As someone who has been collecting rocks since I can remember, attending the Tucson Gem Show has been a dream of mine for years. Its appeal is obvious, as it is the world’s largest gem show that takes place in sunny Arizona during a month that the weather in Boston is brutally cold and snowy. A perfect business meets pleasure destination for any metalsmith or rock hound, I’m thrilled to say that I made it out there this year. After months of grinding away in the studio to make money for the trip, I left what has been one of the snowiest winters in Boston’s history…
And flew to a land of sun, cacti, and rocky hills.
The Tucson Gem Show isn’t in one central location in Tucson, but is actually many different shows that all come together across the city. To give a better idea of the scale of this event, a popular annual gem show that I attend in Massachusetts is a mere section of the Tucson Gem Show. Everything you can possibly imagine is available at this show, be it raw crystals large and small,
beautiful carved specimens,
and outstanding jewelry from around the world.
Although I dabbled in all of these wares, and took a little bit of everything home with me, there was really one thing I came for: TURQUOISE! Arizona is home to some famous turquoise mines, such as Bisbee, Kingman, Sleeping Beauty, and Morenci. As I had hoped, there were buckets,
and tables full of turquoise.
Although turquoise cabochons (stones cut with a flat back and domed surface for setting in metal) were sparse compared to everything else, seeing turquoise in all of its other forms was a fantastic experience. This stone has been my favorite since I was a kid, but somehow there’s always more to learn about it and more varieties to see.
I left Arizona with improved knowledge of stones, new friends, and a deep connection to the city of Tucson, and could go on for pages about my experiences there. But I also brought home an enormous haul of new stones, so in order to stop this post from sprawling on longer than it has to, onto my newly acquired treasures. A lot of photos lie ahead, fair warning!
For starters, I purchased some new types of supplies that I hope to integrate into upcoming pieces.
I also replenished my dwindling supply of agate slices for Crystal Cavern pieces. These are smaller than my previous agate slices, but of the most beautiful quality.
Some new packaging supplies also worked their way onto my must-have list.
Along with these floral patterned glass cabochons that are so steeped in 90’s nostalgia.
And a primo selection of turquoise rough that I’ll be cutting into cabochons, which I’m excited to say is my next venture!
As exciting as all of these acquisitions are, the best is about to come. The cabochons I acquired are the true treasures, setting off floods of design ideas in my mind with each time that I look them over.
And finally, the turquoise…
I am ecstatic that I finally made it to this show, and that I scored the amazing stones that I did. But there is one thing I took home with me that had me literally dancing with happiness that I finally found one:
To the untrained eye, this may not look like much, but to me this is the crown jewel of my turquoise collection. In the many years that I’ve studied the American mines, I’ve known that the Carico Lake mine was discovered in a dried up lake bed, and that because of its location, an amazing phenomenon occurred. In select clam fossils, turquoise formed in the place of the clam, creating what is referred to as a pseudomorph fossil. These Carico Lake clams are remarkably rare, I’ve only ever read about them and never even seen one before Tucson. The best part is, the turquoise miner who had this clam was so excited that I knew what it was that he gifted it to me. I couldn’t believe it then, and I still don’t believe it now. I’ve carved out a spot in my studio for it on my shelf of most valued treasures, and it brings a smile to my face every time I look at it.
So, if you couldn’t tell, my Tucson trip was incredible. There’s so much more to say, and so many more photos to share, but this post is already LONG, so here it must end. If you made it this far, I commend you! Use the code TUCSONTEN for 10% off a future purchase (one use only). ‘Til next time!