For a few months now, I’ve been tempted by the idea of bringing in contributors to legemmologue.com. You could, for example, read Marine Chabin ‘s excellent article on jewellery know-how. Claire Fillet with the podcast “Rubis sur Canapé” joined the adventure. Today, Emmanuel Thoreux – now a trader in American gems with his company White River Gems – offers you a second paper on the Denver Gem Show. Enjoy your reading!
By Emmanuel Thoreux (DUG Nantes, ING)
It is in the shade of the poplars and under the light summer breeze of Cherry Creek National Park, south-east of Denver, Colorado, that I start this article.
Denver, the capital of Colorado, is one of the largest metropolises in the United States with over 2.9 million inhabitants. Colorado lies between the mountains of Utah to the west and the vast plains of Kansas to the east. It is also north of New Mexico and south of Wyoming. All of these states have a good local gem culture and it is no wonder that the Denver show, with its central location, is so popular with American gem lovers.
In downtown Denver. Photo: Emmanuel Thoreux
Indeed, Denver hosts every year one of the largest mineral and gem show gatherings in the USA, second only to Tucson. This major Colorado event is usually held the second week of September, around the same time as the September Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair. Denver has a dozen different shows grouped into four separate venues, while Tucson has over 50 shows in ten venues. However, the iconic Coliseum show and the National Complex provide one of the largest covered areas of exhibitors in the world on a single site.
Having been to the Tucson Gem Fair several times, I would say that the Denver show has a less elitist feel to it, with perhaps a higher proportion of local exhibitors, which is why I was at this show. As we probably don’t know enough, the United States has a great mining culture, especially for gems.
Crystal peak next to Georges lake. Near an amazonite and smoky quartz mine. Colorado. Photo: Emmanuel Thoreux
Colorado alone is world famous for its sublime gem-quality rhodochrosites(Sweet Home Mine, Park Co.), its combinations of smoky quartz and amazonite(Crystal Peak, Park Co.) but also its aquamarine, turquoise or barytes. Most of the western states have a significant number of sites where world-renowned gems are found. Often these are small, even very small concessions producing gems that are sometimes exceptional but in very small quantities, and many mines and concessions are either depleted or no longer exploitable, such as Biggs jasper (construction of a highway), Bruneau jasper (depleted mine), etc..
There are many examples and this makes these gems a rare commodity and particularly prized by collectors. In order to find these stones, it is particularly important to know the people who mine them or have mined them. This is why the Denver show is interesting, because there are many miners-traders here. So it’s all about hunting down old stocks or recent discoveries that are still unknown to the general public. Sometimes the exhibitor-miners only have what they have on display and have no extra stock. The Denver Show is also confusing, it is a bit of a mess and the ratio of booths with esoteric products is particularly high. The many labyrinthine aisles of the Coliseum, for example, randomly present high quality stands next to more than dubious ones.
Overall view inside the Coliseum, the symbolic venue of the event, Denver, Colorado. Photo: Emmanuel Thoreux
In addition, the main shows around the Coliseum are in large warehouses or former sports halls that are almost disused and are in the middle of a particularly dense industrial area. But this is also part of the event’s charm.
Therefore, for those who have already been to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, the Denver show may be a little disappointing, but the discerning visitor can still find some “nuggets” before the Tucson Gem Rush. I would say that the Denver show is well worth a look and that it is a smart show where experience with gems will be a definite advantage as there are so many dubious stands here.
First day of the show and a long queue outside the National Western Complex, Denver, Colorado. Photo: Emmanuel Thoreux
Here we are, still in the shade of the poplars of the gigantic Cherry Creek park, the article on this beautiful show is coming to an end. It’s time for me to go back and look for some beautiful and rare gems that I hope to share with you soon in a future article.
See you soon!