I've been avoiding it for years but I finally did it...I made it to the Tuscon gem shows. I've actually dreamed about going for a very long time but, yes, avoided it...you know why. I have very little will power when it comes to pretty rocks!
Warning: this is a long post but it's mostly eye candy.
So...yeah. I made quite a haul. This is what 20 pounds of stones and beads looks like. (Btw...that crazy quilt in the background was made by my great-grandma. It's in amazingly good shape. Love!)
Wanna see a peek of what I got?
There was one, and only one, booth that was a "must visit" for me...Gary B. Wilson. Wow. The guy's booth just sucked us right in and held us hostage! This is what happened when the girls took me to Gary's...
I tried to kiss Diane right on the lips, I was so happy, but she wasn't having any of it! ahaha!
Not really, but this is really what I felt like when I saw Gary's goodies.
These polished varascite nuggets...with tons of matrix...are my very, very favorite find. I've never seen anything like them. I've hung them over my bench where I can drool and dream over them, every day.
I picked up some gorgeous, faceted chrysoprase, from a different vendor, thinking they may come in handy.
Just for anther option...I picked up these chrysoprase rondelles, as well. Lots of possibilities...if I can bring myself to use those nuggets!
But, back to Gary's booth... These lovely stones are fascinating. I thought I wanted some fordite but when I saw the leland blue, I found a new obsession. Leland blue is actually industrial waste from the pre-1900 iron foundries of Michigan. The by-product from the smelting process was dumped into Lake Michigan creating this unique "foundry glass" slag. The stones wash up on the beach of the lake and are collected, cut and polished into the loveliness that you see here. I was told, by Gary, that the white is from the flux that was used in the process and the black is from ash. This stuff is found in all shades of blue with interesting "inclusions" that make for, I think, some gorgeous pieces of jewelry.
This one was from a different vendor and he called it "Swedish blue." So, I'm not sure where it came from but probably Lake Michigan.
UPDATE: I've been told by one of my sweet readers that there is, indeed, such a thing as Swedish blue. Here's what Maneki says: "...it's blue slag from Sweden, but it's possible it has a different meaning in the US. Similar to leland blue, it's slag from the old foundries in Bergslagen. In swedish we call it Bergslagssten." So interesting! Thank you, Maneki!
Back to Gary. Another favorite find from him was this Oregon Holly blue agate. It's found only in one place, in Oregon. The picking area has been closed to the public for quite a long time, now, so there is a limited amount of this stuff available.
I picked up this sweet little dome of petrified tree fern...
...this fossilized Ohio coral...with little bits of sparkly drusy...
...and speaking of drusy...drusy quartz, anyone?
...maybe a little bubble chalcedony?
I fell hard for this spear of garnet crystals on quartz. Wouldn't you?
Even the tiniest of Gary's gems were gorgeous...ocean jasper, yum.
And then there was this... I got really, really stuck at the tray of variscite. I'm seriously obsessed with it.
If I'd made it to the turquoise tray, you'd be seeing turquoise cabs, as well. But, like I said, I got stuck at the variscite. Turquoise, next time!
And then, this happened. Just when I thought I would escape Gary's booth with my life still intact, I spotted this boulder opal cab. Who, I ask, could resist this thing?
But that's not all. That was just the first booth!
Across the way from Gary, I spotted these.
Just look at the variety in these stones. I'm not even sure what all stuff is in there...tourmaline crystals, mica, a chunk or two of garnet...just lots of amazingness.
Oh, yeah...and some drusy. Again.
And then there was this vendor...let's just call him Swiss Guy. Swiss Guy had some cool goods, as well, like this black tourmaline...
...and this pink tourmaline.
Swiss Guy had this fine, faceted sodalite. I just couldn't resist it.
Oh, and another of my favorite finds...owyhee Oregon opal.
This looks, to me, like some kind of cracked-open, petrified, alien egg. Thank you, Swiss Guy!
Then there were some various, miscellaneous finds from here and there. These, I think, are amazonite and then there are some chrysoprase and aquamarine cabs.
Lovely, tiny ammonites. These have been very hard for me to find in the tiny size.
These rutilated quartz cabs made my heart go pitter-patter.
And this drusy kyanite cab...it was hard to capture the rugged beauty of it.
Just for a little bling, I picked up these lovely rhinestone embedded pearls. I'll have some of these for sale at my Boots & Bliss class.
Ummmmm....did someone say "drusy?"
Then we ran across Sona's booth. These umba sapphires were just too gorgeous and precious to pass. Love the faceted rubies, too.
I spent quite a lot of time with the kind and helpful Sona folks. What I liked about them was not just the quality of their gemstones, but the fact that they knew what they were talking about. I picked up some wonderful things there, like these faceted, rutilated quartz beads...
...and this super pretty tourmaline slices...
...and these amazing solar quartz, stalactite slices. I'm not sure what I'll do with these but, I like slices.
Aquamarine brio chunks...oh, how I adore you.
Fave...drusy aquamarine slabs. A chant began in my head when I saw these: rings...rings...rings... This is Santa Maria aquamarine, from Brazil. I love the rough chunkiness of it and the incredible mossy blue.
Finally, we were able to tear away from Sona, only to be distracted by a vendor called Kia. Kia had some fabulous things...mostly rough and tumble, the way I like it...like these grossular garnet chunks.
Again, with the chunky. Again, with the chant...rings...
Miss Kia had some really unique things like these strands of vesuvianite...
...and this strand of rough ruby. So now I've circled around to the beginning. Sort of. I actually have a few things I didn't photograph...some turquoise cabs, some little star ruby cabs, probably some more drusy in there somewhere. But this is the bulk of it.
Can you tell that I had a sublime shopping experience? Now, it seems, I have some rings and other things to create!