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Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines 2017

Last Updated: 29th Jun 2017

By Tom Costes

At the Nautilus Mineral Fair in March I asked Jolyon if he wanted me to set everything up for the MinDat-visit of the Mineral & Gem fair in Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines. We both thought that was a terrific idea, but sadly Jolyon informed me that he couldn't attend the show so you are left again at my mercy for your report on the SMAM fair.

This time your humble narrator was accompanied by his parents because his loyal and trusted photographer was otherwise engaged. We decided that we would leave Ghent on Tuesday morning, so that we could visit the fair as early and quietly as possible. We left Ghent around 5.30am and after the necessary traffic jams and toilet breaks we arrived at the fair around 2pm and we were ready for 3 days of mineralogical fun.

After getting the badges and losing our car somewhere (it sounds easier than it is) we went on to visit the fair while the majority of the exhibitors were still constructing their stands. Due to the lack of visitors we managed to get around quite quickly and to our own surprise we did the biggest part of the fair in half a day.

The crowd on a tuesday largely exists of dealers, crew and carts


If you wonder how some people get there wares to France from far and exotic places.... Apparently drums are the answer
And who says that small pieces aren't heavy??
If you wonder how some people get there wares to France from far and exotic places.... Apparently drums are the answer
And who says that small pieces aren't heavy??
If you wonder how some people get there wares to France from far and exotic places.... Apparently drums are the answer
And who says that small pieces aren't heavy??


Some smashing carnallites from Sollstedt, Germany


Just so you wouldn't think it... Yes, there are also fossils on SMAM


Some excellent golds from Italy


I went searching for minerals the last couple of years so obviously i had some questions. No man better to ask about the research in the field in Wales than Richard Tayler


Some vey interesting flats in the booth of Philipp Becker
And a great American aragonite
Some vey interesting flats in the booth of Philipp Becker
And a great American aragonite
Some vey interesting flats in the booth of Philipp Becker
And a great American aragonite


The displays and minerals from Crystal Classics where phenomenal


A number of blue barytes from Morocco from Haouati Hicham



The first day is over and before heading home we just went to see what they did with those drums during the fair


Those are the pictures from the days before any visitors are allowed. Everythig nice and quiet was over and the next day would be open for public. If you wonder...


Yes, the difference is obvious


The heath during the SMAM weekend was unbearable. But the organisers had an ingenious aid. Several watersprayers where installed around the central square. When you approached you felt a cool wave coming your way.

The cooling was one of the most popular attractions


The Expositions






For those who have never been to the Sainte-Marie fair, generally, there is one big exposition called "The Prestige Exhibition". There are several cabinets filled around one central theme. The pieces are provided by the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris, Musée Minéralogique de Mines ParisTech, Musée minéralogique de l’Université de Strasbourg, London Natural History Museum, Sapienza – Università di Roma and multiple private collections.

The central theme this year was "Geodes and Fumaroles: the minerals of volcanism"


AND BOY WAS IT WORTH IT!!

It started rather calmly with several overviews from different minerals from European volcanic complexes, most notably the centre of France and the Eifel complex.

Several terrific Icelandic specimen. Export of minerals from Iceland is very strictly regulated which makes these pieces very rare


I'm not a fan of the pieces of Idar-Oberstein, but even i have to admit that i like this calcite a lot
Several big haüyne's from the Eifel volcanic complex. Sadly this mineral-rich area was a bit underrepresented due to it consisting mostly out of micromount localities
I'm not a fan of the pieces of Idar-Oberstein, but even i have to admit that i like this calcite a lot
Several big haüyne's from the Eifel volcanic complex. Sadly this mineral-rich area was a bit underrepresented due to it consisting mostly out of micromount localities
I'm not a fan of the pieces of Idar-Oberstein, but even i have to admit that i like this calcite a lot
Several big haüyne's from the Eifel volcanic complex. Sadly this mineral-rich area was a bit underrepresented due to it consisting mostly out of micromount localities


A cabinet consisting of french volcanic hematites and some augites


Some other smashing hematites from the rest of the exposition

A beautiful Argentinian hematite
A french one
and another one from Argentina
A beautiful Argentinian hematite
A french one
and another one from Argentina
A beautiful Argentinian hematite
A french one
and another one from Argentina



By far the biggest eyecatchers from the exposition were the amethysts from South-America in all forms and combinations. They have spent extra attention to picking the pieces with the most beautiful and strange calcites you can imagine.

One of the strangest forms of calcite, as if it was a candle that has melted



The forms may vary
But the quality stays very high
The forms may vary
But the quality stays very high
The forms may vary
But the quality stays very high
With strange combinations
and even phantoms
With strange combinations
and even phantoms
With strange combinations
and even phantoms
without calcite
or with pseudomorfs
without calcite
or with pseudomorfs
without calcite
or with pseudomorfs
Or just plainly massive pieces>



AND WHO TOUGHT THAT AMETHYST GEODES WERE ALWAYS THE SAME?????


If this isn't a sceptre then i don't know what is...


Some very nice agathes


Talking about European volcanism is hard without talking about Italy. So of course the Italians were granted cabinet.

An Italian overview


With a massive and well formed leucite


And even a display from Hawaii


There is one coutry that can't be ignored when you're talking about volcanic minerals. They are omnipresent on every mineral fair, big or small, and you have to be really trying not to let one of these beautiful zeolites slip in your collection. I'm obvioulsy talking about INDIA

The general overview for India
With a smashing cavansite
The general overview for India
With a smashing cavansite
The general overview for India
With a smashing cavansite


And then... a dream for every crystallographer or everybody who's is interested in the crystalforms of minerals. The Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris set up one display with pieces from the collection of renowned mineralogist René Just Haüy.

The man himself with his minerals




There was one more exhibition in the Piscine (swimming pool). This was set up by one of the dealers there and it was about a unique find of quartz, epidote and siderite in the french alps. So we went there and at the entrance we were welcomed by a small cabinet that was in memory for a deceased French collector.

A massive pink-red fluorite from the alps


And then on to the exposition...
I will put a disclaimer here. I made a lot more photographsof the Piscine exposition but they all turned out blurred due to the clearness of the quartz, lack of background and too regular lighting. Sorry!

Luckily, a quartz with siderite had enough contrast for a picture
and so did the epidotes
Luckily, a quartz with siderite had enough contrast for a picture
and so did the epidotes
Luckily, a quartz with siderite had enough contrast for a picture
and so did the epidotes


The Kids' Corner



The entrance



We've all dragged our beloved family to a fair we were visiting. The adults can often be interested or fake it long enough to not appear bored. Kids however are more difficult. The fair has a beautiful solution for the kids or visiting schools. They have a separate part where they have put up tents with fun and science together.

Here they learn things about gems
recognising minerals
Here they learn things about gems
recognising minerals
Here they learn things about gems
recognising minerals


archeology
and goldpanning
archeology
and goldpanning
archeology
and goldpanning


AWH, isn't he adorable


How they made fire in neolithic times with marcassite and flint
Succes!
How they made fire in neolithic times with marcassite and flint
Succes!
How they made fire in neolithic times with marcassite and flint
Succes!


This was my impression from the 4 days i was in Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines and i had a wonderfull time. I want to thank Jolyon for letting me do this and i hope i will be there next year again!!

Spock out!

Costes Tom (reporter and photographer) & Costes Jean-Claude (photograper and wonderful dad)




Article has been viewed at least 5096 times.

Comments

Thanks, Tom - a nice report and interesting photos!

Becky Coulson
30th Jun 2017 8:21am
Thanks for the nice report, Tom!

Harjo Neutkens
1st Jul 2017 9:21pm
Excellent coverage, thanks!

Woody Thompson
3rd Jul 2017 2:58pm
Most impressive!

Keith A. Peregrine
4th Jul 2017 11:52pm

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