TGMS Main show report - part 2

16 February 2011

The theme of the Tucson and Gem and Mineral Society show for 2011 was the minerals of California. California is famous for it's Gold rush and the many fabulous Gold specimens that have been found. It is similarly well known for the gem bearing Pegmatites of southern California which produce Tourmalines, Spodumenes, Beryls and Spessartine Garnets. Benitoite is the state Gem stone, and is found only in gem quality in California. As California is one of the most important sources in the USA for Gem minerals, many displays included 'rough and cut' - a mineral specimen with a cut gemstone of the same mineral.

The mineral on the 2011 show poster was the blue cap 'Rabbit Ears' Elbaite Tourmaline on Quartz from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, San Diego Co., California. The 'Blue Cap Pocket' was discovered in 1972, with a then unheard of combination of pink with a blue cap. This specimen was found together with others such as the 'Candelabra' which resides in the Smithsonian.

Rabbit ears
Elbaite on Quartz from Tourmaline Queen Mine, San Diego Co., California. This specimen belongs to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences.

Recent finds in San Diego Co. included the new Spodumenes from the Oceanview Mine, which we posted in the first part of the TGMS show report. During the 2010 mining of the Oceanview Mine, the 'Big Kahuna' Zone was discovered. This was a large pocket with a series of smaller satellite pockets. The zone yield Spodumenes, Quartz, Tourmalines and Beryl. The photo below exhibits a selection of specimens from the zone.

Specimens mined during 2010 in the Big Kahuna Zone of the Oceanview Mine, San Diego Co., California.

Another display of a new find from California was Amethyst from San Bernardino Co. collected within the last month (I think). The Amethysts were displayed by the nicest dealer in the business - John Cornish.


This was really cool specimen, with a bull's eye inclusion at the termination.

There were many displays featuring Benitoite - the state gemstone of California. The type location for Benitoite is the Dallas Gem Mine (Benitoite Gem Mine) in San Benito Co., California. It often forms blue triply terminated triangular crystals found in white Natrolite veins in a grey Crossite matrix, often with elongate black Neptunite crystals. As a cut stone, Benitoite may resemble Sapphire, but has a lot more fire like a diamond.

Benitoite specimens.

Californian Minerals
LA County Natural History Museum display of Californian minerals. Two very large Gold nuggets are in the centre - the one on the right is the Peterson Nugget (109 troy ounces) - California's second largest existing nugget, and on the left is California's largest nugget - the Mojave Nugget (156 troy ounces) found in the early 1970's in the Stranger District, San Bernardino Co.

Californian Minerals
A superb Spodumene var Kunzite from the Pala Chief Mine, San Diego Co., and a Spessartine Garnet with Schorl and Albite beneath from the Little Three Mine, Ramona, San Diego Co. which is well known for the bright orange Spessartines.

Californian Minerals
Minerals from Southern California Pegmatites from the collection of Jesse Fisher and Joan Kureczka featuring many Tourmalines.

Californian Minerals
I definitely liked this specimen in Jesse and Joan's display of Elbaite Tourmaline on Microcline Feldspar with Lepidolite, Quartz, Albite and Stilbite from the Himalaya Mine, San Diego Co., featured on the current Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Rocks and Minerals Magazine.

Californian Minerals
Minerals of California from the Smithsonian Collection

Quartz Egg
This Californian Quartz egg was faceted by the late John Sinkankas, at 4570 cts, it was really something to see in person.

The GIA always put on a great display, and are this year celebrating their 80 year anniversary.

GIA case
GIA display

Rough and cut Benitoite from Benitoite Gem Mine, San Benito Co.

Spessartine Garnet
Rough and cut Spessartine Garnet from different mines in San Diego Co.

Keeping in the Gem theme for a moment, I was very excited to meet one of my favourite gem cutters at the show - John Dyer, who is well known for his 'fantasy cut' gemstones. John was exhibiting for the first time at the TGMS show.

John and Lydia
John with his sister Lydia, who produces excellent photographs of the gemstones

There is usually a famous gemstone on display at this show, this year they had the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace. The Cullinan Diamond was the largest rough diamond ever found, weighing 3106 cts (621.2g). The Diamond was found in 1905 at the Premier Mine in South Africa. This necklace was created to commemorate the discovery of the rough. It is Edwardian in style with a detachable bow and dangling pendant - the pendant holds the Cullinan Blue Diamond which is an oval cut 2.6 ct rare blue Diamond. The necklace was gifted to the Smithsonian last year for their 100th anniversary.

Cullian Blue
The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace.

Back to minerals, it is always interesting to see how different people interpret the show's theme. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum chose to display specimens from other Californias - Baja Californian and Baja California Sur in Mexico.

Baja California and Baja California Sur Minerals

A very large Boleite from Santa Rosalia approx 2cm in size.

There were also many displays not on the Californian theme. There were two displays featuring the new Cuprites and Coppers from Rubtsovskoe in Russia.

Cuprite Russia
The latest Mineralogical Almanac magazine, and the specimen pictured on the front cover - A Cuprite from Rubtsovskoe, found in December 2010

Cuprite Russia
Some of the superb Cuprites found at Rubtsovskoe, Russia over the last 2 years.

This display entitled 'Twofers' had some particularly nice specimens - it was based on a variety of combination specimens where two species occur in the same specimen.

Twofers display

Smithsonite and Mimetite from Tsumeb

Epistilbite and Calcite from India

Sphalerite and Siderite from Les Rioux, France

Jolyon of and Jessica Simonoff presented an encouraging display - a selection of minerals for $10 or less which they had purchased within the last week from different shows in the Tucson area. Some were purchased at Keystone (50% discount) or double keystone (75%) rates. As their display stated - they hear complaints all the time that minerals are too expensive, and that beginners (and non-beginners) are not able to afford mineral specimens - with this display they hoped to show people that this was not necessarily true.

Jolyon of with his display of minerals for $10 or less.

Minerals under $10
Minerals for under $10

Jim Robison presented a particularly interesting case of Dolomite casts from Tsumeb, Namibia. The host rock of the Tsumeb mine is Dolomite, so it has often dissolved and recrystallised with changing geological conditions. The Dolomite may then form Epimorphs or casts. The complex mineralising fluids from which the Dolomite recrystallises contains other elements which effect the colour of the Dolomite.

Dolomite Casts
Dolomite casts (and other minerals) from Tsumeb.

Dolomite Casts
Dolomite casts, and the two green specimens on the right and left front are Cuprian Smithsonite pseudomorphs after Dolomite casts.

Dolomite Casts
Dolomite casts

A selection of the William's family Mineral Collection was on display at the show. The William's were an important family in the Cornwall area of England, which was a leader in mining during the 1700s. As mining entrepreneurs the Williams were able to acquire many fine specimens from the Cornish mines they managed, and they rank alongside the likes of Philip Rashleigh, and Joseph Carne, some of the greatest collectors in England. The collection was assembled over several generations between 1780 and 1890.  The collection features both Cornish minerals (strong in minerals from Wheal Gorland) and specimens from around the world such as Azurites from Chessy-les-Mines, France. The collection was moved to Caerhays Castle in 1863 and consisted around 14,000 specimens. Part of the collection was then donated to the Camborne School of Mines and to the Natural History Museum in London in the 1890s, and the rest retained by the family. The present day collection consists of approx 400 specimens, and 1600 miniatures, with labels styles indicating the specimens are from the 1860s to 1880s. The Collection was reinstated to display in 2008, having been previously stored in a number of locations around the castle since the 1890s. Minerals were discovered in several places including sets of drawers and the wine cellar. They are in fact still finding specimen squirrelled away today. No catalogue has been found yet. This display is the first time these minerals have been seen outside of the Castle since they were moved there almost 150 years ago.


Curators of the William's Family Collection Courtney Smale, and Megan Speed.


Part of the William's family display

Part of the William's family display, a particularly nice Bere Alston (Devon) Fluorite at front centre, and a large specimen with blue Connellite from Wheal Gorland on the middle left.

What is considered to be the largest composite Clinoclase specimen in the world, from Wheal Gorland, Cornwall. From the William's collection.

Siber and Siber

Siber and Siber of Switzerland presented a display of several excellent Smoky Quartz specimen collected in 2010 in the Giuv Valley near St. Gotthard, Switzerland. The most productive area in the Swiss Alps where the Quartz is found is between 8,000 and 12,000 ft elevation, so there is only a small time period during the year when the outcrops are free from snow, and the weather permits collecting. Andy from Siber and Siber and his lovely wife are pictured with the display.

Quartz Gwindel
Quartz Gwindel collected in 2010. This specimen has a rotation angle of almost 80 degrees, much higher than the norm of 10 to 30 degrees rotation in Gwindels.

Quartz Gwindel
Diagram of the Gwindel rotation.

Another excellent display on Quartz was about Quartz Twinning. This display won first place in the best advanced display.

Quartz Case
Quartz twinning

Quartz Case
Quartz twinning examples - Brazil Law on left, Dauphene Law on right.

Quartz Case
Japan Law Quartz twinning.

Quartz Case
Reichenstein-Grieserntal Law Twins

Another award winning case was from Brandy of The Vug, who won the best Novice display. Brandy's display was of metallic minerals.

Brandy's display

Cool Calcites
One display that was unofficially awarded the 'ugliest mineral' display was of Australia's Cool Calcite - Glendonites which are a Calcite pseudomorph after Ikaite.

And then there are the fun displays:

Agate with faces or pictures in them

I really liked this display of Famous Minerals from the Media for something a bit different.

Rock Hounds in TV

Rock Hounds in TV
The Blue Carbuncle from Sherlock Holmes, represented by a Sapphire, and Unobtanium from the movie Avatar, represented by Galena.

Next year's theme of the TGMS show will be Minerals of Arizona to commemorate the centennial of Arizona State.

Arizona Minerals
A taste of next year's display - Arizona Minerals from the Bob and Evan Jones collection.

On the Saturday night of the main show we attended the Banquet dinner and Awards ceremony. During the Tucson show we hosted a fund raising event at our house in association with a party we held. As part of the Awards Dona presented the funds we had raised (nearly $2600!) to the Tucson Police. The money is going towards the Special Olympics and the 100 Club (to benefit injured and killed officers and their families, in the line of duty).

Dona presents
Dona presents the funds raised to the Tucson police.

And a suprise for Wayne and Dona, they were congratulated for their 40 years in the business and awarded for their service to the business and their long running support of the TGMS show, with several bottles of Cristal Champagne.

Dona is awarded
Paul Harter presents Dona with the Champagne

Wayne and Cristal
Wayne, in his cowboy outfit, with the champage.

We were also proud and excited to see Jolyon Ralph being awarded the Mineralogical Society of America's 2011 Distinguished Public Service Medal for his superb work of his website - yeah Jolyon!!!

Jolyon giving his speech, which was the best speech of the night.

Jessica, Brandy and Jolyon
Jessica Simonoff with her award for the best article (in Mineral News magazine), Brandy Zzyzx with her award as best novice display (featured earlier in this report) and Jolyon with his award - congratulations to you all!

Another Tucson is over, and has flown by. Once again, it was wonderful to see all our mineral friends at the show, and we hope that those who couldn't make the show enjoyed reading our reports. Until next time we wish you happy collecting!

Author: Robin
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