attending the Tucson Gem Show
I have been away from the Tucson gem show for way too long and I was in search of things that are very hard to buy from my lapidary artists online. It is often hard to determine exact size, color and quality from just a few photos. I tend to buy from a few trusted artists that I have come to know and love.
But nothing can replace the in person experience that the Tucson gem show provides. You get to pick up each stone, feel its weight, see the true color and quality of each piece. I believe stones exude a special energy...and being able to touch and feel them really is the way to go. Hands down it my favorite way to choose stones.
finding the best stones...
Lapidary artists and mine owners from all over the world gather at the show each year in January. I loved getting to know then and discover their stories.
He shared stories with me about how he has chased people out of the mine at night that go in to steal the rough. And he LOVES horses. He used to train horses near my hometown. Horses and Turquoise? That was it. He was my new BFF.
I spent a huge amount of time at David's booth and not only came away with a huge haul of amazing turquoise cabochons that I will try to do right by. I also gained so much knowledge about how much work is involved with the actual mining of these precious rocks. I have a whole new respect for these miners.
I managed to get David to pose with me for a quick photo...with some of his beautiful turquoise rough that he brought along with him.
My next big score of the show was boulder opal. Now we have all know and love opal but what the heck is boulder opal you ask? Well, let me tell you...because for me, It was love at first sight.
Boulder opals are when thin veins of opal are running through the host rock, giving it a very rough yet romantic feel. I met up with the family whose grandfather discovered this particular mine and who continue on with his legacy of operating the mine.
This unique mine has a lot of Fire Opal running through it with the opal being bright orange and the boulder being amazing shades of peach, apricot and pink. Some of the opal, like the stone above, has purple and blues. z
This was one of my favorite finds of the whole show. I spent a good deal of time trying to pick out the best stones and my creative mind almost exploded with the possibilities of what I was going to make with these amazing rocks. I felt like I had found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You guys are gonna love these as much as I did.
White Buffalo Turquoise...
White Buffalo turquoise was high on my list of things to try to find on this Tucson Gem Show trip as well. I was searching for some that had a lot of black and interesting matrix of white with clear definitions between the two. Not mucky grays. Super hard to find. It doesn't help that I am very picky about exactly I want it to look like.
But when you find really, really clean White Buffalo turquoise it is as if the skies open up and the sun comes out...and all is right in the world. I was so very lucky and found some really epic stones. Every one feels like it has a story to tell....and the ones I got are perfection. I think they are going to make some pretty awesome cuffs.
At the Tucson Gem Show you can find pretty much everything gemstone related. From Amethyst crystals as big as your house, to large blow up buddahs playing singing bowls. If it is related to gems or making jewelry...it will be there.
The tricky part is navigating the "show". Which actually isn't just one show. It is comprised of about 40 different shows...all at different venues. I have been going on and off for about 20 years and I still get lost as to which show is what. It does take quite a bit of organization (which artists are not great at), lists and time management (ditto) to get through this show with some success. It took me many years just to figure out which shows I should focus on and which shows to ignore.
I feel so fortunate that this trip went well for me. No plane delays, no bad weather, my back held out through the long days of walking on concrete and the best part is that I found some of the best stones I have ever found to bring to ya'll this year.