specimens:

- One pocket had golden yellow Pyromorphite crystals on dark green Malachite
- Emerald pocket featured emerald green Malachite with the more classic lime green Pyromorphites, with larger crystal size.
- The small Turquoise pocket produced a limited range of turquoise Malachite with light lemon yellow Pyromorphite
- Boulder pocket had a large overhang of preserved Dolomite, on the underneath of which was dark green Malachite with exceptional lime green crystals, with very 3 dimensional botryoidal form
- The Pizza pocket produced bigger plates with specimens coming out in triangular shaped pieces, with a botryoidal edge, like a slice of pizza.


Rum Jungle
Pyromorphite on Malachite from Rum Jungle.

Rum Jungle
Specimens already sold with their labels turned, the one at centre back is from the pizza pocket, the one on the front left is from the Golden pocket.

Evan Jones had new specimens of Azurite, and Malachite pseudomorphs after Azurite from the Milpillas Mine, Sonora, Mexico. Milpillas has been producing superb Azurite specimens in the last few years. These specimens are new since the Denver show last year - many are new finds in the last few months, and other are likely to be pieces held back by the miners etc, such as the Malachite pseudomorphs which have the same form as those found a year or so ago, and the specimens have only now come to market.


Evan and Azurites
Evan with his case of Milpillas Azurites.

Azurite, Milpillas
An Azurite being pseudomorphed by Malachite.

Azurite, Milpillas
A large specimen over 20cm tall, this was found on November 1st 2010.

Peter Megaw had quite a fabulous display of Milpillas pieces from his own collection. These are all from the recent finds 2007 to 2011, including some specimens found this year.

Azurite, Milpillas
Peter's display of Milpillas Azurites and Malachites

Azurite, Milpillas
Peter Megaw's collection of Milpillas specimens

Azurite, Milpillas
I love this piece - The Bat

Azurite, Milpillas
Glossy Azurite wedges on fibrous Malachite from Milpillas, Mexico.

Brochantite, Milpillas
A spectacular Brochantite, specimen about 5cm tall, with large crystals from Milpillas

One specimen on display as part of the exhibits, which caused quite a stir was this massive Gold Nugget. It was found by a metal detector in 2010 in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. It is the third largest nugget ever found - can you imagine the thrill of finding it.


This specimen is called the Ausrox Nugget, and has now been sold by Ausrox to a private collector. It weighs 23.26 kilogram/748 troy ounces. It is worth over 1 million dollars alone in gold value, and attracts a premium value as a nugget (much higher than melted down), plus the publicity at this show is also sure to increase it's value. 

Ausrox Gold had several other smaller, yet still wow-worthy nuggets on display in their booth - on the left is the Golden Camel (125 troy ounces), and on the right is the Screaming Man.

Gold nuggets from the Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia.

Rob had a brand new find of Chalcedony pseudomorph after Quartz after Laumontite from Buck Pocket, Cripple Creek, Colorado, USA. The specimens have bladed crystals inside - resumably the Laumonite now replaced by Chalcedony, and Quartz has overgrown creating spiky stalagtites. These specimens were mined about 2 weeks ago, with about 600 pounds of specimens found. Most of the specimens found were damaged, but Rob was able to purchase the best 100 pounds.

Spiky thingys
New Quartz on Chalcedony after Laumontite specimens from Cripple Creek, Colorado.

On to The Collector's Edge booth which had many people stopping in their tracks to admire these massive bright pink Rhodochrosite specimens from the Wutong Mine in China.

I spoke with Graham of CE about the specimens, they were mined about 6 to 8 months ago and The Collector's Edge were able to purchase most of the pocket. It has taken many months of negotiation, and multiple karoke evenings to bring the deal to fruition and the specimens arrived in the USA about 1 month before Tucson. The pressure was on to prepare the specimen in time for Tucson.



The Emperor of China, this specimen is on loan and will return to China after the show. It is complete bar one crystal, and there has been no major restorations on this piece (it was found with the rest of the crystals intact)

Rhodo and Robin
The Empress of China, with myself for scale. The largest crystal on this specimen measures 9 inches/23 cm in size.

The Empress of China, from Wutong Mine, China

It took 300 hours of preparation work to prepare the Emperor, and nearly as long on the Empress, but as they are such large specimens, two people were able to work on it at once. Some of the crystals were clean, but others had a coating which takes time to remove.

All of these new Rhodochrosites were found in the same zone, and since this find no new material has been found. The miners have dug over 1000m of tunnels searching for Rhodochrosite, so if this is the end of the specimens, at least it is finishing with a spectular find.

One other new find at the show was the new Rubellite Tourmalines from Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais Brazil. These specimens were in the booth of Mike and Sally Bergmann. The Minas Gerais area is well known for its Tourmalines, and Cruzeiro Mine is one of the largest and most consistent producers, and Rubellite from here is considered by many to be the best in the world. The new find occurred at the end of Nov 2010. The pocket produced both matrix pieces and smaller gem crystals. Rubellites tend to be more included than other colours of Tourmalines, but these pieces were very clear with great colour.


New Rubellite crystals from Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The crystals were around 10cm in length.


And lastly, if you are in need of someone to mind the booth for you, we found a friendly helper - Jim of the Tucson Police.

Watching the booth
Jim offers Dona and Lizzie some specimens for sale.

We stopped off at the new Suenos Saloon for a drink.. to find out more about our Gold rush adventures, be sure to see Dona's Ramblings on the Kristalle website -

The Suenos Saloon

Author: Robin
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