Dispatches from Arizona: my first pilgrimage to the annual Tucson gem show.
Once the shows were over, we set out to explore Tucson a bit (we had to make it a semi-vacation....) First, we hit up a some great restaurants (suggested spots: Cushing Street and Penca) and a cool dive bar called The Shelter for a much needed drink.
The next day, we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and took a scenic drive through Gates Pass on the way to the museum, where we observed a raptor free flight and totally geeked out at how close we were able to see these giant birds of prey. The museum is also amazing for observing so many animals—foxes, bobcats, and otters — in such a beautiful, expansive 98-acre desert landscape that feels like equal parts zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.
The Tucson Gem Show is something I've heard about since I started metalsmithing in 2010: My old bosses described it as a mecca of gems in quantities and varieties one only dreams of.
Somehow the timing never worked out for me to take a trip out there until now, when the stars aligned and I was able to go with Tyler, my good friend Becca (Her line is called Winden, check her out), and her boyfriend Logan.
What we refer to as "The Gem Show" is actually made up of several different shows — the main ones are wholesale only and carry mostly cut stones like diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and everything in between. I did find some treasures there, like a parcel of Dendritic Opals that I plan to use in one of a kind pendant necklaces.
We also stopped by a show featuring museum quality specimens (these are un cut gemstones in the rough, see photo 3rd from the bottom) ranging in price from hundreds to hundreds of thousands. There were some unbelievably beautiful specimens and some so weird and wacky looking — it's hard to believe that something like that is made naturally in our earth!