I spent a whirlwind couple of days in Tucson, AZ, home to the Tucson Gem Shows. I spent most of my time at the AGTA GemFair, which is the crowning jewel, so to speak, of the whole Tucson gemstone circus that descends in late January and early February. There is also GJX Show across the street, the JCK Tucson Show, and countless other venues.
Color Trends from AGTA and JCK
Blues, from bold to elusive, ruled the aisles. Opal, Paraiba tourmaline, Tanzanite, Iolite, and Aquamarine all spoke in a chorus of cerulean hues. These were balanced out by the opposite in the color spectrum: auburn. From Fire Opal to Spessartite to Mandarin, orange tones were literally blazing a trail. Last year’s fascination with green ensured there were plenty of verdant Tsavorites and Emeralds to ogle.
Gemstones speak to something very primal in people. There must be something programmed deeply in our DNA that responds to color and sparkle in gems. People react in the most extraordinary ways in the proximity of color.
It Goes to 11
The volume, beauty, and variety of gemstones at AGTA and the other venues can blow your mind. Paraiba tourmalines as big as your thumb. A small flock of Padparadscha sapphires in a sublime gradient of pinkish-gold hues. Beryl crystals, perfectly imperfect, matched and strung as a collar at Robert Bentley. If you’ve never been, you have to adjust your eyes to the gorgeousness.
Two words: The Tents
Outside of the AGTA GemFair, there are literally hundreds of venues scattered across the city in hotel parking lots and along streets. Many of these are open to the public and house terrific treasures of all sorts: polished chunks of Labradorite from Madagascar gleaming with adularescence, Tibetan singing bowls, hanks of gemstone beads, geodes as big as a dining table, ammonites that will make you cry. Bring your walking shoes and prepare to get educated.
Freaks and Geeks
There is something about gems and minerals that attract, how shall I say this, people who are REALLY into their rocks. Passion is a good thing, so I embrace this wholeheartedly.
Thank goodness for gemstone dealers and designers. It is as though some of them see things at a different wavelength than we do. These talented people show us the possibilities of color, and the combinations of gemstones they arrange open our eyes to vivid expression.
Really, who needs the JAR exhibit at the Met when there is Paula Crevoshay at AGTA? Unlike the museum, there is great lighting, and Martin Bell provides a charming, curated tour through the cases (and you can get a hug from Paula herself)!
There’s No Such Thing As Semi-Precious
More on this in a future post. Erica Courtney can dress me in her unapologetically rare and precious jewels. Anytime.
It’s All About the People
As vibrant as the gems themselves, there is a valuable network of people that gemstones weave together. Now that I have been to East Africa, the origin of many gemstones, I see the connections that gemstones facilitate. From the ground in exotic locations, these gem shows are part of a gem’s journey to the person who will eventually wear it, touching each individual on its way.
The Real Gems
After a well-attended press event and a seminar during my visit, the Sharing the Rough film team feels more like a family all the time. I am so thankful to be a part of such a meaningful project, for gemstones and the people who are involved with them.
The people of Tucson could not have been nicer.