Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2007 5:04 pm Posts: 1490 Location: Walnut Creek, CA
About 3 weeks ago I went to this mineral show in Lyon. I was in Grenoble and I took advantage and paid a visit there. I didn't post here since I discovered about the show ~1 hour before I was heading to the train. It was something like: "Oh, there's a show today: let's go!".
It was way smaller than expected but the quality of the minerals was very high. So were the prices. I was looking for some stuff to facet but there was 0 (zero) "faceting rough". But... for the flexible frugal hobbyist faceter there's always something behind the corner. And at the end I went back home with a nice stash. First: I noticed there was faceted rose quartz almost everywhere. (Very) high quality material, usually (very) poor faceting. Many of them were portuguese bellied ovals (and the average polish was poor as well) and it was a pain to look at them. Especially since I was looking for some premium rose quartz rough to facet myself. But there was a vendor that had some mixed rough stuff for sale and there was some of that very nice rose quartz. Not 100% facet quality, but there are some subvolumes to trim out, to get 3-4 nice pieces of clean facet rough. For 2 Euro a piece (they were sold as pieces for collectors), I chose the 3 cleanest pieces. Transparency is similar to the rose quartz I already have (so it's very good, for rose quartz), but the color is absolutely gorgeous. Much darker.
Then I found another vendor with some of the usual stuff from Pakistan/Afghanistan. Sold as crystals for collectors again. I was able to get two promising fragments (topaz and olivine) cheap:
And he had a tray of fantastic aquamarine crystals, beautiful and big stuff. Not sold as faceting rough, but I found a crystal almost completely clean. This was not cheap, but if I had bought this as "select facet rough", I'd have paid 2 or 3 times the price (given the prices I see around)... ~28 ct and only a part of the base of the crystal needs trimming.
So is the aqua the star of the stash? Well, yes and no... There was a bead dealer with an incredible inventory and a lot of good quality materials. Literally hundreds of little boxes with any conceivable kind of polished materials. Very impressive, really. Among 100's of boxes I found the only box with rough stuff, labeled as "Madagascar orthoclase", and it was the only without price... Damn it usually means either "no idea" or "it will hurt you to know". I started looking at the chunks, and it didn't look like the Madag ortho I know. But I'm 99.9% sure it's a feldspar. And it's suspiciously similar to the Mex labradorite. Material that I like quite a bit, when large. Since there was no price I took a clean "small" piece, plus a really clean and huge one, ready to drop it in the box if the price was high. I asked for the price and nobody there knew about it, so at the end they quoted me an incredibly low price. So I got my two clean pieces at the cost of two cups of normal coffee at Starbucks, literally...
After ~15 minutes I got back to buy some more (actually I planned to buy ALL the clean pieces left ) but they took the box out of the table... You can't push the luck too much I guess. Anyway if anybody knows if there's some golden yellow feldspar from Madagascar resembling this one, please tell me. The orthoclase from Madagascar I know is greener and it's usually in fragments NOT weathered outside. They dig it directly out of pegmatites, I hear. Anyway more sooner than later I plan to give it a zap with XRays to get a precise ID (And I'm assuming, but not trusting, these are from Madagascar, for now). I hope it's a material like my piece of Mex plagioclase that shows some adularescence: I'd be cutting another markoh-i-noor in no time! It'd be a fantastic piece.
The same vendor has an incredible amount of other cool stuff. I ended buying a tumbled piece of quartz with actinolite inclusions, and a crystal of quartz with a (supposedly) chlorite phantom. I've taken pics at the microscope of both (I'll post them in the proper place). I plan to facet the actinolite included quartz, it should come out nice (I chose the lighter in color, less "included" piece. The final stone will come out clean, except for actinolite, of course! )
So even if it was a small show it has been worth paying a visit. I also saw the table of Gemfrance, with an impressive collection of nice gems. But my favorite were the sets of several matched size/cut sphalerites going from orange to green. Those need to be seen in person.
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