Return to Tucson

Diamonds were big news—but not a big draw—in Tucson again this year. For over a decade, loose diamond dealers have made the pilgrimage, and colored diamond dealers like Aminzade’s Natural Fancy Color Diamond Company continue to participate and do well. Some people feel that diamonds—colorless as well as fancy color—are in Tucson to stay, and this year they held their own diamond show, which was located at the historic Mayor’s residence, the Manning House, built around the turn of the 20th century. (It now houses the office of Senator John McCain.) The show advertised 21 dealers, but by show time, only 11 were there to work.

Peter Kaplan brought his inventory of natural fancy colored natural diamonds. Nomenclature for Kaplan’s goods—”natural color, natural diamonds”—may sound redundant, but directly opposite Kaplan was Alex Grizenko of Lucent Diamonds, presenting gem-quality synthetic diamonds, HPHT color-enhanced synthetic diamonds, and HPHT color-enhanced natural diamonds.

Emerald sea shells. There are always unusual gem materials at the shows. If it isn’t petrified dinosaur bone, it’s cabochoned automotive paint. This year, the winner of the “most unusual” designation was seen at Ron Ringsrud’s emerald booth at the American Gem Trade Association’s Gem Fair at the Tucson Convention Center. He had two seashells that had been completely petrified by emerald.

Properly, they are called “emerald replaced gastropods.” In the mineral kingdom, unit cells of a gem or mineral can become petrified in the form of organic material. Similar to the petrification of wood, the seashells were changed, molecule by molecule, into molecules of emerald.

According to geologist Anthony Mariano, the existence of these emerald gastropods clearly establishes a lower-temperature mineralization of the Colombian emerald as opposed to the high-temperature metamorphic formation of most other emerald localities.

Paleontologist Diana Gutierrez of InGeoMinas, Bogota, Colombia, identified the fossil, and geologist William Rohtert identified the emerald drusy effect in the first gastropod.

Following are some of the other highlights, in pictures, of Tucson 2001.