New Mexico History Museum

Heads Up, Rock Hounds: Palace Gem & Mineral Show Returns

May 20, 2011


From New Mexico’s earliest inhabitants forward, the desire to adorn ourselves with the jewels of the earth has abounded. See and purchase a worldwide variety of high-quality stones, fossils, gems and more at the annual Palace Gem & Mineral Show, Sept. 23-25, in the Palace Courtyard.                              

Enter for free through the Blue Gate on Lincoln Avenue and meet the miners, traders and jewelers whose stories of how the forces of nature formed geodes, fossils, and turquoise will deepen your appreciation for the treasures beneath our feet.

The event is open 9 am to 7 pm on Friday, Sept. 23; and 9 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25.

High-resolution photos are available for downloading by clicking on "Go to related media," above, left.

New this year: A special lecture by retired National Park Service archaeologist Joan Mathien, “The Role of Gems and Minerals in the Pueblo Worlds,” at 2 pm, Saturday, Sept. 24, in the History Museum Auditorium. Tickets cost $5 through the Lensic, Mathien worked on the Chaco Project analyzing ornaments and minerals and was editor for many of the project’s publications. Currently she is researching the Chaco field schools held from 1929-1942 and again in 1947. Mathien will talk about how Native Americans in the Southwest used gems and minerals for beads, pendants and mosaics pieces; known sources for some of the minerals; methods used to “fingerprint” minerals such as turquoise; possible trade relationships that moved goods between different cultural groups; and the continuity of the gems’ use into the present.

Other experts will speak at free lectures in the Palace Courtyard throughout the weekend:

2 pm, Friday, Sept. 23: Richard Kocurek, “Gemstone Inclusions: The Rare, Unusual and Surreal.” Kocurek, owner of Bright Star Gemstones of Crested Butte, Colo., will discuss his global collection of included gems like rutile, pyrite and tourmaline in quartz, as well as rare stones like rubies found inside of diamonds. Kocurek specializes in natural gemstones from Brazil and South America. He works directly with the lapidary artists (lapideros) and in some cases the families that own the mines to find one-of-a-kind, high-quality natural gems.

11 am, Saturday, Sept. 24: Joe Dan Lowry, “The History of Turquoise throughout the World.” Lowry, founder and curator of the Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque, is a world-renowned expert and author of the book Turquoise Unearthed. He has worked with experts in the fields of geology, mineralogy and archaeology and has seen some of the most spectacular turquoise specimens and artifacts on display in museums and private collections. A skilled lapidary, he also owns turquoise mines and has worked at many others around the world. 

1 pm, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25: Sandy Craig, “Opal Cutting and Polishing Demonstration.” Owner of Orca Gems & Opals in Littleton, Colo., Craig has been cutting and polishing the gems for over 20 years, along the way developing special methods for getting the most out of a given piece of rough opal. He will also give hands-on lessons between 1 and 2 pm Saturday and Sunday. You can bring a piece of your rough to work with or use what he has.

11 am, Sunday, Sept. 25: Garrick Beck, “Fakery in Gemstones.” The owner of Natural Stones in Santa Fe talks about the history of pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes with stones that have been dyed, synthesized, stabilized and enhanced, and teaches you the four questions you should always ask before buying gemstones.

2 pm, Sunday, Sept. 25: Margot Guerrero, “The Metaphysical Uses of Mineral Pigments for Artists and Collectors.” The Santa Fe artist, restorer, jeweler, lapidary artist and owner of The Curiosity Cabinet of Margot Guerrero shows how using a color wheel aids in conceptual understandings of meditative and life affirmations according to the mineral kingdom.

Other exhibitors will include Keith King of King Renovations in San Antonio, Texas; Philip Bove of Roadrunner Mining and Minerals in Santa Fe; the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science; and Daniel Wade of Indian Jewelry Supply in Albuquerque.

Exhibitors who want to participate can contact Inessa Williams at (505) 476-5106 or All exhibitors must meet standards of high-quality gems and minerals that contain no dyes or enhancers and must disclose the use of stabilizing agents. Those same standards apply to participants in the museum’s Native American Artisans Program—the artisans who display and sell their work each day beneath the Palace Portal. The Palace Gem & Mineral Show underscores the museum’s goal to support their work and also celebrates the state’s history of mining and collecting natural stones for use in our daily lives.

Phone number for publication: 505-476-5200

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