Welcome to the Denver Gem and Mineral Show!

September 10-12     What an Arduous Drive!    This was worse than the drive to the Tucson Show in February, road construction all the way over on Highway 50, all together it was a long twenty-four hours of driving time.  We planned to take a break and dig some spessartine garnet at Garnet Hill in Ely, Nevada but were rained out by the summer monsoon.

September 13-14  Show set-up days  Supposedly quiet time to get all of the cases and displays set up before the show officially opens on the 15th, but its not working out that way.  The first customer let herself in with the cleaning lady, and the floodgates were opened! A very good first couple of days.  Went across the street to the Best Western Inn to have excellent Vietnamese take out for dinner with our most productive South East Asia supplier, we left stuffed and broke!  Very nice color change garnets; Burma rubies, zircon, and ruby spinel;  and a couple of the new Indian alexandrites, small stones with a nice color change. 

September 15
Scouring the halls of the Holiday Inn show for something new and different, but nothing earth shattering yet :(  Many of the foreign dealers have not yet arrived,  Hurricane Floyd is raising havoc with many of the flights from the southern hemisphere because Miami is a major hub.  Some of the unlucky travelers arrived in time for the show but their displays did not,  one poor guy resorted to laying out white hotel towels and just arranging some of his stones on the counter top.

We were able to secure a deal for some very nice Russian Demantoid Garnets (that included a 2 carat stone at a most reasonable price), and now will be able to offer excellent demantoids with quality cutting at reasonable prices for at least a couple of years through this arrangement.  Of course the finer chrome green stones will still be very hard to find, but matched pairs are now not only possible, they will be accessible in a range of sizes from 3 to 6mm in rounds, cushions, and some ovals.
Some new acquisitions are a very unique strawberry quartz cabochon (beautiful hematite inclusions) with a  "cats eye" effect (a slight purple "eye" of amethyst appears to float across the surface of the cab); earring pairs of awesome colored chrome diopside round cabochons, lots of wonderful little carved moonstones and labradorite, carved ruby spinel, nice small alexandrite, trapiche emerald, colorless and other unique tourmaline, and a couple of nice star sapphire from Madagascar.

From our friends in San Leandro, just down the highway from us back in California, we acquired a beautiful huge slice of Iris agate (12") from Brazil; Iris agate, when backlit in a display shows a pastel rainbow iridescence that is quite stunning.  Hope to have a picture of the this one up soon.

We just returned to the hotel and were greeted by a package with a nice batch of benitoites from one of our cutters, there are about eleven stones total including three stones over one carat each!

September 16
The International Gem and Jewelry Show opened this afternoon at the Pavilion Hall of the Denver Merchandise Mart.  Many dealers are still missing from the show due to delayed flights.  Finally something new and interesting to report:  In the gravels of the new sapphire deposit in southern Madagascar there are reports of alexandrite being found,  obviously not just rumors, as I was shown two enormous and clean pieces of alexandrite rough that weighed approximately twenty carats each !!  They had a reeeeally good feeling in the palm of my hand!  This deposit is also producing some excellent pink and ceylon blue sapphires in the one to three carat range.  Also of note are emeralds from the old established deposit in Bahia State in Brazil.  There were two different dealers who had very lively stones with excellent rich color in small rounds and ovals up to 3/4 carat, ranging in price from 250-800/ct.  After looking past the wonderful quality of the stones themselves you notice the excellent cutting.  These stones are being cut in Brazil on modern faceting machines and all had diamond cut bottoms with excellent proportions.

Drusy gems and designer carved cabs are still all the rage,  with about one fifth of all dealers present having at least a portion of their display dedicated to these uniquely cut or one of a kind gems.  Anything natural that will stand up to the vibration during polishing and durable enough to be set in jewelry pieces is fair game!  New experiments in the drusy gem realm are pyrite crystals in a hard dark gray shale, dark green clinochlore (flat lying crystals with the appearance of sequins),  anything showing small quartz crystals in vugs or cavitites.  Designers are moving beyond the two dimensional "flat" drusy cabs to three dimensional artistic displays of nature's variety.  Definitely not the wares of the mainstream mall jewelers!!

September 17
The flood of rose colored "rubellite" tourmaline continues unabated from Nigeria.  This deposit has flooded the market with very large, clean tourmalines of an light pinkish purple to a smoky plum colored tourmaline that isn't really a rubellite, but I guess if its reddish in color, the rubellite moniker will help it sell.  The price on this material continues to plummet, with some dealers now asking only 12.00/carat for finished stones from 2-3 carats.  We had a Nigerian mine partner in our room lay out literally 25 kilos (over fifty pounds) of rough on a white towel on the floor while he explained to us how there was no more production and the miners are leaving the area.  Good story, but another stone dealer waited at the door with an even heavier backpack full of large crystals (some of the finished stones could be over a hundred carats).  The asking price for the rough material is now only $10/gram to pick from the lot.
September 18-19
The civil war in the Congo does not appear to have interrupted the supply of malachite for Shaba Province.  Large polished pieces are still inexpensive and plentiful and the smaller specimens, rough, and carvings are ubiquitous throughout the show.  Lapis from Afghanistan is still plentiful as well, though not the good value that it was in the early '90s when the production was much higher.

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New Gemstones for the Virtual Show