53rd annual rock and gem show this weekend

New Sweet Home business owner Janet Nilsen will be among those providing demonstrations at the annual Rock and Gem Show Saturday and Sunday.

Sweet Home Rock and Mineral Society’s annual Rock and Gem features a variety of vendors and exhibits in the Sweet Home High School Activity Gym.

The show starts at 10 a.m. and runs through 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Among the demonstrations, Rosemarie Giessinger of Monmouth will demonstrate her wire wrapping technique and will be available to wrap stones for the public. She uses only 14-karat gold in her wrapping.

John Miller of Albany will demonstrate silver soldering.

Nilsen of Cascadia and Three Sisters, a custom jewelry shop in Sweet Home, will demonstrate pearl and gem bead knotting and stringing.

Stringing beads to make necklaces isn’t hard, she said. It just takes patience and some magnification. It’s kind of like sewing.

Nilsen will show her wares as well, including Holley Blue, a local purple agate, and other jewelry set by Italian goldsmith Sebastian D’Agatro of Tigard. She also will be showing Crawfordsville area resident Dan O’Leary’s marbles, primarily made from agates and jaspers.

Nilsen moved her business from Lebanon to Sweet Home after the Soda Shoppe, where she was located in Lebanon, closed down. She opened in Sweet Home in December and chose her store’s name because she is the third sister in her family and it fits well given the area. Her husband, Dan Nilsen cuts the gem stones for the shop.

“I had my eye on Main Street Sweet Home for a long time,” Nilsen said. In October, she received a call from building owner and former White’s Jewelry owner Bud Mather that he was renting the space formerly occupied by White’s, near intersection of 12th and Main streets.

“Sweet Home has far more potential than Lebanon does because Sweet Home is trying really hard to be pleasant,” Nilsen said. “We just think that Sweet Home has been working really hard for the past decade to bring people to Sweet Home.”

Nilsen said she has people who come into the shop that tell her that in the past, they had no interest in coming to Sweet Home, but Sweet Home’s improvements and efforts over the past decade are making the town more attractive to tourists.

Sweet Home has a beautiful setting, two reservoirs and an airport less than an hour away, Nilsen said. She thinks Sweet Home would make a great place for a conference center.

“I just think it’s really living up to its motto, Oregon at its best,” Nilsen said of Sweet Home.

As far as geology, “Sweet Home is in the western Cascades, and the western Cascades were a mighty scene of geological turmoil,” Nilsen said. “We are in the guts of a blown out volcano right here in Sweet Home, and we’re sitting on top of a petrified forest.”

The area has as many agates, jaspers and hard rocks as some of the cutting centers in , and it is inside the Obsidian Trail, Nilsen said. She would like to Sweet Home capitalize on that.

The Holley-Crawfordsville area also has a stone unique to it, the Holley Blue, a purple agate, and Nilsen is trying to build an international market for the stone.

“It’s the only place in the world, far rarer than diamonds,” Nilsen said. The violet-pink color is rare in gem stones and especially in agates.

She will have Holley Blue in jewelry and cabochon sets on display.

At the Rock and Gem Show, a dozen dealers will sell items including lapidary supplies, gold and silver findings, gem stones, opal, Holley Blue, book ends, rock specimens, jewelry, minerals, fossils, spheres, petrified wood, geodes, sun stones, rough rock and rock and gem related items.

A raffle will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The Sweet Home American Legion and Auxiliary will furnish a snack bar during the show. They also will serve the awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The public is invited. Tickets are $8.50 and may be purchased at the show or from the Auxiliary.

Admission is 50 cents. It is free for children under the age of 12.

Door prizes will be awarded every hour, and spinning wheel, grab bags and rock sales will go on during the show.