George H.W. Bush
41st President of the USA
His Royal Highness
The Aga Khan
Duke & Duchess
of Westminister



Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,


To keep my rough materials and Gemstones supply updated. I quite often need to meet up with the Miners and middle people who source out the rarest of Gems from around the world. One of my stops is Tucson, Arizona. There are other Mineral Venues in Hong Kong and Europe. But Arizona is closest to me, and all of these Vendors offer a vast selection of Gems in Arizona. This year as you will see in some of the snaps we have thrown in, is no exception. The variation of Gems out there is impressive. As well as every year I discover new Gems that have just hit the market. The Exhibition is both exhilarating as well as  exhausting – because as you may know by now. To access the quality of the Gems one has to break open the Gem.  Pretty much impossible when selecting a large grouping of assorted shapes and sizes. So the whole venture contains a huge element of risk. A contemplative gamble in many aspects not only is the quality questionable, the Seller could be dubious in character and not send the goods as agreed. Also due to the

On this trip the three of us went. Colette and I arriving fresh from Maui. We then rendezvoused with our Son and Prodigy – Kurtis. The Team approach is best because we can scout out individually for sought after Specimens. The whole Exhibit is displayed in multiple Tents that cover can Acres of urban spaces as well as Hotels and various buildings around the city. As well as huge Convention Buildings that house the finished most exquisite unique Jewellery showcases. Our industry however, requires excavating through the rough materials that is stored mostly out of doors. Coming from Hawaii we where surprised to discover cooler weather. We called the temperature freezing warm. If you have ever hiked in the Desert you would know what I am referring to.

Our Sojourn would begin in the morning and would continue to closing around 6 pm. When re-supplying my rough inventory, the only approach is to view and hold by hand the potential Gem into the light and see if the caliber is acceptable. This task is very labour intense, and requires not only an educated eye but also a innate sense of sourcing out the locations. There are maps to direct one to different types of stones, but this can only be a general guide. The only way to really get a sense of finding the best species is to actually be tactile with the Gems. And even then it can be a long shot. This is such a huge show understandably according to this protocol the purchasing experience takes days. Then there is the conversing with the various Merchants. Some of them are not trustworthy and one has to be able to discriminate who could be a professional supplier and who is being dishonest. One of my dream semi-precious Gemstones is a small sized boulder of white Jade, from Burma or Siberia. Have been sourcing this out for a couple of years now to no avail. I thought I got very fortunate when I was speaking to a Merchant that handles rare Jades. He welcomed me into his display space, I got pretty pumped when he stated yes – he had some of this stone. His Employee however, gestured to me that NO there wasn’t any such material in their inventory. This kind of confusion happens often and causes one to stay very focused – because you never know when the perfect Gem will pop up. Of course every Country in the world has Merchants that are soliciting their Gems, and there are some language barriers, adding to the complexity of the whole endeavour. Though the atmosphere in the outdoor area can seem more relaxed and laid back this is where the most expensive transactions take place. 


Rough Sugilite 

Though I have included images of vast amounts of selected minerals. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Its not a problem finding my favourite Gems the problem lies in finding the highest quality available on the market today. And every year it seems that another Gem is becoming more difficult to either Mine or have access from the Miner’s Agents. For years now the value of Quartz-Crystal has been escalating rapidly, and finding optically clear Quartz to sculpt with is almost impossible. Less than 10 years ago for example I could find it though it has always been pricy. This trip I have scoured barrels and barrels of this Gem trying to find the clearest surfaced ones as possible. Another Gem I am always on the outlook for is Amethyst. But similiar to a Jewellers standard I only want the deepest coloured aubergine – eggplant pieces.After looking intently for over 4 years this past trip I was successful in finding a breath taking deposit from Brazil. I can’t wait to return to my Studio – to begin sculpting these beautiful forms.

Another find that I have not been able to source for a few years is pure Turquoise.  The real Gem not enhanced by heat. Its been years since I have come across a couple of small pieces that are so very pure in colour. A couple of decades ago Turquoise was abundant especially in the SouthWest area. The Miner’s sold it off at such a rate for mostly beads and Jewellry and some large carvings. It was also exported outside of North America in the tons. Then the Market for Turquoise was drained and the demand grew. Creating a scarcity in the Market, that naturally escalated the price. I do come across the occasional hand sized pieces that are often poor in quality. I am pleased to announce though I now have in my inventory a couple of pieces from the ” Sleeping Beauty ” Mines. Interesting to note I discovered this Miner, serendipitously while browsing through some Dinosaeur models. I believe I mentioned that area of the Exhibition is as eclectic as it gets.



Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,


Subscribe to our newsletter »