The only quick snap I got of my beloved mountains....from the JOGS show parking lot. There just wasn't any time for photos...
I'm just home from a very whirlwind trip to Tucson last week! My shortest trip ever - just 2.5 days. And while you may think that shopping for gemstones is easily done in that amount of time, it really isn't. And why not?
- All the people. Though Tucson show visitor numbers haven't returned to pre-recession levels (no official data, just my impressions from a decade of attending), there are still a LOT of people shopping. And many of them want what YOU want. So you wait in line...in fact, you wait in many lines (the parking line, the shuttle line, the opening line, the line at the stone dealer's booth, etc.). And all that line-waiting takes up precious minutes of time.
- All the locations. "The Tucson Gem Show" is actually comprised of about 40 shows, spread over two weeks. Some shows are open for the whole two weeks, some a week, some for just a few days. So planning to shop from certain dealers (who may or may not all be at the same show, or in the same location) is tricky. And you can drive from show location to show location, but don't forget all the other people who are doing the same. Parking can be difficult (and expensive - $10 to park all day might be reasonable...but sometimes you're going to three shows in a day. Now we're talking $30 extra to park). Shuttle buses are available, but you'll be waiting in line...again...and they're not always the fastest way to get to another show. Especially once it's after 3 p.m. and rush hour traffic starts.
- All the options. Every year I visit Tucson with a very specific list of items. And every year it's difficult to find the right items, at the right price. Millions of stones. Thousands of sellers. In different locations throughout Tucson. It's madness. By the end of the day, your eyes are glazed over and you can barely stand to look at another stone, no matter how rare / beautiful / perfect-for-you it may be. And what you're looking for might not be there this year. Or it might not be there in the quality / price you want. So you'd better have a Plan B (or think quickly on the fly) to figure out what else to buy. These are natural stones, and many of them only occur in one area of the world (or a few areas). So sometimes there just isn't any supply that year...sometimes there's no supply at all because there's none left. :(
So yeah, it's crazy. But it's *so* exciting when you find something that speaks to you (and fits your budget)! I"m a rock lover from a very young age, and being around all those stones and gems and rocks is exhilarating. And I am exceptionally choosy about the stones I purchase and use in my designs, so for me, there's no substitute for hand selecting my choices each year.
Let me get you to the money shots. :)
Red creek jasper. I'll do a full "Natural Wonders" post on it in the future, but it's a fairly new stone to the gem market and it's gorgeous. These are matched up (pretty well; the stone never looks the same twice) for earrings.
I bought several pendant-sized stones. The one on the left is new and the one on the right is from last year. I keep talking about going bigger with my designs and these stones are going to force that to happen. :)
I love the shape of these. And while I try to not purchase stones with sharp corners - they're more difficult to bezel and set - I could not resist these.
Eudialyte (yoo-die-ah-lite). Another stone that needs a Natural Wonders post. For now I'll tell you that it's fairly rare. And fairly expensive. I have a hard time finding it and when I do, it's usually a good bit out of budget. This year I came home with three small pieces, and consider that lucky. Love the funky shape of the piece above...
A very thin cab, but the gorgeous garnet-y red is what sold me.
Similar to the one above it, but thicker and with a deeper color saturation.
I'll share even more amazing goodies in the next post. :)