ROCK SOLID: Ipswich Lapidary Club treasurer Brian Parker encourages people to visit the annual Ipswich Gem Show.
ROCK SOLID: Ipswich Lapidary Club treasurer Brian Parker encourages people to visit the annual Ipswich Gem Show. David Nielsen

Club polishes up a show that's meant to sparkle

WHAT many of us would see as a plain old rock, the keen fossicker recognises as a potential gem.

A firm belief that it is what's inside that counts is what encourages members of the Ipswich and District Lapidary Club to cut and polish a featureless blob into something translucent.

Ipswich fossickers love searching their own backyard, but also travel far and wide for that elusive piece of chalcedony or petrified wood.

Three times a week, a portion of the 67 members of the Ipswich club - aged from 11 up to 80-odd - work feverishly in their little Blackstone shed to find out just what lies beneath.

A vast array of Ipswich creations will be on display at the Ipswich Gem and Mineral Show, to be held at the Ipswich Showgrounds on August 2.

Ipswich and District Lapidary Club treasurer Brian Parker said the show was the perfect time to promote the club and raise funds for machinery and operating costs.

"It's that discovery of the rock and the fact that many can be faceted into jewellery - that's what gets you interested," Mr Parker said.

"Others just like the fact that you really don't know exactly what you've got until you bring it home and cut into it."

The show is expected to attract mainly south-east Queensland exhibitors, with 11 dealers in the show hall joining a host of hobbyists, or tailgaters, who will show off their gems.

Helmer Lyster (left) and Edward Stone polish their gems.
Helmer Lyster (left) and Edward Stone polish their gems.

"You'll see everything from fossils, to gemstones and cut and polished gems - a lot of the exhibitors are members of lapidary clubs," Mr Parker said.

Ipswich club member Ted Lee recently crafted a beautiful sapphire ring from a stone that he uncovered in the Rubyvale gemfields.

Although he estimated the ring's value at about $800, he said he would have a hard time convincing most people to buy it.

"People think that because it is so inexpensive, it mustn't be much good," Mr Lee said.

"The fact is that a lot of people would rather go to a jewellery shop and pay twice as much for something that isn't the real thing."

The show will be accompanied by a small public display in the Ipswich Library.

A raffle will be held at the showgrounds event, with a nine-carat gold ring - crafted by members of the Ipswich club - as first prize.

The show gets under way at 8am and goes to 3pm.

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