Helvetia & Tucson Gem & Mineral Show January 2017

What an exciting time this was. It was my first Tucson experience and I was pumped! I knew that it was one of the biggest gem and mineral shows in the world but I wasn't prepared for the sheer scale of it. The whole town is encompassed and becomes one big show! Dealers from all around the world come over and show their wares. This was also the first time I had done any purchasing with other fluorescent mineral collectors. Boy did we stand out as a group lamping dealer's rocks and covering them with a towel, bbq cover, or otherwise.

The first night's dinner. Here I got to meet Glenn and Linda Waychunas. Wonderful company and wonderful talks about various fluorescent minerals - some on the cusp on science, others we had found recently or purchased that day, and more. This is where Mark and I first learned of that Convoy S2+, the light that Mark claims brought a new revolution to this hobby. I'll admit I can't come close to the price they're offering for that light. That's Chinese labor for you!

The next day we started at Electric Park (aka Kino Sports Complex). Mark & Co were running late so Steve and I got to look through a couple stalls first. That's where I purchased this beautiful lapis - handpicked from a huge container of lapidary rough for its fluorescence.

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When they finally arrived we started exploring. On display were some wonderful works of art made with actual minerals! For example, the purple on the right photo contains actual tourmaline. The artist is a Tucson local named Zee's (https://www.zeesminerals.org/)

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This was my discovery that sparked a lot of sales (I imagine) for this seller specifically. Not having any expectations I tested random minerals for fluorescence, even if I knew they wouldn't be fluorescent or knew their reactions. That's when I stumbled upon this gem. I was with Howie at the moment and had told him "Hey, this fluorite is fluorescing red. Is that rare?" He deadstops and immediately demands that I show him where. That's when I knew I found something good. For the next 30-45 minutes we look through every single box the dealer has of this material picking out the best of the best. Of course, after we pick the ones we want we call Mark & co so that they can pick the rest of the spoils. Because we go to Tucson as soon as it opens (end of January) and most fluorescent collectors go for the Fluorescent Mineral Society meeting or Mindat.org meeting (first week of February) we have a head start. Mark had posted about this and multiple others reported on buying a fluorescent red fluorite from him as well. Hope they put in a good word for us! Maybe we'll get a bigger discount next time!

After we had finished shopping for the morning it was time to go collecting! Dan Moore of mineralarts (http://www.mineralarts.com/) took us on a tour to Helvetia. It was a beautiful hike and the weather was great. We did quite a fair bit of bushwhacking though as this trail clearly wasn't used very often. Good! Because that meant not many collectors go there!

We were now at the spot where Dan had collected his wonderful Helvetia fluorescents. The amazing thing was that we were the first group of fluorescent collectors he had taken up there. Good to know that Dan didn't completely pick over the site! There were wonderful fluorescents to be had there with everyone getting some wonderful specimens to take home.

After every night the group would get together and show off their purchases for the day. In this case it was after the Helvetia trip so we got to show off what we found as well. It made for a wonderful group shot with a wide mix of materials.

Here are my finds. Wonderful generations of calcite and some nice brief intense phosphorescence in the videos next to them. Pictures in NL, LW, SW

Specimen 1: Caliche (fl orange) coating aragonite with spots of hyalite (fl green). Also has multiple generations of calcite (fl white & red)

Specimen 2: Multiple generations of fluorescent calcite banding (fl orange, red, yellow-orange)

Specimen 3: Caliche (fl orange) coating aragonite with spots of hyalite (fl green). Also has multiple generations of calcite (fl white & red)

Interestingly the oldest generation of calcite has the strongest phosphorescence under longwave. LW on the left, SW on the right.

The last day! The highlight for me was definitely that Daspletosaurus in the middle of one of the show tents. What a fantastic sight and well put together. Having volunteered at the Natural History Museum I have a huge appreciation of the logistics it takes to even get specimens in that position. I can only imagine the amount of wiring and balancing that must have been done to set up a display like that!