April 2015 Newsletter
Table of Contents
Shows and Events
- Thirteenth Annual Sinkankas Symposium – Opal – April 18, 2015
- Arusha Gem Fair 2015: April 21–23
- Houston Fine Mineral Show: April 24–26, 2015
- Mineral & Gem Asia: June 27–30, 2015
- Generation Next
Pala International News
Minerals and Mineralogy News
- How to Spend Your Summer Vacation
- "Worthy of a Coen Brothers movie…": Bloomberg on the "Bahia" Emerald
Shows and Events
Thirteenth Annual Sinkankas Symposium – Opal
April 18, 2015, GIA World Headquarters and
The Robert Mouawad Campus, Carlsbad
This year's theme focuses on opal. Pala International’s Bill Larson will share with attendees the stories behind opals from his personal collection. In addition to opals from other collections, presenters will discuss the gemstone's science, geology, microstructure, history, lapidary, photography, inclusions, and chromatics.
- Dr. Eloïse Gaillou – An Overview of Gem Opals: From the Geology to Color and Microstructure
- Andrew Cody – Australian Opals, Especially Fossilized Opals
- Dr. Raquel Alonso-Perez – Opals, History, and Science of the Harvard University Collection
- Jack Hobart – Photographic Studies of Mexican Opals
- Alan Hart – Opals in the Natural History Museum, London
- Bill Larson – Opals in the Collection of William F. Larson
- Meg Berry – Lapidary Tricks in Cutting Opal
- Renée Newman – Matrix Opals and Common Opals, Part 1
- Helen Serras-Herman – Common Opals, Part 2
- Robert Weldon – Photographing Opal
- Nathan Renfro – The Microworld of Opal
- George R. Rossman – Color in Natural Opal vs. Synthetic Opal, and Additional Remarks
The Sinkankas Symposium is organized by Roger Merk, and co-sponsored by the Gemological Society of San Diego and the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). It will be held Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the GIA World Headquarters and The Robert Mouawad Campus, 5345 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008.
As many as five seats still may be available. (GIA literally rearranged the furniture for this symposium.) Visit the Sinkankas Symposium website for details.
Arusha Gem Fair 2015: April 21–23
This year's Arusha Gem Fair will be held April 21–23 in Arusha, Tanzania. Pre-show publicity states that more than 300 buyers from 25 countries will attend, with over 700 participants in all.
The show will consist of a exhibition of rough and cut stones, lapidary equipment and demonstrations, seminars and panels, keynote speakers, and mine tours.
Houston Fine Mineral Show: April 24–26, 2015
Later this month, purveyors and procurers of first-rate mineral specimens will be heading to Houston for the seventh annual Fine Mineral Show. Pala International's Bill and Will Larson will be in attendance, perusing the booths of more than fifty dealers.
The show is held at the Embassy Suites near The Galleria and features free parking and free admission.
If you're curious about the amethyst specimen used in this year's publicity, photographed by Joe Budd, it is called "La Cruz de Amatitlán." We're told this specimen was part of a famous lot sold by Tony Jones in July 1991. It was previously part of the Hubert de Monmonier collection. After his passing, the collection was donated to the University of Arizona in the spring of 2007. The cross was on exhibit in the university's mineral museum until 2012, when Marc Miterman was able to acquire it.
The Fine Mineral Show folks also have announced the second annual Denver Fine Mineral Show will be held September 12–15, 2015, at the Denver Marriott West, in Golden. Pala International was pleased to participate in last year's inaugural show.
Mineral & Gem Asia: June 27–30, 2015
The June Hong Kong Jewelery & Gem Fair (June 25–28), now in its 28th year, has a little company this time out. Overlapping the fair slightly will be Mineral & Gem Asia, held at AsiaWorld-Expo, June 27–30.
The exhibitor lists are not yet available, but the show hopes to attract "suppliers and buyers from various fields, such as geology, mineralogy, architecture, interior design, art gallery, museum, loose gem traders," according to its website—and, of course private collectors. One of the advantages of attending the Hong Kong shows is the port's duty-free policy.
Westward Look Shines the Light on Prospecting Progeny
In February's edition of our sibling e-newsletter, Palagems Reflective Index, we shared images from this year's gem and mineral show in Tucson. Today we'll look at one of the highlights of the show, the Sunday Evening Program of the Westward Look Show. The program's theme was Fine Mineral Collecting and the Second Generation, and it featured Will Larson, Evan Jones, Christophe Keilmann, Krystle Dorris and Brian Kosnar.
But wait! It was awards time that night also…
And every award deserves a toast…
One visitor to Pala International's room at the Westward Look Show, Ken Rock (no kidding), writes for the Northern Virginia Mineral Club. Turns out that it was a blue-cap tourmaline in the collection of Richard H. Jahns, given to Jahns by Pala's Bill Larson, that prompted Rock's interest in collecting and geology. Rock also is a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian, and so is familiar with the "Candelabra" tourmaline pictured below. Rock's writeup on this year's Tucson show will appear in the March edition of the Mineral Club's newsletter (not yet posted). Meanwhile, our readers will be interested in articles such as February's piece on green obsidian.
Pala International News
Pala's Featured Specimen: Erythrite from Morocco
In this edition of our newsletter we feature an aesthetic bouquet of erythrite crystals from Morocco. The crystals are undamaged and sharp, with intense color. Great for any miniature collector!
While other examples of erythrite in the Pala International catalog are perched on matrix, this featured specimen seems to stand on its own. Its lovely crystals exhibit 'red' in all its hues.
Just as rhodochrosite takes its name from the Greek rhodokhrōs (rose-colored), erythrite is from the Greek eruthros/erythros (red). Its combining form erythr- is used in many a medical term, from erythrocyte (red blood cell) to systemic lupus erythematosis (the autoimmune syndrome sometimes characterized by a red butterfly-shaped rash thought to have resembled the bite of a wolf, lupus in Latin). (Yes, your editor was a medical transcriber in a previous incarnation.)
Interested? Contact us.
Your Collection Deserves a Professional
Pala's Mia Dixon Can Make Your Specimen a Star
Have you recently obtained a mineral specimen or gemstone and want to brag about it long-distance? Want to get top dollar for minerals or gems you're offering? Or simply have a pictorial record of everything that's passed through your hands? Pala International's resident photographer, Mia Dixon, is now available on Saturdays—by appointment only—to provide her services to the general public.
Minerals and Mineralogy News
One Day, Three Mines
Pegmatite Pro David London Visits San Diego County
In the following, Pala International's Bill Larson takes us on a trip to three Southern California gemstone mines—in various stages of operation—with David London, author and Norman R. Gelphman Professor in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma.
Pala International is lucky to know so many great people in the world of minerals and gems! Of course, having active gem mines helps bring these friends to visit in person. March 16 is just such a day. We have arranged to meet David London at our headquarters in Fallbrook.
As one of the world's leading experts on pegmatite bodies, David likes to have hands-on experiences at as many pegmatite gem mines as possible. He's already spent the weekend at Jeff Swanger's Oceanview Mine. Now we have arranged for him to visit the Maple Load, the Mountain Lily and, time permitting, the Carmelita Mines in north San Diego County.
We meet the principals of the Maple Load, Cal Graeber and Jeffrey Kent, at the forestry gate. Also the principals of the Carmelita are here: Eric Cordova, Scott Richie and Kyle Snyder. Pala's group consists of Carl Larson, John McLean and myself. Plus David London, of course.
We split the group into two as the road to the Maple Road is steep and has little parking. For the past several years, Jeff, Cal, and their partner John have been using a backhoe, and the extent of pegmatite that's been exposed is amazing (pictured below). The only worry is that the overhang is now perhaps 40 feet high and looks to become dangerous, so they're studying where they could start a tunnel along the road into the claim.
On the road into this mine we noticed a cut through the pegmatite and all of us feel this looks like a very good place for them to start a new tunnel. This area is at least 60 feet south of one of the original underground work adits and will give them complete access to whatever they can expose; hopefully similar fine blue topaz crystals and beautiful blue tourmalines that were found over the past decades of work here.
From here the group reassembled at the Mountain Lily Mine* less than a mile away from the Maple Load. Pala International's crew, working in conjunction with RPL Mining, has employed Casey Jones as well as Pala's mine manager John McLean and Ben Castillo. They are using a 40-ton excavator to expose much of the past workings at the Mountain Lily. Literally hundreds of feet of tunnels have been encountered from the past workings. Some of these tunnels still have old wood shoring, looking burned, the wood is so old and dried out. Our group includes several old hands who used to high-grade the Mountain Lily. Their experience, plus David London's, as well as our own expertise is brought to bear. We all check the entire exposed workings.
After an hour of inspection and comments on the two pegmatites that make up the gem producing areas of the Mountain Lily we compare notes. So far, only quartz crystal pockets have been found (which is, of course, not conducive to paying the bills). However, everyone here seems to think that by tunneling underground into these pegs we will be able to get into virgin areas and hopefully find blue topaz and the exquisite "emeralite" blue-green tourmaline, for which this mine was famous in the 1930s to the '50s. We all agree it looks best to start at the southern end of the exposure. Now it's up to Casey to grade a proper portal and then get started.
Since we have finished early enough in the afternoon we decide to drive down to the local market and get some soft drinks and proceed to the Carmelita Mine, which is about 20 minutes away. For the past two years, permitting has been the priority of the Carmelita crew and now that most everything is approved they are anxious to show David London and our group the various areas of this massive pegmatite at which they have targeted to start underground work.
During this past couple of years' surface work they have found several pockets of beautiful green tourmalines and some fine morganite. Below, Carl looks at an excavated small pocket that contained small morganite crystals.
We receive a lovely thank-you from David London from this fun trip—with one request. He asks if he can bring twelve students by The Collector Fine Jewelry to view the mineral collections in early May. He will schedule this the day after they visit the Oceanview Mine. This way they will see a working mine and, then, what can be produced. David and his geology students are exactly why we do this. They will be very interested and excited in seeing many of the minerals (mostly pegmatitic) that we have on display—especially John McLean's wonderful recreation of a Himalaya Mine gem tourmaline pocket.
While we all know that the glory days of San Diego County are most likely behind us (unless or until underground radar proves to be amazing), the three mines we have visited today are all possible producers of beautiful gem pockets in the next few years.
Gem miners must be eternal optimists.
* Over the years, the Mountain Lily Mine has gone by different names. Starting out as the Mountain Lily, it was patented in 1933 as the Emeralite Mine No. 2. Later, it was called the Ware Mine after John Wesley Ware, who put a lot of work into the mine. We went back to the original name. —Bill Larson
There's Gold in Them Thar Swills
Last week, at an American Chemical Society conference in Denver, discussion turned to the gold and other precious metals in, of all things, sewage, as reported in the Denver Post last Tuesday.
But before jumping to conclusions, researchers stressed that they don't know the source of the gold, palladium, platinum and silver found in wastewater and sludge. It could be from the items in your dishwasher.
This factoid came out of a need to analyze waste in order to see if it might be useful once metals like lead were removed. An Arizona State University study figured that wastewater metals from one million Americans could have a value of about $13 million.
Below are recent items from our sibling publication, Palagems Reflective Index, that will be of interest to mineral enthusiasts.
How to Spend Your Summer Vacation
A seven-week course of interest to gem and mineral lovers will be offered this summer at Harvard. "Minerals and Gems: Unlocking the Earth's Treasure Chest" will be taught by Raquel Alonso Perez, PhD, Curator of the Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum, Harvard University, and Gordana Garapic, PhD, Assistant Professor of Geology, State University of New York, New Paltz. Registration for the course is open now through May 18.
"Mineralogical study is interdisciplinary," states the course publicity, "bringing together the fields of chemistry, physics, economics, history, and human appreciation of beauty." The course includes mineral identification and classification, chemistry, physical properties and crystal structure as well as geological processes. Illustrative specimens will be culled from the university museum's collection. Next, the economics of minerals, used for technology, gemstones and jewelry. Finally, the course goes extraterrestrial, with a look at the oldest minerals on earth, meteorites.
"Worthy of a Coen Brothers movie…":
on the "Bahia" Emerald
In our last edition, we caught ourselves up on the status of the "Bahia" emerald, an 840-lb. specimen from Brazil, which has been the subject of much controversy regarding ownership. Two weeks ago, Bloomberg issued what is perhaps the most comprehensive story on the specimen to date. Via reporter Brendan Borrell, we travel in a time machine to Silicon Valley during the summer of 2001, viewing 50-inch screens costing tens of thousands. As the dot-com crash loomed, Brazil beckoned, with bargain-priced emeralds to be used in an investment scheme—make that schemes.
The subsequent shenanigans surrounding the specimen are astonishing, with the "Bahia" moved from here to there, a new get-rich or stay-afloat stratagem at each destination. In at least one case, an eBay listing provided the platform for an "origin myth" of a months-long jungle journey involving mule-mauling black panthers. Another tale tells of a purported kidnapping by the Brazilian mafia, along with fishtank-gravel sized sapphires.
Finally, in late 2008, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs got involved, and the "Bahia" has been in jail ever since. As we noted last month, with the one-by-one dropping of claimants in court, the end seemed in sight—that is, until the Brazilian government made its own assertion of ownership.
The Bloomberg story ends with a miniature portrait of one of the last holdouts, Ken Conetto, in a South San Jose mobile home, and a punch line on the lips. It ain't over 'til it's over.
— End April Newsletter • Published 4/2/15 —