Monday, 21 May 2012

Lismore GEMFEST 2012

This year I was able to visit the gem festival GEMFEST in Lismore. I had never been before and I must say that I was very impressed! The number of exhibitors was incredible. I was told it is the biggest gem and lapidary show in New South Wales... or was it Australia? I can believe either. It is a lapidary delight!... even for someone like me who, surprisingly, is not really into gems.

The weather was wonderful, the people friendly, the curry stall smelled great. It was nice to see activities for the kids and exhibitions on using various equipment. The variety of exhibitors was large too, from hippie jewels and alternative uses for crystals to fossils, gems and obscure minerals. My interest was on the less shiny things, on the fossils and unpolished and uncut minerals.

I was struck by the number of specimens, especially fossils, that come from Morocco (in north Africa). But, if you are aware of the most famous paleontological sites in the world this will not be a surprise. Morocco has wondrous numbers and variety of exquisitely preserved Permian aged sea life especially Trilobites. However, my favourite was actually not super expensive but something I still could not afford. It was both sides of some Miocene? aged mudstone that revealed a wonderful small fish and some leaves in the same layer. The vendor had identified the fish and plant but I cannot remember what they were. But, it was a perfect example of identifying the environment in which the fish lived: a still water environment probably a late or maybe an estuary. And the specimen just looked stunning.

Getting late on day one.
Just one of the Vendor avenues.

Since there was so much I could have bought if I had a spare $50 000, I thought the best thing to do was focus on one theme (I had less than $100). Although, I would loved to have obtain some of the wonderful fossils I instead bought from several different vendors, some uncut mineral specimens. The balance of these being minerals with a metamorphic theme such as Kyanite, Staurolite, Forsterite and Almandine Garnet plus some others. I will do a future blog post on Kyanite and how it and other minerals can be used to estimate the temperature and pressure of metamorphism.

I know that if I get the chance I will go next year and get some more metamorphic minerals and maybe if I save enough look at other rock forming and ore minerals and of course, fossils. Anyone that is as boring as me will be delighted... as will others who like prettier things!


  1. Must have been a great day out. Good weather too. Pleased you came home with a good "find".

  2. Thanks Sunshine, it certainly was great... like a kid in a lolly shop!

  3. Hi Rod,

    I was lucky enough to get to the Armidale GEMFEST. It probably wasn't as big as the one at Lismore, but still heaps of goodies. I limited myself to $10 and still came home with six mineral specimens,goes to show there are bargains galore at these events. The Moroccan government have done a wonderful job in regulating their fossil industry, however China and Sth America have a way to go to stop thieving. This is important because once the provenance of a fossil is lost then so too is its meaning and context (not to mention value).

  4. Sounds like some good value there Dylan. I whole heartedly agree on the contextual problems with a lot of overseas stuff.

  5. Sounds like a great day Rod! I would love to have been there too.

  6. Thanks Wangiwriter. I'm sure you'd have enjoyed it too. Maybe next year if you are in the area?!

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed my drive through Lismore and further north past Nimbin Rocks and Mt Warning on the weekend. Lots of good memories, some shared on my blog.