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The Ste Marie-aux-Mines Mineral Show 2015

Last Updated: 3rd Jul 2015

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

For only my second time (the first visit was in 2009) I went to the Ste Marie-aux-Mines mineral show this year. This is the first of two major reports on the show.

Ste Marie-aux-Mines is almost certainly the most pretty venue for a major mineral show.

Exhibitors are spread across four major areas:

The theatre - mostly mineral dealers

The Piscine (swimming pool)

The exhibition halls

And tents on the streets outside

The Theatre

Most of the 'higher end' dealers were situated in the Theatre, but not all (so it paid to travel round and explore).

Inside the Theatre

Close-up of one of the specimens

Ian and Diana Bruce of Crystal Classics were here at the first major mineral show since their recent marriage.

Crystal Classics have a new find of vivianite and ludlamite from Cabeça do Cachorro claim, São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas, Brazil.

A very large 30+cm group of tourmaline crystals from Brazil. These are actually deep green, not black, so are possibly elbaite rather than schorl.

Another view of the monster specimen. Sorry I don't have more accurate locality information at the moment.

The Watzl brothers, Rudolf and Anton, who now run separate mineral businesses were situated next to each other in the lobby of the Theatre.

Some of the minerals Anton Watzl was displaying.

One of many cabinet shelves of fine minerals from Marco Tironi

Joaquim Callen taking photographs of minerals next to the Mineral Up table in the Theatre hallway.

Astier Mineraux's booth

The Piscine

Fabre Minerals. Jordi is hiding behind a crystal.

Smithsonite from Mexico with free wasp hoverfly

The Exhibition Halls had inexpensive polished slices of calcite containing realgar and pararealgar. This particular one came home with me.

The Tents

Our good friend Mohamed from Morocco (assisted us greatly with our 2012 Conference) with boxes and boxes and boxes of Moroccan minerals and fossils.

Amethyst dealer

More Moroccan fossil dealers

Cleary a high-class collection.

One of several dealers selling lapidary equipment and supplies.

A floating ammonite

A dealer selling rock lamps

Beata Sokolowski from Poland was offering a vast quantity of excellently-crystallized artificial crystals. I've seen some other dealers online selling what is obviously the same material at much inflated prices. These are not expensive (individual pieces were 20 euros or less) and great little educational tools to show the beauty of crystallography in man-made crystals. The names given to these specimens are not really appropriate - you shouldn't use mineral names with artificial crystals, but I'll report what was used anyway.

Large crystals of "Pruskite", or more properly potassium hexacyanoferrate(II)

A flat of "Arkanite" (or potassium sulfate)

This is "Phokenite" (or potassium phosphate)

This is the yellow form of "Pruskite", or potassium hexacyanoferrate(II)

Finally a flat of "Niahite", a hydrated monoamin phosphate.

Mountain Minerals had a whole cabinet full of these Portugese Autunite/Torbernite combinations, this is just one shelf. I didn't stay around long enough to photograph the rest!

Wendel Minerals had this lovely Kazakhstan calcite (about 10cm)

The people

One of the best things about the shows is meeting the people, both new contacts and old friends.

Kristina Bode and Jeanne Larson

Jeff Scovil is pointing at something for dramatic effect

Michael Ansonov of Russian Minerals being very Russian

Will Larson of Pala International being very... Will

Eloïse Gaillou from the Paris School of Mines museum looking quite at home because, well, she's still in France.

George Stacey from Australia chatting with Angela Southwood, who also lives in Australia. People travel halfway around the world to talk about rocks with people from their own country. And why not!

Exhibits, Presentations and Tours

The one exhibit I won't be talking about here is the main display of Alpine minerals, because that deserves a full report of its own. I hope to get started on that tomorrow but there's a good chance it will take me longer than one day - and I fly to Moscow on Thursday. But I will get that published as soon as I can.

Here is how I took some of the better photos of the Alpine special exhibit. I was surprised no-one in the show security tried to stop me using the tripod. If it was Munich or Tucson I'd have been told off immediately! Note the difference in lighting between the two cabinets.

Another exhibit included this very old lapidary table

In the cinema above the Theater lobby they were showing 3D movies of minerals and cave exploration. Very nicely done.

Immediately outside where that was showing the INET Photo Contest entries from 2015 were being displayed.

Friday night saw a small symposium being put on with four invited speakers (including myself)

Eloïse Gaillou talking about Paris mineral museums.

Master gemcutter Victor Tuzlukov and his wife in their display of incredible faceted stones.

Some of Victor's work

Victor's faceted pearl(!) around 16mm diameter.

German artists Jörg Thomas and Andree Roth in front of some of Jörg's paintings

Viewing their paintings in the gallery

Five times a day tours to the local Saint-Barthelmy silver mine started in the show by following this woman with the sign who lead the way.

Entrance to the mine

Entering the mine

Narrow passageways are difficult to traverse. Especially with two cameras.

Our guide shows siver veins, or where they were, in the wall.

Looking down the shaft


I spent some time just wandering around taking photos of dealers, visitors and booths. These can give you an idea what the show is like.

The show can get busy

Looking at minerals

Looking for bargains

These two ladies were promoting the Wolfach Festival der Kristalle.

Looking at magazines

Guarding the petrified wood

Another bargain hunter

Admiring the displays

Thank you to Ste Marie-aux-Mines for hosting us this year. I will bring you the most exciting report - the special display of Alpine minerals as soon as I can!

Article has been viewed at least 18075 times.


Nice report. I wonder when I will have the time to visit that event.

Two things (one issue :) ):
1) The wasp on Jordi Fabre's Smithsonite pice is actually a hover fly.
2) Nice to see another photog using a Burzynski ballhead. I've had mine since more than 10 years and it will probably outlive me and still work flawlessly.

Harald Schillhammer
1st Jul 2015 11:41am
Thanks Jolyon, it was interesting for me to see this

John Montgomery
1st Jul 2015 1:21pm
Wasp changed to a hoverfly. Doesn't seem so much of a bargain now :)

Burzynski ballhead stolen borrowed from my brother - he says it doesn't work properly but seems absolutely fine to me!

Jolyon & Katya Ralph
1st Jul 2015 3:06pm
Are you sure the specimen is realgar?

David Von Bargen
2nd Jul 2015 7:30am
Very nice report and photos, showing many different aspects of the show !
Ste Marie is unique !

Jean Dehaye
3rd Jul 2015 11:50am
Nice report.
Loved the show.
Disappointed that I wasn't able to catch up with more fellow mindaters.

Bob Beattie
4th Jul 2015 7:37am
Thank you Jolyon for the fine report.

It enables me to know a little what goes on as it has been some years I have been able to attend Ste Marie.

I remember it as a great show and it seems to be even better now.

John Attard
8th Jul 2015 2:05am
Très interessant reportage pour ceux qui ne peuvent pas venir à Ste Marie.
C'est vraiment le reflet de notre plus grande bourse en France.
Il manque toutefois un petit paragraphe sur les bénévoles des associations qui présentent aux visiteurs
et aux enfants des écoles, les activités autour des sciences de la terre.
Comme l'Association Française de Microminéralogie qui explique l'art du micromontage, et espère susciter des vocations !


Robert Pecorini
27th Jul 2015 9:00am
Very nice report. Brings back pleasant memories of the 2008 Show which we attended. There are so many wonderful things to see. I went crazy with my camera and brought back many interesting photos as well as minerals. I'm glad you shared your photos here.

Stephen C. Blyskal
14th Aug 2015 8:38pm

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