BRISTOL — The Bristol Gem and Mineral Club has been around for 40 years, and Sunday was the 40th time it hosted an event showcasing precious gemstones, rocks and minerals that are precious to them.
But many of these prized specimens formed millions of years before that, and it’s their colorful history that has club members and the hundreds of visitors to Sunday’s show captivated.
“Initially it was the beauty of the stones that attracted me, then I had to find out where they came from,” explained Stuart Benson, one of the vendors at the show and Owner of Stone Age, a specialty rock shop in Somers.
Benson had his unique handmade jewelry for sale Sunday, created with the spectacular gems and minerals he’s collected.
“What’s kept me at it for over 40 years?” he considered thoughtfully. “There’s magic in stones. If you pull out a piece of material from the ground and cut it open you’re the very first person to see what’s inside in millions of years.”
The show had a new generation of enthusiasts intrigued — busy with table display scavenger hunts, pet rock workshops, rock quizzes and ruby-tinted games.
“In school we’re working on rocks and minerals right now,” said 7-year-old Mckenna Perry, a Unionville resident, there with her brother Jackson, 5, and their mom, Colleen.
And those who showed up in their Boy and Girl Scout uniforms had the privilege of side-stepping the admission fee, which went to benefit the club’s special excursions into rock heaven and beyond: quarries, parks and mines that they visit to discover local treasure.
Some of this was on display Sunday, but many of the showstoppers were from foreign soil, like an $8,000 piece of twinkling azurite hailing from Namibia, or the event’s grand prize – a hefty chunk of amethyst from Uruguay.
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., Bristol. Annual membership is $15 per person or $20 for a family. 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.