STANDISH — To the uninitiated, it looked like any other stone with a few bluish tints.

But to Kermit Smyth, the fist-sized rock was an object of beauty. The rock, he said handling it carefully, was a piece of scorzalite, a mineral found in Palermo.

“Geologists care about rocks because the rocks tell them the temperature and time they were formed,” said Smyth.

Smyth was one of dozens of Maine Mineralogical and Geological Society volunteers explaining their passions for rocks at the 29th Gem and Mineral Show at St. Joseph’s College on Saturday.

The exhibition, sponsored by the society, drew about 1,500 visitors who came to see and touch rare gems, sparkling stones and fossils from all over the world, including crocoite, a translucent hot pink crystal from Australia, and vivianite, a deep green mineral from Bolivia.

But despite the exotic and unusual specimens, the Maine tourmaline remained the hit of the show, said Jerry Poirier, owner of Jerry’s Gems of Saco, one of the show’s exhibitors.

Poirier started collecting minerals when he was 12 and turned his collection into a business when he retired from his sales job a few years back. Poirier searches for new additions to his collection at old quarries in Maine and the White Mountains.

Kelsey Taylor, 7, manned the Future Rockhounds of America club booth with her parents, Meghan and Jason Taylor of Alfred.

The club, which includes about eight regulars, meets monthly at Jerry’s Gems. Kelsey’s collection includes a moonstone she excavated from a sandbox, a horse carved from rock and a number of geodes.

Her mother said the club is a low-key way for her daughter to pursue an interest in rocks that became obvious when she started hauling them home. A family membership costs only $17 and includes five or six field trips to interesting places.

“It is not commercialized,” said Meghan Taylor.

Donna Aikins and her mother, Mary Jane Lecours, both of Gorham, were on the prowl for good deals on peridots and blue sapphires.

“I can find them but I can’t afford them,” said Lecours.

Nancy Libby-Maynard of Raymond said she was drawn to the show by a lifelong interest in fossils and stone artifacts. She said it was started by her father who took her out to search for arrowheads in Pennsylvania.

“All the shapes and colors are so fascinating,” said Libby-Maynard.


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