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Mineral oddities will be the norm at this year’s Gem Show

Citizen Staff Writer



The person who left behind a tennis shoe in an Australian mine might have expected someone to find it covered in nothing but fungus 25 years later.

But instead what surfaced was a sparkling shoe covered in bling, namely the crystals that grew on the footwear after it was entombed underground for so long.

The bedazzled shoe is one of the items that will be displayed at the 55th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, which begins Thursday and continues through Sunday at the Tucson Convention Center.

The theme of this year’s show is “mineral oddities,” quirks of nature that can’t always be explained.

Attractions include the 83-carat Maharaja Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl – the largest of its kind known to exist – on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, and a Brazilian quartz crystal shaped like a fish. Giant 10-foot-by- 5-foot slabs of petrified wood from China will also be on display.

In addition, mineral collections from museums in Germany, Russia, New Mexico, California, Bisbee and even the University of Arizona, as well as mineral oddities from private collectors will be exhibited.

“Every mineral is different and has the potential to form into new and strange shapes, some that have never been seen by people,” says Peter Megaw, exhibition chairman for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society.

Mineral oddities fall into 29 categories. Some of the more common classifications are pseudomorphs, scepters, inclusion and twins.

Pseudomorphs are minerals that have been replaced by another. For example, petrified wood is a pseudomorph because the wood has been replaced by silica.

Scepters are minerals that form a shaft with a rounded end that looks like a ball.

An inclusion is any material that is trapped inside the mineral during its formation.

Twins are minerals that form identical symmetrical shapes on the same surface.

“Mineral oddities are highly subjective. It’s really a matter of what a person or collector considers an oddity and strikes their interest,” Megaw says.

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is the largest show of its kind in the United States. More than 250 gem and mineral dealers from around the world will be on hand to showcase and sell gemstones, minerals, fossils, jewelry and more at this year’s show, which is open to the public.

Mineral oddities will be the norm at this year’s Gem Show


What: The 55th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.

Price: $8.25 for adults, free for children 13 and younger with a paying adult. Military Appreciation Day is Saturday. All active and retired military (with military ID) and their dependents will be admitted free.

Info: Tickets can be purchased through all Tucson Convention Center outlets and at the door. For more details, 321-1000, www.tgms.org

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