Tucson Gem & Jewelry Shows 2019 Roundup

Tucson is a wonderful town in Arizona, filled with diverse cultures. Tucson is a place where you can find a good meal, any time of day. Simply put, it’s a city in the desert; profoundly, it is the gem and jewelry shows, where hundreds of thousands of people converge in late winter to sell and buy gemstones, rough rock, fossils, minerals, beads, finished jewelry, carpets, shoes, and so much more!

Melissa Muir, Sonia Sparing, Cindi Willcox, Katie Hacker, Deb Floros

Melissa Muir, Sonia Sparing, Cindi Willcox, Katie Hacker, Deb Floros

Each year in January and February, many in the jewelry and beading community travel from all over the world to Tucson. They are there for what is an epic amount of shows going on at one time — 43 this year, if I counted correctly and if I didn’t miss any pop-ups! If you’ve been to Tucson to take in the gem, jewelry, bead, fossil, mineral, and everything shows, you might agree. It’s like a symphony with many conductors that somehow all work together despite the diversity of the sheet music. To follow is a glimpse at what we saw during the week that was our “Tucson.”

Great Beading and Jewelry-Making Products

While in town, we did some filming on location, which gave us and you a front row seat. As you can see in the clips, there is a lot of great new product on the market.

Leathercord, USA presents their new cotton bolo cord, channel bangles, along with a lot of other wonderful new and classic high-quality leather products.

A small sampling of product available through Leathercord, USA

A small sampling of product available through Leathercord, USA

TierraCast debuts their new line of pewter components and findings as well as showcases how the new designs work with Swarovski crystal. Talk about quick and easy jewelry making! Not only did we get to see the products in person, many of our team got to sit in and make a design, or three!

TierraCast and Interweave crew working with the new product.

TierraCast and Interweave crew working with the new product.

The BeadSmith brings us new beads, new findings, new looming must-haves as well as offers a tour of their beautiful booth. To say the new Cymbal line will revolutionize how you bead and finish your bead weaving designs is an understatement!

Leslie Rogalski & Tammy Honaman looking over the new product in The Bead Smith booth

Leslie Rogalski & Tammy Honaman looking over the new product in The Bead Smith booth with Katie Hacker behind the camera.

Beads & Honey share their diverse, natural wood bead selection, new carved wood and shell components, as well as the rest of their product line. It was wonderful to meet Beads & Honey owner, Lynnette and to get a glimpse inside how she started making jewelry and sharing her passion. Be sure to tune in to learn more about this generous and kind woman.

Beads on display at Beads & Honey booth

Beads on display at Beads & Honey booth

The Lipstick Ranch has lambskin leather cord, leather fringe, and leather bracelet blanks that are sumptuous and full of color. Owner and jewelry designer, Kara Docheff, also offers awesome components she creates in rusted metal along with a full line of pewter charms, pendants, and components. This is a one-stop-jewelry-making booth, for sure!

Just a few rusty pendants as seen in The Lipstick Ranch booth

Just a few rusty pendants as seen in The Lipstick Ranch booth

These are just the tip of the iceberg on what you can find at the shows. If you haven’t been to Tucson yet, multiply this by 43+ shows and the fact each show has a unique personality. Then you can start to understand what the draw is.

From Beads to Dinosaurs

Speaking of other shows and what they are known for — there are shows you shop for their pearl selection; shows where you know you can find good-quality hand-cut cabochons; and shows where you can find the most exquisitely cut, faceted gemstones, like the one you see on the cover of the 2019 Tucson Show Guide.

2019 Tucson Show Guide

2019 Tucson Show Guide

There are shows where you know you can find a new pair of shoes and shows that feature the most amazing crystal formations, along with those who have the largest dinosaurs on display.

Dinosaur on display at the 22nd Street Gem & Mineral Show

Dinosaur on display at the 22nd Street Gem & Mineral Show

Challenges and Make & Takes

Not only can you find jewelry-making supplies in Tucson, there is also some jewelry making going on! This year, there were two notable jewelry design competitions.

1. Beadalon hosted an earring challenge. They invited 22 industry designers, sat them down together and gave them all the same product, then said “Go!” There was 45 minutes on the clock and lots of fun and laughter had in between all the making, and throwing of beads! (There was a lot of fun and shenanigans going on between the designers along with some amazing designs created!)

The designs made during the challenge are posted on the Beadalon Facebook page and a winner will be announced soon. Please don’t judge my design – and just know I had a lot of fun while making the earrings, trying new products, and enjoying the company of my tablemates (who definitely through beads as a means to distract!).

2. Starman hosted a challenge where they also sat a group of designers down together with an assortment of product to work with. Here you can see the designers hard at work, and yes! That is Wyatt White from Beadalon and Kim Leahy!

The challenge winner was decided on site – congratulations, Rebecca Combs!

Starman pop-up challenge winner, Rebecca Combs.

Starman pop-up challenge winner, Rebecca Combs.

In the middle of shopping for components and beads, it’s always great to see booths where you can actually engage with the product and learn something new. Starman hosted a make and take with the amazingly talented Melinda Barta. Here is a link to the instructions for her beautiful beaded design.

Melinda Barta’s Fleur-De-Lis earrings

Melinda Barta’s Fleur-De-Lis earrings

Beadalon had demonstrations going on the entire time their booth was open as was the case at the Ranger, Inc booth. Here is a glimpse at some of the designs made in the Ranger booth using their new QuickCure Clay, their new bezels, new resin molds, and resin tinted with their new opal colors.

A few designs showing off the new Ranger products

A few designs showing off the new Ranger products

Be sure to check out a lot of other images from our Tucson adventure in the Tucson Gallery; click any image below for a closer look.

— Tammy Honaman

Tucson Trends

When I showed up in Tucson, my main goal was to spot new trends to bring back for our magazines and blogs. Or so I thought.

As I walked for the very first time around the sprawling shows, at To Bead True Blue and 22nd Street, I realized that a key element to spotting trends would be hard to come by, and that’s being able to see things all in one place. This year alone there were 43 locations listed in the Tucson Show Guide! So, I quickly revised my normal plan to instead watch for existing trends that are alive and well, and here’s what I saw.

First on the list are lava beads. These beads have an earthy, organic feel to them and are great for diffusing essential oils. They make great elements for mindful or meditative jewelry or in gifts. We made these beautiful lava bead bracelets with our friends at Beads of Courage, and I’ve already used grapefruit oil on them (I love a good awakening citrus). New this year are colored lava beads, so keep an eye out for those at your local bead shops!

Lava beads from Halcraft Collection; wire from Beadalon and Artistic Wire

Lava beads from Halcraft Collection; wire from Beadalon and Artistic Wire

Next are stacking bracelets. Designs now are using even thinner chain and leather cord than we’ve been seeing. These more delicate/dainty designs usually have a color or theme to the sets, and often include delicate focal pieces. I wish I had a few pictures to share but hopefully you get the idea!

Last on the list are tassels. Yes, tassels! They are still here but I noticed they are being used in new, creative ways. Not just as pendants but elements of earrings and bracelets, and versions made out of all sorts of materials. This Fast & Fabulous set from Beadwork just about perfectly sums up this trend.

Enjoy all these great trends. Signing off from Tucson, until next year!

— Tiffany Warble

More Products!

Despite the chilly weather, it was a beautiful week in Tucson. I spent most of my time at the To Bead True Blue Show at the Casino del Sol. It was great catching up with industry friends and taking a peek at what’s happening in the bead and jewelry world. There were so many cool, new things to see!

Sunset in Tucson over Casino Del Sol pool

Sunset in Tucson over Casino Del Sol pool

If you’ve seen our Facebook videos, then you have a good introduction to a lot of the new products we saw at the show: New shaped beads and shaped bead accessories from The Beadsmith; vegan leather and nubuck cuffs from Leathercord USA; TierraCast bezels shaped to fit Swarovski crystals; unfinished wooden beads for essential oils and more from Beads & Honey; and rusted pendants and leather from The Lipstick Ranch.

Rings and other finished examples of ways to use Nunn Design jewelry-making components

Rings and other finished examples of ways to use Nunn Design jewelry-making components

Crystal points and rough gemstones are still big. I was impressed by the stylish crystal jewelry Becky Nunn displayed using her Nunn Designs components. Dakota Stones had a delicious selection of rough labradorite. Ranger Ink demonstrated molds and resin for making your own faceted resin cabochons.

Beads of Courage HQ – a room filled with love, jewelry making, and beads!

Beads of Courage HQ – a room filled with love, jewelry making, and beads!

The highlight of my week is the Bracelet Making Party I host for Beads of Courage. We had a sold-out crowd and received matching funds to move 50 kids off the waiting list. The Interweave Party was a great place to catch up with instructors and advertisers. Lots of ideas were bouncing around that room! And, I was late to the Potter USA open house, but I still managed to buy a beautiful turquoise cabochon from Jeff Fulkerson.

— Katie Hacker


Keep the Tucson Show Guide handy for all your jewelry-making needs in 2019. We’ll see you in the dessert in 2020!

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