Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tucson - Day 5

Last night, some visitors from home arrived, and today we'll all go together to see more of the gem and mineral show.

One of the visitors is Peter Russell, curator of the Earth Sciences Museum at the University of Waterloo -- a place well worth a visitor if you are ever in southern Ontario. He's looking for new specimens for the Museum, so the first place we'll go is the InnSuites Hotel on Granada, which is sort of a mecca for fossil dealers.

In the fossil ballroom there, you can find all sorts of fossils and fossil-related items. Beware: some of the prices are rather high! One ballroom dealer was selling opalized Cleoniceras ammonites from Madagascar for $150, but you can get a whole flat of similar ones for the same price a few blocks away, at the Ramada Inn.

One thing I really liked was a giant fossil palm tree from Wyoming, but unfortunately the owners would not allow me to put a picture on my blog. You'll have to make do with this spectacular opalized ammonite from Alberta. The picture doesn't show the scale, but this thing is about the size of a laundry basket:

Gem quality opalized ammonite is known as "ammolite" in the trade, and there is a semi-secret procedure for stabilizing it and making it suitable for jewelry.

Of course, the InnSuites is not just fossils. Konstantin Buslovich of Phantom was selling this beautiful heliodor (a variety of beryl, the same family as aquamarine and emerald) from Ukraine, a steal at only $9300. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my $10,000 bill.

Outside the InnSuites, in a huge tent to the west, we found the Granada Avenue Mineral Show. A giant triceratops skull guards the entrance to the street. Here it is ferociously munching down on an unsuspecting van:

This show consisted of only five dealers, but one of them, Aurora Mineral Corp., had this really spectacular quartz geode, larger than a refrigerator:

This will be my last post from Tucson. Tomorrow I have to pack and get ready to head back home. Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did!

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