The Gem and Mineral Club of Scarborough recently celebrated its 42nd annual gem show.
The club, which started in 1963, is home to hundreds of rock collectors, or “rock hounders,” reaching as far east as Bowmanville. The show brings dealers from across the province together for a weekend of buying, selling and trading various rocks, minerals and jewelry.
Russell Bruce, president of the GMCS for more than eight years, began collecting by accident.
“I was simply out camping and I got frustrated with my wife who always brought rocks home for her garden,” he said. “One day I was walking along the shore of the lake and as I glanced down, I noticed all these coloured stones. I picked them up, rubbed them in my hands and wondered what they’d look like polished. Now I bring home 250 pounds instead of 25 pounds.”
Bruce says that’s how many of his members became rock hounds, as collecting is a non-traditional art form.
“What we see in that raw material is what creates the imagination in what we do with it,” he said.
His favourite stone is tourmaline in the matrix of calcite.
“It’s the first [rock] I ever purchased and the way the tourmaline crystal sits in it, it reminds me of sun rays,” he said.
Susan Llewellyn runs Amulet, a store in Stratford, that sells jewelry and precious stones. Her parents were some of the first members of the club and started participating in the Scarborough show in the early ’60s.
“Mother Nature is the best artist, and we make the jewelry, so I enjoy it,” Llewellyn said. “I grew up behind the booth and have been (making jewelry) since I was eight years old.”
The unconventional GMCA gatherings start with a short business meeting followed by a guest speaker.
The club offers many facilities such as faceting, wireworks, and jewelry design workshops for an annual fee of $15 per person and $20 per family.