Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rock Show in the First State

kw: local events, rock collecting, exhibitions, photographs

We went into Stanton, Delaware this afternoon to the Delaware Mineralogical Society's rock show, held at Delaware Tech. I belonged to the Society for a few years, because of the local clubs, they met on an evening I usually had free. I still enjoy their show. It is probably the best in the area.

I always go first to the exhibit cases. While there were many that intrigued me, I was most drawn to this one that held only varieties of Selenite, the clear crystal form of Gypsum, or Calcium Sulfate (the chemical formula is visible in the photo). This common mineral shares with Calcite (CaCO3) the distinction of having about 300 crystal forms. The collectors (two lovely women who collect together) have managed to collect about half of them. By the way, click on any of these photos to see a larger version.

This show has several single-mineral cases. There was one of Garnets and one of Tourmalines, and a few others. There were also a few cases that had specimens from each of the fifty U.S. states.

The show attracts a great number of dealers. The room was, as usual, packed to capacity. I suspect they had to turn a few dealers away. Some sell mainly minerals, some fossils, some gemstones, and some sell mineral carvings. Some are more eclectic. My wife and I were fascinated by the booth for Cherry Tree Beads, run by people who have a rather interesting concept of "bead".

As these examples show, they'll drill and string anything thicker than 4mm. Most of the "beads" seen in this photo are 30x40mm cabochons, double-sided no less! Some are smaller. They have all kinds of sizes and shapes.

I talked with them about their work. They pre-cut shapes from rock slabs, but they don't hand work them. They tumble them in bulk. They have a rapid, underwater diamond drill with a long, long bit. That is how they could afford to sell a string of ten 30x40mm jasp-agate "cabs" (strung together the long way), for about $18 to my wife. They had four large tables covered with bead strings. Amazing.

Before leaving, we went through the UV booth. I always like the fluorescent minerals. Fortunately, the booth's creators use bright enough lights that I was able to take photographs. This exposure was 1/8 sec at f/2.8, hand held but braced. As I've become older, I've become steadier!

Many of the minerals, but not all, are from the Franklin, NJ quarries and mines that have the greatest variety of fluorescent minerals in the world. I've seen a photograph taken inside one of the mines, in which an entire wall of the tunnel is brightly fluorescent.

We had only about two hours to try to see everything in the show. This is a large show for this area, but compact enough that the time we had was sufficient (I'd never try to go through the Tucson show in two hours; that one takes a couple of days).

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