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Gem & Mineral Show in Madrid offers host of glittering minerals to visitors

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MADRID — Rock hounds and members of the St. Lawrence County Rock & Mineral Club traded specimens and sold items to the public Sunday at the St. Lawrence County Gem & Mineral Show, held at the Municipal Park and Community Center here.

The show, which took place Friday through Sunday, is an annual fundraiser for the club’s activities and caters to rock lovers of all ages.

From gleaming lumps of pyrite to sparkling columns of quartz, minerals of all shapes and sizes were displayed by vendors at the public event, which offered free admission.

Now in its 50th year, the show attracts rock hounds from across the northeastern U.S. and Canada and is a place where local enthusiasts gather to share experiences.

“It does draw a lot of people from the surrounding area,” said St. Lawrence County Rock & Mineral Club President William F. deLorraine.

Visitors also had a chance to see a geode cracked open on the spot and purchase one for $6 to $8, depending on size.

Once again this year, the club raffled off a breathtaking Brazilian amethyst cathedral, worth more than $400.

Similar to a geode, the cathedral reveals a treasure trove of crystal once trapped in volcanic basalt rock.

Cathedrals form when gas bubbles trapped in magma cool into cavities and are infiltrated by silica rich water. Over time, the water slowly deposits quartz to form crystals, according to Mr. deLorraine.

Mr. deLorraine said the club raises between $1,000 and $2,000 at the annual show, which, along with funding club activities, goes toward scholarships for students at SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University, Canton, who are interested in mineralogy.

Last year the club donated $500 to each school.

Children attending this year’s show were able to assemble mineral kits free of charge, collecting specimens of blue calcite, rose quartz and other minerals into egg cartons, labeling them by name and where the mineral was found.

Mr. deLorraine said such details are what collectors look for along with pictures and publication of a specimen in a mineralogical magazine. Without these, he said, the perceived value of a specimen drops.

“If you have a really good quality crystal, that’s when it becomes important,” Mr. deLorraine said.

Edwin C. Rice, who with his wife shapes minerals into jewelry, said that beauty is just under the surface of uncut rocks and it’s surprising how interested children become in hunting minerals once they see their true colors.

“Once they start, they love picking up rocks,” said Mr. Rice.

Schuyler W. Alverson, 90, a founder and 50-year member of the club, said he started rock hunting with friends on weekends as a boy, venturing out into the woods to collect specimens.

“Then I grew and I couldn’t stop it,” he said.

Mr. Alverson said he is fond of Feldspars for their shape and color, including Amazonite, which is native to St. Lawrence County.

People interested in learning more about the mineral club’s activities are invited to attend its meetings, held at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, except February, in the Canton Free Library.

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