Net Profits: Designers’ Favorite Vendors at the Tucson Gem Shows
If you’ve never shopped the Tucson gem shows — or have but want to do it better — here’s some help. I asked some jewelry artists for their favorite tips and vendors. The tips come down to this: Take time to explore before you start buying, and keep an open mind. Eventually you will find vendors you trust who will get to know you and what you’re looking for.
ABOVE: Photo courtesy of Visit Tucson.
Thousands of vendors from around the world arrive in Tucson in mid-January to sell cut and rough gems, finished jewelry, jewelry-making supplies, and just about everything else. Most of the Tucson gem shows are open to the public with free admission. But some of the best material for makers is at the wholesale shows, including AGTA and GJX (Feb. 4-9). [Find the shows you’re looking for with the 2020 digital Tucson Show Guide or get the print version.]
You’ll find unexpected treasure indoors and out, from convention center booths to tiny tables set up in hotels, tents and parking lots along the Route 10 access road. If you want to go farther afield, hop a free shuttle.
Yes, it’s exciting — and a little overwhelming — to shop the Tucson gem shows, especially if you’re there for just a few days to stock your inventory. So I asked a few seasoned Tucson veterans to share their favorite vendors. Here are a few you’ll want to add to your list if you . . .
Specialize in Eco-Friendly Jewelry
Columbia Gem House is a dealer specializing in traceable Fair Trade gems and a favorite of eco-friendly makers, such as Luana Coonen and Niki Grandiks of Enji Studio. On their Instagram @ColumbiaGemHouse, CGM has been showing rose quartz from South Dakota, pale green prasiolite and lilac quartz from Brazil. They also have beautiful but small, blue Australian sapphire. Find them at the AGTA Show.
Perpetuum Jewels specializes in “post-consumer” recycled diamonds and colored stones. A favorite of Luana Coonen and many younger makers who insist on the most transparent sourcing of their diamonds. Lately they’ve been featuring amazing Montana sapphires on their Instagram @perpetuumjewels, as well as antique Peruzzi diamonds cut three centuries ago. Find them at GJX in the Tucson gem shows.
Love Colored Sapphires and Spinels
Claudia Hamann Edelstein is an Italian gem dealer based in Germany, specializing in beautifully faceted colored stones. NYC designer Shawn Warren is a fan of their tourmalines and spinels. Lately Hamann has been showing off gorgeous cushion-cut peridot from Burnan, sphene from Madagascar, and Starlight blue zircon from Cambodia on Instagram @claudiahamannedelstein. Find them at GJX.
Want to “Oooo and Ahhh”
Idar-Oberstein Group Pavilion is my personal favorite of the Tucson gem shows. This is a gallery of the finest jewelry arts in the world, including lapidary for which Idar is famous: artfully cut stones set in jewelry by master goldsmiths. You will find master lapidaries Ulrich Pauly and Constantin Wild, goldsmith Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel, and Atelier Munsteiner, among others. If you’re lucky, both Bernd and his son Tom Munsteiner will be there to show you their latest. Pretty much everything in this room is to die for, so save time to savor. You will find interesting cross-pollination here, including collaborations between Schmid and Munsteiner. Find them at GJX.
CATHLEEN MCCARTHY has written about jewelry and business for Town & Country, Art & Antiques, Washington Post, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
NET PROFITS is a regular feature in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist about using the Internet for jewelry selling for those with a home-based jewelry business. Learn more in “Mastering the Tucson Gem Shows” in the January/February issue and in the Tucson Show Guide.