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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Locals dig gem and mineral show: Rock club hosts fall show at Mesa County Fairgrounds

Aug 31, 2018 09:42PM ● By Melinda Mawdsley

Club members Scott and Becky Warren agree that western Colorado and eastern Utah are coveted areas to search for minerals, fossils and agates.

During Mel and Pam Bersch’s first date, Mel casually asked Pam if she wanted to see his rock collection.

For some, a question like that would’ve sent the date to a screeching halt. But as fate would have it, Pam’s father and grandfather were also rock collectors.

“She was really excited I was into it,” Mel said.

They dated for about a year before Mel asked a rock-collecting companion to “find me a diamond that will match my future wife.”

That companion was Thomas Hunn, master jeweler and founder a long-time Grand Junction jewelry business that bore his name.

In the 33 years Mel and Pam have been married, Mel’s passion for rock collecting hasn’t waned. He has thousands of specimens that can be found around the house. Only the master bedroom and Pam’s china cabinet are off-limits. The couple even transformed their garage into a “rock room.”

“A lot of people collect one specific thing: agates, fossilized wood,” Mel said. “I find interest in all things. As a result, my collection is pretty diverse and pretty large.”

As one of 200 active members of the Grand Junction Gem & Mineral Club, Mel is far from the only one in Western Colorado with an interest in rocks.

In fact, the club’s annual show, held each May, is so popular that members have added a second show this year, from September 22-23 at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

This show will also test the possibility of moving venues to accommodate interest.

The show welcomes dealers from around the country to sell their wares to the public, but it also includes educational exhibits for all ages, fossil displays, lapidary demonstrations (process of cutting and polishing rocks) and jewelry making.

“This is one of the hot spots in the U.S. for gems, minerals and fossils,” said Scott Warren, the club’s marketing director. “We live in one of the best areas to be a collector.”

Western Colorado and eastern Utah are coveted areas to search for minerals, fossils, agates and petrified wood because the strata—layers of sedimentary rock or soil—that have built up through the years are so distinct and exposed, said Becky Warren, Scott’s wife and former interpretive park ranger at Colorado National Monument.

The varying reddish, greenish or grayish colors of rock in this region signify different time periods, and present collectors with opportunities to find a variety of specimens in close proximity.

“The strata in this area covers a long period in time,” Becky said. “Most of the older strata we have here have pretty much eroded back east.”

Another benefit to collecting in western Colorado, Mel said, is the large volume of public land that allows collectors to search and gather.

“Back east all the land is owned by somebody,” said Mel, who grew up in western New York.

Becky advised that people know public land laws before they go out searching for specimens. Some lands have limits to what people can collect, and what they are or aren’t allowed to collect.

For more information about the club, including meeting schedule, classes and field trips, visit

“If you have an interest in anything related to earth sciences this is a great club to be a part of,” Scott said.

You're invited to the Fall Gem and Mineral Show

September 22 & 23, 2018 at the Mesa County Fairgrounds Hours: Saturday, 9-6; Sunday, 9-4 Entry: $3 Seniors and Military $2 General Admission Kids under 12 get in for free

Peruse jewelry, mineral specimens, and tools and equipment displays and demonstrations. New silent auction items are available every 15 minutes.

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