Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tucson Finds - Taiwoo Pearls

These were some of the most interesting pearls in Tucson...I think they would be great with broom castings!

In either the thin brown with green gold overtone or the thicker multi-colored ones!

...and these are the ones that I call "messed up coins" they are the rejects when two shapes grow together...

OK - before you all think I am nuts with my reject pearls....some lovely teardrop pearls - the luster on these is wonderful.

...and these are the dainty top-drilled rectangles

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AGTA Shares GemFair Results...

February 12, 2009 – Dallas, TX: The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) provided the results of the 2009 AGTA GemFair™ Tucson, held February 4-9. Attendance was down compared to last year and buying was conservative by those companies in attendance. Although buying activity was slower, many companies were still in Tucson to restock their inventory with gemstones, pearls and finished jewelry.

“In this economy, we were extremely pleased to have 81% of our buyers attend this year’s GemFair,” stated Douglas K. Hucker, AGTA CEO. “We had a lot of positive feedback from our exhibitors about the quality and quantity of the traffic on the show floor. Many buyers see a great opportunity in colored gemstones and pearls in 2009 and were on hand to diversify their merchandise mix.”

The GemFair saw a 19% drop in attending buyers; 7,640 this year versus 9,402 in 2008. Purchases were being made on the show floor, but at reduced levels compared to previous years. Several retailers reported having higher stock levels in their inventory and were primarily looking for special order and key stock pieces.
An interesting trend reported on the floor was an influx of new buyers with many exhibitors sharing that they had opened more new accounts this year relative to previous years. Exhibitors in the Spectrum of Design Pavilion at GemFair were also pleased with the level of business that was done this year. AGTA also enlisted 50 new members at the GemFair.

“Membership in AGTA is more valuable now than ever, especially for retailers and smaller businesses,” shared Hucker. “By using the economies of scale of our membership, we can now offer many programs and sales tools with little or no cost to our member companies. Every savings that we offer our members helps reduce overall expenses and attending companies took advantage by joining the association at the show.”


The AGTA is an Association of natural colored gemstone and cultured pearl industry professionals, dedicated to promoting the natural colored gemstone trade. The Association pursues this mission through the combined use of educational programs, industry events and publicity to both the trade and consumer. We are The Authority in Color.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The 2009 Orchid Gathering...

While there was no formal "Orchid Dinner" this year in Tucson - the accommodating and generous Dave Arens (tool maker, jeweler and jack of all trades) organized a smaller group of folks at the TGIFridays!

Dave proved that there truly is nothing that he is not capable of doing - he can now add Party Planner to his list - he wore the Host Hat well!!!!

Despite the fact that there were three other "dinners" going on that same night...there was a respectable crowd of 50-75 guests!

Among the notables in the room Charles Lewton Brain was sharing a table with Loren Damewood - talk about artistic energy! Loren kept the onlookers entertained with his knots! It was especially nice to see Merle White and Helen Driggs (my favorite writer) of Jewelry Artist Magazine in attendance.

If you didn't get a chance to see the ring that Charles had on take a minute to check out his webpage below - this new caged rocks series is fun!

Brad & Debbie Simon were there briefly - they had a second dinner appointment that night also.

I shared a table with Dave Arens and a rotating list of dinner guests - the first round was Sam Patania (isn't he the nicest guy?) who was also heading to Cindy Edelstein's JRB dinner - then we welcomed local MetalSmith and Instructor Mark Ramsour (what a hoot - this guy is fun!)- no sooner had he stood to leave when in came Maureen Brusa Zappellini (kept saying she wasn't going to go to the show - she LIVES in Tucson!) Maureen is a talented artist and I am really enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet her - no sooner had Maureen and I started talking when in walked Holly Gage and her husband - they were busy being guests instead of vendors this year.

So as you can see I was so busy with my rotating table guests - I didn't get a minute to mingle! Maybe Dave will post a list of the attendees!

A Web Rundown of the Talent around my table:

Dave Arens - Koil Kutter

Charles Lewton-Brain

Loren Damewood

Sam Patania

Merle White & Helen Driggs

Brad & Debbie Simon

Maureen Brusa Zappellini

Mark Ramsour
OORT Cloud - Jewelry & Metal Objects

Holly Gage

For those of you that attended that I missed - PLEASE feel free to add your info to the comments - I would love to know who else was there!

What is Orchid?

I like to describe it as the only place where you can talk to thousands of jewelers, lapdarists, gemologists, artists, inventors, refiners, retailers, designers, photographers and miners from around the world - and not feel so intimidated that you can't ask a question!

From the Ganoksin site: Orchid is both a reservoir of content and network of active relationships for the benefit of the gem and jewelry industries. Through Orchid, participants may resolve their questions about virtually any subject relevant to the broad spectrum of involvement surrounding the gem and jewelry industries

Saturday, February 14, 2009

TGS - The Future Looks Bright!

Today I stood in awe looking through the windows overlooking the floor at the TG&MS as a dozen bus loads of school children were given the floor!!!!

Friday morning the floor opens early - but only if you are a student! The Tucson School District bussed children from several Elementary & Middle Schools to the Convention Center to view the show.

This was a very exciting thing to see - you can see the swarms of children at each exhibit - they stopped and really looked at the educational display cases - this is good news for the industry - these kids could be our future if we do our part in encouraging them!

TGS - More Mineral Oddities from "The Main Show"!

The peeling banana was one of the highlights of the National Museum of Natural History's collection as well as a show highlight!

Mineral Oddities from Brazil was the theme of the case presented by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County....

...the etched garnet and aquamarine were glorious and that little chunk of gold was pretty impressive!

These were wonderful examples of "Mineral Mimicry"! Do you see "Mickey" and the crystal owl?

Flourescent minerals are always a crowd pleaser!

This was one of the features of Gems as Art...a solid chunk of Turquoise - carved to depict and battle between the Settlers and Indians.
For a size reference the Kachina in the background was 12-18 inches tall.

Gem Sculpture and Tiffany Style Lamps out of Agate Slices!

TGS - Inside "The Main Show"

Today was what I would consider the "soft open" for the TG&MS - because this is a retail show and open to the public, Thursday does not typically bring a huge crowd.

The crowds were larger than for the AGTA Show which opened in the same location a week earlier. Of course the AGTA show is only open to wholesale and mostly attended by jewelers which limits its attendance.

The theme "Mineral Oddities" was captured by minerals that either have an unusual natural growth pattern or an example of an unusual growth habit for a specific mineral....this will be clearer as we see photos!

This is unusual growth...

Quartz Gwindles: The standard growth direction for quartz is along the axis. Gwindles grow perpendicular to the standard growth. The bizarre name comes from the German word for twisted.

These are normal growth with an unusual habit!

Sperical and Round Minerals

Check out the sand dollar sized Pyrite Sun - it was theorized that Pyrite Suns were fossilized sand dollars or ancient lily pads that had been replaced by pyrite. More recently though, mineralogists have speculated that they're actually pyrite concretions which, because they formed between layers of slate, simply had no room to grow into the cubical formations one would normally expect to find with Pyrite.

his display from the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian was both visual and educational.

...that Aquamarine in the left corner was a stunner!

A great example of an unusual growth habit is the fuzzy Malachite and the little malachite crystal (looks like a christmas tree in the bottom left) in the collection of Jim & Gail Spann.

More from the TG&MS in a minute!

TGS - Tucson Gem & Mineral Show "The Main Show"

Today was "Opening Day" for the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show - this show is billed as "The Main Show" - it is the show that started it all!!!

This is the annual Gem Show of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society - each year a new theme is chosen - this year it was "Mineral Oddities"!

"The acclaimed Tucson Gem and Mineral Show™ is held every year on the second full weekend of February. It has set the standard for gem and mineral shows around the world, and is now the largest gem and mineral show in the United States. The Show is open to the public and presents retail Dealers only." printed from the TG&MS website.

BTW - this is also a great site to check for the latest updates on the construction project along the I-10 Freeway!
This show is HUGE - it ulitizes the entire Tucson Convention Center with a seperate area for finished jewelry - a giant section of mineral dealers - offerings for the artistic and the good ole' rockhounds with rough, slabs & cabs!

As a side note - if you missed the show last year - the theme was American Mineral Treasures and the show featured "...close to 50 showcases of the best specimens from the greatest localities in the U.S., borrowed from museums and private collections across the country. There was an electricity and a feeling of excitement in the air that we had never felt before at any mineral show in the last 40 or 50 years. Showgoers passing before case after case of treasures were speechless. They couldn't round up enough superlatives to express their awe and excitement at what they were seeing. It was a show for the ages, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will surely never be repeated." quote from

That show was made into a huge coffee table book - brimming with some of the most glorious photos and information from the exhibit! It is hard to find but well worth the effort! Photo from The Vug at

Plan to attend in 2010:

56th Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show™
February 11-14, 2010
"Gems & Gem Minerals"

So - next time - inside the show!!!!

TGS - Seminars at Rio Grande Show!

I was not able to do the live feed from the Rio show this year due to the redecorating project the Hilton did on the lobby!

Last year there was a chair near an outlet so I could literally report the event as it happened and almost daily - this year no such luck!

I was fortunate get about an hour at the Orchid table (thanks to Charles Lewton-Brain) to get some posts out but was shoo-ed away shortly!

I did get some really fun Tweets out on Twitter during the great Seminar on Soldering: You're Not Learnin' Unless You're Burnin': A Foundation For Jewelry Soldering and Welding with Arthur Anton Skuratowicz, GJG, CGA of the JTC

If you ever get an opportunity to take and class or seminar from Mr. Skuratowicz - in the immortal words of Nike..."...just do it!" His style is hands on and easy to follow!

Despite the lack of computer access I stayed for: Marketing: 90 Tips In 90 Minutes—How to Use the Internet to Market Your Jewelry with Bradney Simon

Many of you may already be familiar with Brad through Bench Media a publishing company dedicated to providing affordable educational materials to bench jewelers. Their publications include E-BENCH newsletter, BENCH magazine, and the new online television network, Bench Jewelers Television Network. Founder/president Brad Simon is a JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler® and a management professional.

This was a fast paced seminar as Brad attemped...with success...90 Tips In 90 Minutes! I have been in internet marketing for a decade and Brad always offers a new take on an established way of doing things. I really enjoy that he tailors his talks specifically to jewelers and things that matter to them!

This seminar was also a means to introduce the newest project from BenchMedia - Internet4Jewelers... - Internet Marketing Training for Jewelers
Learn how to use your website to attract Walk-In Customers, not just web traffic.

Friday, February 13, 2009

TGS - Manning House Show

The Historic Manning House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places - this elegant mansion in downtown Tucson is one of the most beautiful venues in the area.

The show this year was there first show under their own name and while they weren't jammed with vendors it was an upscale group of hand-made artisans. Jewelry, Beads, Metals, Native Southwest Moccasins, Lovely Scarves, Vintage Brass & Copper, Stoneware from Bulgaria and hand-made Porcelains.

I had two friends in this show:

Vlad and his wife hand forma and paint the folkloric pendants and beads you can see the ones that I chose to purchase!
Golem Design Studios

If you missed Vlad in Tucson you can purchase his goods from Artbeads at

....and the lovely (I told her I was going to print that picture - silly girl) Marsha Hedrick of Porcelain Fantasies and Amazing Porcelain.
Amazing Porcelain

Stones that are coming home with me to fill requests....

These photos can all be enlarged by clicking on the photo, if you think you might be interested in any of these great gems.

I will be bringing them to class on Wednesday night 2/18 and the remainder on Saturday 2/21

There is one exception Tina sent money with me so she gets first choice!

This first stone is Algurite - it is the first time it has been presented in a cut stone. Refer to my earlier post "Algurite - the Italian Fire".

These are gorgeous - fossil sea urchin with a flower that resembles Sand Dollars.

Rubies - Rubies - Rubies!!!!

Tourmaline bright pink to powder pink and some lovely greens

Sapphire - yellow to golden and some good sized cornflower blue with one pink!

Some cherry picked Rose Quartz rough - the only round Rainbow Moonstone I could find (this belongs to Tina) and Spodumene - the pink is Kunzite and the green is Hiddenite (the two pieces next to the Moonstone are mine - Sorry!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I found a pearl dealer with DEEP stock - you do have to order from Hong Kong (I asked if they needed a US agent - HA!).

Taiwoo Pearl is out of Hong Kong and carries pearls in a variety of price points, colors and varieties.

From their $1 per strand - by the hank... the $2 per strand - by the hank... the $3 per strand - by the hank... No - these pearls aren't perfect but in each of the price points they range from about 4mm - 10mm, in an array of colors!

From there prices go to $5, 10 & 20 per single strand - they carry gorgeous - close to perfect strands 12mm at $120 per strand! They also stock Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian Pearls.

Coins in the regular 12-14mm and in the fun tiny coins (8mm)

They also carried fantasy shapes and colors...yes - that's a Grande size Starbucks cup - I wanted you to know how large these were!

These crosses and double rectangles were interesting - I really love the raisin color in the front of the photo!

Who said brown pearls were hard to find - they have a range from champagne to dark chocolate!

Taiwoo Pearl

TGS - Farewell til next year - RiverPark Inn!!!

I am sitting here in the warm inviting lobby of the RiverPark Inn for the last time this year! :(

These folks are nothiong if not generous and accommodating...from the lovely and eternally patient Selena at the front desk, my favorite bartender Brandon in the Lobby Bar, the fun and efficient F&B Manager (who promises a restaurant for next year's show), the always smiling parking staff to the folks behind the scenes that make some of the best Tomato Basil Soup around!!!!

Kudo's to the management for assembling and motivating an excellent crew!!!

The weather today is expercted to be a crisp 64 with high clouds - the mountains have a beautiful dusting of snow and I have a busy day planned!


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