ROCKHAMPTON man Mal Holmes hides a lot of sparkly stuff in his campervan closet.

He has to keep his shimmering belongings locked up tight if he wants to protect the $250,000 stash of precious gemstones in his keep.

Mal, a retired man going on 60-years-old, owns thousands upon thousands of precious stones.

You name it - whether it's emeralds, rubies, sapphires of different shades and clarity, tanzanites, an invaluable 0.1 carat Argyle diamond worth $3000, a rare alexandrite stone, or opals galore - he has them.

Some of the stones he cuts himself.

He and his wife have been travelling up and down the Queensland coast in their campervan attending almost every gemstone festival there is in the state.

A certified gemstone salesman, Mal has had the thousands of genuine gemstones in his possession internationally approved.

And, he has the certificates to vouch for them.

Mal and his wife Lisa were based in Brisbane for 36 years. They bought a home in the state capital in the 1970s.

Before that the couple was living in a caravan.

Lisa said they took out a mortgage and everything, just so they could "own our own house, like other adults".

About three years ago Mal had a heart attack.

TREASURE TROVE: Rockhampton man and gemstone connoisseur Mal Holmes inspects the texture and hues of one of his rare opals.
TREASURE TROVE: Rockhampton man and gemstone connoisseur Mal Holmes inspects the texture and hues of one of his rare opals. Austin King ROK

It was then he retired and they both decided they wanted to go back to living in a campervan.

"We've been doing this ever since... this is our hobby now," he said.

"I first got into the idea when a guy sold me a sapphire in 1978... since then, I have been fascinated in them."

He gets most of his gemstones through trade and purchases.

Anakie gemfest

Crowds of more than 7000 people converge onto Central Queensland's Sapphire Gemfields for the annual four-day festival, which will be held this year from August 7-10, 2014.



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