Collector rockin’ with petrified find
Dennis Pendergast left Lacombe’s rock and gem show with a 15-kilogram chunk of petrified wood destined for his living room.
The heavy equipment operator said he’s been long fascinated by the unusual chunks of rock he’s dug out of the ground at building sites over the years.
“I dug a big petrified stump out near Bluffton,” he said.
A metre high and as big across, the stump weighs hundreds of kilograms and now sits in his garden.
He’s also come across a few chunks of what he jokingly calls “Alberta ocean-front property;” stones laced with dozens of fossilized seashells.
His new piece caught his eye because of the unique patterns in the polished petrified wood.
“This one looks like it has a bunch of cork in it.”
Bernice Allen can trace her love of rocks and gems to her childhood in Hinton.
“I’ve been collecting since I was nine years old,” she said. I’d play down at the creek and bring rocks home.”
Four decades later, she’s still collecting and counts fluorite and rose quartz among her favourites.
Pendergast and Allen were among an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 rock hounds expected to descend on the Lacombe Mall for the 11 days of the Silver Cove Rocktober Gem and Mineral Show that wraps up on October 20.
The twice yearly event is organized by Silver Cove From Rock 2 Gem owners Chris and Melissa Robak, whose shop is in the mall.
The husband-and-wife team started their business out of their basement and now are one of the biggest rock and gem dealers in Western Canada.
They recently bought an entire warehouse worth — more than 20 tonnes — of rocks and minerals in Hollywood, Calif.
“This show has taken off,” said Chris, who estimated by Saturday he had already surpassed the numbers at a recent Calgary show. “Every year it goes up 20 to 30 per cent.”
Half a dozen tables were stocked with thousands of gems, precious and semi-precious stones, fossils and minerals. Carrying exotic-sounding names like ruby kyanite, citrine aragonite, red snake and fancy jasper, some of the larger samples were worth well over $1,000.
A 250-kilogram chunk of fluorite was worth $2,500.
Those looking for rocks and minerals have many motivations. A large part of the business — about 60 per cent he estimates — is driven by those who believe various stones have healing properties.
Catering to that crowd, Rocktober featured 56 different events over the 11 days, including hot rock massage, reiki and ion foot cleansing among others.
Some are driven by the bottom line. They see investment in precious stones as a good financial strategy along the lines of those who stockpile gold or silver.
Others seek out colourful gems and stones to make jewelry and others just love to collect.
“Everybody has some kind of fascination,” he said. “There’s so many different facets to it, so many different angles.”