Find True Beauty Hidden Inside Unassuming Rocks at the Annual Tournament of Gems Today

Published : Saturday, March 10, 2018 | 6:29 AM

Annual Tournament of Gems Today

The Pasadena Lapidary Society is not a household name for many Pasadenans. But those who’ve gone to the Society’s “Tournament of Gems” and experienced the sheer “Wow!” factor of the beautifully colored, intricate and sparkling specimens, these local lapidarians have an knack for uncovering mesmerizing beauty hidden inside unassuming rocks and creating a buzz for all-things-gems.

Like its polished and prized collections, the longstanding local club itself will shine at the surface this Saturday at the 60th Annual Tournament of Gems where members will display cases of beautiful gemstones, and show-off rare fossil specimens, dealers will be on hand to sell a variety of beads and gems, and craf experts will host demonstrations of lapidary techniques that will inspire anyone to create signature jewelry from scratch.

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the San Marino Masonic Center at 3130 Huntington Drive in San Marino. Admission is free.

“People don’t realize that it may look like an ugly rock from the outside, but when you cut it and slice it and then you get the patterns and the colors on the inside, it is something more than an ugly rock,” said Pasadena Lapidary Society former President Marcia Goetz.

The Pasadena Lapidary Society serves to educate its members and the community in mineralogy, earth sciences, and training in the lapidary and jewelry arts, according to its website.

Informally formed in the mid 1940s, their gatherings were informal affairs that included tailgates swapping and meetings in local parks throughout Pasadena.

The club’s annual public show, the “Tournament of Gems,” premiered its long run in 1955 and the club quickly became a leader in showcasing rocks and gems at the Los Angeles County Fair, where the club’s exhibits have earned ribbons and accolades.

Now over six decades later, the PLS boats over 150 members and continues to hold the Tournament of Gems every year.

“It was an organized club at one point, and people [started] getting together and talking about rocks and showing each other’s rock that they collected,” said Goetz. “The thing with lapidary is that it encompasses a lot of different aspects. It can be either collecting, or the making of the jewelry to creating the gemstones,” added Goetz.

A check of its Facebook page reveals the Society fulfills its mission year-round with field trips, lapidary workshops, outreach presentations, public mineral displays, an annual show, and the monthly informational meetings which are open to the public.

Goetz says the PLS is usually a family affair that spans across multiple generations.

“You have the parents and then they have children and they raised them and they go on with us,” said Goetz.

The Tournament of Gems is a public extension of the club’s educational programs and outreach which brings the hobby of rockhounding and lapidary arts to the public.

The show will feature a demonstration area where master gem crafters will share techniques in creating various jewelry items and other goods.

“That’s where we have some of the members that are making things so the people can actually see how something is created. It’s always a hit because people like to sit there and possibly watch something from completion to the end,” explained Goetz.

The show also features gemstone dealers and local artisans who will have plenty of Earth’s prettiest stones for sale.

“It can be very inspiring for some people that come to watch! They’ll say I never would’ve thought that I could’ve done something that looks like what you just done,” said Goetz. “Then they come back the next year and say they’ve absolutely gotten into it.”

“That’s the beauty of it because you don’t know what you’re going to be finding once you cut that rock open,” Goetz added.For more information see

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