Rock lovers from all 50 states drive many miles to see the gems on display at the Evansville Lapidary Society’s annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show, set for Oct. 24 and 25 at Washington Square Mall, Green River Road, and Washington Avenue.
“It’s huge,” says Sara Rappee, show chair and society past president. “We advertise all the way to the Chicago area. We try to get information out as far as we can and bring people in from all states.”
This year marks the 49th show for the Lapidary Society. More than 20 different vendors from across the country bring in a wide variety of wares from beads, jewelry, and carvings to geodes, slabs, fossils, minerals, and gems from all over the world. Rappee says the show also includes working demonstrations, where society members use a portable unit to show the public how to grind and polish rocks.
“People bring stuff to them and (the collectors) tell them what they have,” says Lapidary Society Treasurer Ruth Reisinger. “These guys would know anything.”
The annual show started as a way to help the society get information about the group out to the public and as a way to help the nonprofit bring in needed funds. The Evansville Lapidary Society began in 1953 and was founded by a group of individuals interested in earth science, explains Reisinger. Group members rented a room in the YMCA building for their equipment and taught classes on earth science, and cutting and polishing stones.
“That’s what lapidary is — starting with a rough (stone), cutting it, and polishing it into a gemstone,” she says.
Today, the organization is located in its own building at 1304 N. Willow Road. Anyone interested in learning about lapidary may ask questions, see displays, and attend their first three classes for free.
“It’s nice to be able to provide one here,” says Rappee. “And this shop here, we’re really special and unique because there is not a lot of lapidary societies that have a working facility where the public just has access to come out to the shop.”
The Gem, Mineral, & Fossil Show will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 24 and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 25. For more information about the Evansville Lapidary Society, call 812-425-4367.