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10.03.11 -October News
A bit late I know , no excuses, but here's my Munich 2010 report.
The highlight for me was the exhibition of Brazilian minerals on display as this years theme. The specimens were superb, with some I haven't really seen for sale anywhere else. What I mean is that I haven't seen minerals like some of them on any dealers stand. There wasn't any mineral that was not obvious to this area but what was there was mind blowing.
Take for instance this apatite and tourmaline specimen. A very unusual formation.
There were an number of these strange etched aquamarines, which not only had superb colour but had incredible formation as well.
The following chrysoberyl is a stunner as is the kunzite.
The Jonas mine cranberry tourmalines were superb, and you can get one of your own by checking my worldwide gallery where a nice example is for sale.
This morganite was huge as was the 2 quartzes. These are in the collection of Luis Menezes and I haven't seen a finer laser crystal or elestial quartz than these. Each quartz must have been at least 2 feet long!
My favourite next is a wonderful star rutile in a quartz crystal followed by an unusual sceptre tourmaline.
And lastly 2 tourmaline specimens which I really liked.
30.03.10 -March News
Better late than never I suppose. This will be my Tucson report for 2010.
Some changes had taken place this year in Tucson, such as The Innsuites being renamed and at last the I10 road finally being finished, which was very good. No real finds were around this year to cause a stir except that I managed to pick up some dravites from Brumado, Brazil that are reddish in colour and elongated for dravite. An example can be seen in my worldwide gallery. Also fairly new is a combination tourmaline from Afghanistan which I have reliably been informed is a combination of dravite and uvite and is also blue in colour, which is very unusual. Again an example can be found in my worldwide gallery. Prices seemed to be quite high as a rule but purchases could be made if you looked hard.
I made a stop at the Tucson mineral museum this year and was blown away by the incredible copper minerals they had from the Bisbee locality. Unfortunately my photographs don't do justice to their splendour. There was a fabulous cuprite specimen which hasn't photographed too well, but this one of cuprite in calcite isn't too bad. The azurites were amazing too.
Downstairs were other mineral exhibits with equally great specimens, the best in my eyes coming from the collection of a Hubert Charles de Monmorrier.
At the Westward Look show I came across a tanzanite crystal that I had first seen being photographed by Jeff Scovil. It is an amazing 8 x 5.5 inches in size, priced at $150,000, which I didn't think too bad for the largest tanzanite I had ever seen and was being presented by Green Mountain Minerals. You can see it in a case with other Tanzanite crystals.
The theme of the main Tucson show was gem crystals and here are a few examples.
A lovely new find which Francois Lietard was exhibiting was some fabulous large hubnerite crystals on pink fluorite with needle sharp, clear quartzes from Peru. Here are 2 examples.
He also had some gem sodalite from Afghanistan which were superb.
Other items that caught my eye are......
Two of my favourites. Stalactitic rhodochrosite from Argentina with a photo showing how these minerals were formed, and a star rutile from Brazil. To own one in quartz would be a dream for me, but obviously at a price I could afford.
I was also honoured in that I saw a raccoon this year as well as a huge, enormous white owl. I just need to see the mountain lion and bobcat to make a set!!
21.01.10 -January News
HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone and many thanks for continuing to support Crystal Vine.
The BBC showed a new program on the television yesterday entitled "How the Earth made us" which is about how geology, geography and climate have influenced mankind. One of the spectacular sites it shows is the huge gypsum crystals in the caves of Naica in Mexico which were discovered in 2000. Click below to view a short video of this cave.
More information can be found at the following BBC website: BBC
Nothing like this has been seen before and it is such a shame that it cannot be opened for the general public to view without the crystals being destroyed in the process.
13.12.09 -December News
New for me this year was exhibiting at the Paris mineral show. As you know from previous reports I have visited the show as a customer, but as Paris is relatively near I decided to take some of my stock and try it out. This year was the first time in a new hotel for the show and as you can imagine for Paris, unloading and loading was quite stressful, especially as I needed to be on the road by 8pm on the Sunday in order to catch my ferry home. With a few odd turns, thanks to TomTom, I just made the 11.45pm sailing which should have been the 11.15 sailing, but due to high winds previously in the day, sailings were running 30 minutes late, thank God.
I took a pared down version of my usual stand as the price per metre was quite high, and mostly took opals with me. These proved to be a great success and something I might try out for the UK. That is just leaving several kilos of Ethiopian opal on the table for customers to rummage through and select their pieces priced per gram.
Here is my stand with just 2 cabinets and 4 kilos of the new Welo Ethiopian opal on the table. I didn't have much time to look around the show as I was working on my own and the show was open from 10 am until 7pm every night. However my neighbour, Alain Martaud had a fabulous fluorite from Elmwood the size of which I had not seen before.
I guess it was around 40cm across and had some nice calcites on the back too.
I also managed a quick shot looking across the room in the show which doesn't really show that much, sorry. Now I have been once I know what to expect so next year expect a slightly better report.
04.11.09 -November News
Yet again this year I had a hurried trip to visit the Munich mineral show as I had a fair in the UK at Kempton to do the same weekend the Munich show finished. I think that numbers were down this year, not only for the trade and public numbers but several empty tables were also to be found where exhibitors were either unable to attend or the organisers could not fill them. I heard many dealers say that the show had not been that good for them.
Again I found it hard to source good material at reasonable prices. Not only was the exchange rate against me but also dealers' prices. Some were really ridiculous, especially the Chinese and Indian dealers who had some new material were really trying to sell to trade at retail prices. However having said that I did manage to pick up some new find material at reasonable prices. There is a new thomsonite on mesolite from India and a new barite from China. You will find examples of the Indian material on my site but not the barite as I sold it at the weekend before I had a chance to put it on the website. However here are 2 examples of this new material.
As usual there were a couple of specimens that caught my eye at the show. The first was a stunning twinned cuprite crystal that was around probably 5cm long, was very red and quite gemmy. Unfortunately my photo does not do it justice as I was unable to get a close up that was in focus, but I know the person who managed to buy it and hopefully will get a better photo once he has Jeff Scovil photogragh it.
Another impressive display piece was this red tourmaline on matrix which probably stood around 2 foot tall.
The main exhibition was on zeolites and I must admit I found it quite disappointing on the whole with a number of what I considered to be mediocre specimens. The ones I did like were the flat topped apophyllites that were found several years ago.
An impressive display was of a new find of pale smoky quartz and pink fluorites from Switzerland . The quartz crystals were very large maybe around 3 to 5 feet across, were crystal clear as Swiss quartz usually is and very clean. Photos all around the display showed how the quartz crystals were extracted and helicopted away from the mountain.
And finally was a superb rhodonite crystal from Brazil, the like of which I haven't seen before. Almost a flat plate with sharply defined terminated edges. It did disappear from the cabinet so maybe someone bought it, but with a price tag of around £60,000, it wasn't for the average collector.
Well I forgot, my news item couldn't be complete without a photo of some stunning opals, so here are some to drool over.
07.07.09 -July News
I have just about got myself back on track after having visited the 2009 Saint Marie aux Mines show last month and will start the process of updating my site with the new stock I found. Hunting for good specimens at fair prices was a bit of a struggle this year what with the poor exchange rate and the financial situation everyone finds themselves in. However I was pleased with what I purchased and did manage to find some items that were new finds, such as some stunning blue quartz from Brazil, green demantoid garnets from Madagascar or just minerals I have never bought before such as amazing polished clinoclore stalactites.
As usual the weather was pretty gorgeous.
A typical view up one of the roads bursting with people and tents.
Here are some British friends John and Stacey on thieir stands. I didn't exhibit again this year as I find it too difficult to buy and sell at the same time if I'm not sharing a stand with someone else.
I was impressed with a few specimens I saw this year.
François Lietard had this amazing gemmy sodalite specimen from Pakistan. I have never seen such an intense and rich blue before in such a quality.
Some stunning blue and pink fluorites were also on display coming from France.
And Michel and Claudette Cabrol had a very interesting dravite crystal on matrix from Brazil.
I found an impressive rutile from Brazil too. Quite stunning.
I spoke to many dealers who found it hard to find specimens and there didn't seem to be the typical buzz around this year. However like all mineral shows I enjoyed myself and it was good to meet up and catch up with friends again. One of my best specimens from this visit can be found in my mineral of the month gallery, a stunning rhodochrosite from Hotazel.
11.04.09 -April News
Rocks of a different nature!! This is rock and roll!
I had to share this as I never dreamt that I would get to see Tina Turner in concert and when I found out she was coming out of retirement and doing a tour I couldn't resist getting tickets to see her. Unfortunately I was as far from the stage as you could get, but still had a great view. The video below was taken by someone much nearer. Sorry about the poor quality though.
24.02.09 -February News
I have just about recovered from my trip to the 2009 Tucson show as just after I got back to the UK on the 15th Feb. I had to prepare all the new material for the York show the following weekend, as well as try and get back into a regular sleeping pattern. I must say it was glorious to finally have the sun on your body after weeks of grey and dull weather here in the UK. This year the weather in Tucson was great for the majority of the time with day temperatures around the mid 70's dropping to around 40 to 50 degrees at night. A couple of days it was a lot colder with some rain and snow on the tops of the mountains, but otherwise blue skies all around.
I noticed basically 2 things about this year's Tucson, 1 was the high prices and 2 was the drop in numbers of visitors. I couldn't seem to get that excited about the shows, nothing seemed to be excitingly new, there didn't seem the buzz like last year. It might have been due to the very poor exchange rate between the dollar and the pound, but I think for some reason many dealers put high prices on their merchandise. Even items that were meant to be keystone (half price) still would have been too expensive to buy, yet alone sell on, so I had to take my time and sniff out the good deals. I did manage to buy some of the fluorite's with calcites which were very expensive in Munich last year (see my earlier report) and bought them at what I thought was a very good price. They can be seen for sale in my worldwide gallery. As well as these I bought the following, gold specimen and nuggets, tanzanites, orange kyanite, tourmaline slice, rhodochrosite slice, ajoite and papagoite specimens and beads, bipyramidal wulfenites from mexico, blue kyanite blades, carvings, boulder opals, Ethiopian opals, mimetite, rutilated quartz beads, emerald necklace, sapphire necklaces, Madagascan polished hematite in quartz sceptres, bone pendants, rough boulder opal specimens, fire agate, Idaho opal, cuprite crystals, legrandites and a superb anglesite, as well as a few other things.
Visitor numbers did seem down to me, although I think the Convention centre seemed well attended. Even the Holidone and Gem mall where a lot of bead and jewellery exhibitors are to be found, numbers seemed well down compared to last year. Interesting times!
You can always find amazing specimens at Tucson and also large specimens too. Here is my friend and fellow exhibitor Richard Scull next to a large amethyst cave which we found outside one of the huge marquees. Along with an amazing quartz carving which was at the Pueblo Inn. This particular company had many very fine carvings which I had not seen before.
A couple of items took my eye as I wandered around the different shows. This fabulous boulder opal was being sold by Chris Goode and had come out of his own collection.
Another superb African rhodochrosite I found at the Convention Centre....
And a superb plate of red sphalerite from Spain that I found in the room of Victor Yount at the Westward Look show.
I had to take the next photo as I think only in the USA would you find this...........
I am interested by the material that is coming out of Tanzania recently, such as the spessartite orange garnets and orange kyanite, and found this new find of purple/lilac axinite crystals. The price prevented me from obtaining any this trip.
The theme of the Convention Centre show was mineral oddities and I found many strange and bizarre specimens as well as some fabulous ones too. The strangest has to be these two, both psuedomorphs, the original having been replaced by a mineral.
Other bizarre sights were as follows:
Stacked apatites from the Sapo mine in Brazil.
Crystals in a crystal.
Quartz after halite from Morroco.
A case of strangely shaped minerals, of which this one below caught my eye.
Goethite after marcasite.
Someone had had some fun with the next mineral.... it is natural, not been carved!
It was also good to see some first rate specimens that had strange habits which came from the Gail and Jim Spann collection.
It was also good to see a cabinet of first class British specimens from the collection of Lyndsey Greenbank.
And something I have been hunting for, for quite some time, papagoite in quartz. Luckily I did manage to find 3 specimens that i could buy, but nothing as good as these ones. The African dealer was selling all of the specimens as one job lot. I didn't even ask the price !
Something I also found quite stunning was this turquoise carving.
And my report wouldn't be complete without a photo of one of these guys.......
This is one of the reasons why I love going to Tucson. What else could you ask out of life, amazing minerals, stunning wildlife and great friends.
Jan & Stacey Vermaak from Spiritual Planet, me, Rod and JoAn (our friends who own the Casita where we were staying) at a new Indian restaurant in Tucson.
So please bear with me whilst I update my site with all my latest acquisitions from the 2009 Tucson mineral show. Hopefully I shall get most of it posted by the end of February.
17.12.08 -December News
A few days ago I visited the Paris mineral show at the Marriot Hotel, Rive Gauche. It was on for 3 days and I attended on the Sunday and Monday. Next year apparently it will be held at a new venue and will revert back to the first weekend in December.
This was the entry to the show.
Stands are crammed together making long rows and with low ceilings and lots of halogen lights it becomes quite hot in the show.
There were quite a few people around and a few things caught my eye. This lovely quartz with tourmaline and pink mica from brazil, for one.
Another was this stunning Moroccan anglesite, but it got snapped up even before I was able to see it. However I did manage to get a photo of it.
I also found a couple of smaller specimens of this material which will shortly appear in the worldwide gallery.
And a French dealer called Gerard Alias who mainly sold fossils had some superb opalised belamites. This one in my opinion was the best.
A really good example of Kunzite from Pakistan.
I came back with a few new items, but as the pound was so weak against the euro I had to choose wisely. You will see some polished quartzes with fluorite inclusions from Madagascar, a couple of largish polished copper plates from Michigan, a couple of scolercites from India, some red Zircons from Pakistan and the 2 anglesites I mentioned before.
Travelling back on the RER train to the airport in the rush hour, is certainly not to be recommended and I was absolutely amazed at the way in which the Parisians stuffed and crammed themselves into every available space on the train, forcing themselves onto what I would have said to be a totally full carriage!
10.11.08 -November News
I've just received some photos from 2 friends of mine that I would like to post here. The first are 5 photos of the opal specimens which were part of the Australia exhibit at this year's Munich show, which unfortunately I missed due to the fact that I had to return to England to take part in a mineral show and therefore missed the exhibit. As you know opals are notoriously hard to photograph. so these photos show the great quality that the opals were as no particular lighting was used or specialised camera. Thanks to François Lietard for these photos.
My friend Ross Whittaker has taken these other 2 photos. The first is of an unusual combination. uvite on beryl(emerald) with magnesite from Brumado, Bahia Brazil.
This is now in his collection. A great find. The 2nd photo is an example of the rhodochrosites that have been coming out of China. I bought a specimen in Munich but it got snapped up at the Kempton show 2 days later. Something I obviously need to buy more of. I think they compete with the Sweet home rhodo's.
06.11.08 -November News
A few days ago I made a very quick visit to the Munich show in Germany . Unfortunately I only had 1 and a half days at the show as I had to return to England to exhibit at the Kempton mineral show. It was a shame as I did not get to see the Australia exhibit which I knew would have lots of nice opals on display. However, hopefully a friend of mine who was exhibiting might have taken some photos for me and I will post them here if he did manage to get some good shots.
Prices seemed to be quite high and I struggled to find good material at a reasonable price. Some calcite with stibnite took my eye and I bought a few specimens, making sure I kept one for my own collection as I'm not sure there will be lots of these available. I have posted a nice example as my mineral of November.
As I was rushed I did not have that much time to take photos but I noticed a few of my favourite minerals up for sale and had to photograph them.
For some reason I just love legrandite and very rarely find any. I had to take this one on Crystal Classics stand. Funnily I did find 2 specimens from the type locality which I did manage to buy and will post them to my worldwide gallery shortly.
There were a few of these new combinations of fluorite and calcite from China but high costs prevented me from purchasing any.
Another stunning rhodochrosite.
François Lietard hard at work, with his colleague Blandine and my friend Ross Whittaker enjoying a good red before he had to leave to return to England. Yes the glasses were full and Ross's glasses deliberately staged!
Other pieces I did manage to buy were 30 tourmaline slices from Madagascar. These were old stock and have been polished on both sides but are not complete crystal slices, probably cut for jewellery as well as a couple of euclase groups which I had not seen before from Brazil.
A fantastic find was a new source of opal from Ethiopia. I came across some of this material a month ago when an Ethiopian bought some over for me to look at. I polished a piece and it was fantastic. As I found them right at the end of my stay I only managed to buy 6 pieces and have already polished 2 of them. They are incredible and will be posted onto the site shortly. Needless to say I will be getting more of them.
04.10.08 -October News
The website has been given a make-over this month with some updated software etc. which doesn't alter the look of it that much but, has altered coding etc. behind the scenes. So if you come by any glitches or links not working I would be really grateful if you could email me to let me know, so I can put it right.
Many thanks, Sara
10.07.08 -July News
The Sainte Marie Mineral show, France.
The weather this year was much improved with temperatures mostly in the 30's which was a much welcome respite from the English weather. Not having a table this year meant I could really have a look round at my leisure and I even managed to take some time off to site see a little. The storks in the area are well renowned and an amazing site to see.
I found at least one new find from Morocco which is currently my mineral of July specimen, and that is a linarite on azurite. The linarite makes quite a contrast on the azurite and is probably the largest linarite crystals I have seen. (Update, this has now been confirmed as azurite and not Linarite as it was sold to me as. A little disappointing.)
Other specimens which caught my eye where:
This huge aquamarine etched crystal from Pakistan.
This other strangely formed aquamarine from Pakistan too.
I have a specimen of this quartz in my own collection but, it has much damage, but the sceptres are truly amazing as the stems are so long and thin and the crystals so large in comparison. This is only the 2nd time I have seen this type of quartz. It comes from China. This specimen was nearly complete.
These ruby crystals caught my eye simply because they are so sculptural. And one of my favourites -
Rhodochrosite crystals from Africa. Truly magnificent.
The exhibition this year was on tourmaline slices from Madagascar, and these slices really are quite something. Photography was banned in the exhibit unfortunately but some dealers were selling these ones.
The region also has some castles sat up on high which make good vantage points.
This one can be seen from Ribeauville one of the most beautiful villages in the area, along the route de vin.
11.04.08 -April News
The Crown Jewels
Last month I finally got round to visiting the Tower of London so I could see the Crown Jewels, which has been on my "to do" list for quite some time. Apart from having to dodge round loads of tourists, as I went on a bank holiday the spectacle of the jewels did not disappoint.
Kings and Queens of England have stored crowns, robes and other items of their ceremonial attire at the Tower of London for over 600 years, and since the 17th century this collection has been known as the Crown Jewels. The main centre attraction is the coronation regalia which comprises of a group of precious and highly symbolic objects used since 1661 to crown sovereigns of England. These objects form a working collection that is still in use today. Apart from the crowns, swords, orbs etc. there is also a magnificent display of royal church and banqueting plate, the majority of which are made of gold, and some pre-date the great destruction of the English regalia in the mid-17th century.
Amongst the amazing array of jewels in these items are some of the world's most exceptional and historic precious gems, including the Cullinan I and II, the largest top quaility cut diamonds in the world and the Koh-i-Noor.
The Cullinan I diamond.
The Cullinan diamond was the largest diamond ever discovered in the Premier mine in South Africa in 1905 and weighed a staggering 3,025.75 carats. It was presented to Edward VII by the government of the Transvaal as a birthday present! It was taken to Amsterdam to be cut where it yielded 2 principal stones (the Cullinan 1 and Cullinan II ) and another 7 major stones (Cullinan III - IX), 96 splinters and 9 carats of rough ends. Edward VII bought Cullinan VI from the cutting firm Asscher as a present for Queen Alexandra, while the remaining stones were purchased by the Transvaal government and given to Queen Mary in 1911. The Cullinan I weighs 530.2 carats and the Cullinan II 317.4 carats and both were set in the Sovereign's sceptre with cross and the Imperial State Crown respectively, while the remaining stones form part of The Queen's personal jewellery collection.
The Imperial State Crown is worn by the newly anointed King or Queen after the coronation, and is also used by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament, as well as other state occasions. It was made in the Jewel House in 1937 but contains many of the stones which adorned it's precursors in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It contains the Cullinan II diamond, a great red spinel known as the Black Prince's Ruby, the Stuart sapphire, St Edwrad's sapphire, 4 drop shaped pearls known as Queen Elizabeth's Earrings, in all so I have heard 2,783 diamonds, 17 sapphires , 277 pearls, 11, emeralds and 5 rubies.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond.
The origins of this diamond are somewhat obscure, although it's name means "mountain of light". In the early 19th century it came into the possession of Ranjit Singh, Maharajah of the Punjab. Following the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, the Treaty of Lahore was signed which included the stipulation that the diamond be surrended to the Queen of England. Originally it was simply cut and weighed just over 186 carats being part of an Indian armlet. The stone was later re-cut and now weighs 105.6 carats. It was first worn as a brooch by Queen Victoria and upon her death in 1901 became part of the Crown Jewels, set into the Crown of Queen Alexandra along with 3,688 other diamonds. It is today set in the front of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
The sceptre was made in 1661 out of gold and is three feet in length. It contains an enormous amethyst and a superb emerald and n 1910 the largest cut diamond, the Cullinan I was added.
The Sovereigns Orb which is an ancient imperial emblem made in 1661 is hollow gold and set with pearls, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, some 365 diamonds and one amethyst.
These are just some of the amazing Crowns and regalia to be seen at the Tower of London which truly took your breath away. A recommended visit.
06.03.08 -March News
This year we were subject to a variety of weather conditions in the first few days of February. It was nice to see snow on the mountains and new friends of mine took me up to Mt. Lemmon where people were actually skiing, even though temperatures were around 76 degrees down in Tucson.
There were several new finds this year which luckily I managed not only to see but to buy some examples of as well. Some of those specimens can be seen in my worldwide gallery, but these ones were some of the best that I saw.
These were the Spessartite garnets from Tanzania. The large one on the right which was the largest I saw at around 6-8cm had a price tag of £6000!! Below is an ajoite in quartz cluster.
The Westward Look show was a small exclusive show for the most expensive specimens to be found probably. But there were some beauties which took my eye. For instance...
This new find of pink calcites from China.
This stunning pink fluoruite.
And this amazing pink tourmaline. Oh all pink varieties!
I stayed a little longer this year and thankfully decided to visit the TGMS main show. I was so glad I did as the theme was minerals of the USA and several museums, collectors and dealers had supplied probably the best specimens that the USA have ever unearthed. The cases were superb and breathtaking. Unfortunately as I was flying home later that day I didn't have that much time to take photos, but managed the few below.
This was the star of the show, 3 blue capped tourmalines on matrix from Pala, California. There was also a case of smaller crystals.
These varieties of benitoite formations were quite amazing.
Amazing red beryls from the Wah Wah mountains.
Incredible gold specimens from California. You can get an idea of the size of the largest specimen by comparing it to the lady standing beside the case.
Whoever thought emeralds and hiddenites like these were found in the USA?
And the exhibit would not be complete without a case of rhodochrosites from the Sweet Home mine.
Ohio celestites were truly magnificent .
And amazonites from Pikes Peak, Colorado.
And of course calcites and fluorites from Elmwood. Oh if only I were a multi-millionaire.......
More detailed descriptions along with videos and other photos can be seen on other websites if you're interested, but also for me the beauty continued in Arizona itself. A wonderful place to be.
Hummingbirds were frequent guests where I was staying. And I just had to take some photos of this sunset. Glorious. A great trip.
09.12.07 -December News
The Vault London
Whilst spending a couple of days up in London I went to visit the new exhibition at the Natural History Museum called "The Vault". I love the Natural History building as it has ornate stone carvings, rich coloured stone and a wealth of interior and exterior design.
The new exhibit, although not very large I thought was well worth a visit as it was expertly displayed and lit, with plenty of information and included some stunning specimens. These were some of my favourites:
This was a board of 296 naturally coloured cut diamonds that has taken the owners 25 years to put together. They show the full range of colours in which diamonds can be formed and show their colours under UV light as well.
These were 2 stunning British specimens. A cogwheel bournonite from Herodsfoot mine Cornwall, and a siderite psuedomorphous after fluorite from the Virtuous lady mine, Devon. Crystals of brown siderite were deposited around a fluorite cube. The fluorite dissoved away and quartz and chalcopyrite crystals grew in the cavity left.
Possibly the largest and richest Hopes Nose gold from Devon that I have seen.
Some bright and lovely opals and a very large diamond in matrix.
A wonderful beryl from Paprock, Afghanistan which has an aquamarine interior surrounded by pink morganite.
I also found that part of the existing mineral exhibits had been upgraded since I last visited and were much better displayed, with more information, better labelling and with some amazing British specimens which is well worth a visit. Unfortunately the interactive information videos in the Vault kept crashing but I did see enough to recognise a couple of people I know who had been videoed. Congratulations to those responsible for putting the exhibit together. It maybe the only opportunity that some public get to seeing really good quality minerals.
03.12.07 -December News
The Paris Mineral Fair
I paid a flying visit to The Paris Mineral fair last week which was the first time I had attended this fair. My impression was that it is mainly a retail fair with obviously the majority of dealers being French, although there were one or two foreign dealers. It took place in the conference hall of The Marriott hotel in the South of Paris, which was a very plush venue but extremely hot inside the show, due, not in some small way because of all the halogen lights. I was hard pressed to spend my money but did find some very beautiful manganocalcites from the N'Chwaning mine in Africa which had only recently been mined. Below are some photos of some of the larger specimens, but I also have an example as my mineral of December. If you fancy one I'd buy one quick as I sold two at the Oxford show yesterday and only have 4 left. I made sure I kept one for myself, just incase there are only a few to be had.
I must say that I think the one for sale in my mineral of the month gallery looks much better than these photos!
May I also take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year and many thanks to those of you who have continued to support me. I absolutely love this job and you have helped to make it possible for me. I send you my gratitude.
12.11.07 -November News
STOLEN FROM MY STAND AT CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE 10/11/07
This Ethiopian opal was stolen from my stand and I would be extremely grateful to anyone who has any news about it's whereabouts, or has seen it. The opal is in a gold mount and is highly individual. There will not be another like it anywhere. More photos of this opal can be seen in my opal gallery. Many thanks.
08.11.07 -November News
I have just come back from the Munich show, where I had a great time hunting out good stock and catching up with friends from all over the world. The exhibition this year was Pakistan and Afghanistan specimens and once again the specimens on display were superb. Several stuck out for me which I have photographed.
This was the star piece. A 20kg and 35 cm long tourmaline from Afghanistan named the Asian Rose.
A stunning fluorite specimen with great shape and colour.
An amazing spessartitie gearnet wrapped round a quartz crystal.
The gemmiest bastnaesite I've ever seen with great shape.
Two multi coloured tourmaline crystals on a smoky quartz.
And this twinned kunzite crystal was stunning.
The show seemed a bit flat for me this year, with prices quite high and not many bargains to be seen. Many Americans who came over to buy, I was told went back empty handed. Fewer people seemed to be attending, which is a little worrying and you needed to look hard for good specimens. But I did manage to buy a few things which will be added to the site over the next few weeks. Mineral fairs every weekend will hamper me updating the site quickly, but for a small taste the apatite from the Sapo mine, a new find this year is my mineral of the month.
17.09.07 -September News
I have been negotiating with suppliers of my Ethiopian opal and am now able to offer them wholesale as well as retail. Anyone interested in wholesale quantites, that is 1kg parcels upwards should contact me for prices. I only have good quality parcels with plently of colour play, so rest assured you will not be buying poor quality items, that you will not be able to sell.
Also, I am offering my sevices as a polisher of opals. So any Ethiopian opals bought that you want polished I can deal with and charge by the hour. Again contact me for more detailed information.
01.08.07 -August News
I have just received some really sad news. Tony Rance, one of the partners who organises the Rock and Gem shows has recently passed on. This was quite sudden and a great shock to many. He will be very sorely missed, as he was not only a lovely man but a great show organiser as well. Helen Carver, his partner is thankfully going to continue organising the shows with some additional help.
08.06.07 -Ste Marie News
A typically colourful house at Ste Marie, makes this a lovely place to be.
This year there seemed to be fewer exhibitors with tables unoccupied, which I have never know before. The weather was not that brilliant with it raining most days. This was okay for me as I had a table inside the new exhibition halls, but friends of mine who were outside got absolutely drenched and this of course affected their business, not to mention, make their minerals wet. They had to buy a big patio umbrella to keep the worst off their stock. I felt really sorry for them. Numbers of visitors I also thought was down on last year and there wasn't really any new finds to make the show buzz. We made up for that in the evenings though with great company.
Some great minerals were to be found as usual in the Theatre. Here is a taste of some of them.
Blue tourmaline - indicolite.
Blue topaz, tourmaline and I think calcite.
08.02.07 -February News
I have just got back from the Tucson Mineral show and am busy sorting everything out, labelling, photographying, etc. So shortly new items will begin to appear on the site. I have photos to upload from the show on this page too so please be patient, jet lag takes it toll. The 7 hour difference does interfere with sleeping patterns.
08.12.06 -December News
I'm working on a new gallery at the moment which should be available to view by the second to third week of December. It is a gallery offering for sale the mineral collection of Dr. John Crocker. There will be some superb and beautiful specimens for sale.
Also I have to report that recently my site was victim to a seriously pathetic individual with nothing better to do then hack into other people's websites. It meant that he managed to write over my database so all the specimens I had included since August of this year have been wiped. We had to reinstall an earlier database, so please be patient whilst I get back to updating the pages again.
I would like to wish a happy xmas and New year to everyone and to thank you all for supporting my site.
24.11.06 - November News
I've finally got some time to write about my trip to Munich. As usual it was great fun and wonderful to meet up again with friends. There were some wonderful minerals, the best being some pink fluorite crystals recently mined from Pakistan. They were the largest I have seen and very beautiful as you can see.
My friend Francois Lietard also had a rather wonderful aquamarine and schorl combination the like of which I've not seen before as the aquamarines formed a perfect cross which he called "The Passion" rather than a windmill.
Also on show were some masterpieces from the Houston musuem. They were truly astounding and stunning. There isn't room enough here to show you them all, but my favourites had to be the rhodochrosites and here's why.
The alma Queen from Sweet home mine.
The emerald wasn't bad either.
I managed to pick up some specimens which some will make onto the website, although others have already been sold including a wonderful Romania realgar, a set of 3 Frizington barites, a zincite crystal specimen, to mention a few. The cutstones I bought are really exceptional and most are very rare. They are already on my site.
25.09.06 - September News
Just heard from my friend Robert in Australia who went out to Coober Pedy "fossicking" for opals. He told me the temperatures reach 50-51 degrees in the summer months, no wonder no-one stays there then. Anyway he should be sending me some material that he has cut and also some specimen material shortly.
I've booked my flight for the Munich show which happens in early November and am looking forward to getting some more choice pieces.
10.08.06 - August News
This month I visited North Wales principally to attend a family wedding and whilst there my family and I took advantage of a short few days holiday. One of the attractions we visited was a slate cavern. This was very interesting as a lot of the mountains seemed to be composed almost entirely of slate, and it was a wonder that anything grew in it.
A lot of the slate you can see in the photo is really the tip, slate that is not usuable. Inside the cavern we went on a tour and found out just how tough it was living and mining this material when it was all done underground. The miners from the age of around 8 upwards worked underground for about 12 hours a day 6 days a week and if you were in a good position where the slate was usuable they could make a fairly good living, but a lot of the time the men were living continually in debt to the mining company. Not much of a life.
04.07.06 - The French Show
I am once again back from my annual trip to the Ste Marie aux mines mineral fair in the beautiful region of Alsace. This area is very heavily influenced by it's Germanic neighbours, which can be easily seen in the architecture of the area.
The countryside all around is stunning with valleys between heavily forested hills, numerous vineyards and plenty of wildlife.
This year some major changes were made to the show and many dealers who would normally have been exhibiting in large marquees, were transferred to a new building which used to be an old warehouse. I was one such dealer and must say I preferred this new venue, and being next to a window did mean there was plenty of light but also when the sun shone, I got very hot, as the picture shows. Thank God the radiators weren't on!!
Attendance at the show I felt was lower than previous years which I believe helps point to a global recession. This has hit the mineral business quite hard in the past 18 months, but my opals have been doing very steady business for which I thank all opal lovers.
A few new minerals were to be found, some of which can be found in my on-line shop. Such as spectacular quartzes with epidote from Pakistan and plumbogummite from China. Many stunning specimens were to be found in the Theatre where all the top mineral dealers were to be found, and also where all the highest prices were to be found too!
I have also come back with even more Ethiopian opal which when polished will find their way to my opal shop. A few have already been added including a stunningly beautiful light coloured opal that is pure joy to behold. Many thanks to my friend Ross for the photos as my camera's batteries decided to fail just when I needed to take photos.
17.05.06 - New Online Shop
Following 2 months of development, Crystal Vine's new web designers, Lingo Design based in nearby Downham Market have completed the integration of the Paypal secure shopping system, using ecommerce software from Ecommerce Templates
The system has provided a high quality sales site with easy to navigate product menus and features. Project Manager Liz Pendleton from Lingo recognises the importance of well designed ecommerce sites "It's been a fantastic project to work on"
We are looking forward to the new site being used by Crystal Vine customers old and new and any feedback would be much appreciated. Sara.
18.04.06 - New Opal Information
I have just acquired an amazing collection of predominately Australian opal specimens and cabs. This is an an extraordinary story, as these items are around 60 years old and have been sitting in a London bank fault since the Second World War. My contact found me at the Last Kempton mineral fair where it transpired that we not only had investments with the same people but that those people, and where one of his homes is, is with some close friends of mine who emigrated to Spain 3 years ago to start a park home site!! What a coincidence.
The story goes that a jewellers got bombed during the war and they removed everything to the bank vault and there it stayed for around 50 years. When the bank got flooded my contact was brought in to help with salvage and restoration of the contents of all the secure trunks and boxes. The inheritor of the jewellery store items wasn't interested in them so my contact bought them, which was over 10 years ago. And now I have them.
Most of the 44 specimens are fantastic and several of them can be found in my opal shop. None of this material was available when I went to Tucson this year so I am really pleased to be able to offer them for sale.