Written by Heather Gill
Turquoise Cabs mined in the Southwest
If you're a jewelry designer or just love jewelry then February isn’t just for Valentine's day. In Arizona it's also for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. This show brings people from all over the world to this small town. I met people from India, Africa, England, Australia; just to name a few.
Carved matte Quartz and Rhodalite Garnet dogwood flowers
This was my first time to the show and to say that it was overwhelming at times would be an understatement. Most of the vendors are in large tents with folding tables in front of them, the strands of gems lying on top, tempting you to look and touch. There are lights all over, so the brilliance of all the facetted gems catching the light is an amazing sight. Some tents only had facetted stones, and others had cabochons in every shape and color imaginable.
Some of the vendors were willing to explain some of the cuts, and it was a wonderful education. As this is the Southwest, you are sure to find lots of Turquoise, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was interesting to learn about the different mines and places that Turquoise comes from.
I was able to find cabochons in just about every gem I could ever want. It was also fairly easy to find them at very reasonable prices. If you have a wholesale license bring it as some shows won’t let you in even to look (without one). Make sure you bring business cards and ID as well.
Most of the shows won’t let you take pictures unless you have press passes. The mineral people don’t have a problem with pictures (I’m sure it's because it would be a little hard to copy the large fossils!) but I did take pictures of the gems that I purchased, and a few of the tents' vendors said okay to me.
I also found it was a great way to see some of the trends in jewelry for the upcoming season.
Strands shown left to right:
facetted cubes of Quartz Crystal, Green Amethyst, Lemon Topaz, Carnelian, and Black Garnet
All the faceted cubes (shown above) are fairly new, and some varieties are new for the show – like the Carnelian and the black Garnet. They also sold out quite quickly!
Green Jasper Clover Beads
Assorted dyed and natural colored carved Mother-of-pearl flowers
If you have time when you come to the show you can even take some classes. There are classes available in just about every subject and medium related to jewelry-making. Most of the classes are reasonably priced and I saw a few that would offer a class with the purchase of their product.
There is a lot to see at the gem show and I didn’t even come close to seeing it all. I will say that if you are a jewelry designer this is one place you should come to at least once in your lifetime.