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For the first few decades of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, dealers were known to save their best specimens to sell there and collectors came expecting to purchase from that select pool.  With the proliferation of satellite shows, some starting as early as mid-January, the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society (TGMS) Show Committee has been hearing people question the “freshness” of our dealers’ stock. We know that "it's only business"...dealers will sell where and when the money is available, and that buyers shop where they can get the best specimens, but we don’t like hearing “After two weeks of motel sales everything good has already been seen/sold, so why stick around for the TGMS Show?”  We recognize that having top quality dealers with top quality goods is as important as our exhibits, educational programs and social functions and we want to foster strong mineral business at our Show in the same spirit in which we’re upgrading our exhibits and overall layouts.  Buyers respond when they know they’re seeing fresh goods; witness the crowds waiting to get at the Minette Collection when Dawn Minette made debuting it at TGMS a term of the sale (Thanks Dawn!).  So, if someone outside TGMS can do this, then so can we, to the benefit of our dealers, buyers and the entire mineral collecting community.  The question remains how to dispel the doubts harbored by those who insist that backroom deals will always eat into set-backs and that all dealer claims of freshness are suspect.  


Enter “Certified Fresh for TGMS” (CFFT), a voluntary program that will verify that a certain amount of stock was set aside and left untouched until the TGMS Show.   The program has three levels of participation: 100% (TGMS Only), 50% (Certified Organic), and 20% (Healthful Choice). The dealer alone decides how much and what to set aside; on arrival in Tucson TGMS volunteers will go to the dealer, count the set-back flats and seal them with tamper-proof CFFT tape.  (TGMS is not certifying quality so we will not look in the flats.)  The same team will visit the dealer at set-up, verify that the right number of flats is present and that the seals are intact.  Assuming all is correct, the participating CFFT dealers will get a sign indicating their percentage of participation to display prominently on the case(s) where their CFFT goods are displayed.   To help buyers navigate directly to the things they know are new, TGMS also will highlight the participating dealers on signs in the lobby and make it possible to highlight CFFT in our advertising.

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2016 Grand Prize Giveaway

2016 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®

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18K Yellow gold Pendant with an Oval Sapphire surrounded by Diamonds on a 16" 14K Yellow gold chain. 

The drawing for this item will be held on Sunday, February 14th at 3:30 p.m. 

What a lovely Valentine Day present this would be for a very lucky person!

This pendant is from Millan Marketing (Booth: 2000 -2003)

Look for the Giveaway Booth at the north end of the Arena.  Bring your TGMS Show ticket stub and enter the drawing for the "Grand Prize."


While you are there,  enter your name for one of the other numerous "hourly" drawings that happen during the course of each day of the Show.  LOTS OF FUN!!!


THURSDAY, Feb. 11th ... 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00

FRIDAY, Feb. 12th ... 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00

SATURDAY, Feb. 13th ... 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00

SUNDAY, Feb. 14th ... 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 3:30 the “Grand Prize” drawing


A New and Promising Mineral Show

Mineral & Gem Asia 2015 in Hong Kong - A New and Promising Mineral Show

TGMS Member Post: Guenther Neumeier

Every time someone mentions the Chinese market for collector’s minerals or a mineral show held in China, a shudder goes through the crowd and everyone who has ever attended a mineral show in China comes up with a story about disasters and bad experience.  Even those who have never been to a mineral show in Mainland China contribute what they have heard through the grapevine or what they have seen published in magazines and/or on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Common challenges included unreliable shippers who demand extra pay for services they had already been paid for, incomplete or missing booth setups, missing merchandise on setup days, unfathomable legal obstacles with the customs and revenue office, inflexible bureaucrats with negotiable tax rates, and crowds of people pushing and shoving with resulting damaged mineral specimens.

It seems quite understandable that when word spread that a new mineral show for the huge Asian market is planned in Hong Kong, the reactions were largely those of reluctance: head shaking, indecision, wait and see attitudes. However, there were those with a “lets give it a(nother) try” attitude.

Photo by Mark Mauthner

Photo by Mark Mauthner

The show called Mineral & Gem Asia was organized by UBM Asia, a group that has been organizing gem and jewelry shows for over three decades.  UBM is the largest trade show organizer in the region and the largest commercial organizer in China, India and Malaysia.  The show was to be held overlapping with one of UBM’s big gem and jewelry shows in the city, the 28th June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair with over 2,200 exhibitors from 45 countries. It was planned to profit from crossover traffic, just like we see in Tucson, where people with GJX and AGTA badges wander the venues of the various mineral shows in Tucson

The gem and jewelry show was held in the downtown convention center, the futuristic looking building overlooking Victoria Harbor while the mineral show was held at the Asia-World Expo, the fairgrounds out at the airport.  The distance between the two venues was initially a major concern.  I was pretty concerned about this situation myself until I got to Hong Kong and found an extremely well organized, inexpensive, and easily understood public transport system with trains and double-decker busses, plus a shuttle bus between the two show venues on overlapping show days.  I personally preferred the double-decker bus departing from downtown which gave me and my fellow riders a great sightseeing tour every day while others chose the slightly faster subway.   I stayed in a hotel downtown while others preferred to stay at the airport Marriot, which is connected to the fairground by a pedestrian bridge.  Another issue that had to be considered is the time conflict with the St.-Marie-aux-Mines show; both are held on the same weekend.  The deliberate linkage of the Mineral & Gem Asia to the June gem and jewelry show makes a move of the Mineral & Gem Asia to a different date highly unlikely.

Construction crews assembled the exhibition stands in sweltering heat and high humidity quickly and on time. Dealers were able to move in and set up their merchandise as scheduled.  The lack of a value added tax as well as import/export duties in Hong Kong certainly helped to attract dealers.  All went well and was done professionally, as in a well-oiled machine.  Dealer registration on the morning of the setup day was well organized, no chaos, no lines, no problems.

Photo by Mark Mauthner

Photo by Mark Mauthner

A special exhibit, called the Treasure World Exhibit with 32 white, 18 by 18 inch pedestal jewelry cases were setup, and filled by foreign and local exhibitors: Two spectacular gold specimens from The Arkenstone (the Ausrox nugget and the Thunderbolt—both have been on exhibit at the TGMS), and several exceptional rhodochrosite specimens from Colorado, Zambian emeralds from the Kagem Mine and superb Pakistani specimens were provided by The Collector’s Edge.  Kristalle brought excellent gold specimens from California and a great display of Nevada opal.  Italian dealer Marco Tironi exhibited stunning Brazilian beauties, and German gem dealer Axel Henn from Idar-Oberstein set up what someone called the “Million Dollar Display”: Four display cases with two large agate cameos, a ruby carving in gold setting depicting a reclining Buddha, a necklace with “mandarin” garnet and diamonds, and finally, an almost 10 lbs. heavily rutilated quartz.  Superb Minerals from India put out zeolite minerals while local collector Sam Yung displayed a number of fine pieces from his personal mineral collection that included one case of large Tsumeb dioptase.

Christoph Keilmann, organizer of the Munich Show in Munich, Germany and his crew set up a stunning fossil display area with the a 65%-original T-Rex skeleton, the original fossil of the 11th Archaeopteryx and informative posters.  Both fossils, well traveled, had been on display at the Munich show in 2014, and the later has been on display in Tucson 2015 in the Red Gallery on Granada.  Italy-based fossil dealer Kieran Nature added two more large fossil skeletons.

A total of 105 mineral, fossil and gem (rough and cut stones as well as finished jewelry) dealers attended the Mineral & Gem Asia.  According to the show organizers, 80% of them where mineral and fossil dealers and the remaining 20% were gem dealers.  Obviously most were locally from Hong Kong (37) followed by US dealers (15) and dealers from various European countries (18).

Photo by Mark Mauthner

Photo by Mark Mauthner

The local club, The Mineralogy Society of Hong Kong, had large booth staffed with members answering questions about the society’s mission and a nice exhibit from some its members.  The club organized a scavenger hunt for visitors throughout the show, which was very well received, and manned an educational area for school children.


Photo by Mark Mauthner

Photo by Mark Mauthner

Education of the visitors was an important objective of the show.  A stage with a seating area was setup for talks given by four speakers from the US, one South African expat and one local geologist.  The unifying approach of the American talks was to give the local audience an understanding of Western mineral collecting philosophies in order to appreciate the specimens the dealers had on display.  Photographer Mark Mauthner’s well illustrated talk was on “Collecting Nature’s Finest Rarities: A North American Perspective”, Bryan Lees’ professional presentation was on “Collecting Gems and Minerals: Why are they so rare and valuable?”, Wayne Leicht invited the audience to “Step Into the World of Collecting Gold Specimens” and Monica Kitt, standing in for Rob Lavinsky, spoke on “Mineral Collecting: Chinese Minerals, collected in the Western Style”.  Local collector Dougal Pitt, from Hong Kong, introduced the audience to “Mineral Collecting by Hong Kong Hobbyists” which was, in my opinion, a great lesson for Western mineral dealers about the possibilities of the local market.  Geologist and gemologist Edward Liu’s talk, held in Cantonese language drew the biggest crowd.  However, it must be said that in general, all talks followed by lively discussions, were very well attended.

Which brings me to a concern about the show.  The attendance of the show was not as high as expected and business was not as brisk as one would have wished.  So what were the causes?  I think it is fair to say that for a first-time show it was reasonably well attended.  The local Mineralogy Society of Hong Kong has been organizing a small mineral show for almost a decade, but Mineral & Gem Asia was the first big mineral and fossil show with International attendance in Hong Kong.  Some alleged the less-than-expected attendance was the distance of the show venue to the city, others spoke of the ongoing anti-corruption campaigns in Mainland China that cautions potential buyers from there to travel to Hong Kong and spend their money—a sentiment that, by the way, is shared with the local luxury goods retail industry.

So what are the lessons to take home?

For the dealers: The dealers who participated in this first show have to be commended for their pioneering spirit.  It is expensive to send staff and merchandise around the world to a new show with an unknown outcome.  So I was very pleased to hear from the major mineral and gem dealers that they plan to come back next year and support this show, maybe even at the expense of mainland shows.  I also heard some dealers contemplating about bringing a different, bigger variety of specimens to the next show.

For the organizer:  We must support UBM to convince more foreign mineral dealers to participate in the show.  UBM is actively building up a database of customers and has offered to share the data with dealers for marketing purposes.  The cooperation with the local mineral society and collectors should be intensified to spread the word of the show.

There is always room for improvement, at any show in any country, and I am very optimistic about the future of the Mineral & Gem Asia. The staff of UBM was always around to address problems when they occurred.  Thanks to UBM’s proven track record of organizing trade shows, the logistics, the setup of the show and the marketing was very professional. Their staff was eager to hear feedback and opinions and I look forward not only to next year’s show but also to how they will have implemented the suggestions and recommendations to improve the show in 2016.

A Weekend Visit to the GIA!

Posted by TGMS Member: Paul Harter

As members of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society there are many opportunities for education, fun and camaraderie.  April 18, 2015 was one such opportunity.  For thirteen years the San Diego Gem and Mineral Society, in concert with the Gemological Institute of America, have co-hosted an annual symposium.  This year the theme was “opal,” but before I get to the theme, let’s take a short journey.

The symposium is hosted by the GIA at its facility in Carlsbad, California  This is an easy drive for those of us living in Arizona.  In my case Marilyn and I took the opportunity to visit with friends along the way.  One of the pleasures of this great hobby is becoming friends with folks around the world.  On the road from Phoenix/Tucson to Carlsbad one might visit with the many show dealers in the Fallbrook area or Laguna Beach.  Each of us should be ambassadors for TGMS and reach out to those who support our Show.  I know the effort is appreciated.  Dinner on Friday night overlooking the Pacific Ocean is always a pleasant experience.  But, Saturday morning beckons and there is a short drive to the GIA.

The GIA campus in Carlsbad is stunningly beautiful as its back lawn overlooks the Pacific.  A cool breeze is always welcome to those of us living in the Sonoran Desert.  The exhibits inside are stunning and give you the opportunity to see spectacular gems and jewelry.  Saturday was no different.  The co-hosts serve a continental style breakfast which gives everyone a chance to renew friendships and say “good morning” to all.  Then it is time to walk upstairs to the lecture room.

Wow, what a speaker line-up.  The list read like a who’s who.  Speakers from all corners of the earth.  The first was Eloise Gaillou from the Paris School of Mines, followed by Andrew Cody noted author on opal and director of the National Opal Collection in Australia, Raquel Alonso-Perez curator of the Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum, Jack Hobart and Bill Larson got us to lunch.  Each speaker shared knowledge and information regarding this most beautiful gem.  The programs included historical information, scientific information and a thorough discussion of why some opal (common opal) does not show flashes of color while others do.  One true highlight of this symposium is Bill Larson and his entire family sharing with each of us items from their collection.  Indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity to see so many beautiful opal specimens and pieces of jewelry.

A delightful lunch and a second opportunity to eat outside and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific.  Balboa certainly had it correct, from a distance the view is as peaceful as one could ever hope for.  Lunch afforded me two opportunities: to visit with Andrew Cody and learn more about opal from Australia and to visit with Carl Larson about his time in Paris.  Fortunately the day was not yet concluded.

Arizona Blue Opal

Arizona Blue Opal

After lunch, Alan Hart from the Natural History Museum in London regaled the audience with some priceless humor, but also insight into his museum’s collection of opal.  Several other presentations occurred, including photography tips from Robert Weldon and the Symposium concluded with George Rossman from Cal Tech talking about color in opal.  His talk was amazing in that he took an incredibly complex topic and was able to distil same to information which was readily understandable.  I might also add that Helen Serras-Herman, who is known to many of us, gave a superb presentation on Common Opal, including a reference to blue opal from Arizona.  I know I have not mentioned every presenter.  For those I missed, please accept my apology.  Your presentations were as significant as those I have mentioned.

Then off to King’s for one last seafood dinner.  This has become a tradition which is hard to top, including a long, tall Mojito.  Again outside, cool breeze and looking at an entire hillside of ranunculus in full bloom.  If you have time, stop by the gardens to see acres of these flowers in all their glory, including an American flag that must have been 200’ by 100’ in its magnificent red, white and blue.  

Sunday morning arrives, the car is packed, but one last stop before heading home, the Carlsbad Strawberry fields to purchase a lug of berries picked that morning.  They never sell day old berries, so these are the freshest, sweetest berries you could ever hope to eat.  A great weekend filled with friendship and education.  Next year’s symposium will focus on sapphire, I cannot wait.  As a closing thought I again encourage TGMS members to be ambassadors for not only the Society, but also the Show it presents.  Many of the folks who work tirelessly to present the Symposium are also participants, exhibitors and dealers at our Show.  We should show not only our support to these folks but also our appreciation for their support of TGMS.  Hopefully each of you will make plans to attend this Symposium.



"Limited Budget ... Unlimited Pleasure"

TGMS Member Post:  Jerry and Mary Glazman

As docents at both the TGMS Show and at the University of Arizona Mineral Museum, we have heard from a lot of parents and grandparents that their child/grandchild was interested in collecting rocks but everything that they saw was so expensive.  How could they encourage the child and not spend a fortune?  We were reminded of the first TGMS Show we ever attended which had a case displaying a collection of minerals that had been purchased at the shows for an average price of $10 each.  At the 2014 Show, we made the mistake (?) of asking, during the Docent meeting, why there wasn't a display case like that anymore.  Everyone thought it had been a really good display case, but since the person who did it was no longer doing it, we were asked 'why don't you do it.”  We could think of lots of reasons why we couldn't, like we had never put together a display case of minerals and had no idea how to go about it.  

But the seed had been planted.  So we spoke to Pat and Rose about the mechanics of entering a case at the Show. “Sure, just send us an email indicating interest and we will get the material to you for the 2015 Show.”  During the 2014 Show we made a point of checking out exhibits to see what could be put in various sized display cases and get an idea of what worked to make a display interesting and appealing.  We also checked out vendors to see what quality specimens we could find for around $10 per piece.  It didn't take long for our original concept of 10 or 12 inexpensive specimens and some text to morph into the idea of a display of inexpensive mineral specimens someone could buy plus examples of minerals we had self collected.  We could include some rockhound guidebooks as well as a pitch to join a rock and gem club reinforced by specimens we had won at club raffles and free give-aways.  So we put in our application for a display case.  We weren't sure we would have enough quality material to fill a four foot case but anything smaller was definitely too small. 

One of the biggest problems was coming up with a good title for the exhibit.  We kept coming up with things like “Collecting on a Shoe String” or “Collecting on a Budget” and those just didn't have the right tone.  It was literally the last minute for submitting the application for our case – everything on the form had been filled in except for the title - then we came up with “Limited Budget...Unlimited Pleasure.”

Once we had received notice that our application had been accepted, we continued to plan the case.  Then about a month before the show, we received an e-mail that all the four foot cases were needed for the competitive exhibits and only 30” cases were available.  We thought about what we could leave out of our planned exhibit.

However, the next day we received an e-mail that there was a pair of six foot high, three foot wide cases that had been set up at the bottom of the ramp going into the Arena at the 2014 Show.  If we wanted, we could have one of these cases.  We asked around but no one could remember exactly what those cases looked like.  Then Ken Don found a photograph of one of the cases and someone else remembered that the cases had come from Tucson Store Fixtures.  Sure enough, on the Tucson Store Fixtures web site was a picture of a “fiber optic” case that matched Ken's photo, It was 81” tall, 40” wide, with three glass shelves plus a base, fully wired with built in lights.  It was a beautiful case with curved glass doors front and back and glass on both sides.  Yikes!  In less than a day we had gone from a four foot wide case with glass on one side to about 12 linear feet of shelf space visible from four sides.  Did we even have enough quality material to display?  Glass shelves … we would need stands and things to display the minerals and protect the glass shelves plus label holders so people could read labels on higher shelves. 

A frantic month was spent in going though 30 years of self-collected minerals.  A lot of “why did I ever collect that?” stuff was disposed of, so it actually was a good thing.  Then the early shows opened and we needed to purchase the inexpensive minerals to be displayed. We planned to purchase as many as possible from vendors who would be at the TGMS Show. Armed with the show guides, we attacked the early shows.  Our original intent was to buy 10 to 12 small, quality mineral specimens at an average price of $10 or less. Enthusiasm did overcome judgment in a few cases (we kept finding things we really wanted for our collection) and ended up with 16 minerals at a total price of $158.91 meeting our goal of an average cost of under $10 a specimen. The least expensive was $3.00 and the most expensive was $25.00.

And then it was the day before the Show opened.  Set up hours were noon to 6 PM.  We planned to get there around 1 PM so vendors and exhibitors who knew what they were doing wouldn't be held up by us newbies checking in.  First problem.  We couldn't find our case. It wasn't in the Arena where it was supposed to be. It took about an hour to locate the case still out in the unloading area and still wrapped in plastic, then get it set up in the Arena.  While setting up the case, we were pleasantly surprised by the spirit of friendliness and co-operation between the vendors.  If someone needed scissors, a paper cutter, glass cleaner or whatever, no problem, someone else had it and shared.  Fortunately, loading the case didn't take as long as we had expected because at 6 PM we needed to be at the docent orientation meeting with Ellen Alexander.

The top shelf was too high to see anything laid flat on it so we put an assortment of books – rockhounding site guides, a BLM map, a mineral identification book – stood up so the covers could be read.

The second from the top shelf was the right height to see mineral specimens and that's where we put the 16 specimens we had bought. Specimens ranged from good sized chunks of Amethyst and Celestite geodes to a thumbnail sized Dioptase from Tsumeb.  Most specimens averaged one to two inches in size and included a Quartz cluster from Mt, Ida, a Quartz scepter from the Spruce claim, a Pyrite from Navajones, an Azurite from Copper Basin, a Pakistani Aquamarine, a Cavansite, and a Crocoite to mention a few. 

On the third shelf we put mostly smaller self-collected minerals and specimens won at club raffles and free give-aways.  These included Garnets from Montana, Peridot from San Carlos, Arizona, Sapphires (with examples of as found, after heat treatment, and heat treated and faceted), as found and polished Turquoise collected on a TGMS field trip to Nevada, Chrysocolla, Jasper and Carnelian, and some geodes, to name a few.  Minerals that could be cabbed or otherwise polished, we tried to display both the rough as collected and finished cabbed or polished pieces. 

On the bottom shelf we placed big, heavy specimens, like a large piece of petrified wood, a chunk of Golden Barite, a chunk of Blue Fluorite with Barite, a chunk of Arizona Blue Opal, and a yard rock with Calcite on Chrysocolla collected on a field trip to the Mission Mine, to show that it's OK to collect rocks that are just “pretty rocks” that catch your eye.  On the sides of the case, we displayed a few of the photographs that we had taken on club field trips.

Would we do it again next year if we have the chance?  You bet!! We learned a lot this year and are already planning how we can do it better.

Photos by: Jerry and Mary Glazman

" .... is better than Disney World!!"

Back in October of 2014, we received an email from Anne Cowin.  In her email she told us that her nine year old son was VERY interested in "gems and minerals."  She and her husband were going to surprise their young son for his birthday by flying from Alabama to Arizona just to attend the 2015 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show ®.  As a matter of fact, it would be the first time for the entire family!

Diane meeting with Chip, along with his Mom & Dad.

Diane meeting with Chip, along with his Mom & Dad.

Rose Marques, TGMS Executive Assistant,  answered the initial email with as much information that she could give...  days, times, what will be on exhibit, information on the Dealers and especially information on the Junior Education area.  Rose told them that we would have tickets for them and something special for the "birthday boy!"  They would be introduced to our President, Diane Braswell, who would meet with them and introduce them to the "greatest show on earth!"  Armed with all of that, they were even more excited!

After a couple of email conversations with Diane and Rose, the plans were set for the Cowins to come to the TCC Show Office and meet with Diane.  Once they arrived, she presented Chip with a "gift" bag from TGMS, wished him "Happy Birthday" and told him to have fun at the Show.

   Chip beginning to look at some of the wonderful gifts that TGMS gave him for his birthday.

  Chip beginning to look at some of the wonderful gifts that TGMS gave him for his birthday.

The following is from Chip in his own words:

“In my opinion the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® is much better than Disney World!   I like rocks and minerals ALOT and it makes it really fun!  But then it was my birthday and I thought my parents were taking me to Disney World but then my parents showed up at school and checked me out and I didn’t know where I was going … but there was a taxi waiting and then my mom said where do you think you are going … and I saw the picture of the rock and mineral show and the ad my mom had printed ... and we headed to the airport - it was awesome!!  My favorite parts of  the gem and mineral show were the people who gave my mom, my dad and me free tickets to the show and a gift bag!  I loved the college students that had experiments and gave out free rocks - and looking at rocks under a microscope.  In my opinion the Tucson Rock and Mineral Show is better than Disney world!  We purchased some very special things for my collection including a Megaladon Tooth!  I really want to go back next year!!!”

From Sweden to Tucson and Back!

TGMS Member Post by: John Callahan

In 2007, TGMS members Kathy and John were asked to host a Swedish couple for the 2-3 weeks of the Tucson Gem and Mineral extravaganza. But what if they didn’t speak English, drank too much, or hollered at each other? What if they wouldn’t care for John’s jokes or his cooking? No worries. That initial visit went so well that Lena and Urban have returned multiple times to enjoy Tucson weather and hospitality. Anxious to reciprocate, the Swedish couple invited their Tucson hosts for a summer visit to Sweden. A most spectacular and educational tour it was. The Swedish excursion included an authentic Ikea viewing and even mineral collecting (Zinkgruvan and Långban Mines). Lifelong friendships were established, with credit given to the attraction of the January-February Mineral Show here in Tucson.

Situated near Lake Långban, written records of the Långban Mine date back to 1667, operating until 1972. The mine is known for the variety and uniqueness of minerals with 260 species and 60 type species.

Urban Strand attends TGMS meetings when in Tucson. He is a coauthor of Långban, The Mines, Their Minerals, Geology and Explorers. Urban contributes his time and energy to the mineral collection at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. And he has a jaw dropping systematic/eclectic mineral collection (relegated by Lena to their basement).


Shades of Blue: Minerals of the World

TGMS Member Post by: Dr. Peter Megaw, Special & Guest Exhibits Chair

Our 2016 Theme of "Shades of Blue: Minerals of the World" is a bit of a detour from our traditional mineral species/groups and locality themes; perhaps most akin to Mineral Oddities and Fluorescent Minerals in the sense that it transcends obvious pigeonholes and leaves a lot up to the exhibitors imaginations.  It is hard (impossible??? that's a challenge) to think of a mineral group that does not have a blue member: zeolites have cavansite; native elements have blue diamonds; sulfides have covellite, halides have halite, silver minerals have boleite, and the silicates, carbonates and oxides have myriad examples ... and that's before we start talking inclusions and trace element coloration.  And of course there are species that fluoresce blue.  Arizona is of course exceptionally endowed with blue minerals and is the type locality for several copper oxide species whose color rivals our skies on a summer's day.  I would wager that a high percentage of TGMS field trips over the years featured blue minerals
This theme should draw some really fun ... and visually spectacular exhibits ... and I am already (!) getting requests for focus cases from museums and folks who really want to play along.  Start conjuring up images of a case littered with top color Yogo Sapphires, rows of azurites from Arizona localities, and aquamarines in every shade of blue imaginable.  Might also be fun to bring the musical Blues to our show, drawing in folks who might not otherwise come to our show.  Chicago Blues, New Orleans Blues, Texas Blues and Delta Blues are well known ... why not Tucson Blues?  Hey, maybe B.B. King could shoot his next album cover in front of a case of Arizona azurite?

Aurichalcite and Hemimorphite_0277-284.jpg

This theme should also be perfect for TGMS members to play to!  And in case you didn't notice, we established the Bill and Millie Schupp Trophy this year for the best exhibit put in by a TGMS member, and FM has an award for the best Educational exhibit (why is the sky ... and azurite ... blue?) so there's good potential for recognition of your efforts.  Both guest and competitive cases qualify for both ... and it sure would be fun if a TGMS cooperative group-shoot case won! (As I said last RT ... I'll put in a rock or two if someone wants to organize this case ... Wayne might even agree to line it!) 

So mark your calendars, check out your azurites, crank up BB on the stereo and get ready to volunteer to get the "blues" as soon as the lists go out! 

Photos by: Mark Mauthner and Ken Don 

Fossil Collecting

TGMS Member Post by:  Dick Gottfried


Ever since I was a kid I have enjoyed fossil collecting.  I guess I was a frustrated marine biologist. Everyone who majored in biology in college either wanted to be a marine biologist or get into med school.  The problem was that there weren’t enough marine jobs to go around, and since I had flunked out in my freshman year (having too much fun, but that’s a tall tale for another time), med school was out of the question.  I enjoyed collecting and studying biological specimens, but keeping them in bottles of formaldehyde around the house wasn’t of interest to me.  Kinda reminded me of the Frank Zappa song Lets Make the Water Turn Black,  (“...and all the while on a shelf in the shed, Kenny’s little creatures on display!”).

I’ve always enjoyed collecting rocks and minerals, and I discovered fossils when I was about 10 years old. That interest never went away.  Paleontology, or the study of fossils, is actually the study of any thing that ever lived on Earth, at any time, since the beginning of life.  Quite a wide field!  There are over 10 million animals and plants alive today, and many, many times more that have lived and gone extinct in the past.

I’d like to talk about a starfish that I have just identified that I had found in Missouri.  Missouri used to be at the bottom of the ocean, called the Kaskaskia Sea during the Mississippian Period (359 – 323 million years ago).  This specimen was found in a formation called the Fern Glen (Lower Mississippian), which is a reddish limestone, containing horn corals, brachiopods, fish teeth, crinoid columnals, trilobites, and a unique bryozoan known as Evactinopora radiata. 

This is a star-shaped bryozoan that can have from 3 to 12+ blade-like “arms”.  The specimens shown are actually the bottoms of the “star” which rested on the sea floor, with the arms upright.  These are colonies.  The bryozoan animal is a filter-feeder that lives in holes in the blades.

These animals were either surface collected, or screened by taking home a bucket of mud and washing it until the specimens could be picked out with a forceps.  Surface collecting was difficult since the reddish mud coated the specimens, making them hard to differentiate from the matrix.  Washing a bucket of mud was much more productive, and every other fossil type could also be found.

These animals look like starfish but are not.  Starfish have not been found in the Fern Glen Formation. 

Last month a friend of mine loaned me his digital microscope to play with and evaluate. One of my Evactinopora specimens never really looked right to me. Using this microscope, I was able to take the following pictures at approximately 250X:

This is not a bryozoan, but a starfish, probably Protopaleoaster sp.  This genus is known from the Ordovician Period (485 – 442 million years ago) but has never been found in the Fern Glen.  That is part of the fun of fossil hunting  --  you can find really cool fossils, and sometimes come up with a species new to science.


First Visit to the TGMS Show!

Guest Post by: Dr. Terry Wallace

United Way of Northern New Mexico donors visit TGMS!

 Last fall during the United Way of Northern New Mexico campaign to raise funds for services and programs there was a silent auction of donated gift packages.  One of these “gift packs” was the ultimate rock hound’s dream – a behind the scenes tour of the World’s Greatest Mineral experience, the 61st Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®.  Three employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory banded together to bid on, and win, a chance to see the up close and personal the amazing exhibits from across the globe that included a 8 pound brilliant gold nugget, aka the “Thunderbolt”, priceless jewels from the Smithsonian Institution including an art deco bracelet that dazzles with 626 diamonds and hundreds of other colored gems, and fossils hinting about a time in the distant past when the Earth was ruled by giant dinosaurs.


 Carolyn Zerkel, Allison Grieggs and Peggy Gonzales traveled to Tucson to experience the extraordinary festival of all things “Earth” and got the chance for a personal preview of the exhibits at the Tucson Convention Center with a former Tucson Gem and Mineral Society member – and past TGMS Show Chairman – Terry Wallace, who now lives in Los Alamos, NM.  Although all the Tucson travelers knew of the world famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, they had never attended one before.  The overwhelming response was one of amazement: the exhibits, and student programs, the outstanding talks, and of course, the dealers!  Carolyn Zerkel spoke for the group -- "best Untied Way auction item ever!"