A&C 3-1-12 Photo by: Woodley Wonderworks To some it’s just a rock, but to this young man and rock hounds everywhere, it’s a magical microcosm.

They came from outer space -- and places a little closer to home

The Ventura Gem & Mineral Society celebrates its golden anniversary

By Michael Sullivan 03/01/2012

Many of us remember walking along the beach or hiking in the mountains as children, taking in every little bit of nature around us. Nothing was more exciting than spotting an elusive bird or a squirrel peeking around a tree. But finding a real prize, a colorful rock or stone, those memories were tangible and young rock hounds would hold on to them as if they were trophies.


Those who loved stone-seeking adventures as children, may have grown up to pursue the hobby of gem and mineral collecting. With time and knowledge, stone collectors have come to understand the vast world of nature’s beauty and mystery created over millions of years and encapsulated in a rigid little package.


If you are one to go jade hunting in Big Sur or sift through rocks at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, then the 50th annual golden anniversary show of the Ventura Gem and Mineral Society at the Ventura County Fairgrounds this weekend is sure to be an interesting event. The show also includes meteorites, petrified wood and fossils.


For adventurous rock hunters, a variety of gems, minerals and fossils found in Ventura County and Southern California will be on display at the show. Here’s a sample of what you’ll be able to see and learn about.


Tourmaline: Father and daughter Adrian and Emily Ruiz, as well as Diane Cook, will display sparkling, colorful tourmaline, quartz and aquamarine they collected at mines of the Pala Gem District in San Diego County. Gorgeous pink tourmaline has been mined extensively from that region for more than 150 years; and at one time, it was all sent off to China, where an empress coveted all she could get her hands on.


Whale fossils: Luther Brown will display cetacean (whale) fossils found along the beach and in stream beds up and down the Ventura and Santa Barbara County coast.


Blue chalcedony and handmade jewlery: John Cook will display rare blue chalcedony he has collected from the Providence Mountains in San Bernardino County, while Greg Davis will showcase handcrafted jewelry, including pieces with blue agate that he collected in the Mojave Desert, which he cut, polished and mounted into silver settings he crafted. His silverwork jewelry has won awards at the Ventura County Fair. Richard Slyker will also showcase the process of crafting jewels, starting from rough rock found on the beach and ending with a finished pendant.


Agates: Lowell Foster will show agates he collected in the Wiley’s Well district of the Colorado desert in the Arizona border region of Southern California. He cuts and polishes them to reveal colorful bands inside.


Rose quartz: Jeff Miller has collected rose quartz that he cuts and polishes to reflect rays and stars. He found the quartz on a hillside in the Greenhorn Mountains in Bakersfield, a popular field trip destination for rock hounds.


Benitoite: Susie Harlow will highlight this unique mineral from Central California. The sapphire-blue crystal is ultra-rare and has been named the state gem of California because it’s found at just a single location within California, on the San Benito River.


Sonora Sunrise chrysocolla: Todd Schowalter will highlight this cool stone from Mexico. Its vivid patterns of red against a turquoise blue make it easy to imagine sunrise in Sonora.


Meteorites: Jim Brace-Thompson will display meteorites and tektites, including the healing stone tektite called moldavite.


The 50th Annual Gem, Mineral, Lapidary and Fossil Show of the Ventura Gem & Mineral Society will be held March 3 and 4 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday. Admission is free.

Jim Brace-Thompson, the Ventura Gem & Mineral Society show publicity chairman contributed to this story.

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