Second annual event for more than collectors
Colours from each end of the spectrum light up and even sparkle on the tables at the Calgary Gem & Mineral Show.
Founder Alex Kuznetsov, 39, is a Russian-born geologist who moved to Canada in 2003, leaving his collection of rocks behind, but not his passion for earthly treasures.
"I was forced to leave everything I had in Russia, because it was too much hassle to bring (my collection) across the borders," he said. "Some of my specimens were really expensive and unique and I was forced to sell everything off before coming to Canada."
In 2009, he made the move from Toronto to Calgary and immediately joined the Calgary Rock and Lapidary Club. Kuznetsov wanted to be able to showcase his collection at the club's annual show, but was waitlisted because of high demand for space.
He then decided to start his own show, where exhibitors could come together with the public and showcase their specimens of gemstones, crystallized precious metals and other geological oddities.
On Oct. 14, the second annual Calgary Gem & Mineral show opens its doors at 4 p.m. at the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, and runs until Sunday, Oct. 15.
This year's show boasts 30 exhibitors, along with demonstrations and activities for all ages.
Local rock dealer, Robert Belcher will be showcasing his collection of fine minerals this weekend. Belcher operates The Underground Esthetics out of a converted bedroom in his Banff home and said the Calgary Gem & Mineral Show brings in all sorts of people, and collectors come from all walks of life.
"The general public is full of collectors. There is probably one living on your street that you don't know about. It's amazing how many collectors are hiding out there, in homes where you go down into the den and it's all set up with showcases," Belcher said.
New to the show this year is a gold panning demonstration by The Alberta Gold Prospectors Association. Fred Walker, of GoldStream Technologies, will be conducting the panning demonstration.
For $8, visitors to the show can purchase a bag of riverbed soil and practice their panning techniques with Walker's instruction.
"The dirt will be fairly typical of what you will find in the North Saskatchewan River, or rivers in the area. We then added gold you would find typically in the Yukon, plus some flower gold that you would find in the rivers in Alberta," Walker said.
Participants can keep any panned gold found during the demonstration. Walker said hikers and cyclists can learn the techniques, and pan for gold next time they are out in the wilderness.
Kuznetsov likens the weekend show to a museum, but with the ability to purchase specimens or jewelry from all the vendors.
"Each vendor will explain to you, and tell the stories of every stone on the table. Under each specimen is a unique story," he said.
"It could be just a perfect crystal, or it could be really ugly, dirty and black; but when you understand why it is rare, why it is unique, it's really cool. It's very educational. You can bring your kids, and kids love rocks."
Tickets are available at the door, $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are free with an adult admission.
- By SAMARA HAWKINS