I once again went to Tucson this year to their massive gem and mineral shows. Tucson isn't a big city and you have to imagine pretty much every motel of any size completely taken over by gem, fossil and mineral dealers, or by artsy craftsy jewelry types. And not just every ballroom or conference room -- you walk into suites to see the beds pushed into the bathrooms to make room for display cases.
These are my Alaskan lovelies. The two faces (carved from antler) came from a guy at one of the suites I just mentioned -- a big, surly fellow who lectured me on the intensive labor involved when I dared to ask the price. I wasn't deterred and bought the two faces, then found some fossilized walrus tusk at the convention center. A whole pack of the walrus was $15 -- after surly carver guy told me it was $400 a pound, or some such thing. Whatever! I'm not going to part with the smaller lady, but I can be convinced to do a pendant with the longer one.
As luck would have it, I ran into a Chinese vendor with stones galore on the first day. The Chinese don't have a very good reputation in this business, but that's mostly for faceted gems that turn out to be glass, or "sterling" silver that turns out to be plate. But these folks were selling cabs, and I know many of my cabs, so I went to town. I had a huge haul, but these were the best-est-est ever! The above are two types of rhodochrosite, by the way, which will look stunning set in silver.
I was with my MIL again this year and a close friend of hers from Chicago. The three of us ladies swung past a few tents pitched by the side of the road and were lured by the "free parking" sign. It turned out to be a bunch of fossil dealers. Some amazing carved stuff -- lots of dishes, bowls, serving platters, candle holders, etc. Wow. At a smaller table, I found these heat-treated turquoise sets, and the other ladies found lovely mineral specimens elsewhere. I also found my nephew's birthday present and then promptly forgot to send it to him, thereby missing his birthday. D'oh.
I've posted these photos and more at this link here. I'll add more in coming days.