By FREESIA SINGNGAM
BRISTOL — Rock, gem and mineral fans found a perfect gathering place at the 37th annual Bristol Gem and Mineral Club show at the Douglas Beals Senior/Community Center over the weekend.
“It’s just a hobby but we get so much pleasure out of this,” said Ellery Borow, a resident of Maine and member of several gem and mineral clubs, including the Bristol one. He said shows like this one allowed people to bring in rocks to identify, and it gave collectors a chance to talk about their rocks, minerals and gems.
“That’s one thing that I really love doing — to satisfy their curiosity,” he said Sunday afternoon.
Club members and dealers displayed their collections, both for show and for sale at the event. Some also sold jewelry and books. Borow said everyone at the show would answer questions about their collections.
“They wanna sell stuff, but they want to teach,” Borow said.
Stu Benson, a vendor with his own business, Stone Age, had been coming to the show for 15 years.
“I’ve always enjoyed the show,” he said. “The only people who will come are those who have an interest.”
He called his display a “shotgun booth” because he had everything from jewelry to gemstones to cut stones. He said people will ask him questions about how a rock gets polished, and he’ll explain that it’s a more complicated process than they expect. They take a stone and cut slices on it then pick from a few different grits of polishing. Then they use a polish “finer than a woman’s face polish.”
Benson’s also asked how he got started with his business, which is based out of his home in Somers. He said he and his wife went to a gem and mineral show where someone showed him the difference between a dirty rock and a polished rock, and it intrigued him.
Fritz Moritz of the Bristol Gem and Mineral Club said the club and its events promote the hobby. The show, which includes a small admission, raises funds for club expenses like field trips.
He noted, however, that children and scouts were free, and a lot of activities at the show were geared toward children.
For example, scouts could complete a merit badge there, and there were free garnet samples plus scavenger hunt sheets for children.
Moritz said about 500 people attended the show on Saturday and maybe 300 attended Sunday.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Janet Picano, of Colchester, who brought her 7-year-old daughter Evelena to the show. “We like rocks and gems and fossils.”
“I like it a lot,” Evelena said.
Carmen Ratte, of Bristol, said she and her husband go to the show every year.
“It’s really nice,” she said. “My husband likes the lucky stones.”
Freesia Singngam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 584-0501, ext. 7259.