A Day In The Life Of A Jewelry Artist 02: Gemstone Selection Process

day in the lifeAndrea LiComment
Image Credit Andrea Li

Image Credit Andrea Li

Tucson 2018 -

The crown jewel event for all jewelry designers world wide is the Tucson Gem show that happens annually in late January and early February. It is a multi-week event where thousands of gem and mineral dealers from every continent descend upon the normally sleepy Arizona city. The glittering spectacle is truly a sight to behold. A true city wide event of enormous proportions. 

Some fun facts about the notorious gems show:

• More than 47 shows and over 4,000 vendors take over every public space including the Tucson Convention Center, Kino Sports Complex, the fairgrounds, dozens of hotels and sprawling white tents erected in almost every available parking lot.

• The show began in 1955 by the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society in a school auditorium with 15 vendors and 1,500 attendees.

• The spectacular event currently draws over 50,000 attendees.

• The mega treasure hunt generated more than $120 million in direct spending this year.

• Among the gems that have traveled to Tucson for attendees to gawk at: the Logan Sapphire — 423 carats, cut from a crystal in Sri Lanka, and one of the world’s largest blue sapphires; a 100-ounce gold crystal; a 390-carat Burmese ruby crystal, and a 13-foot amethyst cathedral geode.

This should paint a pretty accurate picture of the scale of this renown event. It is, quite frankly like being a kid in a candy store for jewelry designers and mineral junkies. I first attended back in 2002 after I returned from a two year stint in Amsterdam. Although it is difficult to attend every year I have been back several times since then. My most recent visit was this year. 

This year was a particularly special event for me because I was invited to go with a fierce group of other women jewelry designers. Talk about the ultimate meeting of the minds in the most magical place ever. We all rented an AirBNB and came from all over the country to share in the spoils of this gem sourcing goldmine together. One of the ladies even hopped the pond from the UK to join us. 

MM Sisterhood. Best group of lady Bosses & fierce jewelry designers. Tucson 2018.

MM Sisterhood. Best group of lady Bosses & fierce jewelry designers. Tucson 2018.

Needless to say, when you get a group of smart women business owners together and a little wine something wonderful happens. The ability to share whats working, commensurate about whats not and build community is inspiring. But beyond the obvious benefits of inspiration in the company I kept on this trip, the show itself had its own surprises that awaited me. 

Every time without fail a new collection is born during my attendance of the Tucson gem show. It's impossible not to be inspired by the endless rows of glittering gems. As a designer you begin pulling in new design ideas and potential color palettes to work with as if it were a knee jerk reaction. My next unreleased collection was sparked as a result of this very process. Below is a picture of my tray filled with gems all to be included in my next collection. 

Tray of my new collection's bounty of gems in Tucson!

Tray of my new collection's bounty of gems in Tucson!

Watch for updates on the new collection in my Instagram Stories