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The 2024 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

As long time readers know I do several meteorite classification projects with Jason Phillips every year for fun. It gives us a chance to stay in touch more and chat a few extra times during the year. We had been waiting for NWA 16447 to make it into the Meteoritical Bulletin for a while and be officially published. We knew it was a carbonaceous chondrite when we sent it off for classification but having it be a CK3 was really cool. Here is the basic data from the Meteoritical Bulletin and an image of my half of the three stone find.

 

Location:Northwest Africa
Date:P 2023 Jun
Mass (g):764
Pieces:3
Class:Ck3
Shock stage:S2
Weathering grade:low
Fayalite (mol%):10.1±8.5
Ferrosilite (mol%):6.1±9.4
Wollastonite (mol%):3.3±2.2

 

 

The 2024 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Paul and I got to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show this year. We only had a couple of days, but it was fun. With all the things that have happened in the last three years we had not been able to go. We headed out at just before 6 AM knowing that we would lose an hour and figuring that it would take 10 hours to drive to Tucson we did not plan on seeing anyone on Thursday. But Friday morning would find us up and about at the two main hotels that now have many of the meteorite dealers.

I decided not to buy much. I have really cut back to just the one or two meteorites that get classified each year. I have a nice collection and no room to display more than a tiny portion at one time. But I needed to get some small pieces of inexpensive meteorite to give away at a talk I was invited to present to the Gem and Mineral Society in town. As it turned out I found a dealer in a tent next to what used to be the Ramada and picked out a nice little pile of stones and they were very cheap. Very cheap being four cents a gram. So cheap in fact that I worried initially if some of the pieces were actually meteorite. I was rather careful about picking stones that had features that were good indicators of them being genuine space rocks. I wondered as I picked them what super old strewnfield they might have come from. Al Haggounia 001 was high on the list in my mind. Once I got home and put them on the lap to grind a window into them it became instantly apparent that they were Al Haggounia 001. The orange mud the lap made and the little remaining metal and the very occasional chondrule were a dead giveaway. The high limonite content and the high sulfur content create that distinctive color on the lap. They won’t be very fancy stones for the attendees at the talk, but Al Haggounia 001 has a great story and is one of the oldest meteorites on Earth. It has an estimated terrestrial age of 23,000 years plus or minus 2,00 years. Calling it a “fossil meteorite” is surely justified. With more than three tons having been found and being seriously underappreciated as well as for a long time being misidentified as an aubrite this Enstatite Impact Melt Rock should be a fun meteorite to give away. The stones all have a polished window on them, and most have at least one tiny speck of nickel-iron showing.

 

 

We visited all of the dealers that were open at the old Ramada location now called Days Inn by Wyndham Tucson City Center, but I suspect us old guys will always call it the Ramada. Our first stop there was at Mike Miller’s room to say hello. It had been four years since we saw him. We had a great chat as he continued to do some final setting up. It was the first official day of the show. He would send us some material after the show was over and we would see him for dinner that evening along with other friends.

Kitty and Marvin Kilgore had a suite there and we got a chance to catch up on what has been happening in their lives and the lives of their children that were very young, when we started out in this business.

Moving on, I found a room that I often visit that has artifacts. About ten years ago I thought hard about buying Roman bronze arrowheads from them and ended up not doing so. I have occasionally kicked myself for passing them up. I finally ordered one from an online source that sells museum type specimens. It was OK but short and missing the socket on the end. So I got myself a nicer one this year at the gem show.

 

 

We made it through all the meteorite dealers there and moved on a bit before noon to the next hotel on our list where we had three friends to see. These hotels change their names like crazy year by year. This one is now called the Ramada by Wyndham (Riverpark Inn) and next to it is the old Days Inn, which is called something else too, I think. The pay by the day parking at the end of the block was basically full but we did find a spot finally at the far edge near the bike path and the dry wash. We decided to walk all the way to the old Days Inn and see Bud and Joshua Eisler first. I was keeping my eye out for a friend who had always sold meteorites in a tent behind the Days Inn, but he was not there. I was glad then that I had already gotten the meteorites for the club meeting talk. It was great to see Bud and chat with him and find out about all his adventures of the last three years.

I thought hard about getting some more Ruby Zoisite for making cabochons. I get pieces that are nearly pure ruby, and they work very well for gemstones if you are careful to cut out pieces that are free of cracks. But I have a good amount still and I made a lot of stones when I did a batch several years ago. Also the selection was ok but not great, so again, I passed on getting that. I was having a rather economical day so far.

We made our way back up the street to the Pueblo Inn or whatever it is called now and had a great visit with Keith and Dana Jenkerson of KD Meteorites. I did not buy any meteorites there, but I did get four large pieces of native copper from the Great Lakes area. It is historically interesting to me having good evidence of being mined in ancient times by people from across the Atlantic Ocean. Keith has developed a method for etching the copper and it makes it really beautiful. I don’t know if I would call it a Widmanstätten pattern as in iron meteorites, but it is certainly a crystalline pattern in the native copper. We had a great time chatting with them and moved on to our last location for the day.

 

We had wondered over the last year if Erich Haiderer of Cosmic Highway was going to be at the show this year. His information was listed in the hotel vendors list so we headed to his room number. We were immediately warmly welcomed by Erich and Silvia. We had a good chat with him outback of his suite as he showed us new material on the tables set up there and we chatted about tektites and shared some memories of Darryl Futrell. The suites at the hotels are very hot from all the display lights and it was time for Paul and me to get something to drink. We had eaten breakfast at the Denny’s near our hotel but as it turned out we did not eat lunch any of the days at the show. We took two spare chairs from a table in the food court area and sat for a few minutes drinking our sodas before heading back to the car. We had a wonderful first day.

We had just enough time to relax, freshen up and go to dinner. We had bumped into Ruben Garcia and Bob Cucchiara earlier in the day and decided where we were going for dinner. It is a long tradition to eat with these men and usually a few more friends on Saturday night. But this year it was just going to be a fun meal with them and Mike Miller at what turned out to be a great restaurant. And it was on Friday night. The food was fantastic. I am on a diet that does not include red meat. I get chicken and turkey and fish so with apologies to my doctor I had a New York Steak, and it was perhaps the best piece of beef I have ever eaten. Wow! Or maybe it was that I had not had a piece of beef in almost two years. Regardless of the reason it was a great meal and the conversation and joking around was something I think that Paul and I had both missed, not having been to the last three shows.

 


Bob Cucchiara, Ruben Garcia and Paul Harris looking very happy. It was great to see them in person and not by email.

 

 

I wanted to go to the wholesale show. So on Saturday morning we headed south down to Palo Verde Rd and the big tent show. I was looking for some sterling silver findings and some beaded half round sterling silver wire if I could find it. I eventually found part of what I needed. We had passed Ivory Jacks booth in the first tent we had gone in, and I told Paul I would catch up with him in a few minutes and headed back there before we left the wholesale show. I wanted to get some mammoth ivory beads. I have a good supply of fossil mammoth ivory and can make the beads myself but since I was at the show why not save some work and get a couple of strings from Ivory Jack. It only took a few minutes to go back to the first tent and pick them out and return to the plaza between the tents and meet back up with Paul.

 

 

 

We were soon off to the next location I needed to go to. The Kino Sports Complex show, like all the shows, used to be called something else, but I have conformed to calling it that now. I wanted to try and find a lapidary supply company. I was looking for diamond polishing compound. I can get it online and have many times but when I am at the gem show I get the supplies I need because it is far cheaper and there is no shipping fee. The first place I tried had none and we wandered the show for a few minute and basically stumbled upon the Johnson Brothers tent. I have bought items from them many times. I use their diamond lapping discs and felt pads but have never used their diamond polishing compound. But I am going to use it now. I bought four big five gram syringes of 100k mesh compound and a bottle of 100 carats of 50k mesh diamond compound. And the price was really very good. That might be enough of the polishing material to last for as long as I will be doing the lapidary work.

 

 

It was a little after noontime when we headed back to the car and were on to the next stop which was Suzanne Morrison and Raining Rocks. It was not very far. When we got there, She and her sister Lisa Marie were out having fun. Mom was there and shared a wonderful poem about the Tucson gem show that she had written. What a joy it was to see her after having missed a few years of the show. Odie the super lapidary expert and mechanical wizard member of the Raining Rock team called Suzanne and they would be back in an hour or so. Paul and I headed off to our next stop to return to Raining Rocks in a short time.

As fate would have it our next stop of the day was to see the third sister of the family Elizabeth at Aerolite Meteorites. We had a great visit there and took a bit longer than planned but we were having too much fun to leave. We met Rayner and Marissa who are the fantastically talented team members who work with Elizabeth making Aerolite a great company. We got all caught up on life and business and I grabbed a couple of images of the Aerolite team before we headed back a little late to Raining Rocks.

 


Elizabeth, Rayner, and Marissa Team Aerolite.

 

We had such a good time with Suzanne, Lisa Marie, Odie and Mom for a long time. We got the complete tour of the building and all the tumblers and saws and the rocks out back. But best of all we had a great visit with them and got all caught up again as we had with everyone else. They had work to do, and we finally said goodbye.

 


Suzanne, Odie, and Lisa Marie who were having such fun at Raining Rocks.

 

It was late afternoon and we had dinner to eat since we had missed another lunch. It was off to the Cracker Barrel north of town near our hotel. I love Cracker Barrel but the nearest one to where we live is fifty miles away. Even as much as I love their food it is not enough for a hundred mile drive to get something to eat. We had not had snacks all weekend and we were getting up really early to start home in the morning. A quick trip into Walgreen’s was a chance to get something for breakfast and something to eat for dessert back at the hotel.

I set the alarm and as often happens with me I woke up before the alarm went off. I was up and ready to go all packed when Paul knocked on my door. We checked out and began the 10 hour drive home. I got this funny picture of the sunrise through the side mirror of the car as we drove. It was a short but fun trip to Tucson and the Gem and Mineral Show. There were just a few people we did not see. That was a shame, but we used the time well that we had. Another day at the show would have been more than we needed.

 

 

I am sort of already looking forward to maybe going to the show next year, but who know what the future will bring.

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