Tucson Eye Candy 2024

by Ken Rock, MSDC Editor

Tourmaline on smoky quartz, from Paprok, Afghanistan. No repairs!

During the first week of February, I attended the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, the annual phenomenon that brings miners, mineral dealers, fossil dealers, jewelers, gem experts, collectors, and all sorts of other folks to Tucson for the largest such event on the planet.

I was fortunate to meet with old friends, make new friends, reconnect with mineral dealers, see some amazing mineral specimens and fine jewelry, attend some excellent talks at the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery, and enjoy some outstanding Mexican food. The venues continue to evolve in Tucson, but there is truly nothing like the large number of exceptionally fine mineral specimens at multiple venues, the huge volume of comparatively lower-value material at numerous locations, and the presence of a truly international community of people who share the common gene that fosters a love of minerals.

It was truly a joy to talk with people who actually mine for mineral specimens, and learn more about geology, gemstones, and mineral occurrences. But perhaps the best of all was the chance to enjoy some amazing eye candy.

Without much in the way of elaboration, here are some visual highlights of some of the incredible mineral specimens that, surely, are representative of nature's finest handiwork.

Amethyst with calcite, from Brazil
Tourmaline with quartz & albite, from Paprok Nuristan, Afghanistan
Aquamarine on mica, from Afghanistan
Etched watermelon tourmaline crystal, Afghanistan
Lovely animal carving on agate
Smithsonite (stabilized), from Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico, Ex Jim & Gail Spann Collection
Malachite, from the Star of Congo Mine, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo
Ken Rock (left) and Mike Wise (right) at the Smithsonian's pegmatite display case at the Tucson Convention Center
Part of the 2024 Smithsonian display case
Part of the 2024 Smithsonian display case
Chalcedony, new find from Malawi
Polished fluorescent sodalite (Yooperlite) from the Kola Peninsula, Russia
Fluorite and scheelite, The Jewel of China, "Made for Each Other," from Sichuan Province, China
Amethyst, from the Brandberg District, Goboboseb Mountains, Namibia
Aquamarine from the King of Kashmir Pocket, Shigar Valley, Pakistan
This vendor was selling sandstone accretions from France like the large one in the same room as the Hope Diamond at the NMNH
Fluorite, from the Xiefang Mine, Jiangxi Province, China
Radioactive water anyone?
Manganocalcite, from the Shizhuyuan Mine, Hunan Province, China
Liddicoatite tourmaline, an unusual vertical slice through a crystal, from Madagascar
Wulfenite, from the Los Lamentos Mountains, Mun. de Ahumada, Chihuahua, Mexico
"Lollipop" tourmaline, from Sao Jose da Safira, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Aquamarine on quartz & albite, from Skardu District, Pakistan
Mushroom tourmaline, from Myanmar
Azurite, from the Mule Mountains, Bisbee, Arizona
Amazonite and smoky quartz, from Colorado
Amazonite sink
Rock garden material anyone?
Showcase by Collectors Edge at the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery
Quartz, aquamarine, and spessartine garnets, from Shigar District, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
Tourmaline var rubellite on quartz. Legend Pocket, Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Gene Meieran (left) and Ken Rock (right) with amethyst geode (center)
Thomas Hale, Executive Director of Minerals in Context and Dr. Alex Speer, former Executive Director of the Mineralogical Society of America and currently Vice President and board member of Minerals in Context at the Tucson Convention Center
Tugtupite, from Taseq Slope, Greenland
Enjoying some evening entertainment with a Pink Floyd knockoff band
The open pit in Bisbee, Arizona during a break from looking at minerals
Selenite rabbit, from Colorado, USA
Amethyst on carved animal, from Brazil
Red chili with a chili relleno on the side