They come everywhere – Utah, Colorado, New York, Mexico, Afghanistan, Japan, Pakistan, Australia, and Morocco. They live in RVs, van conversions, truck campers, and tents. Some have connections to import the rocks, gems, fossils, and beads; others have rights to mine on private land or gather unearthed pieces in commercial quarries. They sell to whole sellers, artisans, collectors, and people struck by something they just want to have as their own. All have gathered in Quartzsite, Arizona – a desert town of buyers and sellers.
“What’s a dinosaur coprolite?” Herb and Earline Aguayo gave me a moment to think about this. “It’s not fossilized dinosaur poop, is it?” I asked hesitantly. He flashed me a big grin. Disbelieving, I stared at the matching book ends cut from one big lump of rock then polished to show beautiful marbling and color patterns. These bookends were a remnant of a dinosaur’s feeding preferences when it lived millions of years ago in Utah. Surprising!
The coprolite was my most startling discovery at the Desert Gardens 9th Annual International Gem, Mineral & Jewelry . The lapis – a semi-precious stone of intense blue color - was the most beautiful discovery. Lapis has been mined in Afghanistan for 6,500 years. Jewelry made from lapis traces back to ancient Egypt and remains popular today. Habib from Global Gems indulged me with a small unpolished piece of lapis; and after some coaxing, he stood in the sunlight with one of the larger polished stones.
I was also taken by the specimens of stalagmites and stalagmites. Accustomed to seeing them in caves, I inquired about these formations protected by law in the US and Mexico. I learned from Roberto that his collection came from China where the laws are not stringent. He explained that many of his pieces will come to decorate hotel lobbies and homes of millionaires. Although I’d love to have such a remarkable natural sculpture, I settled for a photo keepsake instead.
This particular show lasts two months. In 2009, the dates are January 1 – February 28. Bring a hat and some bottled water. Then go and enjoy the show!
January 24, 2009
Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show
I-10 Exit 17, then East on Frontage Road,