Orchards Mall will be ‘Rocking’
Published 9:49 am Thursday, April 24, 2014
Event to showcase gems, minerals, fossils
BENTON HARBOR — Sometimes, the most artistic and beautiful creations are those we find in nature, and this weekend the Blossomland Gem and Mineral Society will be displaying some of those natural beauties at the Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor.
“Minerals have a specific chemical formula, whereas rocks are combinations of different mineral crystals,” explained Dr. Joyce Moore, a member of the society. “Gems, on the other hand, tend to be purer minerals with fewer defects.”
Gems, minerals, rocks and fossils will be all featured at the show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 26, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 27. Admission to the show is free.
“We’ve all come to the rock business because we thought they were pretty,” said Nancy Wolff, president of the society. “My son, who now has a degree in geology, got me into the rock business years ago. As a parent, I thought it was important to be involved in my children’s interests.”
While many rocks ands minerals often look like “nothing special” when they are first unearthed, through skilled craftsmanship, their natural beauty can be revealed.
“Our group is a group that likes to make things. Some of us like polishing things. We also have silversmiths, as well as people who enjoy carving the softer stones,” Wolff said.
At the show, members of the society will be demonstrating various techniques for enhancing the natural beauty of rocks and minerals, including rock tumbling, carving and silversmithing. Wolff is hoping to have a faceter there as well.
“I make miniature dioramas, and I also make gem trees,” Wolff said. “I will probably be making some at the show.”
Four gem and mineral dealers will also be at the show for those visitors who would like to take home a piece of the earth’s treasure. For many people, that may be the best way to collect rare rocks and minerals since rock hunting expeditions are more difficult to arrange than they were in the past.
“Getting the opportunity to go and collect rocks is a challenge because of insurance and liability issues,” Wolff explained. “We can’t get into mines like we could in the past.”
However, southwest Michigan offers many opportunities for casual rock and fossil hunting because of the glaciers that moved through here at the end of the Ice Age, leaving deposits in the Great Lakes.
“The beaches here offer a wide array of rocks of different origins—volcanic, basaltic, sedimentary, metamorphic—and the fun part for me is figuring out what the source of these rocks might be and how they formed,” said Dr. Moore.
The Blossomland Gem and Mineral Show will also have a special area dedicated to children, who can be some of the most enthusiastic “rock hounds.”
“I wish there were more opportunities for kids to collect rocks,” Wolff said. “We’re very kid-oriented. We will have egg cartons with samples of rocks for the kids to take home.”
Should attendees find that they are captivated by the natural wonders on display at the Blossomland Gem and Mineral Show this weekend, they are welcome to attend the society’s monthly meetings as well.
The society meets at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph on the fourth Sunday of most months from 1 to 3 p.m. Meetings usually include a presentation on some aspect of rocks and minerals. Children are also welcome to attend. More information can be obtained on the society’s Facebook page, or by calling Nancy Wolff at (269) 983-4900.