From the Clubhouse

Catch up with us at the Toowoomba SENIORS EXPO on 22 August.

Where: Clive Berghoffer Recreational Centre (CBRC), 9.00 am – 3.00 pm.  Entry free.

The National Seniors Australia, Garden City Toowoomba Branch, will be hosting this year’s Seniors Expo at a new venue – CBRC, Baker Street Toowoomba, opposite USQ. Check out the 75 stands, and the wide range of information provided to everyone who attends this expo.

You don’t have to be a senior to come along. Many crafts are on display, and that is why the Toowoomba Lapidary Club will be there too!  Grey Nomads find all the fossicking spots as they travel around our wonderful country, and on their return home, try to locate a local Lapidary Club to learn more. Many join up, so they can work the rough materials they have found out in the field.

The Toowoomba Lapidary Club’s stall will display lapidary and jewellery work done by our club members. This includes faceting, cabochons, free-form cutting, jewellery, flat-face polished rocks … interspersed with crystal and mineral specimens.

The 2019 Gemfest RAFFLE prizes will be on display too. BUY your raffle tickets HERE for $1.00 each.  Gemfest flyers will be available too.

Check out our Facebook page for more details.  See you there!!


The Toowoomba Lapidary Club provides tuition and runs many activities throughout the year for its members:

Semi-precious stone cutting

Faceting / Gem cutting

Silversmithing courses

Field trips and fossicking excursions are frequently run for the keen ‘rockhounds’

Tips on purchasing gemstones

One of the most important occasions when we purchase a gemstone set in jewellery is for an ENGAGEMENT ring. It is quite a considerable outlay of money, and represents a promise of marriage and a symbol of commitment to join in a lifelong relationship.

  • How do you know you’re buying a natural gemstone?
  • Could the gemstone be man-made, synthetic or simulated?
  • Can you tell if the gemstone has been well cut?
  • Had you planned on asking anyone for advice before making this extraordinary purchase?

Well, here’s a little bit of help … 

Video tutorials on gemstone cutting (by John Dyer)

  1. How Gem Cutting influences the Value:
  2. How Gems are Cut:
  3. How to Distinguish between Good and Bad Gemstone Faceting:

2019 Toowoomba GEMFEST: 19-20 October

Note the new starting time: Sat: 8.30 am – 5.00 pm; Sun: 8.30 am – 3.00 pm.

Again, all Toowoomba residents and those living in surrounding districts are invited to come along this October. Visitors to town will be coming especially to purchase gemstones, jewellery, fossils, mineral & crystal specimens. If you’ve got a special anniversary coming up, then this is the place to come to check out fantastic gift ideas.

Tickets for three fabulous jewellery raffle prizes will be on sale @ $1.00 each:

2019 Gemfest Raffle prizes

  1. Natural Sapphire ring set in 9ct gold (diamond side stones) Valued $1450
    (Faceted Sapphire donated by Queensland Sapphires. Setting from LA Gems)
  2. Natural Amethyst pendant set in sterling silver with chain Valued $185
    (Faceted, set and donated by Neville Kleidon. Setting from LA Gems)
  3. Natural Garnet ear studs set in gold plate Valued $65
     (Faceted stones donated by John and Linda Wrench. Setting from LA Gems)

For more Gemfest information: check out the Gemfest tab.

Madagascar Banded Agates – buyer beware …

Madagascar Agates-cluster2         Madagascar Agates-cut

It just might be skin deep!   At recent gem and mineral shows in Australia, more traders are selling these agates. They look absolutely fabulous and certainly catch your eye. When I queried one outside trader, suggesting they were ‘not all natural’, I received an emphatic reply – that they had purchased them as natural stones. And anyway, he retorted: How could anyone fake these beautiful colours and the patterns?

You can find these agates are sold under a number of names: ‘Polished Banded Agate crystal’, ‘Madagascar Banded Agate’, ‘Natural Polished Banded Agate’ and ‘Natural Polished Silk Banded Lace Agate’ – to name just a few.

Natural polished? Hmmm. That’s an interesting word combination, when you really think about it!! What actually do these two words placed together, really mean? And especially when you think about the connotation for marketing purposes?

When I searched further, I discovered that some agates found in Madagascar are generally a whitish or greyish colour. Now it’s all starting to make sense. And, if you look hard enough on eBay, you can even find their own description says:

This amazing find comes from the Betsiboka River basin near Vitataly, Madagascar known as the Mad River. It features amazing bands and patterns. While the stone is natural mined material and the banding and patterns are all natural, the material is dyed to create the red coloration in the Agate by soaking in an iron-nitrate mineral solution. The coloration seeps into the banded layers of Agate in different amounts depending on the purity of the crystal in that layer, resulting in the magnificent banded color layers.    [Spelling & grammar edits have been made.]

So just to recap, we have natural mined material, with natural banding and patterns, an un-natural treatment, and a natural polish (whatever that means?) … making the buyer (whether they are a wholesaler, retailer or selling to the public at a gem show) believe that this is an ALL NATURAL stone, tumbled polish with a wonderful lustre.