Can You Master the Tucson Gem, Bead, Jewelry, Mineral and Fossil Shows?

My first impulse on seeing Cathleen McCarthy’s “Net Profits” headline in the latest issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist was to change it. Mastering the Tucson Shows? Who’s ever managed to do that! On second thought, I decided “mastering” works. It’s a process: you start learning to navigate this immense event on your first visit and continue honing your strategy every year you go back.

ABOVE: This pair of fantasy cut ametrines from Hallelujah Junction by Ryan Anderson showcases both the quality of material from this locality and of the faceting and carving (not to mention photography) skills Ryan Anderson possesses. Jim Landon visits the site and reports back in “Hallelujah!” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2020; photo: Ryan Anderson

Tucson Gem Show — PLUS

That’s the glory of Tucson and its challenge. Something you weren’t looking for always catches your eye and you have to rethink the plan. It’s widely called the gem show but Tucson is so much more. This is the place to find fossil and mineral specimens as well as gem rough and finished gem carvings, cabochons, freeforms, and faceted stones. Common varieties make perennial appearances; rarer ones aren’t just fewer but may come to market for only a few seasons.

Cactus in bloom; photo Pete Gregoire, courtesy Visit Tucson

Cactus in bloom; photo Pete Gregoire, courtesy Visit Tucson

Shopping Tucson

Stock up on other supplies, too: the latest or standard clasps, mounts, jump rings, and chain. See what’s new in display forms and cases, lighting, gift boxes, and price tags. Examine trays of handmade beads, and mounds of mass-produced glass, stone, wood, shell, metal, and plastic beads. Did I mention pearls? If it’s tools or equipment you’re after, slab saws, drill bits, and hand tools for working metal or cleaning specimens all await you. Perhaps you’re interested in finished jewelry, from funky one-offs to pieces you could find at any local jewelry store or an entire parure fit for an aristocrat. You can walk all the way around huge sculptures, beaded furniture, stone tabletop lamps and tabletops, too. Plus the non-earth/jewelry continuum of stuff — rugs, baskets, clothing, hides, and more.

Fretz texturing hammer set shop tools in Tucson

New stamping hammer set from Fretz Design, featured in Cool Tools & Hip Tips, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2020; photo: Jim Lawson

At Tucson, you can buy retail or, if qualified, wholesale. You can see, handle, and ask questions about the merchandise. You can meet expert artisans and scientists, tool and jewelry designers, and attend lectures, demos, and classes. Plus, you can make new business contacts and friends, and enjoy spending time with people you met many Tucsons ago.

Start Your Mastering Now

Collectively, the 45+ venues of “the” 2020 show run for over two weeks from late January through mid February. Shows are open the whole time, a few days, and somewhere in between. They’re located downtown, nearby, and in the outskirts. Just as there is no one show, there is no one way to shop, see, or otherwise experience it. There are many shows and many ways to make the most of them.

Tucson show guide 2020

Because you’ll always have something to figure out, start mastering what’s right for your first or next Tucson now. Check out “Net Profits” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2020. Take a look (or second look) at the feature story “Tucson Show Survival Guide” now in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2019, which will also appear in the 2020 Tucson Show Guide. And naturally, consult that very sameTucson Show Guide for all manner of help in finding your way through the 2020 event. The 2020 Tucson Show Guide is available in January for purchase online, and on site for free during the shows.

New Jewelry, Bead and Gem Contest

Did you notice the line on the cover of the 2020 Tucson Show Guide about a new contest? That’s Interweave’s first annual Jewelry, Bead and Gem Arts Awards coming to you from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Beadwork magazines. Learn more and enter at www.Interweave.com/jewelry-and-beading-competitions/.

More of What’s Inside the Latest Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Here’s a sneak peak of more of what you’ll find in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2020:

Meet “Star Powered” jewelry artist Jacob Albee, known for his jewelry using meteorite as both a “gem” and a metal. This is his Yin Yang pendant featuring a slice of Gibeon meteorite, 18K gold, 1.96 ct. aquamarine, diamonds; photo courtesy Jacob Albee

Meet “Star Powered” jewelry artist Jacob Albee, known for his jewelry using meteorite as both a “gem” and a metal. This is his Yin Yang pendant featuring a slice of Gibeon meteorite, 18K gold, 1.96 ct. aquamarine, diamonds; photo courtesy Jacob Albee

 

Mexican opal stars as this issue’s Smokin’ Stone; stones courtesy of Stuller, Inc.; photo: Jim Lawson

Mexican opal stars as this issue’s Smokin’ Stone; stones courtesy of Stuller, Inc.; photo: Jim Lawson

 

Noël Yovovich walks you through setting a freeform precious Mexican opal in her project, Floating Opal; photo: Jim Lawson

Noël Yovovich walks you through setting a freeform precious Mexican opal in her project, Floating Opal; photo: Jim Lawson

 

In Trends, GiGi Ferranti shows these leopard agate earrings accented with black and white diamonds and 14K gold to complement the Pantone Spring color forecast; photo: courtesy Jewelers of America

In Trends, GiGi Ferranti shows these leopard agate earrings accented with black and white diamonds and 14K gold to complement the Pantone Spring color forecast; photo: courtesy Jewelers of America

 

In her It’s a Wrap ring project, metal clay artist Arlene Mornick creates a wrap-around silver ring set with two faceted stones; photo: Jim Lawson

In her It’s a Wrap ring project, metal clay artist Arlene Mornick creates a wrap-around silver ring set with two faceted stones; photo: Jim Lawson

 

Eva Sherman spinner ring with beads

Eva Sherman took the idea of a spinner ring and ran with it. First she designed these colorful rings with wired gemstone beads inside as an easy alternative to a channel-set infinity ring or eternity band. In addition to this Continuous Color project, she also offers her project Black & White, in which tube-set stones are also revealed within the channel of a partially closed band. Photo: Jim Lawson

 

Roger Halas walks you through making this bronze Spartan Cuff, an homage to the champions of ancient Greece. Roger includes how to give the bracelet that battle-hardened surface — great, easy techniques for texturing your metal even when you don’t want to suggest such fighting prowess; photo: Jim Lawson

Roger Halas walks you through making this bronze Spartan Cuff, an homage to the champions of ancient Greece. Roger includes how to give the bracelet that battle-hardened surface — great, easy techniques for texturing your metal even when you don’t want to suggest such fighting prowess; photo: Jim Lawson

 

And this one simply has it all: a tale with heart, an illustrated demo, an outstanding design, and the ultimate Southwest jewelry. John Heusler narrates the back story and creation of this bolo tie by noted Hopi jeweler Raymond Sequaptewa in “Honor an Heirloom”; photo: Jim Lawson

And this one simply has it all: a tale with heart, an illustrated demo, an outstanding design, and the ultimate Southwest jewelry. John Heusler narrates the back story and creation of this bolo tie by noted Hopi jeweler Raymond Sequaptewa in “Honor an Heirloom”; photo: Jim Lawson

Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. This post is adapted from her column, “Can You Master the Tucson Shows?” in the January/February 2020 issue.

Bone Up for the Tucson Shows

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