Feb. – March 2015 – Victor Valley Gem & Mineral Club’s Tailgate Show!
Victorville, CA – The good rockhounds at Victor Valley Gem and Mineral Club are ramping up for their annual gem show March 13, 14, & 15th located at the base of the Verde Antique Marble Quarry, I like to call “Black Jade Mountain” off Stoddard Wells Rd. Visit the link above for full event details.
This is the first year we will be attending and setting up a small booth of California minerals Benitoite & neptunite, tourmaline, silver lace onyx, pink halite, hanksite & more. I’m not quite sure what the other vendors will be offering, but the mountain itself offers verde antique marble, specular hematite, black jade, nephrite and serpentine. The club is offering a field trip Saturday, March 14th to collect trip-color marble nearby.
I ran into Jim Fosse, the VVGMC webmaster a few weeks ago on the mountain and he gave me some additional info, they are expecting close to 100 vendors this year compared to last year’s 62 vendors! Also, they are trying to get a wifi-hotspot up for everyone to use for electronic transactions as well as surfing. This will be a life saver because you have to be about halfway up the mountain to get service. Public restrooms as well as food and drink will also be available so mark your calendar, pack up the tent or RV and come on out. Hope to see you there!
Jan 2015 – Sedona & Quartzsite Treasures Red Beryl, Boulder Opal, Aquamarine & More
Quartzsite, AZ – I’m sure most of you have heard of Quartzite, whether gold prospecting or mineral collecting, it’s the annual mecca for rockhounds that occurs in January and lasts through February. I had often heard members of my various clubs talk about it, but I had never been, that is until 2 weeks ago.
Quartzsite is really a hodgepodge of things, food, minerals, cell phone repeaters, knives, etc. My impression was it’s a city wide swap meet for traveling vendors. I was actually disappointed at first because I didn’t know where to go. The first area we visited was only about 10% mineral vendors and these were big players sourcing from abroad. Tons of material, beautiful labradorite, tourmaline, agates, petrified wood, geodes, etc. at retail prices. Of course you can haggle with them and get a discount, but these weren’t the small players who really give you the good deals.
I walked into a shop to ask where the most mineral vendors were. The worker told me I needed to go to Desert Gardens RV Park down the road. So we walked back to the car and headed west. When we saw the large Diamond Pacific booth we knew this was the right place. It was still early though, 3pm on Friday, Jan 2 so only about 2/3 of the spaces were filled and set up. We would soon find this would bode well for first picks though.
One thing that quickly struck me was rough vendors vs. finished/specimen vendors, I favor the latter. It seemed that there were about twice as many rough vendors than finished/specimen vendors. However, these vendors offered fantastic deals so look we did. Turquoise, Azurite, Malachite, Mookaite, Petrified Wood, Quartz, a lot of the usual suspects. Some fantastic material, but where were the tourmalines, benitoites, beryls, silver lace onyx, and the likes.
Then, we stumbled into Pv’s Rocks. This was the vendor I was looking for. They had it all and all specimens were half off! This wasn’t one of those trick booths that jack the price up then do half off. No, these guys were the real thing. It’s like they were doing a retirement sale. I picked up several tourmalines, a large aquamarine, emerald, quartz clusters, apatite and more. It was definitely a trip to the candy shop. This one shop cleaned us out and judging from the other people in the tent, we weren’t alone.
Overall I would recommend a visit to Quartzsite during their annual rock show. There is something for everyone and at a good price. Make sure you find the Desert Gardens RV park though. Located off the first exit in Quartzsite, I believe it’s the 95. Turn right, go past Love’s and it’s on the left.
Sedona – Happy New Year everyone! We are just back from a trip to Prescott, Sedona and Quartzsite Arizona and it was fantastic!! After visiting friends in Prescott and having some luck at Bucky’s Casino we made our way to Sedona on NYE. The area was getting a once in year snowstorm so it took us 4 hours to make a 1 hour trip. It was so worth it though, as you can see in the video below.
After visiting some vortexes and charging some tourmalines for my significant other we were on our way out when we decided to stop by a gem and mineral shop by chance, the only one we bothered to visit. It’s called Ramsey’s at the main roundabout “Y” in Sedona. I have to admit I think we were pulled to Sedona to visit this spot, there’s no other way to explain it. Within a minute of walking in the shop I already had in my hands Bixbyite, Bixbite (red beryl, red emerald), aquamarine & heliodor and some fantastic Mexican Opals. Needless to say I was ecstatic. After spending a few more minutes in the store we found some tourmaline rough, a sapphire & diamond ring, some great turquoise, and a huge chunk of boulder opal shown below. We would have to leave the store for about 30 minutes before I was sure I would own that boulder opal though. It absolutely was destiny that we found Ramsey’s as I had been looking for some red beryl, aqua and boulder opal for two weeks before this encounter.
Jeffrey Goebel and his wife, owners of Ramsey’s, made us an unbelievable deal on all the specimens we bought and I want to say thank you to them and best wishes into the new year for them and their hospitality. If you have a chance please visit them in Sedona at the “Y”. Jeffrey makes his own jewelry and some of the designs are fantastic. Please don’t buy the tourmaline & diamond pendant necklace though, I want that one!
Next up Quartzite and more fantastic finds of Beryl, Opal, Tourmaline & more…
Back from Gem-O-Rama. It was a great year for Hanksite & Pink Halite. The crystals were large & plentiful. We have lots of Hanksite, Pink Halite & Sulphohalite that will be going up for sale in the shop. Unfortunately, there was none of my favorite Blue Halite this year. Long story, but it seems the workers cleared out the ditch where it grows prior to the dig. I own the bluehalite.com domain and was hoping to build up the site with some new specimens.
We also have some great Tourmaline specimens as well as Benitoite to offer for sale. Check out our Etsy shop.
I’ve been attending the Gem O Rama event/show for the past three years collecting Hanksite, Halite, Thenardite and Sulphohalite. As I get ready to move overseas next year I want to reflect and pass on the knowledge I have gained from attending this one of a kind event.
I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who wants to get the most out of this once a year trip. A year is a long time to wait for this and anyone who has attended knows what I mean, so the proper preparation is critical.
Getting there. Trona is about 4 hours from LA, factor in traffic, gas stops, food, etc. It is located in the Mojave desert north east of Ridgecrest, CA. From OC and San Diego take the 15 to the 395 north to Ridgecrest. From LA take the 14 to Ridgecrest. From Ridgecrest take the 178 NE to Trona, Ca. I advise getting there Friday so you can rest up.
Book a hotel! Do not camp! The nearest hotels from Trona are located in Ridgecrest which is a 30 minute drive. Digging crystals in the mud or brine under the hot sun all day will really drain you, therefore a cold or hot shower and clean bed are a must for 2 days of hard labor.
Adequate, proper storage. This includes a vehicle or trailer able to accommodate some serious volume and material weight. You can easily fill up five, 5 gallon buckets with specimens. Serious collectors fill up the entire bed of their truck/suv with flats filled with specimens. I don’t recommend this method though because hanksite and halite should be kept out of the sun, sealed in buckets or plastic bins so they do not dry out. They should also not be left in bucket or bin filled with brine because this can and will etch them. I learned this the hard way one year with a bucket full of hanksite crystals.
Clothing, food and water. Wear old clothing, not your new Diesel or G-star. There is a good possibility it will get torn, damaged and covered in mud and salt. Shoes! I prefer junker low or hightops. Your feet will get saturated no matter what so wear something comfortable that may need to be disposed of. Each field trip is several hours so be sure to have plenty of water and snacks to keep you going. This year the organizers had water/soda booths set up which helped those who were un-prepared.
Tools. For the hanksite dig a hand rake, rock hammer and scrubbing brush are necessary. Gloves are optional, I use my bare hands, but you will get cuts from thenardite. For the halite dig a breaker bar is a must. 5′ or longer. Halite is incredibly hard. You can rent them there for $20, but for that price you can almost buy one. A rock hammer, 12″ chisel, small pick axe or large pick axe are also needed.
Parking. I always like getting in the line early. Early bird gets the hanksite right? Yes, since there it is limited. It’s not as important with the halite though because the area of digging is huge. The hanksite is trucked in and dumped so there is a finite amount. I am usually in line by 6-6:30am and am in the top 10 spots.
Tickets. Tickets to each event, Mud event (barrel hanksite, thenardite), Blow Hole (hanksite, thenardite, sulphohalite, halite), and Halite dig (pink, cranberry and blue halite) each cost $15. Tickets can be purchased Saturday morning at 7am. Attend all 3. Each event offers different, unique specimens and adventures.
It’s that time of year again, Gem O Rama! This is without a doubt one of the best gem shows of the year, because you actually get to collect specimens while at the show. Pink Halite, Blue Halite, Cranberry Halite, Hanksite and more! Watch our Esty shop for samples we collect out there this year.
For more information see:
Now that I’ve recovered from a miserable summer cold, over 100 deg. in Costa Mesa, I’m finally able to put some new specimens up on the Etsy shop. I’ll be adding several benitoite & tourmaline specimens as well as some other beautiful rough minerals for cabs & slabs.
I want to give a special mention to Rick Kennedy of Earth’s Treasures http://www.earthstreasures.com . I had the pleasure of meeting Rick this weekend at the Santa Ana gem and mineral show. He really went out the way to talk to me about benitoite and give me a few pointers that will save several specimens I etched. For those of you who don’t know who Rick is, you should definitely look at his site listed above. He has been a benitoite hunter for just shy of 30 years. His collection and knowledge of benitoite are world class.