Gem festival a must see

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Geological George

EXCITEMENT IS building for the Northern Rivers Crystal Craft and Jewellery Festival this long weekend (June 10 to 12) with plenty of dazzling minerals, gems and jewellery to delight onlookers.

Festival organiser Rob Scott said more than 500 people were expected to converge on the Murwillumbah Showgrounds from 9am each day until 4.30pm.

Mr Scott said the festival had seen a range of interest from new stall holders and this year hosts more than 30 stalls up from 22  last year.

The show will feature a large display of handcrafted work including “fossils, ethical miners, faceted stones, handcrafted jewellery, curlew emeralds and more.

Mr Scott said the Crystal Festival has helped local stall holders to engage with their customers and find ways to improve their business skills.

“Any business that wants exhibit information only (no sales) can do so free of charge,” he said.

Mr Scott has extensive experience with small mining and lapidary festivals and is willing to offer his advice and guidance to others.

“The whole idea is to create a marketplace for enthusiasts to introduce their wares to the general public,” he said.

Among the stall holders will be Geological George (pictured), who as well as being a finalist in the People’s Choice BEATS award, will also help people discover the wonders of rocks and fossils.

The Weekly spoke with George Caspar and his wife Jasmine to find out more about the family’s passion for geology and their move from Western Australia to Murwillumbah almost two years ago.

“I have always had an interest in natural history, but actually got into geology through palaeontology,” he said.

“I used to collect fossil shark’s teeth and sell them at markets twenty odd years ago.

“In 2006, I found a vertebra from a Spinosaurus in Southern Victoria, which was sent to the Smithsonian as it changed how we understood the order of the continents separating.

“In the same location, I discovered the first surface found articulated dinosaur remains in Victoria, a tail and a foot.”

George said he had been working in the mining industry in Kalgoorlie, WA, but with the downturn in mining and the impending arrival of their baby Tristan, the family decided to swap red dirt for beautiful Murwillumbah.

“I had run a market stall for around 20 years as a hobby but about a year ago we turned it into Geological George and haven’t looked back,” he said.

“In addition to market stalls from Byron to Broadbeach, we wholesale, and have taken advantage of social media in order to create an online sales environment that feels more like a community than a group of customers.”

The family have since been overwhelmed with the passionate support by locals which has earned them a BEATS People’s Choice Nomination.

“In addition to sales of both Australian and International specimens, we quite often hunt down special requests for uncommon pieces, identify rocks and fossils our customers already have in their collection, and a running series of educational posts on how to test rocks in your own kitchen to see if they are real, or what they have been sold as, as well as education on how and where specific minerals are formed,” he said.

“While most ‘Crystal Sellers’ approach things from a metaphysical standpoint, we found a real gap in the market and demand for someone who understood the geology, especially given the prevalence of fakes on the market.

“This was one of the reasons we recently travelled to Morocco and Europe to personally visit the source of some of these rarer (and commonly faked) pieces.”

George said the interest in geology is out there and he believes interest is growing.

“We live in a geologically interesting area, that hasn’t necessarily been as well understood as the geology in well-mined parts of Australia,” he said.

“Most people think of the area as a single eruption from a large shield volcano, but the massive caldera is probably formed from an alternating series of volcanic activity and erosion.

“A caldera probably formed when the magma chamber collapsed, erosion then expanded this initial caldera, expanding this out to what we see today.”

There’s also big plans on the horizon for George and the family, with the announcement of a showroom.

“In a few weeks time, we are also hoping to open our showroom to the public, because unfortunately the flooding had pushed that back until some vital repairs had been made,” he said.

Check out Geological George and plenty of other amazing stall holders at the Northern Rivers Crystal Craft and Jewellery Festival and for more information around hosting a stall phone Rob on 0405 904 881.