Well, we are back from the great Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and it was pretty much as I expected. It was a buyer’s market IF you knew what you were buying and what it SHOULD have cost. Our first-time students seemed to be very happy with their purchases, but are already anxious to prepare for next year with a better idea of what to expect in this overwhelming extravaganza. With about forty venues, you have to select the best sites for you. My tour provides expertise at the three major shows for loose colored gemstones – the sites where a minor miscalculation may cost you several hundred if not thousands of dollars. Many ancillary venues offer lower-end items, mineral specimens and fossils where the costs don’t impact a miscalculation as much but offer great fun and adventure.Our returning students gobbled up some great buys and commented on how certain major European vendors – some known for the finest product in the marketplace – were willing to negotiate their prices below previous show offerings. With their high cost of being at the show and the fact that many of their compatriots were not attending, European vendors were prompted to deal more freely with what many consider to be the high-end goods of the show.The number of students attending was one of our highest in years. We enjoyed a buyers’ market and the prospect of spending more time with the preeminent vendors of the industry. As a group, we certainly spent less money than usual but gathered more information and made wiser purchases in the process. First-timers saw the mechanics of this incredible show and returnees picked the best bargains from eager vendors. Our students this year included soon-to-be gemologists, stone cutters, collectors and future jewelry designers.But buying at low wholesale isn’t the only reason to attend. Where else can you speak face-to-face with award-winning gemstone cutters like Bernd Munsteiner and Constantin Wild of Idar Oberstein or American John Dyer about their craft, meet with the designers of SPECTRUM award jewelry and rub elbows with preeminent gemologists like John Koivula, Cap Beasley, Alan Hodgkinson or Dr. James Shigley? The people we talk about in class are accessible at this show!
As an example, at a chance escalator meeting, I introduced a few of my new students to Antoinette Matlins, an industry guru and author whom I attend conferences with. They were immediately treated to an impromptu gemological session as she launched into topics we had just discussed at our AGA conference the day before!
The educational opportunities alone make this trip worthwhile, as I have always advocated this to be the world’s best classroom for gemological education. You can learn about the pricing structure of colored stones by examining thousands of examples from live vendors. Actually buying at the best wholesale levels is just frosting on the cake.
If you are reading this and haven’t taken our gemstone classes, this is your opportunity to act on your passion. Take these two NGI classes – Gemstone Identification (usually offered three times a year) and Gemstone Evaluation (offered only once – in November) and you qualify for Ted’s Tucson Tour in February 2010. We will do a show preview in January and give you a two-day tour of the best gemstone venues when in Tucson. I will even negotiate with the dealers for you when you are ready to make that special purchase.
You will be exposed to industry giants and the most product – both loose gemstones (our forte) and finished jewelry at one gathering. Mineral, fossil and craft venues round out the best experience a budding gemologist, hobbyist or gem consumer could imagine. Start saving up.
Hope to see you there next year!
P.S. Did I mention the daytime temps were in the mid seventies and eighties?