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Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

ste marie 2006

Report from Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2006

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This show remains one of my favorites, nestled in the charming village of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, in the Valley of Silver (val d’Argent), near Strasbourg, France, and in the middle of the Alsace wine region with charming restaurants featuring foie gras and other local specialties. Is there anything else missing? Oh yes: mineral specimens and gems. These are showcased by 650 international mineral dealers and 350 gem and jewelry dealers in booths filling two sections of the town’s streets and in several indoor halls.

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What the...? This sign proclaims Fux-Fuchs to be a vintner of Crémant d’Alcace, a delicate sparkling wine, cousin to the region’s better known Gewürtztraminer and Riesling, and the leading sparkling wine on the French domestic market.

I am traveling with my son, Will, and Mark Kaufman, a fine gem cutter and dealer from San Diego. The three of us were able to split up and cover a great deal of the show in a short period of time, catching whatever new was put out in the first days. Of course, to see finer things one must know the dealers, and then you’re shown things privately as in the USA.

Malachite photo image
Green velvet. This malachite (6.1 x 5.1 x 5.1 cm), acquired at the Ste-Marie show, is from Katanga, Congo. It has an incredible velvet shine on the edges.  Very showy. Price: $650.00. See more specimens from the show for sale. (Photograph: John McLean)

This year the new minerals were rhodochrosites from China. We saw these with several Chinese dealers. No one seemed to have an exceptional specimen, but many examples were very nice miniatures. These were in the 200 euros cost range. (See what we brought back.)

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No cheap theatrics here. A typical mineral display in the theatre at Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines.

A rubellite pocket found two years ago in Luc Yen, Vietnam, was on display and priced for the first time. These tourmaline specimens were also featured in the current issue of Lapis magazine (see below), with the best matrix piece featured on the cover. This piece was excellent; it was repaired, as most larger tourmaline matrixes are, and sold on the first day.

Lapis cover image
A bold debut. Exhibited at the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines show was the tourmaline matrix specimen pictured on the cover of the June 2006 Lapis magazine.

Among the fine things we saw were many new, small, but beautiful aquamarines from Shigar Valley (Pakistan). And a few select kunzites from Paprock, Afghanistan, as well as many nice tourmalines from Afghanistan. Mark found a great selection of purple scapolites from Tajikistan that were excellent single crystals, but will probably be sacrificed to the cutting wheel due to the increased sums gem collectors will pay.

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Talking turkey. Pala’s Bill Larson (left) discusses the quality of last evening’s foie gras with known connoisseur Marcus Budil—and today’s mineral purchases.

Inside the theatre—many downtown buildings, including this one are used for the show—are clustered the top-quality mineral dealers, mostly from European countries. This year the theatre’s stage had been selected for dealers with finer pieces, and so the tone inside the theatre was raised a notch. Next year it is rumored that the genius who conceived and owns the show, Michel Schwab, is going to upgrade the theatre even more to highlight the finest minerals available. He also had a few displays of interesting exhibits, including fine French fluorite specimens; I hope he will expand this excellent idea.

Alain Martaud photo image
Class act. Looking down on Alain Martaud’s booth from the stage in the local theatre that serves as a marketplace for top-quality minerals, most from European countries.

The show was great, but not easy to find many things for a dealer, as prices were high due to the strong euro and generally higher prices than in producing countries.

Sainte-Marie 2007 is June 21–22 for dealers and June 23–24 for the public. To learn more, visit the show website.

 
Acquisitions from the Show – For Sale

The following is a sample of the fine specimens we’re offering from the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines show. If you’re interested in any of these, just let us know. Check back in the next few days to see additions.

 

Cobaltocalcite photo imageCobaltocalcite photo image
Cobaltocalcites on matrix (4.1 x 5.7 x 3.5 cm, two views). Lustrous to semi-lustrous crystals with good color. Most crystals are terminated. The more transparent crystals are a deeper color. From Bou Azzer, Morocco. Price: $125. (Photos: John McLean)
Cobaltocalcite photo imageCobaltocalcite photo image
Cobaltocalcites on matrix (4.9 x 3.4 x 2.5 cm, two views). Lustrous to semi-lustrous crystals with good color. Most crystals are terminated. The more transparent crystals are a deeper color. From Bou Azzer, Morocco. Price: $135. (Photo: John McLean)
Cobaltocalcite photo imageCobaltocalcite photo image
Cobaltocalcites on matrix (4.8 x 2.6 x 2.2 cm, two views). Lustrous to semi-lustrous crystals with good color. Most crystals are terminated. The more transparent crystals are a deeper color. From Bou Azzer, Morocco. Price: $125. (Photo: John McLean)
Cobaltocalcite photo imageCobaltocalcite photo image
Cobaltocalcites on matrix (4.2 x 2.6 x 2.5 cm, two views). Lustrous to semi-lustrous crystals with good color. Most crystals are terminated. The more transparent crystals are a deeper color. From Bou Azzer, Morocco. Price: $100. (Photo: John McLean)
Titanite Crystal photo image
Titanite with feldspar and epidote (6.3 x x 2.2 x 1.9 cm), from Capelinha, Minas Gerais Province, Brazil. This specimen, from the Martin Zinn Collection, features twin crystals with great luster. Price: $3,200. (Photo: John McLean)

 

Rhodochrosite photo image
Matrix rhodochrosite (4.0 x 3.0 x 3.0 cm) from China—the new discovery at the Ste-Marie show. Grouping of five main frosted crystals, three larger, two smaller and numerous, even smaller crystals. Excellent condition with a small purple fluorite crystal hiding on the back. Price: $300. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)
Malachite photo image
A fantastic grouping of velvet malachite (4.0 x 5.1 x 6.7 cm) from Katanga, Congo. Great from different angles. Price: $350. (Photo: John McLean)
Malachite photo image
Another malachite (6.1 x 5.1 x 5.1 cm) from Katanga, Congo. It has an incredible velvet shine on the edges. Very showy. Price: $650.00. (Photo: John McLean)
Huebnerite photo image
Huebnerite (4.7 x 2.8 x 2.1 cm), Cerro de Pasco, Peru. The huebnerite is a deep red in direct light. Price: $750. (Photo: John McLean)
Malachite After Azurite photo imageMalachite Label photo image
Malachite after azurite (5.2 x 3.5 x 3.1 cm), Tsumeb, S.W. Africa. This is an old specimen on matrix. Note the original label. Price: $950. (Photo: John McLean)

 

Topaz photo image
Magnificent gemmy topaz crystal (6.4 x 5.1 x 3.9 cm) with unique inclusions. Sensational termination and color. Glassy faces. From Sakangyi, Burma. Price on request. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)
Topaz photo image
Excellent topaz crystal (4.7 x 5.1 x 2.9 cm). Fabulous color, very gemmy with a great inclusion, glassy faces. Fantastic termination. From Sakangyi, Burma. Price: $2000. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)

If you’re interested in any of these, just let us know. Check back in the next few days to see additions.