Victoria Lapidary and Mineral Society

2018 Gemboree – Part 1

The 2018 Gemboree was hosted by the Victoria LMS and held at the Sooke River Campground.

  • Thursday – lunchtime onwards: set up
  • Friday – am: visit to K2 Quarry outside Port Renfrew
  • Friday – pm: gold panning on Loss Creek near Port Renfrew
  • Friday – evening: flint knapping demonstration
  • Friday – evening: Cowboy steak dinner
  • Saturday – am: fossil and crystal hunting in a quarry near Jordan River
  • Saturday – pm: beach rocks on Ella Beach
  • Saturday – pm: rock identification “masterclass” by Sean Maier
  • Saturday – evening: spontaneous pot-luck (courtesy of our up-island friends)
  • Sunday – am: Pancake Breakfast
  • Sunday – am: Island Zone meeting
  • Sunday – am: Tailgate Sale
  • Sunday – lunchtime: pack up

Photo galleries

Our web server space is limited, so only low resolution photos are uploaded here.  If you want to download full-resolution photos, please follow the full-resolution photo link for each event.  If you have photos you would like to add to the albums, please send or share them to and I’ll be happy to add them in.  Photos with captions courtesy of Doug McLeod.

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1. click on the “Select photos” button at the top right of the screen
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Allana Shillito (Gemboree Committee Chair):

Well, after one and a half years of planning, the VLMS pulled off a darn good Gemboree. We had approximately 60 adults and 9 children attend the 3-day affair at the Sooke River Campgrounds.

A taste of things to come…

Sooke River Campground

For full resolution photos click here

2018 Gemboree – Part 2

Allana Shillito (Gemboree Committee Chair):


The morning was hot and filled with anticipation as our newly-appointed wagon master Bill Needoba led us to the K2 Ocean Pearl Quarry on Mosquito Creek near Port Renfrew. There we learned that K2 has 3 different kinds of slate at their quarry: (i) black, oily slate – good for construction and aggregate material, (ii) a light blue-gray, and (iii) a dark gray. Both the latter two types are desirable for stone products. Matt Girard was our guide and explained all the processes needed to take the stone out of the ground and then to market. Any excess or unwanted material is used in conjunction with concrete and other aggregate, so nothing is wasted. Our afternoon was spent gold-panning in more temperate climes at Loss Creek. The water was definitely welcomed in comparison to our dry hot morning quarry run. Several participants found “colour” in their pans and some were able to do rock hounding in the creek as well. The Friday agenda was ended with a steak BBQ put on by the Sooke Lions and with an arrow-knapping demonstration by our very own Bruzz Bethel.

K2 Quarry

The K2 Quarry is located past Lizard lake on a challenging and extremely dusty logging road.  A convoy of around 12 high-clearance vehicles made the trip, loaded to the gunnels with all who wanted to attend.  We were met for the last segment by Matt Girard from the Nanaimo office of K2 Stone.  In the quarry we had an hour walk-and-talk on how K2 operates. We were allowed to take any sample of rock we could physically carry to our vehicles – which led to some team efforts.

For full resolution photos click here

Loss Creek Gold Panning

Patrick Lydon (of the Victoria LMS) let us try panning on his claim on Loss Creek.  After the hot and dusty quarry the latecomers seemed just as interested in dangling their toes in the water as in searching for gold.  Nevertheless some people found a few flakes of actual gold.  Almost as much fun were the garnets to be found all down the creek which conveniently collected in the panning pans.

For full resolution photos click here

Mineral Identification part 1


2018 Gemboree – Part 3

Allana Shillito (Gemboree Committee Chair):


Saturday morning was spent at a rock quarry in Jordon River. Giles LeBrun had known for some time that there were fossils at this quarry. What is extraordinary about this spot is that it represents where the plutonic (volcanic) portion of the lower Island meets with the ocean sediments. As a consequence, we were able to find fossils that had been mineralized. Vugs (volcanic air pockets), with their calcite crystallization, and other assorted and unusual types of crystallization were typical “finds” at this intersection of rock formations. The afternoon was spent at a local Sooke location called Ella Beach. This beach is one of the “pebbliest” beaches around and kept most of us with our heads down looking for that special discovery. Saturday evening was highlighted by an impromptu potluck meal and an informative session on how to use the rock and mineral identification materials Laphound News – Aug 2018 Page 5 provided in the goody-bags that we each received at registration. Sean Maier did a great job helping those interested in using the information provided to identify their treasures found during the day.


Sunday began with the Sooke Lions Club putting on a great pancake breakfast with sausages, blueberries and fruit salad. Following breakfast, the Island Zone meeting took place under the shade of conifers at the campsite. Finally, after the zone meeting, a tail-gate sale and auction concluded the Gemboree for this year.

Flint Knapping

Bruzz Bethel gave a demonstration of flint knapping in the campground.

For full resolution photos click here


Jordan River Quarry

The Jordan River Quarry and Sandpit produces rock for road building, but the rock is full of fossils and crystals.  For a wonderful few hours we were given free rein with hammers, chisels and buckets to discover and collect to our heart’s content.

For full resolution photos click here

Ella Beach

Ella Beach is a pebble beach fairly close to the Sooke River Campground.  The large variety of rocks that create the pebbles give an opportunity to find (and identify) your favourites.

For full resolution photos click here


Rock and Gem Show 2018

For a slightly different take on the Rock and Gem show I asked the vendors for a little personal introduction and the following is in their own words. The interviews are in no particular order.  Some interviews were necessarily shorter than others due to the press of customers (which is a GOOD thing); so if your business has a brief or absent write-up, feel free to send me a paragraph and I will add it (

Seen around the show: click images for slideshow

New Stone Age Cabochons 

Rose: “We specialize in designer cabochons for jewellers and designers.  The business started because my dad is a lapidary worker in Mexico and so he hand-cuts the majority of our cabochons.  We also work with other lapidary artists doing direct trade. We have lots of natural stones like amber, turquoise, drusy and a specialty stone called leopard opal which is a collector’s item – a very rare item that only comes from one mine in the world in Hildago, Mexico.”

Click images for slideshow

New Stone Age Cabochons | Graeme Bousada, Owner / Operator | | | Tel: 1-250-884-8977


Patrick Lydon: “VIPMA is the Vancouver Island Placer Miners Association. We have 3 claims on the Leach river which is the best river for gold on Vancouver Island.  Gold was discovered in the Leach river in 1864 and it led to a gold rush called the Leachtown gold rush. Leachtown is about 7 miles up the Sooke river.  If you go up to Leachtown you can see the outlines of the cabins on the ground, covered with moss. We have over 100 members, and many of our members have gold that they found in the Leach river.

VIPMA is devoted to hand panning, and is not involved in mechanical mining.  More information is available from the VIPMA website.

VIPMA and VLMS collaborated on the Nellie Cashman project.  Nellie Cashman is a lady who is buried in Ross Bay cemetery and became known as the Miner’s Angel.  She was a fantastic gold miner in her day. She saved a whole lot of miners up in Dease lake in northern BC in 1875.  The Lieutenant Governor unveiled a new headstone on her grave.”

Click images for slideshow

Jakob Salix Jewelry

Jakob Salix: “It’s all different sizes of wire and you fold them together to create different textures.  More than wire-wrapping, it’s wire sculpting. I’ve been doing this for about 7 years. I use both cabochons and crystals. I get some of my stones from other vendors at shows like this, and some of them online.”

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Jakob Salix Jewelry |

The Aesthetics Underground

Robert G Belcher: “Fine Mineral Specimens, Gems and Lapidary Art from around the world”

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The Aesthetics Underground | | Tel: 1-403-762-5737 | Box 2143, Banff, Alberta, Canada, T1L 189

Stone Haven Gems

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Stone Haven Gems | |

GemFinders International

Debbie Frank“When I was born my father had a jewellery store so I was honoured to work with my parents. My brother is a gemologist in Rio de Janeiro, I’m a gemologist, I have a brother who’s a watchmaker.  I’m delighted that my niece, Amber, is working with me today, and it happens that today her 11-year old is demonstrating over there on the cabochon grinding machine! So we have 3 generations working for Gemfinders.

A gemologist can tell you if a ruby is a ruby, if a diamond is a diamond. I’ve been doing this show for about 15 years.  I don’t cut and set stones myself. I’m a terrific buyer, I have a feel for quality. I can go into a room and say “There’s the best quality piece”.  I love doing this because it makes people happy.”

Gemfinders International | | | Tel: 1-250-744-2153

Walkabout Gems

Herb Hellmoldt: “I started collecting opal with my parents back in the mid ‘70s in Spencer, Idaho.  There’s 3 primary locations for opal in Idaho, Spencer, the Oahu mountains where you get a blue based opal and south of Homedale Idaho is what’s called Whangdoodle and there you get a jelly opal in a jellybean shape.  

The opals I have here today are Australian and a few from Honduras.  I also have sandstone opal from Andamuka, Australia. Some people call it a cement opal.”

Click images for slideshow

Ammolite World

David Homayon: “I was born in Afghanistan. I got into this business because my father was also a rock and gemstone dealer. Afghanistan has a lot of gems and minerals, like lapis. I’ve been coming to this show for maybe 18 years. My speciality is ammolite.”

Click images for slideshow

Ammolite World | | | Tel 1-416-996-8568 | 212 19th Ave, Richmond Hill, ON, L4E 3P6, Canada

Sahara Minerals

KarinMy interest is especially in healing with crystals and stones.  I’ve been a crystal healer for more than 30 years, I teach classes too. Crystal healing is an ancient healing technique.  Every stone has certain frequencies that affects your body and can heal in certain cases. I have many stories from people who buy something and come back and tell me what it did to them. We’ve had this company for 20 years. We travel to the big shows to buy rocks like Tucson and Quartzite and buy our yearly supply.  This is our second show this year, the first was Port Alberni. So this stock is all new.

C & D Gemcraft

David Barclay: “My father took me to a beach when I was about 7 and pointed out an agate and he said, “You should pick that up.  And there’s another one over by that log.” That materialized into a career in geology and gemology. I’m a certified gemologist so I do identifications and appraisals for people.

I switched from geology to the forest industry in ‘72 because the change in government destroyed the mining and exploration world in British Columbia. But I’ve always maintained an active interest in geology, rock and minerals. I was at the first ever BC gem show 60 years ago in Vancouver.  I had a showcase in that show and I was 18 years old.

Passion keeps me going to the shows. I’ve been coming to this show for around 20 years. I like gemstones particularly so I’ve built a huge collection of gemstones.  I have a relationship with a cutting shop in Sri Lanka, so I buy uncut materials and ship them over there and get them cut. Helping people find the right stone and fixing broken pieces, replacing lost stones, I do a lot of that sort of thing.  I live in Winfield just outside of Kelowna but I have long roots in Victoria back to 1854 when my mother’s family came here, we have 7th generation family here.”

C & D Gemcraft | | Tel:1-250-766-4353, cell:1-125-215-9121 | Box 42015, RPO. N., Winfield, BC, V4V 1Z8

 Vancouver Island Rocks

Dave Mullet: “…that’s called tabular quartz.  It has six sides to it, but two are much longer and flatter than the others so it looks really thin and flat. These samples are from my claim near Zeballos up by Port Hardy.I went to a party once as designated driver and in the middle of the table was this quartz and black specimen.  I’d never seen anything like it. I asked around and found the guy who found the specimen. I went up to meet him at the site the next weekend and there were 30+ people up there looking because they’d heard about the find. After they’d all left I staked the claim. And that was in ‘95. I have a silent partner who went up there and started digging again and he hit the jackpot.”

Click images for slideshow

Vancouver Island Rocks | | Tel: 1-250-902-7401

Mike Hill Designs

Mike Hill: “I grew up beside the river in the interior, Spencer’s Bridge north of Lytton, and I’ve liked rocks for my whole life.  I cut and polish my own stones, I custom make my own jewellery. I’m past president and past vice president of the VLMA; I’ve been in the club for over 10 years.  I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling in the near future. I’m going to India, south east Asia, Switzerland and south America. It’s all rock-related, I’m looking to find people who cut and polish stones so I can send them stones from here, they’ll cut them and send them back.  I’m also hoping to go into the mines and learn how people buy and sell gemstones all over the world. I’ll be posting to my instagram mikehilldesigns during my travels.”

Click images for slideshow

Mike Hill Designs | on facebook

A Plus Beads

Luke: “I got into the beads business because I like natural stones.  I joined a lapidary club and people started asking me about beads.  Eventually they suggested I should start a beads business, and I did.  I’ve had a store for 5 years, but our beads business started about 10 years ago. I specialise in beads from precious and semi-precious natural stones and pearls. Sometimes they’re treated with heat or pressure, but they’re based on natural stones. The beauty of the natural is that they’re all unique. I get my beads from all over, China, east India, South Africa and Brazil.  Sometimes I go on buying trips, sometimes I have friends in these countries who send me supplies.”

A Plus Beads | | Tel: 1-250-294-0587 | 2666 Quadra Street, Victoria, BC

Mountain Gems

Bruce MacLellan: “What got me started was a fascination with the world around me.  I remember at a very young age taking my father’s hammer and cold chisel into the woods, there was a big boulder of granite and I was sure that if I just hit it right it would split apart and all these jewels would come raining out.  They didn’t. But I just kept looking down at rocks, and finally I joined the Hastings rock club in Vancouver and went from there. I’ve been doing this for 45 years. I go to Arizona and Denver for the trade fairs. I’ve been to Alice Springs in Australia for the Gemboree they had there and noodled around there for zircons.  Then I went up to Queensland looking for saphires in the biggest drought they’d ever had so the ground was hard as a rock. I gave that up and bought some. Even on my holidays, rocks are my life.”

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Mountain Gems | | | Tel: 1-604-298-5883 | 4611 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC, V5C 2K6

Fossil Grotto

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Robert Belz | Tel: 250.715.0734

Milliza’s Cave

Laura: “I have a selection of crystals, minerals and fossils and I also do crystal readings.”

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Bamboo Beads and Bling

… is in hot Chinatown is where gems and inspiration meet – come on down!

Bamboo Beads and Bling | | | Tel: 1-250-595-2061 | 544 Fisgard St., Victoria, BC, V8W 1R4

Shelley Penner

Shelley Penner | web Gallery | | 4168 Bute St., Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 3N5

Forest Crystals

Forest Crystals | | 

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Dragonfly Design

Jewellery, crystals and bead sales

Silvia Findings

Silvia Findings | | | Tel: 1-604-998-7989 | 228-13986 Cambie Rd, Richmond, BC, V6V 2K3

RainCoast Jewelry Design

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on facebook | Tel: 1-250-974-7272