MARIETTA — In 1994, acting on a lifelong interest he’d left unexplored, Wayne Dodd attended the Cobb County Gem and Mineral Society’s annual Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Show after seeing an ad for it in his local newspaper.
“The rest is history,” he said Saturday, looking down at the dozens of people who had come to the Cobb County Civic Center for the 35th annual Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Show. He joined the society, “got addicted into collecting rocks and minerals” and for the past dozen years has served as the society’s treasurer.
Dealers crowded the civic center with an incredible sample of the earth’s bounty this weekend, from cut and polished emeralds, to fossilized dinosaur bones, to shards of cobalt, to tools for aspiring jewelry makers.
The show is the Cobb Gem Society’s primary revenue generator, Dodd said, and the coronavirus has meant the society’s coffers have suffered in the past year and a half. Last year’s show had to be canceled, and this year, fewer dealers were invited, allowing those that did come to spread out.
The society dates back to 1970, and has about 375 members, Dodd said. Its 1,500-square-foot clubhouse at 516 West Atlanta St. features three workshops, a meeting room, a small kitchen and a rest room, according to the society’s website, and members are treated to monthly classes, discussions and field trips.
Despite its name, the society isn’t a Cobb-exclusive organization, and includes members from neighboring states, its website boasts.
Indeed, Barbara Allen drove to the show Saturday from her home in Alabama. Wearing a necklace sporting phenacite, sugilite, cavancite, aventurine, golden topaz, sunstone and garnet, Allen, a jewelry artist, said she had come this year in search of moonstone.
“But the reason I do them is because of the metaphysical energy,” she said, showing off another piece of jewelry she’d made, this one sporting citrine — a yellow quartz — and garnet. “Citrine never retains negative energies. So it’s a positive, it’s an optimistic stone. And the garnet is good for taking care of yourself, basic survival skills.”
Allen wasn’t the only one who had come for the purported benefit the stones provide.
Rachel Duke and Joseph Careaga, of Suwanee, had come in search of barite. Its benefits are many, in Careaga’s telling; among other things, it “allows for very highly spiritual experiences,” he said.
Others had come simply for the aesthetic pleasure of the wares, which came in every color of the rainbow and in a wide variety of sizes, patterns and designs.
But finding them is harder than ever, Dodd said. Property owners are increasingly worried about liability, and development has cut off access to some of the society’s most prized sites, such as one near Blue Ridge that is now covered by houses.
The society still organizes field trips.
At Graves Mountain, between Athens and Augusta on the Savannah River, a former kyanite quarry, more than 100 different mineral species have been found at the site over the years, Dodd said.