The Bedrock Guide to Gem, Mineral and Fossil Shows

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The Bedrock Guide to Enjoying Your Next Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show

Whether you are attending a gem and mineral show for the first time that perhaps you found on a gem, mineral, and fossil show listings site, for example, or you are a veteran of gem and minerals shows, this article on shows will prove to be a valuable resource of tips to make your experience more efficient and more fun.

First, your best bet is to bring cash. You spare and save the dealer from having to pay 3-6% in credit card fees when you pay in cash. Sometimes that savings will earn you a free gift, or discount toward your second purchase. We sell geodes and gems ourselves, and can tell you from the experience of running a small business that cash is simply easier for the dealer or seller to manage and administer. So bringing cash is a “win win” for you, and for the dealers, whom you will likely see at another show!
What are the benefits of buying your gems, minerals, and fossils at a show? The answer is provenance. What does that mean? That means the dealer or seller knows the origin, travels, and story behind the mounted gemstone or fossil you are about to purchase. They can tell you its origin, how they acquired it, how long they have held it, and other interesting facts. Now does that make the piece more valuable than one whose only fact you know is what country it came from? For the serious collector or museum curator who attends shows, the provenance is everything.
Prepare before the show. Always bring a cloth bag, one of the reusable and recyclable grocery bags you can pick up at a market. They fold up nicely; you can even fold up 2-3 of them and carry them in your back pockets. Remember that you may be walking out, or walking the rest of the day with 5 to 25 pounds of gems, minerals, and fossils. You need something in which to carry them, and that something needs to have handles. Regardless the style of bag, remember to not set it down! Other suggestions would be a back-pack, or the kind of messenger or Pony Express bag you can sling diagonally across your torso. Do not rely on the bags that a dealer or seller has. While they would, and do, and should offer you a bag, they will not be able to give each customer a cloth bag with handles and may not have big bags, and you may want to consolidate your gem, mineral, and fossil finds to a single bag.
Returning to the reminder to never set down your bag, you are admiring the gems, you’re talking to other enthusiasts and club members, you may set down the bag of your gem and mineral purchases to give a hug or handshake to someone, and unfortunately that could be all the time it takes for someone to snatch your bag, purse or backpack. The shows are open to the public and unfortunately any public event can include some scoundrels who will take advantage of the crowd and all the ways for you to lose attention on your belongings. So keep your belongings secure with you.
Along the lines of taking care of yourself, do you have enough medication with you if you find yourself at the show longer than originally expected? If you came aboard a bus with your club to a show, despite
the best laid plans traffic came snarl your ride home. Prepare in advance in case you stay longer than anticipated by bringing an extra dosage of medicine should you have a condition requiring it.
Lastly, time can work against you, so make it work for you, which is the premise of this article. Plan your trip to the show in advance so you get the most out of it. If you rode to the show in a bus, then you are with a group of club members expecting to leave the show at a pre-determined time. Invest your time on the purchases you are considering, invest time in catching up with club members and making new rockhound friends, and especially if you arrived with a group on a bus, keep an eye on your watch.
Now while you are at the show, go around the booths one more time before you step out. You know that feeling of angst and frustration thinking what you should have bought, or could have bought someone for a birthday, Christmas, or other holiday? Since each gem, mineral, or fossil is the ultimate one-of-a-kind, get it now, and be at peace.
Charles Snider is a member of the New York Mineralogical Club, Nassau Mineral Club, Island Rockhounds, and Co-Founder of where he can be reached.