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November-December 2015

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The Hunan International Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the 2015 Hunan
Mineral and Gem Show was held.

The Third China (Hunan, formerly Changsha) Mineral and Gem Show was clouded at Tucson time (mid-February) by concerns over its location and whether the progress made by the first two shows would survive the power struggle for control of the show by two rival groups. Both had involvement in the first shows, but the group backing moving the show to Chenzhou came out on top in mid-March. This left them with less than three months to organize an enormous show in a new city, and they pulled off what was (hopefully) the best attended show in history.

Mineralogically, Chenzhou is a more logical place for a mineral show than Changsha because it lies close to the specimen-producing mines of Yaogangxian and Guilin. Logistically, however, it suffers from not having an operating airport (one is built and ready to go but has not yet been inaugurated), so one takes the train or drives in from either Changsha or Guangzhou. Fortunately it has an excellent convention facility, and the nearby lodging facilities are significantly nicer than those in Changsha. Equally fortunate was the continuation of the excellent translator program that makes communicating and functioning socially in China possible for many Western visitors. My translator, “Nora,” not only spoke excellent English but is also studying photojournalism and was delighted to take thousands of pictures for me during the four days of the show (she took the pictures shown here).

Mineralogically there was not much new from China at this show except for some excellent green fluorites, spectacular giant flos ferri aragonites, and suspect “bismutoferrites.” But what set this show apart from any mineral show anywhere/anytime was the attendance, which set an all-time (present and future) worldwide high-water mark. The government of Hunan (technically the owner but not the operator of the show) reportedly gave the citizens of Chenzhou a five-day holiday from school and work so they could attend. To further encourage attendance, other entertainment options around the city were shuttered, at least during show hours. The result of this was staggering. Total attendance was estimated at 300,000–500,000 people with most of them turning up at once on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. Inside, the hall was a wall-to-wall sea of humanity. Outside, entrance lines snaked down the block, and people were admitted in groups of several hundred only after that number had exited. Dealers were overwhelmed and responded either by roping off their stands or standing anxiously by their display cases to prevent the constant crush of people from upsetting their contents. In the face of this onslaught, most serious mineral buyers fled the scene, so despite the huge crowds very few sales were transacted outside of the jewelry and gift booths where business looked brisk. The vendors of toy drones, electronic back-massage units, and t-shirts, who lined many of the corridors (a fire marshall's nightmare), also appeared to do well.

A view of the crowds at the show.

It's difficult to measure the show's success. It was certainly not great for the mineral dealers or buyers, but it is hard to discount the potential impact of exposing so many people to minerals. Although they may not have bought much, they appeared fascinated by the specimens in both the sales booths and museum exhibits (several of which had some excellent pieces), and I have to assume the exposure to fine specimens and the recognition that they could be personal possessions was as enlightening an experience for some of them as my first Tucson Show (where I spent $12) was for me. If even 0.5 percent of the attendees get hooked, as I did in Tucson, several thousand new collectors just got minted! For sanity's sake, it's hoped that the Hunan government moderates their attendance-boosting efforts in the future, but we may have to look back at this show and be grateful for the new initiates into our hobby that stemmed from this show.


Following the suggestion of several readers that the identification of rhodochrosite from the Manganese mine, Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, Michigan (as reported by us in the November/December 2014 issue of Rocks & Minerals, pages 498–513), may be worth re-examining, we have subjected a more substantial mass from the specimen shown in figure 29 to additional testing. Sampled flakes of the mineral in question do not effervesce in dilute hydrochloric acid. Raman spectro-scopy showed a moderately intense fluorescence response using an excitation laser wavelength of 633 nm but did not give any sharp peaks below 1300 wavenumbers, including the relatively sharp peak near 1085 wavenumbers that would be expected for rhodochrosite. Although initial qualitative SEM/EDS analysis showed good agreement for rhodochrosite, new SEM/EDS analyses show only calcium, manganese, oxygen, and perhaps some potassium. These results clearly indicate that the bronze- to tan-colored scaly mineral in question is not rhodochrosite but could be ranciéite, as suggested by S. M. Carlson and T. A. Olds (pers. comm., 2014). We appreciate your readers bringing this to our attention and affording the opportunity to make this correction.

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