The weather was too nice not to go to the Mesa Flagg Gem and Mineral Show. So I went. Otherwise I would have had to wait until next year, and since this is my absolute favorite show, I packed a lunch and hopped in the car.
I was shocked to discover the show had grown at least 25% since last year. Lots more vendors, and better quality, too. I knew I wouldn't be able to see the whole show, but I did get to most of the exhibits and was very, very impressed.
My budget has taken several huge hits the past few months, and I still have some expensive home and auto repairs on the horizon, so I set myself a very modest limit for this show -- I could spend no more than $25.
One of the great things about the Mesa Flagg show is the bargains. The first booth had amethyst cathedrals -- those great big huge geodes filled with amethyst crystals -- starting around $300, but most of the dealers had much, much more affordable specimens. And I was looking for real bargains. I had no trouble finding them.
The first thing I bought was a chunk of raw faceting-grade amethyst. I was given a faceting machine several years ago and haven't really used it, but that's part of my 2018 agenda. Rather than use some of the high-quality rough to practice on, I was hoping to find some inexpensive material. The amethyst was exactly what I was looking for, and the price was right -- $1.00!
I saw a lot of very nice and very affordable slabs of material that I enjoy working with -- Burro Creek agate, crazy lace agate, petrified wood, and so on -- but I was more interested in smaller and frankly cheaper pieces that I might actually be able to turn into jewelry by next week-end for the local show. I reluctantly passed up the slabs.
Then I found a vendor who had a tub of very small slabs, not quite pre-formed cabochons but close to it. And these were only $1.00 each! I walked away with 17 of them.
(The purple square/rectangular ones at the right are Russian charoite. The teardrop at lower left is petrified wood. The goldish rectangle at middle left is tiger eye. At the upper right are two pieces of Montana agate. The rest are various miscellaneous agates.)
The most difficult booth to pass up was the Ethiopian opals. Oh, they were so gorgeous! And I have so few opals. But this isn't the season to indulge myself; I had to keep in mind next week's show and the others coming up in the near future.
Then I came across another booth with several trays of tumbled small slabs. The price wasn't marked, and I am philosophically opposed to asking prices. If the dealer doesn't mark it, I don't trust them. At this booth, however, the seller came up and informed me of the price and also said he had more if I was interested in seeing them. I selected three stones that I should be able to wire wrap very quickly in time for next week. The price for all three came to $5.00.
From left to right these are Mookaite jasper from Australia, Montana agate, and a plume agate from an unknown location. These stones are ready to wrap, and if I find some discipline tomorrow, I should have at least one done, and maybe all three!
By this time, my feet were getting tired and I really needed to think about heading home, but I decided to check out one more row of booths. I came to one that had a bunch of very nice and very affordable petrified wood slices. They were a bargain, but they would still have put me a significant bit over my limit. And I reminded myself that I already have a supply of petrified wood, so why buy more?
Then I spotted something else, a slab of amethyst. The gentleman informed me that it was from the Tiger Mine area north of Tucson, Arizona. I had seen some other slices of that material and they were way outside my budget. This one was only $4.00, and though that would put me at a total of $27.00 spent, I decided to splurge.
It's roughly 4 inches by 5 inches, and I should be able to cut at least three and maybe as many as five cabochons from it.
So I went a little over my limit, but not by much. And if I get off my ass and turn these into Something I Can Sell, I should make back the investment several times over.