OGDEN — Rock hounds rejoice! The 68th Annual Gemstone Junction show is being held this weekend at the Golden Spike Event Center.
The annual event, which runs April 12-14 this year, is put on by the Golden Spike Gem and Mineral Society. Diane Collins has been a member for nine years and said roughly 3,000 people attend every year.
“Our goal is to foster interest in the hobby and educate people,” she said.
This year there will be 28 vendors at the three-day event. Some will be selling various minerals, gems and jewelry, while others will be doing educational demonstrations.
Collins said there will be demonstrations happening all day for every day of the event. These will include gold panning, glass lampwork, faceting, wire wrapping, rock tumbling, gold smithing, and cabochon making.
“Cabochon making is creating the stones set into jewelry that aren’t faceted,” Collins said. “It has a flat back and is normally round or oval in shape with a dome front.”
Dee Coulam has been giving gemstone faceting demonstrations at the event for about 30 years.
“Mother Nature likes to grow crystals and sometimes those crystals are rare and we’ve found if we cut new angles on her crystals and polish them up we can make a gemstone out of what was just a crystal,” he said.
Coulam uses an 8-inch diamond-coated wheel to shape the stones. He works with every kind except for diamonds, as they’re too hard on his equipment. At the gemstone junction he’ll most likely be finishing up a pink sapphire he has been working on; most stones take anywhere from 8 to 30 hours to finish.
“Anyone can learn to facet if they can follow directions to make a batch of cookies that are edible,” Coulam said.
George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park Director Casey Allen said they work closely with the gem and mineral society and always do demonstrations at the annual gathering. This year, the entire lab will be moved out to the event center and employees will be working on real fossils for the public to view.
The fossils are coming to the dinosaur park as part of the Menefee Project, where they were unearthed by construction in northern Arizona.
“We don’t know what they are yet,” Allen said. “It’s kind of a mystery to us. We usually don’t start on a fossil and then move it. We’ll take it out once we’re there so it’s completely protected in its field jacket.”
Evan Day has been a member of the gem and mineral society since 1977 and also volunteers at the dinosaur park. He will be at the event working with fish fossils, and while most people work on them manually with a dental pick, he has developed a much faster method using a small electric engraver with a sharpened tip.
“I can do in 10 minutes what takes two or three hours with a dental pick,” Day said.
He will also have the fossil of a gar fish in tow that is about the size of a person’s forearm.
“I enjoy showing people and teaching them about these ancient creatures,” he said.
Another highlight of the event is Timothy Seeber, more famously known as Mr. Bones. The Colorado native builds massive wearable dinosaur skeletons that he wears and displays at gem shows around the country.
Collins said they are hosting several field trips for area schoolchildren on Friday, and the kids always love Mr. Bones.
“He has a T-Rex one and if the kids aren’t afraid he’ll bend the head down like he’s going to bite them,” she said. “ Everybody wants to take pictures of their child with the T-Rex.”
Weber State University jewelry making instructor René Venegas will also be there using centuries-old techniques to create jewelry with metals like silver and copper. He likes to incorporate stones found in Utah, like opal and turquoise.
“I keep the tradition alive,” he said.
Collins said there will be grab bags available for purchase and a silent auction featuring materials donated by club members.
The event is open to the public 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. A donation is requested at the door for attendees over 12 years old.