Changsha Mineral Show Report 4

20 May 2013

Day 3 (Sat 18th May)

Thunderstorms during the night which has cooled it off a bit, but the forecast is for 90 degrees by Wednesday – hot and humid is not my favorite.

One thing that has really shocked me about the show – the theft rate is pretty high. Anything that is left laying around will be gone in a few seconds – phones, briefcases, bags, calculators – whatever.  We have not had any theft but we keep hearing about it throughout the show.

Lois and I are a constant source for photographs – I think it is the blond hair and western clothes and carefree attitude that attracts them – now if only they would buy something!!  And they are completely fascinated with Wayne’s beard.

But alas – even our super saleswoman, Lois, cannot part them from their RMB.  I can’t remember the last time we had such a poor show.  We’ve sold a few small inexpensive things and the big golds we saved for this show are a big hit and have been photographed a million times at least and people come especially to see them after they were featured on the front page of the newspaper and on every TV station.  Even the Mayor of Hunan Province had a look at them.

Lois Nelson and the Mayor of Hunan Province
Lois shows the Mayor of Hunan Province the spectacular Golds

Another interview
Another interview with Wayne and Dona

Each day brings a new set of rules and regulations and various agencies with over the top bills for doing practically nothing – in a terrific shouting match I got the fee for delivery the boxes from the airport down to $500 instead of the $1,600 they wanted.  I am now known as the crazy American lady in booth 4. And there was mutiny on the gem floor – over a dozen dealers pulled the plug and left by Saturday morning.

When the wall of the booth on one side fell off we all looked at each other thinking “have we had enough?” – and I’m still in a struggle with the booth builder – he doesn’t think a wall falling down is a matter of concern.

And the wall came tumbling down!

There are some success stories - K.C., Superb Minerals, from India sold out as well as another Indian dealer – fossils are continuously being packed up and I see big specimens being rolled out.  It is all about BIG.  The booth across the aisle from us, Minerama of France, had full shelves at the beginning of the show but I see those same shelves being emptied rapidly.

10 foot tall Aragonite specimen
A ten foot tall Aragonite specimen

Closeup of the Aragonite
Closeup of the Aragonite

That evening Wayne and I and the others they consider as “VIP’s” were invited to a special dinner at a private club with the show organizers and also some high-powered local collectors (so high-powered they don’t show up at the show I guess).  The usual round table was always being filled with local dishes and the lazy susan was going round and round – turtle was good, fish, beef, pork, seaweed, the hottest little chicken feet and on and on – I stopped the twirl several times at the sashimi and I was a happy camper.  That dinner was about four hours and by 11:30 we were tucked into our beds.  Long day since the show was open from 9 to 8.

Table set for the VIP dinner

Dinner Time!

Sashimi mmmmmm

Day 4 (Sunday 19th May)

Another public day and the photographs never end.  Echo, our girl Friday here, says she hears clicking noises in her sleep.

Always a crowd in the booth
Always a crowd - Lois on the far right

Most of the foreign collectors have left – Bryan Lees and Marcus Budil left today, but Bob Haag just got in and he sold one of his big meteorites.  Joel Bartsch, Johannes Keilmann, Toby Weise, Bill and Will Larson, Brice Gobin, Pete Larson have all headed home.  Most of the gem people who were here for the ICA conference held in conjunction with the show are gone as well.

Sold another couple of small specimens but nothing that will make a dent in the debt surrounding this show for us.

The situation with the tariffs and customs goes on – they are trying anything from 38% to 50% depending on what is sold and how they classify you.  One agent said that our tanzanite crystals should be considered a gemstone – it was another battle to explain they were not gemstones until they were cut and polished.  At this point we just sit back, watch the passing parade, chuckle at how unsuccessful we are, and open another bottle of wine.

Bird's eye view of the Kristalle booth
Lots of people at the booth

The hotel finally opened the ‘bar’ which is great for hanging out EXCEPT, you can only get a beer.  White wine? No – Bourbon? No – Gin? No – Scotch? No – so we continue with our own supply and the Aussies have even gone out and bought two cases of beer!

I roamed around this huge complex for some photos and found some incredible things:  a 102 carat tanzanite set into a pendant with diamonds for over half a million dollars, a $13,000,000 strand of imperial jade, a stibnite specimen about 6’ tall, Chinese crinoids about the size of a small room, and that strange thing they were building on the first day turned out to be the special display of opal replacements by our dear friends, Damien and Andrew Cody of Cody Opals.

Stibnite specimen
A 6 foot tall Stibnite specimen

Entrance to the Opal display
Entrance to the Opal exhibit

Since there really was no rush in the buying department of our booth I left the show (open until 7 pm today) early to finish this report.  I would have loved to post a few photos everyday on Facebook, but that is blocked here, as well as CNN, the New York Times, Twitter, You-Tube, USA Today and more.  The young people, however, are very curious and want to practice their English and always ask about life in the United States.

Monday is our last day and we will pack up early and divide our specimens – those that go with us to Tokyo, those that will be shipped back to Laguna Beach, which brings up a whole new set of rules and regulations about shipping.  To import the specimens we had to supply name, size dimensions, weight, country of origin and FULL retail value.  They will compare these imported items with those being exported.  Tune in for the results of this go-around.

Author: D
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