Reminder Assistant Editor
WEST SPRINGFIELD "Diamonds are a girl's best friend," or so the song goes. But what about the more than 40 other popular gemstones such as sapphires, garnets, emeralds, rubies or Tanzanite?
Arguably, Marilyn Monroe's most famous adage, which was made popular by her 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," will be put to the test at the 2008 East Cost Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show. This weekend over 140 collectors, dealers, miners, artisans and crafters from all over the world will display some of the finest gems to the excitement of all those at the Better Living Center at Eastern States Exposition.
The event will feature a variety of items from 50-cent tumbled stones to $50,000 unique mineral specimens. Also included in the three-day event will be an elaborate 53-case exhibition never before seen in the eastern United States, presented by Herb and Monika Obodda.
In an interview with Reminder Publications, Herb explained that he has been working as a collector and mineral dealer for over 50 years. He said his interest in the field began at age nine when he began collecting pebbles from his grandmother's garden in Germany. Since then, he has traveled to Europe, Russia, China, Africa and Pakistan to build his collection.
"Although my birthplace of New York City afforded me little opportunity to collect or even see minerals, my family owned a country home in Pennsylvania to which we would drive every weekend," Herb wrote on his Web site, www.obodda.com. "Passing the Buckwheat dump in the town of Franklin, New Jersey, I was bewildered to see collectors bent over piles of rocks, swinging away with sledgehammers. I was curious to know what they were doing. Later, I took a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History, where I saw my first Franklin mineral, a huge, perfect franklinite crystal perched on white calcite with a wide band of rich deep red zincite across the front. I was so taken by the piece that I begged and cajoled my parents until they finally gave in and agreed to stop and let me collect."
Herb said collecting began as a hobby but he has been very fortunate to make a living out of his passion. He added that he hopes his exhibition will show people that "there is so much more out there besides minerals."
Herb noted that his exhibit will also feature mining scenes represented in 18th century Meissen procelain and 19th century carved ivory, antique mineralogy books and carvings from master carver Gerd Dreher.
Regina Aumente, assistant manager of the East Cost Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show, said she is always looking for unique exhibitors with eccentric collections for the wonderment of all who attend the event.
She noted that event organizers also look to bring free daily lectures with local themes in order for those in attendance to have a better understanding of the unique gems, fossils and minerals that can be found here and abroad.
The lectures will include "Exploring Caves," "America's Finest Minerals," "Herkimer Diamonds," "California Gold," "Lapidary for Beginners," "Women and Mineral Collecting" and "Minerals of Afghanistan and Pakistan."
There will also be free mineral identification, hourly door prizes, gem panning and geode-cracking.
Aumente noted that children will also have the opportunity to choose three free mineral specimens in an effort to increase their understanding and interest in geology.
The 2008 East Coast Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show will take place from Aug. 8 through 10 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The cost is $6 per person and children under 12 are admitted free with a paid adult admission. Parking costs $5 per day.
For more information on the show go to www.mzexpos.com.
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