It isn't quartz

Finally I am cutting something other than quartz!

Pictured here is a very nice little aquamarine weighing in at 2.23 cts and measuring 8.6 x 6.9 mm. It was really nice to cut something a little smaller and more cooperative than some of the larger stones I was doing while I was getting over my broken wrist and figuring out some new laps. The rough for this stone was obtained at the Spring 2016 West Coast Gem and Mineral Show from New Era Gems (Steve Ulatowski).

Ametrine

Ametrine pictured here is 6.15 cts. and measures 14.5 x 9.0 mm.

Several concave facets were placed on the pavilion side causing it to light up very nicely. The even division of purple and gold in these stones is very eye catching. I have a few more of these yet to cut in the parcel from New Era Gems ( Steve Ulatowski and Robert Ulatowski )

Triangle Trio

Just posted a trio of citrine triangles along with two new amethysts to the website

4.49 ct.citrine

9.75 ct. citrine

4.91 ct. citrine

New Citrines

The Citrine pictured here is one of the items that was being cut during the faceting demonstration at the Santa Lucia Rockhounds show last month. It is 3.0 carats and 10.4 mm diameter.

It has been posted along with a handful of amethysts and a couple of other citrines that have been completed in recent weeks

Faceting Demonstration this Weekend

The Santa Lucia Rockhounds will be having its annual show at the Paso Robles Event Center from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, April 21 and 10am to 4pm Sunday, April 22. As part of the show, the San Luis Obispo Gem and Mineral Club will have a booth and will be bringing the club's faceting machine so we can show how gemstones are faceted. There will also be wirewrapping demonstrations on Saturday and club members will have some of their collections and crafts on display. Of course there will be many vendors with items for sale and other demonstrations by the Santa Lucia club members. Come by if you are in the neighborhood.

Another amethyst pictured here. This one is an 8.33 cts, 12.6 mm. octagon with concave facets on the pavilion side. I had planned to work on some other materials, but decided that this parcel was better for re-training my hands for faceting as my wrist heals.

First post Tucson Stone

The first post Tucson stone is finally done. It has been a challenge learning to work with a lame right hand, but things are slowly improving.


The finished amethyst weighs 13.2 cts and is 14.6 mm wide. There is a little bit of color zoning, but it is not too obvious when the stone is face up. A set of concave facets on the pavilion and another set on the crown add some extra sparkle. Rough came from a parcel obtained last year from Farooq Hashmi.

Recovering

Finally got to the point where I could do some post Tucson and broken wrist faceting. Probably a good thing I have a left mast Gem Master as the right hand is still lame and tied up a bit with a splint for the next few weeks until physical therapy gets me back more strength and range of motion.

The piece is a 15 mm. amethyst. Larger than I normally would have wanted as a test drive, but when I tried dopping a couple weeks ago, I could not manage the smaller stones at all.

Tucson 2018 - Day 3 - Getting Around Town

The day started with another hike up Sentinel Peak. I was starting to know the route and do better with my pace. While I am not a big fan of cactus and succulents, I was finding the local flora’s ability to survive on such a rocky place impressive.

USFG

This was the day where the rental car was going to get some use. First stop was the Old Pueblo Lapidary Club for a talk by Diane Eames on “Cutting for Jewelry” as part of the USFG Faceter’s Frolic (https://usfacetersguild.org/).   The material covered in the presentation was much more basic than I had hoped to hear. However afterwards there was some time to get acquainted with a few folks from USFG like Al Balmer who often has replied to my forum posts. While talking with Al, I eventually realized who the other gentleman in the conversation was – Bob Long – one of the authors of the meetpoint faceting technique which is used by many who learn to facet. Bob seemed a truly nice fellow – more than willing to share his insights and not offended the least by those who chose a different approach (as I do.)

JCK

Next it was off to the JCK show (http://tucson.jckonline.com/). It wasn’t a very large show and was primarily finished jewelry vendors. There was one vendor who indicated that they had peridot both finished goods and rough material, so I headed for that booth. They did have rough, but it was one of the few negative interactions I had with vendors during the entire trip. It was difficult to get one of the people working the booth to come talk with me. And then I think a bit more confusion to get someone who knew about the rough material. The peridot was Chinese – more yellowish than material from Arizona or Pakistan. And while the pieces in the tray seemed to be a nice size, they exterior was cloudy and the stones were dry. So it was hard to tell at a quick glance how clean the material was. Then came the price - $43 per gram with a minimum of a kilo purchase. I had already seen some retail pricing for nice colored, clean Pakistani peridot that was better and allowed picking. Unless those rough stones were a lot bigger and cleaner than they looked, they would probably be returning to China to be cut. Or was I supposed to have tried haggling for 100 gm and half the price?

I wandered through the rest of the displays. It was not very crowded. Actually it would be better stated that there were not many people there. Most of the jewelry seemed to be on the lines of big, bulky rings or else the other extreme like a small dangle on a chain necklace. In that respect, it was in keeping with what I had been seeing at AGTA and GJX.

G&LW

Since it was still early, I headed off to the G&LW shows (https://www.glwshows.com/). When I had last been to Tucson, G&LW had two separate locations. Now it was all in one place. And the place was humongous. I think the spot in the parking area I found was a quarter mile from the entrance to the show. They were running golf carts to get people back and forth, but my timing was bad. Normally the walk would not bother me. However in this case, the parking area appeared to have been recently refreshed with gravel. Or maybe it was baby boulders. Most seemed too big to have passed through a one inch screen. It was a difficult surface and required attention in some spots to keep from turning an ankle.

Unlike the JCK, the G&LW show was very busy. The vendors there were closer to those who participate in the InterGem or Gem Faire shows that are scheduled in various cities around the country. There were lots and lots of beads for sale. Also there was a lot of lower end findings, inexpensive finished jewelry and similar goods. A couple of large vendors had special areas at the end of buildings for essentially their own “store” within the show. One thing I noted in the G&LW spaces that I had not seen elsewhere was a fair amount of turquoise and Native American jewelry. It was not a good hunting ground for facet rough.

JOGS

Next stop was JOGS (https://jogsshow.com).  Parking was a bit harder to find at this site, but it was a lot easier trip to the show entrance. Based on the description of the show I was hoping to see higher quality goods than at G&LW and hopefully vendors with facet rough. First impression on entering was “where am I”. The floorplan at JOGS deviates from the typical grid used by most shows. It seemed to have more in common with a casino where the object is to keep you from leaving. At some point I found one of the other entrances and located a stack of show guides near the door and used that as a guide to navigating the place. Even then I got turned around several times.

I did see a little rough material, but nothing that was close to what I would want to buy. Most of the goods were about the same quality as at G&LW.

KINO

Since I was making better time through the shows than I had expected, I decided to head to the Kino site (http://www.as-shows.com/) in hopes of getting additional dops from the Graves vendor who was supposed to be there. From the freeway I had seen the complex had multiple tents and was not clear how it was organized. After arriving, it was even more of a puzzle. “Random” is probably the best description of the layout.

Kino was a totally different sort of show. Much of the material being offered there was like that in the GIGM show at our hotel – only in much bigger sizes and much larger quantities. This was the place to go if you wanted a slab of something for a table or countertop or if you wanted a chunk of rock for making a sculpture. There were several equipment vendors there who were providing the tools scaled for the bigger tasks. These were much more industrial strength sized than those typically used by rockhounds, crafters and jewelry artists.

I wandered well into the tent city before I found their stack of show guides and was able to locate Graves. No joy when I got there. The only dops they had for sale were a complete assortment set. It was just as well as I discovered that I had left my phone containing my shopping list back in the car. Obviously that was a signal to call it a day and head back to the hotel.

Tucson 2018 - Days 4 through 6 - Finishing the Shows and Shopping

Again I started the day doing the hike up Sentinel Peak for the sunrise. There were a few more people out then on the previous day, but mostly quiet. A small cottontail rabbit appeared along the way up. Until it moved it was just a lumpy shadow on the side of the road.

AGTA seminar

I had to keep things moving that morning as I wanted to attend a presentation on “A Brief History of Colored Stone Faceting” at 9am at the AGTA site. As there was not a good chance of a shuttle at that hour, it meant another mile walk from the hotel to the Convention center. That was fairly easy compared to the earlier one since it was all level ground.   The presenter, Justin Prim, was someone I had met briefly at a faceting event a couple years ago. At that time he was planning to go abroad to complete his gemological studies and see the world on a budget that beat out studying in the US. Since then, I had seen him posting on faceting related sites. My curiosity to see how his adventures had progressed made this a not to be missed seminar.

Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show

Then it was on to a shuttle to get to the Hotel Tucson Center City to check out the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show (https://www.mzexpos.com/) where John Garsow, another rough dealer I had known for many years, was showing. There were a few tents and outside vendors here, but most were in the hotel rooms. Unlike the other hotels with shows, this one still had some lawn space uncovered and scattered around the lawn area were an assortment of dinosaur models.

After I checked on what John had of interest, I headed back to the shuttle stop. Normally one should be by every 20 to 30 minutes or better. It was at least 40 minutes before the right one finally appeared.

JGM and 22nd Street

There was one more show in the area on my list to explore – JG&M Expo (http://jgmexpo.com/) which was basically between the Convention center / AGTA and 22nd Street show.  So that was where I headed when the shuttle returned to the Convention center stop. It was a lot like 22nd Street in being open to the public and a mix of all sorts of related goods. I found some facet rough there and then went back to 22nd street to follow up on a lead from one of the GO meetup people on peridot rough as well as having a late lunch in the food court there.

Crash

At that point I was done and headed back to the hotel to make notes on what I would buy the next two days and rest up for the USFG “Hob Nob” social event that night. I had just crossed the street at the corner by the hotel and then it happened. I tripped on the pavement and between too much forward momentum and the weight of the backpack, I went down. As I started to get up, I knew it wasn’t just a few bumps and scrapes. My right wrist was at a not good angle and I had a bad feeling, was broken.

I think I was more upset by how this event was going to impact my plans for the remainder of the trip than I was bothered by any pain from the injury. (It hurt when I tried to use the hand, so short term solution was to avoid its use.) The hotel desk clerk told me that the closest ER was at Saint Mary’s Hospital and then Google maps showed that was two and a half miles away. That was definitely further than I wanted to walk. Just outside the hotel door I found a taxi cab waiting for business and shortly was delivered to the ER entrance of St. Mary’s.

I was shocked to find the waiting room had only a couple people there. It was a matter of minutes before someone called my name and took me inside. A while later X-rays confirmed my initial diagnosis – I had fractured my wrist. I would need to seek care from an orthopedic specialist when I got home to deal with it. Until then, they put it in a splint and then gave me a sling to hold it. I left with a prescription for some meds to help with swelling and pain, a disc with the x-rays and a packet of paperwork from the event.

Hob nob

So we actually made it to the Hob Nob. A bit late, but they hadn’t run out of pizza or soft drinks, so it was okay. The speaker for the evening had just started. I had pretty much forgotten about that. As things turned out, the topic “The Evolution of Diamond Cutting” complimented the seminar I had attended that morning on colored stone faceting.

After the speaker I had a chance to meet and talk with additional folks in the USFG community. I was glad that I had the chance given the circumstances.

Day 5 - Shopping

The broken wrist arm in a sling and not able to grasp anything with my right hand simplified some of my shopping options. I was not going to be examining rough with a loupe. Nor would I be buying anything using checks.   There were a couple of vendors where I might pay cash for goods that were clear enough to see as eye clean. For the other items I would go to my long time rough dealers who I could trust to have really clean material and help evaluate my picks if needed.

I suspect I might have spent more had I not come up lame. I was moving a lot slower and with an excess of caution as I took the shuttle or walked between venues. People for the most part were nice and were willing to help when needed. At one shuttle stop I was approached by a young man whose badge indicated he was from Pakistan. He inquired how I was doing – apparently he was among those who witnessed my fall the previous day.

I wish I could have stayed for New Era’s Super Bowl party at the Pueblo show, but I could feel my energy resources were about to zero. I got back to the hotel and watched the last part of the game from a warm bed. My family back in the Philadelphia area were all very happy that night seeing their Eagles team win.

Day 6 - Packing and Resting

The last full day in Tucson was supposed to be for packing and checking out places that did not fit into the more planned days. By the time I got the preliminary packing done with just one hand, I was pretty much done for the day. Decided to rest up for the trip home the next day.

Tucson 2018 - Day 2 - More Shows and a Meet Up

Sunrise hike up Sentinel Peak

Moon before sunriseFor day two, the alarm was set for 6am and I was able to grab breakfast downstairs before heading out. This time I found my way without any mistakes.   It was much quieter and very few people were out for a normal morning. The moon was still close to full and bright as I started up the road. It was also not as cold as it had been the previous day. I stopped at various spots along the way to take photos of the view.   And as I was on the downhill part of the walk, it finally clicked that the surroundings were not some botanical garden, but that the cactus and other desert plants were local natives.

AGTA

The plan for the day was to go through two of the wholesale only shows. The first was the AGTA show (http://www.agta.org/tradeshows/gemfair-tucson.html) being held in the convention center. I had pre-registered for these online, so it did not take too long to get my badge and be able to start wandering around. I first went into the tech hall. Cad software for custom jewelry design and 3D printers were a significant proportion of the booths. I watched for a few minutes as one CAD vendor was demonstrating how his product would work and marveled at how far things have come since I started out programming with punch cards in the mainframe days. A few minutes later around the corner I heard someone say “Morro Bay”. The nearby booth for a safe jewelry cleaner product belonged to a local firm. (http://www.lavishjewelrycleaner.com/) We chatted briefly, and then I headed off to the main hall.

local floraThis was yet another large venue with aisle after aisle of vendor displaying mostly high end goods. There were so many different vendors with GIA certificated sapphires I don’t know how someone who was shopping for such an item to get started. Plus there was lots of sapphire not displaying papers in addition to many emerald and pearl booths. And of course there were many dealers with other colored stones ranging from packets of dust size melee to large specimens that would be hard to use in jewelry due to size. I noticed that quite a few of these vendors included something in their booths that I had not expected - large heavy duty safes. I assume that was to provide an extra layer of security for the hours where the show was closed.  

Meanwhile, as I walked the show aisles, I learned to stay a distance from the show cases. When I walked closer to get a better look at all the shiny objects, it was too easy to put my hand on the edge of the cases – and be rewarded was a shock. This was another effect of the dry Arizona air. I had to feel sorry for some of the sales people who did not have the option of staying away from the cases.

At one end of the room, the Spectrum award winners for this year were on display. While there was some impressive design and craftsmanship displayed as well as killer gems, I did not see much in the bunch for regular folks to wear. I had to laugh at a couple of items that were categorized as “business / daywear”. No clue what sort of business would be compatible with that amount of bling. I was somewhat disappointed that there were not more designer booths at AGTA. My recollection from long ago was of getting to see in person work by well-known designers. Perhaps it is just a style thing and what was being shown did not fit my concepts for design.

I made my first purchase of the trip there – two pieces of rough facet grade Oregon Sunstone. The gentleman who assisted me was quite helpful. It turned out that he was president of the mining company (http://www.desertsungems.com/). He also gave me a DVD made by GIA about their mining operations which may work out nicely as a program for our local gem and mineral club.

GJX

It was mid-afternoon by the time I left AGTA and headed across the street to the GJX show (http://www.gjxusa.com/). Yet another huge venue! Since I had my AGTA badge on, getting the one for GJX was very quick – they just put a sticker on the AGTA badge. I could have skipped the annoyance of pre-registering.

There was one vendor there who had posted on the faceting yahoo group list that he would have all sorts of facet rough. There was a small sign on the booth counter to ask about facet rough. What was pulled out was far from what was advertised. Very little material and even less variety. So with that option scratched off the list, I explored the booths and found several other vendors with quantities of interesting rough and a few that even were affordably priced.

amethyst and prasioliteI found that the floorplan for GJX was hazardous – little ramps covering the electrical distribution were placed frequently across the aisles. Although they were marked with a bright color, in that sort of environment my eyes were held by the glitter in the booths and I tripped on them several times before I changed from walking the aisles along the front of the booths to using the ones that were perpendicular between booths.

I reached the far end of the hall and started heading back to the entry thinking I had seen all there was to see there. Only instead of the exit, I found there was another room. And after that, another one. Fortunately, those were much smaller spaces and eventually I made my way out.  

Gemology online meet up

The evening plans were for a dinner meet up with others who were members of the Gemology Online forum (https://www.gemologyonline.com/Forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=95). While I have not been particularly active in posting, I follow the colored stones lapidary post and have gotten a lot of good information from that group as I have gotten back into faceting after many years away. I was looking forward to meeting some of the people behind the online posts. In fact, meeting others who are involved with gems and jewelry was the top of my goals for Tucson. Buying facet rough was a vague second. I was not disappointed by the event. Everyone was friendly. Some there had been friends for years. Others like me were newcomers to the group. I only wish I could have gotten around the room more to meet a few more of those attending. A few of those I got to speak with included Barbara Voltaire, Julie Kerlin, Justin Prim, Lisa Elser, Arya Akhaven and Stephen Challener.