New Tucson Show Guide Is Easier to Use than Ever

For a couple weeks in winter, Tucson’s arid desert glitters with billions of dollars’ worth of gems, rocks, slabs, beads, fossils, teachers, tools, findings, classes, more beads, jewelry, chains, experts, books, magazines, and more gems spread across 41 venues.

To navigate through all of this, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist staffers have amped up this year’s Tucson Show Guide, producing an easy-to-read, 8 ½ x 11 inch, 308-page work of publishing art. Free at the show, the guide contains maps and the locations of vendors at all of the venues. There are over 150 display ads and the names of thousands of other sellers. Add to that shuttle schedules, a 40-page buyer’s guide, and articles on everything from color trends to the secrets of finding the best hidden dining gems in the area.

Even the cover is different this year — dramatic and to the point, featuring a faceted blue quartz cut by Mark Oros.

But Bragging Rights are probably the newest, coolest feature. The guide contains a sexy 2018 pullout keepsake map of the entire show zone, suitable for framing. Pop that big graphic up on your studio wall with a couple of T-pins, and you can whelm your family, friends and customers with the fact that you’ve been to the biggest of all American gem shows.

TIP: Keep a permanent marker handy. If you see one of your favorite industry celebs and/or vendors — like Merle White, Karla Rosenbusch, Jeff Fulkerson, Helen Driggs, Lexi Erickson, Bill Fretz, Tom Munsteiner, Betty Sue King or John Dyer, ask if they can scribble out an autograph on your map.

Like your free, autographed memento, Tucson represents value. No other way to say it. A world of vendors and experts show up here between Jan. 24 or so and Feb. 11. And if you go, you will find things there that you’ll never come across at your local bead shop, period. For a lot less, too.

OK. Back to the Basic Stuff

The guide has been produced for about 30 years by Lapidary Journal, and edited by Karla Rosenbusch for the last 10.

“My first assignment my first week on the job in November 2007 was, ‘here, finish this up,’ Rosenbusch says. “I had never done such a thing in my life. I had never been to Tucson so I had no clue. I was so afraid of it at first and it’s now kind of my baby. It’s still a challenge, but we kind of have a system down now.”

This year, art director Connie Poole created the clean, open-eyed layout aesthetic with pops of color against a white background. She also enlarged the typeface font to make everything easier to read.

Then Marilyn Koponen of Media Sales went to work, snagging “169 display advertisers. And too many advertisers to count in the Annual Buyer’s Directory,” she says. Thanks to their support, 34,000 copies of the guide are free at the shows. And they are indispensable before, during and after. They provide an instant visual snapshot of what is hot in gems and jewelry for the next 18 months.

For those of us who can’t get to the show, (that would be me) a digital copy of the guide is available right now in the Interweave store  for $9.99

VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Load this digital guide onto your laptop or your smartphone and you can plan in advance. You also can search the entire guide in seconds at the show and even use some of the live links to check out websites or send emails to vendors you want to visit.

Producing the guide is never easy, Rosenbusch says. A team of at least 10 people pull the project together, starting in July, with crunch time coming in November. And all of it is done online.

“The joke is Connie and I have been working for a few months and we have never met,” Rosenbusch says. “She’s in Colorado and I’m in Pennsylvania.”


  • Size: 8.5 x 11 inches printed in full color
  • Number of pages: 308, including a 40-page buyer’s guide
  • Easy to read format and larger font than previous years
  • First ever souvenir map designed by Pam Uhlenkamp of Crestone, CO.
  • 34,000 plus copies available free at the shows
  • Cover photographed by Jim Lawson features a hexagonal blue quartz stone cut by Mark Oros of Hashnu Stones.
  • 1 million expected visitors, including 3,000 plus vendors and their employees.

Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. Her story on Colorado diamonds appears in the September-October issue and she will be writing about her experience in Kate Wolf’s class in 2018, along with her grant-writing adventures as a silversmith. You can reach her at

To find more on the shows and the Tucson Show Guide, visit the Interweave Store!


Post a Comment