Crystal Treasure Trove
Copyright © 2015 - Bill Kaunitz
Picture # 30
Larry G.' s bus was a wonderful RV conversion. While I have driven vans for most of my life, this bus was my first BIG set of wheels! It had bench seats, a huge bed, a sofa and a kitchen. I added shelves and a storage area for my crystals and our teepee. My helpers and I camped out at Tucson in style, with the teepee, an electric generator and color TV.
For the first 2 weeks of every February, Tucson is filled with gem shows and sidewalk displays. I rented a 12,000 square foot parking lot on the side of the highway for my tons of crystals. Fortunately, I had lots of help for all this work. My bearded friend Tom Brown, master mechanic, is pictured above. We logged many flawless miles together. It was great having someone to fix the old bus when it broke down.
Here is a little secret. There is nothing like the sensation of going down a hill in an old school bus at 99 miles an hour! I could see the big-rig drivers shuddering and quaking as the old bus went zipping by them. I always imagined them saying “Oh my God, I hope there's no kids on that bus!”
Well, with great luck, I never got a ticket or had an accident. I think that old bus is still running up in the hills of Arkansas . In the photo is sculptor Dale Montagne, my friend from Colorado , who created the first sculpture I ever commissioned. He continues to build monumental artworks in glass, steel, and stone for clients around the world.
Picture # 31
Here I am selling at my first crystal show in 1982. Please notice the glass ball — it is not even an actual crystal. Almost all the other crystals are tiny and used to cost a dollar. How things have changed. Fine crystals now command big bucks for rare and beautiful specimens. However, you can always find affordable little crystals from Brazil or Arkansas in many places. Inch-long stones start at a dollar or less, while the multi-ton clusters go up into the millions of dollars for fine museum pieces.
To accommodate my customers, I had to learn how to dig crystals, identify them, clean them, pack and display them. Then I studied studio lighting to help showcase the stones for crystal fairs and photography. Finally, with great help from Iasos and Ken Jenkins, I learned how to make crystal movies to feature my discoveries in the mineral kingdom. I will tell you more about that in the Living Rainbows section of Volume 4, and the Crystal Castles chapter of Volume 3.
Picture # 32
When you are looking for great places to prospect for stones, check out the Internet for mineral show schedules. Most cities have Gem and Mineral Societies where you can study the rocks, learn how to polish them and buy them at club shows. Here is a picture of my 2007 display at the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society Extravaganza in world-famous Golden Gate Park . Typically, I would bring 1000 pounds of crystals to these shows, along with 500 pounds of tables, shelves and lamps. Over the years, I have hauled around some 50 tons of crystals through several states. In a later chapter, I will show you how to safely move the big crystals. You can also see pictures from my four museums. Nowadays, in my 60's, I limit my lifting to 500 pounds for weekend shows. That is still a truckload of crystals to carry.
I always feel that lots of good lighting makes my crystals glow. I collect lamps and special bulbs for different kinds of crystals. I have nearly 200 spotlights for my museum and traveling shows. I also collect empty boxes for lugging all this stuff around. I keep 100s of cartons and milk crates around, along with flat mineral boxes, from 2” to 6” thick. Then there are a few thousand tiny white boxes for the small stones themselves. This kind of organizational system allows small boxes within flat boxes within cartons. It is fast and easy to set up thousands of stones on display.
Picture # 33
Warehouses may not have much ambiance or decoration, but you can see some extraordinary pieces in the oddest places. Here is a stark room in Tucson , with a million-dollar collection of giant smoky-citrine quartz crystals. Who cares about the décor when there are giant glowing gems to look at?
The large crystals in this display from Minais Gerais State in Brazil cost up to $250,000 dollars each. Notice how the owners have built sturdy stands to elevate the crystals and hold them upright. Lights are built in too. This is a functional and impressive display.
Many dealers will let you handle their smaller stones if you are careful, or you can place your hands on the big ones after asking permission. Be aware that jewelry on your hands or body may damage crystals by chipping them. When I handle my energy stones, I remove all rings, belt buckles, necklaces and wristbands or bracelets. That way, the hard metals will not chip the edges of the stones or break my jewelry. In practical terms, I have not worn any jewelry for 20 years to help protect my museum pieces.
I like having the energy of quartz on my body, so I keep a little crystal in a pouch in my pocket. Tiny crystals also go into my wallet sometimes, to help energize abundance though intention.
Picture # 34
In the San Francisco Bay Area, there is some kind of crystal show or crafts fair going on nearly every weekend. Check the Internet for the show schedules for Gem Faire, and the International Gem and Jewelry Shows. Don't forget to look at the local gem clubs for their yearly exhibitions.
Here is my sturdy 1984 GMC van, loaded with rocks and ready to roll. This trusty vehicle has hauled my crystals for 30 years, with hardly any complaints. It has been strengthened with a towing package, so I can load up to 3000 pounds for an expedition and add a trailer. I also like to bring a sturdy helper or two to assist in the lifting and sales efforts. These amazing women and men have made it possible to lug around what felt like millions of pounds of crystals.
Industry studies indicate that crystals will go to 17 shows on the average, before they finally sell. Lots of people get to see them in my rolling mineral museum displays. It is always a delight to get the special power stones into the hands of the right people who will love them and use them with the highest intention for healing and growth.
Picture # 35
Rock and Gem Society Shows offer an added bonus. You can see collector showcases of amazing personal displays of gems and minerals. These are private treasures that are not for sale at the shows. You can see what attracts an individual through their choice of treasures. Miners also display coherent collections from particular locales.
I personally find my tastes go through cycles. At certain times, I will collect crystal balls. Then I focus on polished crystals or maybe geodes. Later I will change to crystal castles or maybe “cutting rough” for gems. Then I go right back to the beginning and enjoy the quartz globes again.
There is a lot to explore in the mineral world! Each year, millions of crystals are unearthed somewhere on our planet. Many are cut into jewelry while a lot are sold as natural specimens. More of them are carved into sculptures. Every state and each country has its own specialties.
Most of the 4000 different kinds of mineral crystals are found in multiple locations while a few types of stones have only one distinct spot for mining. As you can see in this photo, all of the shapes in this display case are quartz stalactites. They cover the full range of colors and come to me from all over the planet. I strive to remain in a state of gratitude for all the people digging rocks and shipping them to me. Of the million crystals that I bought and sold over 40 years, I am humbled by how many wonderful people cared enough to dig the crystals from the depths of the earth.
Picture # 36
Here is my collection of phantom crystals at the San Francisco show. These amazing stones have multicolored layers of clay and minerals that appear and disappear as you rotate the crystal. There are close-up pictures of many kinds of phantoms in Volume 4, “Inside the Crystal.”
To purchase Book 2 in the "Crystal Collecting with Crystal Bill" series Crystal Love Story, go to www.ElegantCrystals.com