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Friday, February 25, 2011

What I learned in Tucson

The sunset outside the Tucson Convention Center

I’ve been covering the jewelry industry for 10 years and I have never been to the Tucson gem shows. It was an eye opening experience in many ways and I gained more hands-on knowledge in my eight days in Tucson than I did at any other time working in the industry. There are approximately 36 gems, minerals, fossil and jewelry shows in Tucson over a three-week period, with a few shows beginning earlier. The following is a short list of some of the things I learned:

The Mineral and Fossil Shows Rock. Where else can you find pieces of Quartz bigger than Shaquille O’Neal, amethyst the size of a coffin and fossilized specimens ranging from alligator heads to prehistoric insects?

It’s a place where you can walk into a hotel room and find a 450-pound Meteorite. Not only that, you then can learn that it produces a gem-quality mineral called peridot, also available on Earth. The outer space version of the gem has been given the name, Palladot.

It’s a place where hotel and motel room double as living spaces and showrooms. Brings new meaning to the term, mi casa su casa.

The Centurion Show is the easiest luxury jewelry show to work. This exclusive gathering of luxury jewelry designers, manufacturers and retailers provided me with ample time to view new and exciting products. It’s not typical of the shows in Tucson but it is in the state during the same time so I included it.

If you ever have a chance to join Lois Berger’s Pearl Walk, do it. She holds it annually during the AGTA GemFair. It’s an up-close view of the pearl industry.

Passion. It’s a word that’s thrown about the jewelry industry like candy to kids during Halloween. But it’s a word you never hear in Tucson. That’s because the passion is as obvious as water is to a fish.

If you ever get a chance to see Gary Roskin’s presentation on the Hope and Wittelsbach-Graff diamonds, do it. He was one of 10 gem experts to examine and photograph the two famous deep blue diamonds as these experts tried to determine whether these two diamonds, each with their own remarkable history, are from the same source.

Below are some photos from my time in Tucson:

A giant quartz outside the Riverpark Inn where the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show was held.

A giant amethyst outside the Riverpark Inn.

Various fossilized heads

Fossilized prehistoric insects

A 450-pound meteorite in the Riverpark Inn hotel room/showroom of Charles Ellias.

The Palladot jewel-quality gems from the meteorite.

The hotel/showrooms of the Hotel Tucson City Center, home of the Arizona Mineral & Fossil Show.

The passionate buyers at the Arizona Mineral & Fossil Show.

Gary Roskin and Lois Berger at the Accredited Gemologists Association's Gala Dinner Dance, Feb. 2.

Agate slices

Peeking out of the shadows.


Prehistoric fossilized fish

Petrified wood