Tuesday, August 18, 2009

African time

I should have remembered about African time. I ran into when I used to travel over there. Actually, "ran into it" isn't the proper term. More like had to live on it.

When I placed my order for the rock, the mine told me it would be shipped in late July. Obviously that hasn't happened!

Now they are telling me August 27. Aaaaaarrrrrghhhhhh!!!!! That puts it here in late September, which gives me just time to get some slabs cut in time for our club show. That is, if the weather cooperates. I can't cut anything when it's raining because the saw is too exposed on the front porch.

So my current emphasis is to try to cut slabs from some of an old collection I bought back in March. I have a good pile of rock sitting there to cut but it's raining every day.

Hopefully once the remnants of Ana get past I'll have some dry days...........

Friday, August 7, 2009

The bird has flown......

Which is to say, I made the payment for the African rocks this morning via wire transfer. No word yet on when they'll be shipped, but in the next few days.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Almost there........

I'm going to backtrack a little here. I've been talking about the shipment of rock I'm getting from Africa, but not how that whole thing got started. Someone asked me today how on earth I got into this, so I may as well go back to the beginning.

Back in the early 1990s, I traveled to South Africa four consecutive years to hunt and fish and gather information for stories. (As a writer, I’m always looking for something new to write about.)

Looking back over a distance of 15 or so years, I can’t remember why we ended up where we were, but we stopped by a wholesale gemstone dealer one afternoon. On the grass behind the building were piles of malachite and sodalite about 6 feet across and 3 feet high, pieces from fist-sized to the size of a flagstone, all just in big heaps.

I’ve loved both stones ever since, and in fact that afternoon bought gemstone strands of both. Little did I know at the time how much those piles were worth, or how impossible it would be to get malachite out of Africa today!

Several months ago, I made a connection through my fiance to the wife of one of his colleagues. She's from Kenya, and worked there as a prospector for many years. Somehow the three of us hatched the idea of importing a shipment of lapidary rock from northern Africa for sale here in the states.

We weren't able to get anything set up from northern Africa, so I started digging around and looking for my own sources.After many hours of research, and many e-mails, I narrowed my potential suppliers down to three, and then to two, and finally to one. I still may order from the second one, but one metric ton of rock at a time is enough!

I formally placed my order today--August 6--and it should be here around the middle of September. The rock will arrive in four 55-gallon drums, which will take up residence in my driveway until I can get them sorted out! Meanwhile I’ve been scrounging milk crates and every other hard plastic basket I can find so I can stack the rock on shelves in my shade house.

I've already written about the chrysocolla. I’ll also be getting blue lace agate (some with druzy), red aventurine, Orange River Voorsite chalcedony, 17 different jaspers, sodalite (couldn’t pass that one up), banded jasper matrix with tiger eye, and unakite. Malachite is unavailable due to the political situation in southern Africa at this time. :-(

But, the order is placed, the wire transfer goes out tomorrow, and the rock should be on the way in the next few days. I'll start putting it on line sometime around the end of September, both as rough and as slabs.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Africa rocks!

My shipment from Africa is almost on the way. There was one material I wasn't sure about ordering, and the mine owner, Paul Lee, gracious sent me a generous sample of it. It's sold as African Turquoise, but without actually having my hands on it and having it tested, I couldn't be sure what it was.

When it arrived, I sent one piece to a gemologist I know in South Carolina--John Rasmussen of Rasmussen Gems & Jewelry--and kept the other piece to play with myself.

The guys around the club thought it was true turquoise, mid grade, that should be a good seller. I tried polishing an end of the piece I have, and it does take a nice polish.

John did some chemical testing on it, and found that although it has a strong resemblance to turquoise, it's actually chrysocolla, and a high grade chrysocolla at that.

I changed my order--I'm getting three times what I originally planned to order. I've already had several people say they want to buy some of it. Now I'm worrying about whether I've ordered enough!

I'll be sending the payment this week, and it will ship in just a few more days. The waiting is almost over.........