February 15, 2021
Memories of the Tucson Gem Show
I’m shivering as I scrape eight inches of fresh snow from my windshield. It’s a winter here in the Midwest, and I’m trying to warm myself with memories of someplace warm and sunny. I should be in Tucson, Arizona.
This time last year, (and for the last 10-years), I was heading off to the desert for the annual Tucson Gem Show and to spend a week at the studio of my mentor, Michael David Sturlin, in Scottsdale, immersing myself in learning a new skill or mastering an old one. To some this might seem like a frivolous indulgence, but as a custom and one-of-kind jewelry designer and maker, it’s important to elevate my skills and to offer my clients and collectors new and innovative things. And to shop for MORE stones!
After the workshop, I’d head to Tucson to visit my brother. His home would be my headquarters, as I set off each day to shop for stones. In the evenings we’d catch up, cook dinner together and share drinks by the pool. Like a beautiful, quiet southwest oasis his home feels like a luxury Airbnb, only better, because it’s family. It’s a warm and welcome respite after walking aisle after aisle after aisle at the gem show each day.
Instead of thawing out in warm sunny Arizona, I’m freezing, in blustery Indiana, reminiscing about my past adventures.
I can’t complain really. I have plenty of gorgeous stones in stock, from previous years, that are just waiting to be turned into an amazing piece of custom jewelry. And I’m challenging myself to use as many of these stones as possible this year, before my trip back to Tucson in 2022. You heard it here, so help me stay accountable!
There’s no such thing as “too many stones” and even if there were, it’s never stopped me from buying more.
I always went with a plan, which I adhered to, for the most part. Certain vendors were a MUST to see; the ones I’ve formed relationships with over the past 10-years. I’d jot down a list of stones I was shopping for but allowed myself to find new things, or to be inspired by something not on my list. I went with a budget, which I always busted through. What can I say, there are few things in life I can’t resist, and stones are one of them. Besides, I have no other vices, and it’s “business”! Wink, wink.
A Magical Place
Tucson is more than just shopping, buying, or selling. It’s about the people, the experiences, and the connections. Seeing old familiar friends and faces, and meeting new friends who all have something in common. It’s like my second family.
The Tucson Gem Show is huge, and comprised of hundreds of vendors across multiple venues, throughout the Tucson area. I’d always make sure to visit my favorite venues, which are part of the overall gem show, including GJX, AGTA, 22nd Street, Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show, Arizona Mineral & Fossil Show. If I had time, I’d also hit the Gem Mall, Holidome, JOGS, and some of the smaller hotel shows.
Sitting here at my bench, looking out at the frozen tundra that is downtown Martinsville, Indiana, I can almost feel the Tucson sun, warming my face. I’m going to dream a minute longer, and then back to my jeweler’s bench to incorporate last year’s stones into something amazing!
See you next year Tucson!
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