Gem Safari — Taos Rockers' international mineral collecting
Our way of doing things...
"We attend various gem & mineral shows throughout the region as buyers. We have been attending the Denver spring (April) and Denver fall (September) and Albuquerque (March) shows since 2003, and the Tucson show since 2004.
Over the years we have established working relationships with many dealers throughout the world. When possible, we prefer to work with families who are active in the industry - those whose family actively mine or collect, prep, polish, design, manufacture and market minerals, fossils, jewelry, stoneware and related items. We are proud to be friends of a family of three brothers who operate mines in Brazil and whose sons are being groomed for the business. Our friends from Peru employ dozens of artisans polishing, shaping and carving material while operating a warehouse run by mother, daughter and son. There's the father/daughter team that supplies us with jewelry from India and the husband and wife designing jewelry in Canada.
The list goes on and on including families from China, Australia, Germany, Madagascar and Morocco. We also actively purchase from small mining operators and collectors - eliminating middlemen and keeping prices affordable." - Anne & Cortney
When possible, we collect material throughout the western US - in recent years some of what we have collected ourselves are:
AZ Patagonia jasper, quartz, petrified wood, fire agate, turquoise, Cu-minerals, apache tears, hemimorphite, geodes, travertine, wulfenite
CA kyanite, dumortierite
CO peridot, smoky quartz, garnet, beryl (aquamarine), topaz, amazonite
ID jasper, schorl, agate
MT sapphire, amethyst/smoky quartz
NV opal, garnet, smoky quartz, turquoise
NM peridot, turquoise, marine fossils, staurolite, Harding pegmatite, Mn minerals, fluorite, petrified wood, Pecos diamonds, calcite, sunstone
OR sunstone, obsidian, opal, snake-skin agate
TX petrified wood
WY petrified wood, fossil fish
Dust Devil Mine - Oregon Sunstones ... Royal Peacock Mine, Virgin Valley Opals, Nevada
Fossicking in Lightning Ridge, Australia ... Sapphire hunting - Inverell ... Anne & Cortney underground
Traveled within New South Wales - Lightning Ridge (black opal) and Inverell (sapphires) - self collected both areas
Tourmaline buying in Tubussis ... Road to Goboboseb ... Hoba Meteorite
Traveled within north 1/2 of country. No self collecting - purchases from native miners and rock shops.
Only mineral dealer in Tsumeb ... Miner's Camp Goboboseb ... Miner's Market
Repeat of 2011 trip with more time and flexibility.
On April 8-24, we (Anne & Cortney) traveled to Namibia in south west Africa for our second mineral safari tour to that country. This time the tour was lead by our great friends Pat Tucci and Zelda Bailey, the new owners of Geodite and long-term mineral dealers from the Colorado Front Range area. As this was the first tour offered by the new Geodite, it was doubbed the “Guinea Pig” tour and several appropriate mascots accompanied us on the trip.
Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution. Some 14% of the land is protected, this in a country slightly more than half the size of Alaska. The terrain is mostly high plateau with the Namib desert along the coast and the Kalahari Desert in the east. It looks a lot like southwestern New Mexico, especially if you replace the mesquite with acacia trees. The tropic of Capricorn runs through the middle of the country. Namibia has a desert climate, it is hot, dry, and rainfall is very sparse and erratic. We arrived at the end of the rainy season and into their autumn. Still hot in the north (Etosha) yet foggy and cooler along the coast (Swakopmund).
Our primary objective for visiting Namibia was the purchase of minerals. We were able to purchase the following minerals while in the country:
Almandine (garnet), Amethyst (quartz), Anglesite, Aquamarine (beryl), Azurite, Calcite with Phlogopite, Carrusite, Dementoid (garnet), Dioptase, Epidote, Fluorapatite, Fluorite, Halite, Prhenite, Smoky Quartz, Topaz, and Tourmaline.
Mindat.org lists 715 valid minerals for Namibia in general, 100 of which are type localities (many of those from Tsumeb). Namibia is divided into 13 mining regions, of which we visited the Erongo and Otjikoto (Tsumeb) regions.
Namibia is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for about 12% of GDP and provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Namibia is a world-class producer of gem quality rough Diamonds (marine & beach deposits), Uranium (4th largest world producer), Zinc and acid-grade fluorspar (fluorite). Namibia also produces large quantities of Gold, Copper, Lead, Salt and Dimension Stone.
Highlights of our trip included visits to the village of Tubissis for minerals, the settlement of Uis and outlying Gobobseb for minerals, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the town of Tsumeb and its museam, the Hoba meteorite, Etosha National (wildlife) Park with thousands of animals, the town of Swakopmund along the Skeleton Coast (Atlantic ocean) along with the Kristalle Gallerie and Namib Sand Dunes, the Cape Cross seal colony and salt deposits, the Uiba-Oas Crystals Market (Spitzkoppe open-air Market) for more mineral shopping, and the capital city of Windhoek. We spent eighteen days in-country.
The hardest part of the entire trip was the 32 hour time period between boarding the plane in Windhoek and arriving in Albuquerque, including the 16.5 hour flight between Johannesburg, South Africa and JFK, New York.
Buying Agates in Plovdiv Bulgaria ... Opal Ledge ... Underground Copper mine - Balkan Mountains
Our guide is a native Bulgarian geologist/mineral dealer who worked throughout the country both under Russian occupation and since independence in 1990 and established the first Bulgarian "rock shop"
Traveled to 2 underground mines in the Western Balkan Mountains (Copper minerals), 1 underground mine in the Rhodope Mountains (Sphalerite & Galena), numerous surface collecting areas (agates, jasper, opal, amethyst & petrified wood) Purchased various minerals from local miners in the Madan area, Plovdiv & Sophia
Container shipped to Tucson with approximately 600 pounds of material
Guide - Ivan Pojarevski/Bulgarian Minerals & Gems Co.; 2 couples