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In September, I went back in time to the Tucson show as it used to be in the seventies. Only it was 2008 and I was in Denver for what many in the gem trade think is America’s second most important gem and mineral show. While attendance was down, and many dealers disgruntled, I found the Denver show a gem lover’s seventh heaven. If you love rock gems, this show is a paradise.

Once I discovered the strengths and specialties of this show, I hoped it might serve as a reliable indicator of gem trends in advance of Tucson. One of the most trends-sensitive booths at Denver belonged to Mark Lasater of the Clam Shell, Prescott, Arizona. After seeing some astonishing jaspers and agates, I felt Lasater was ideally suited to ask the burning question I knew by then this show could answer: “What’s the next big thing in quartz?”

After he shot me a quizzical look, I explained myself. “Look, the jewelry world has got its fill of rutilated and dendritic quartz,” I told him. “Now designers are looking for the next big thing in included quartz.”

Lasater immediately motioned to an associate to hand him a box at the other end of his booth. He rifled through it until he found something he obviously had in mind as soon as I put my question. “So you’re sick of rutile and tourmaline needles, is that it?” he asked. “And now you want to be wowed by another kind of quartz?” Without waiting for an answer, he started opening several stone papers.

Every one contained a clear crystal quartz cabochon with massive rock-like formations inside them. Some looked like moss; others resembled coral reefs; and a few reminded me of terraced lava flows and black sand beaches. After watching me study a dozen or so stones, Lasater made a big pronouncement: “The next big thing in included quartz is stones with big inclusions.”

“Can you even call these mineral masses ‘inclusions’?” I asked. Lasater smiled. “The word seems a little misplaced in this context, but, technically speaking, these formations are inclusions,” he qualified. Although there are several kinds of bulky minerals found inside these quartzes, usually they are chlorite and iron.

There is a specific name for quartzes with sprawling rock masses in them: lodolite (it can also be spelled lodalite). Since the name for these Brazilian quartzes is taken from the Portuguese word for mud, it is understandable why major marketers of this gem have taken to referring to them in a more pleasing, positive manner. For example, John Bajoras of Village Silversmiths, Gloucester, Massachusetts, sells lodolite as “scenic garden quartz.” He’s got a point. Lodolites often remind admirers of underwater rock displays seen at aquariums or in fish tanks.

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