Sunday, February 8, 2009

#TGS - The Jim & Gail Spann Collection

I started the day out running over to pick up Roni & Margo - two women I had met through the International School of Gemology (ISG) Forum...and we were off!

The Westward Look Resort is a luxury community nestled in the foothills of the Tucson landscape - arranged in small pueblo type groups of six suites it is everything you expect from a southwest resort.

As you entered the show there were 4 or 5 groups of six suites filled with glorious examples of mineral growths in every form and some that I have never seen or imagined!

So it was a fitting site for the elegant mineral collection of Jim & Gail Spann. Each year this show seperates a specific collection and puts it on view in their lobby - for 2009 this honor went to the Spanns.

When we arrived we took a look at the various vendors displays as we had heard that you couldn't even get close enough to view the collection in the Lobby.

I don't think that there was a single room that we walked into that one of us didn't utter an exclamation or say - I didn't know it grew like that!!! Beautiful fuzzy Malachite and naturally etched Aquamarine, a Sphalerite that was bigger than a serving tray and minerals we have never heard of.

While the vendors in most of the suites were busy or had decided that this group of three women were "not buyers", Bill Larsen's son in the Pala International Suite was chatty and very helpful. I was missing his father's talk on famous Collectors to be at this show - so his friendliness made an impression on me. You can find Pala International at and their items for sale at (while you are there subscribe to their newsletter it is full of great information and some of the finest gems and minerals).

There was also a lovely woman selling meteorite that spent quite a while with us discussing the various locales of the crystal bearing meteorite - unfortunately I didn't get her card - maybe Roni or Marge will leave a comment with her contact info.
We jumped on the shuttle around 1pm to check out the lobby but when we got there the crush around the Spann's cases was 5 people deep so we had lunch in "GOLD" the restaurant off the Lobby. We ate on the balconey, the food was great and what a view you could see across the entire city of Tucson!

We made our way back to the Lobby for what was in my opinion - the show-stopper!!!!

As we approached Gail was trying her hardest to get photos of the amazing group of people viewing the display (the crush was still 3-4 people deep). All the "Who's Who" of the Mineral World were there. Dave Wilbur was there trying to get film for the Blue Cap Production of "What's Hot in Tucson!"

I have to say that no matter how busy Gail was, she took the time talk with us. Gail has probably single handedly done more to encouraged the growth of "Women in Minerology" than any other single person. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she has along with Jim amassed one of the finest collections in the country.

The items on display here in Tucson were some of the rarer pieces - I want to introduce you to some of the really beautiful items that we discovered here:
Malachite in a Crystal habit that I have NEVER seen - an amazing Red Quartz - Metatorbernite a secondary mineral in weathering uranium-bearing deposits and Erythrite a glorious deep magenta crystal.

If you missed the show and would like to see the Spann Collection - take a minute to register for the Fabre Mineral Forum ( and check out the topic Gail's Collection - she is patient and takes the time to talk to and encourage new collectors!
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