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A Feast for the Eyes and Fire for the Soul: Peek Inside the Tucson Gem Show

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A Feast for the Eyes and Fire for the Soul: Peek Inside the Tucson Gem Show

Close your eyes. I want to take you on a journey with me…

Imagine a giant tent, the size of a football stadium, filled with something you love. It could be fabric, flowers, candy, or in my case, beads! There are rows, and rows of vendors with long tables and displays, completely covered with strands of beads. Every imaginable color, size, texture and shape. Shiny beads, rough beads, smooth beads and matte. Bone, stone, crystal and metal. Imagine a visual feast like you’ve never seen. Imagine shopping without a preconceived notion of what you’re going to buy, just an open mind and open heart. And when you find that thing that takes your breath away, you say “yes, I’ll take that”. This is the Tucson Gem Show.

What I’ve described is one venue, a mere slice of the many slices that comprise the Tucson Gem show. There are dozens of similar venues throughout the Tucson area during gem show week. Jewelry designers, collectors and shop owners wait all year to attend what is now known simply as “Tucson” amongst regular attendees. Many people, myself included, try to restock an entire year’s worth of materials and supplies at Tucson.

Specifically, I go knowing I need to secure a few customer favorites like, water buffalo horn and recycled record beads. Those are my staples, most of which are already allocated to existing designs. But every year, I’m also searching for something else. For what? Well, that’s the thing. I don’t have a clue, and won’t know until I see it. That special material, or color, or texture that makes me go “wow, I need that”. Even then, I don’t know for sure what I’ll design or make, but I know those beads will speak to me once we’re back home in the studio, just me and them.

This year, in addition to my regular items, I also picked up some gorgeous copper-dyed keshi pearls, turquoise and red turquoise, rose quartz, flower blossom agate, porcelain raku beads, rough cut lapis, coral, shell and wood beads. Whew! My creative wheels are already turning!

Imagine being totally immersed in a visual sensation that literally leaves you speechless, and exhausted. This is the Tucson experience. And yet, my creative brain is on fire and I can hardly wait to get back to my studio to start creating incredible new pieces for you. Let the magic begin!


 blue red yellow beads