Birmingham, Alabama
First Annual Southeastern Gem and Mineral Show
Holiday Inn, Cartersville, Georgia, August 15-17, 2008 

Ray Preston
We first heard about a new gem show scheduled for August 2008 from a dealer at the Marietta, Georgia Mothers Day weekend show.  The dealer mentioned they were scheduled to attend a new show in Cartersville, Georgia being organized by Martin Zinn, a well-known gem show promoter for Tucson, Denver, and Springfield events.

Brenda and I decided to spend the gem show weekend in Cartersville, Georgia not really knowing what to expect.  We arrived at the Cartersville Holiday Inn, location of the gem show and immediately noticed the adjacent Tellus Science Museum nearing construction.  When complete, it will house the entire Weinman Mineral Museum collection as well as an observatory, digital planetarium, full skeleton of a T. Rex and other exhibits.  That will be another trip to Cartersville after it opens in early 2009.

From the previous gem shows I had attended, I expected to see vendor tents dotting the landscape but none were present.  I noticed a large number of tow vehicles with enclosed trailers parked behind the Holiday Inn, so quickly decided the show must be inside the hotel.  We entered and found the entire first floor occupied with gem and mineral dealers, including the ballroom, lounge area, lobby, and many of he lodging rooms.  A bit reluctant to just walk into one of the hotel rooms with the door held open, I ventured into the first room and it was quickly evident this show was unlike others I had attended.  As I went from room to room, it was almost as if I were in a museum viewing awesome specimens and rough gemstones.  I was now exposed to the world of mineral specimen collecting, which quickly showed me one could spend $10 or $10,000 depending on your tastes and desires.  In fact, I saw one specimen of some “ite” I had never heard of from a mine in Alma, Colorado which proudly displayed a price of $30,000.  A companion specimen in the same case was a 2”x3” section of matrix almost completely covered by rhodochrosite crystals for a tidy sum of $21,000.

There were about 70 dealers present, 50 or so primarily selling specimens.  One dealer's entire display was under long and short-wave black light.  That room alone was worth the trip.  Others were from India, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, and all over the U.S. Since my interests were mainly in cabbing rough and slabs, I passed up making any of the specimens my own and focused on the dealers with cabochon making material.    One thing I determined at this show was there appeared to be little cabbing rough.  Most of what I ended up buying was from under the dealer tables and was not on display.  One dealer, The Prospector’s Shop, was a lady from outside Pittsburgh, PA who had a mix of interesting items, but no rough on display.  As we talked, I mentioned I was not a specimen collector, and to such folks, was probably viewed as a “rock butcher” since my intent is to see what is exposed by the rock saw.  With that said, she pointed our 5 boxes of slabs hidden under one of her tables well out of sight.  Although she did not have a huge number of slabs, those she did have were outstanding.  Since I was looking for a few specific things, I only purchased one – an unknown green host rock shot through with native copper.  During later discussion with Steve and Gloria Adams, I mentioned the Prospector’s Shop dealer with the hidden boxes of slabs.  They can vouch for the outstanding quality she had available.

The highlight of the gem show for me was a visit (actually a number of visits) to the booth of Benny Fenn.  If you are a reader of Rock and Gem Magazine, there have been 3 feature articles in the magazine over the last year or so about this incredible rockhound and mineral dealer.  He specializes in Mexican minerals, and is very well respected by the Mexican local people.  Minerals discussed in all three recent articles from Rock and Gem were available for sale in his booth.  He offered selenite crystals from the mine where the Cave of Swords is located.  Also for sale in his booth was the facet grade Labradorite from the February 2008 article.  The most noticeable mineral in his booth was a mix of chrysocolla and cuprite, which displayed as brilliant green/teal and red in the rough, slabs, and cabs he had on display.  As we talked, I discovered he also had a number of crates of this colorful cabbing material in rough form under his tables.  While he weighed my selection, he mentioned he also had rough available (but not displayed) of a new “scenic” jasper from Mexico.  My interest heightened when I asked if it was the same “scenic” jasper from the Rock and Gem Magazine article (January, 2008) and he confirmed it was.   Needless to say, my carry-bag was heavier as I left his booth.

While there were no tents with scores of cabbing “rough” dealers as we find at our club’s Tannehill Show, and around Franklin, NC, this was an extremely worthwhile trip.  Brenda and I viewed scores of “museum-quality” collector specimens.  We met world-class mineral prospectors/dealers.  We saw enough of the new Tellus Science Museum to guarantee a return visit once it opens.  And….I found cabbing rough I had searched for for years at prices I was willing to pay, as well as the added bonus of getting some of the Rock and Gem “scenic” jasper made for a very interesting and successful trip.

Yes, this was the 1st Annual Southeastern Gem and Mineral Show in Cartersville, Georgia.  I certainly hope the promoters and dealers were satisfied enough to return for the 2nd Annual show in 2009.  I sure will.

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