What Paris is to fashion, Tucson is to precious stone. Each Spring, the desert city transforms to an indescribable concentration of gems, exquisite jewelry and mineral treasures. Some 40 independent exhibitions take over the city in what is known among gem dealers worldwide simply as "Tucson." Huge white show tents crowd every major open area. The convention center and other show locations become a riot of ethnic costumes as dealers from Sri Lanka, Colombia, Namibia, China, Madagascar, Mexico, Australia and every other gem producing country throng the streets. Hotel prices soar for the three week duration of the shows and often the very rooms themselves transform into gem shops.
This year, in a unique act of recognition, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup will become a gemcutter, cutting a precious stone, in public, in salute to the stature of Tucson as the nexus of the world gem trade. Mayor Walkup will be cutting the gem on Monday, February 4th, at 1:30 pm, at the Electric Park Learning Center in the Tucson Electric Park Show on Ajo Way.
The "Learning Center" is a new (debut in 2007) show-and-tell facility at the Electric Park Show. Conceived in the aim of demonstrating the fascination of gems and jewelry in a lively, hands-on way, the Learning Center offers 3 free lectures daily, cutting demonstrations, workshops and more, from February 2nd to 16th. In non-lecture times visitors can try their own hand at gem cutting with an expert to guide them.
Featured this year at the Learning Center:
Noted gem author Fred Ward presents his latest
in the "Fred Ward Gem Books" on Phenomenal Gems
Colin Winter, respected figure in British gemmology,
giving a presentation on spectroscopy
Roger Dery, past winner AGTA cutting award - talks about the real world of commercial, non-hobby, professional gem cutting
Brad Simon introduces a new internet-based jewelry television channel
Tyler Allen, award winning cutter - gives a spine-tingling account of his greenhorn's venture into the dangerous world of gem buying in Madagascar
....and there is so much more
All presentations are one hour or less in duration; all are open to the general public; all are free. Presentation times are at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm each day from February 2nd to 16th.
2008 Learning Center Schedule: http://www.electricparklearningcenter.com