Reprinted from The Bristol Press.
By ERICA SCHMITT
BRISTOL — In the same way that atoms combine to form dazzling three-dimensional varieties of crystals and minerals, a local club that collects these treasures is growing as fast as members can stir up interest.
The Bristol Gem & Mineral Club now has more than 300 members and, with the hundreds of families and fellow enthusiasts who joined them at their 41st Annual Rock Gem & Mineral Show this weekend, the Beals Community Center was whirling.
“We’re outgrowing our space now,” Dave Korzendorfer, club president, said Sunday.
For Annette Wright — a club member for five years now — it’s about the surprise.
“It amazes me you can hold a rock that looks ugly on one side and then when you turn it over, it’s beautiful on the other side,” she explained.
New this year, members can take advantage of their very own lapidary inside the Barnes Nature Center on Shrub Road. A place where they can transform specimens they find into shiny keepsakes, the shop is outfitted with specialized equipment used to cut and polish stones. Once refined, they become centerpieces of jewelry and other precious gifts.
Collecting has evolved into creating for Susan Dawiczyk, a Burlington resident who’s show booth Sunday was bedecked with handcrafted pieces up for sale.
“I started collecting at 3 years old in Roxbury, Conn. Now I make my own gifts,” said Dawiczyk.
Jewelling runs in the family. Her son Levi has begun collecting and at Sunday’s show and sitting beside her offerings was another collection — her father’s.
Bob has been at it since he was 5 years old and now, at age 67, he’ll tell you, “The family grew up in a rock pile.”
He lives in Hudson, N.Y., and through his business, Stone Corner, makes a living dealing minerals, fossils and gems. But interested collectors won’t find his name or address on his business cards, only a P.O. Box and a telephone number. Visits to see his expansive collection are invite-only.
Why? The gem business is a risky one.
He, along with many other dealers and fellow club members including Korzendorfer, have had their homes wracked by thieves who know when they’ll be away at shows or on mining trips.
“I don’t even label my stones in my home so if someone breaks in, they have to know what they’re looking for,” he explained.
But at this weekend’s event, they were plentiful, and kids made out the best – most taking home about a dozen different specimens just by participating in a treasure hunt.
“It’s about learning something while having fun at the same time,” said Chet Sergey, a Bristol native and one of the members helping facilitate the activity.
Kids ran from table to table looking for the answers to questions on their clipboards. Describing the shape of a quartz crystal and retrieving a piece of petrified wood were just a few. Whoever correctly guessed how many garnets were inside a mason jar at Sergey’s table got to take home a stunning piece of amethyst.
Korzendorfer hopes the children’s activities at their annual show will spark interest in the younger generation and club membership will continue to grow.
“There’s no end to this hobby,” he said. “If I want to collect quartz I can do that for a lifetime and I’ll always find different specimens of different colors — that’s what gets us excited.”
The Bristol Gem and Mineral Club meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the dining room of the Douglas Beals Senior/Community Center, 240 Stafford Ave. Visit their website at www.BristolGem.org for more information.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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