Eye Candy and Rocks in My Head

Kristal Wick
Kristal Wick
is the editor of
Beading Daily

I've been lucky enough to make the annual trek to Tucson's winter gem and mineral mania for many years now-first as a vendor selling my fabric beads before I was "discovered" in my booth by the Swarovski Trend Manager from Austria. She invited me to design and teach for Swarovski which I now do every year, and the rest is a kind of a modern-day Cinderella story (if you ask me!). I've been grateful and having the time of my life ever since! 

For all of us rock hounds (that includes beads, gemstones, crystals, pearls, agates, fossils, diamonds, and everything in between), there is nothing quite like Tucson (as felt by our wallets every February). One of the funniest things about teaching in Tucson during the show is the dozens of students complaining about not sleeping well every night. We’ve now concluded that it’s most certainly due to the rocks from all over the world in this teeny-tiny corner of the world called Tucson. If indeed, all those rocks give off a certain energy or vibe, how could you NOT be affected by them? Then we all laugh, drink more coffee, eat more chocolate, and power through another day in paradise!

There are over 100 shows going on at the same time every January and March, with rows and rows of beauties everywhere you look. I am shocked to see every square inch of space, including all parking lots, dirt fields, and the like, used in some way to sell “rocks” and other interesting items (such as soap rocks). If there is enough room to pitch a tent, someone does and calls it a show! You can find everything from rattlesnake eggs (I have no idea how this relates to jewelry; found object is a stretch) to diamonds and every type of stone under the sun. You’ll even find moldavite (a greenish rock supposedly formed by a meteorite impact), and I’ve wondered if some of the vendors are from outerspace selling rocks such as these!


A few of the “must-haves” for Tucson follows:

  • Great walking shoes
  • Water
  • Caffeine
  • The Tucson Show Guide
  • Loads of money or empty credit card
  • Hotel room to crash in, because you'll be exhausted!

The best way to “do” Tucson is to map out your game plan before you go. The Tucson Show Guide is your holy grail of roadmaps. You can see listing of the shows, locations, hours, and exhibitors, which makes it easier to plan your strategic shopping experience. Even if you’re not attending the Tucson scene, this guide is invaluable for the worldwide listings and pictures of products and contact information. This is the largest trade guide in the Universe! I refer to it all year long, whether I'm wholesale or retail purchasing, as well as inspiration with the beautiful images and jewelry trends. It’s kind of like the Sears Christmas Wish Book when we were kids!

The Tucson Gem and Mineral shows are right around the corner, don’t wait too long, order your “Adult Wish Book” now and dream of gemstones instead of sugarplums!

Come bead with me!


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