Each February the leading gem miners, cutters, and traders meet in Tucson, Arizona, to buy and sell gems, swap news, and renew friendships.
At the same time, there are shows for rockhounds, fossil collectors, and meteor collectors going on in Tucson.
In all, there are twenty-nine shows going on. They're housed in hotels, motels, meeting halls, and convention centers, and when those are all occupied... in huge white tents.
Some rock and fossil shows are open to all comers, but the professional gem shows are tightly restricted to members of the trade.
This year seemed to be a "changing of the guard" at the professional gem shows. Several of the miners, cutters, and traders that we normally deal with didn't exhibit this year.
Retirements, business mergers/sales, and several other reasons account for the absence of several of our favorite exhibitors.
Of course, some of them came to Tucson anyway. If you're a gem dealer, and it's February, it just seems right that you go to Tucson. You can still enjoy the people and the meetings.
As is our practice, we buy a little, sell a little, and pick up gems brought to the shows for delivery to us.
But mostly we visit. We renew old acquaintances. We catch up on the news. And, we have a little fun… introducing people to Mexican Food.
Gem News From The Players
Here's some of the news from around the gem world, straight from the people who experienced it. Well, o.k., with a slight detour through my notebook.
Afghanistan - Civil strife, bad weather, and remote, high altitude mining locations continue to limit production and export of gems.
Nigeria - The good pink tourmaline deposit discovered a couple of years ago is now mined out. Some of this material is still available from cutters and traders but prices are moving up as supplies tighten.
(Editor's Note - We bought a large number of these gems last year, and have some in stock… at last year's price, of course.)
Canada - New diamond, jade, iolite (water sapphire), garnet, star sapphire, and gold mines are being developed. Locations range from just north of the U.S. border to well inside the Arctic Circle.
Madagascar - Boom conditions continue. New gem deposits are continually being found.
Vietnam - Poor business conditions continue to prevail… in the form of high export taxes and serious red tape. There is also a problem with the local dealers "salting" the parcels of ruby rough with pieces of laboratory grown rough.
Thailand - The gem industry is making a strong comeback from the depressed conditions of a couple of years ago.
I must stop and fill orders now, so I'll give you the other half-dozen or so reports in the March newsletter.
We're selling a lot of earring studs with 7-mm gems set in simple 14 kt. yellow gold, pierced-ear mountings.
We'll be running a spring promotion featuring these studs. Look for pictures and descriptions to be posted on the Azgem website in March.
Don't forget, we're offering free shipping on all orders over $99.
Just deduct the shipping charge when you fill out the order form. If you forget, we'll deduct it for you.
…please, visit me anytime at AZGem.com for a great selection of colored gems at great prices.