Tucson Gem Show 2013

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Tucson is the worlds largest trade show for gems, minerals, fossils, and everything related. Every year thousands from around the world descend on this small city to attend or sell at any number of the 35 + shows which go on during the first 2 weeks of February.


While much of the business that gem dealers and jewels are involved in takes place at the AGTA (American Gem Traders Association) show, much of the excitement takes place at some of the lesser known shows.  

Throughout the city hotel rooms are turned into makeshift mineral and fossil shops. Large tents and enclosures are constructed to accommodate the many vendors. Even trailer parks are set up so that people can sell their wares.

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Some of the interesting things shown at the more obscure shows are crystals and rough gems.  These are ruby crystal. While not a quality which can be used for faceting, these crystals can be fashioned into some type of jewelry or just kept as specimens.


Walking around the show I always find something unique and new. This year, for the first time, I have seen some amazing sunstones. Sunstone is a Fedspar mineral, which happens to have small particles of copper inside. The copper reflects the light back and creates a sheen inside the stone.


While sunstone varieties can be found in various locals, the best comes from the State of Oregon, her in the US.  This was the first time I have seen superbly colored rich bronze red faceted stones. The stones below are each over 8 cts, and have a fire I have never seen before in sunstone.


Another vendor, this one from Brazil, had some very interesting kunzite crystals. These were magnificent pieces, suitable for both cutting or collecting.  The amazing thing about these were the sheer size of the crystals.


These pieces were magnificent, faceting quality stones, which can produce the deepest purple/pink colors -the hallmark of great kunzite.

Looking at the stone on the C axis, with the light shining through, it's apparent just how deep and rich the color of this crystal is.


Here is an example of how great quality kunzite can be used. I made this pendant using this quality of kunzite.

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While in Tucson, I had a little fun testing out some machinery.  I sometimes do so basic gem cutting, and this day I saw a machine which operated a bit differently. This machine grinds and polishes vertically, as opposed to a normal machine which works horizontally.


Using this machine can produce some very interesting results. These, believe it or not, are sapphires, which were cabbed on the machine.


What's great about this show is the outdoor nature of it.


Being a largely outdoor show, allows greater amounts of large and decorative mineral pieces. Here's an example of large slabs of Tiger's Eye, which often are used in beads, and rings, being used as decorative wall mountings. With large pieces, there is an amazing array of patterns and colors present.