WHAT many of us would see as a plain old rock, the keen fossicker recognises as a potential gem.
A firm belief that it is what's inside that counts is what encourages members of the Ipswich and District Lapidary Club to cut and polish a featureless blob into something translucent and attractive.
The key, of course, is knowing what to look for.
Every week, three times a week, a portion of the 67 members of the Ipswich club - aged from 11 up to 80-odd - work feverishly in their little Blackstone shed to find out just what lies beneath.
A vast array of Ipswich creations will be on display at the Ipswich Gem and Mineral Show, to be held at the Ipswich Showgrounds on August 2.
Ipswich and District Lapidary Club treasurer Brian Parker said the show was the perfect time to promote the club and raise funds for machinery and operating costs.
"It's that discovery of the rock and the fact that many can be faceted into jewellery - that's what gets you interested," Mr Parker said.
"Others just like the fact that you really don't know exactly what you've got until you bring it home and cut into it."
The show is expected to attract mainly south-east Queensland exhibitors, with 11 dealers in the show hall joining a host of hobbyists, or tailgaters, who will show off their gems in the grassed area.
Ipswich club member Ted Lee recently crafted a beautiful sapphire ring from a stone he uncovered in the Rubyvale gem fields.
Although he estimated the ring's value at about $800, he said he would have a hard time convincing most people to buy it.
"People think that because it is so inexpensive, it mustn't be much good," Mr Lee said.
"The fact is that a lot of people would rather go to a jewellery shop and pay twice as much for something that isn't the real thing."
The event at the showgrounds features a raffle of a nine-carat gold ring crafted by members of the Ipswich club.
The show gets under way at 8am and goes to 3pm.
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