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On The Road: Tucson Gem Week 2022 Was a Return to Fun Form

Blue Topaz
Blue Topaz

Tucson Gem Week, anchored by AGTA’s GemFair Tucson show, is easily the U.S. jewelry industry’s most relaxed event. Its location—sunny, sprawling Tucson—certainly lends itself to easy, loosey-goosey vibes.


But the week’s informality really stems from its vendors, which range from NYC sapphire dealers dressed in suits and ties to out-there characters (including a jewelry dealer in psychedelic-print robes!) selling everything from gemstone bathtubs and toddler-sized geodes to barrels of semi-precious cabochons and petrified dinosaur poop.


Tucson Gem Week didn’t happen last year due to COVID-19, and few have felt truly relaxed at any live industry event since 2019 due to the virus and its grim procession of variants. But if Tucson was an indication of where we’re heading in terms of movement and connection this year, there’s good reason to feel hopeful. Traffic on the main floors was brisk, orders were being written (though some said the shows were a tad slow), and the mood of many buyers and vendors was downright buoyant.


“We’re so happy to be back and everyone we talk to is so excited to be out and here,” said Susan Klemt, co-owner of Artistry, Ltd., which showed in AGTA’s fine jewelry section. “We made it here, and it feels so good!”


Indeed. And while formal evening events were canceled due to COVID-19, private dinners and cocktail hours—often on adobe patios with outdoor fireplaces, Tucson-style—peppered the week. And a cocktail hour at the Moonstone restaurant hosted by the AGS Young Titleholders on Thursday night got downright raucous. The music was loud, the cocktails were flowing, and a few partygoers dared to dance (and to that we say “huzzah!”).


Here’s where we went, who we saw, and what we swooned over during the gem industry’s biggest week. —Emili Vesilind


Robert Bentley
NYC-based gem dealer Robert Bentley, founder of Robert Bentley Company, with a tray of ultra-high-quality chalcedony beads (blue), at the AGTA GemFair Tucson


Mark bathtub Pueblo show
We ran into this incredible all-quartz bathtub (a mere $180,000!) by Bookbinder Crystals at the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show


Alex Sepkus necklace
A brand new necklace design from Alex Sepkus at the AGTA show


Original Eve earrings
Lovely tourmalated quartz and 18k gold earrings by Original Eve at the AGTA show


Gems and minerals at Pueblo Show
Earthly delights! Colorful stones and cool fossils were abundant at the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show


Matthew Tratner, general manager and vice president of Sarine North America, Jewelers Mutual’s chief content executive Mark Smelzer, Brandee Dallow, VP of sustainability for luxury at SCS Global Services and Adam Graham, director of sales, west, for Joshua J Fine Jewelry


Jen Cullen Williams of Jen Cullen Williams Communications, Monica Stephens of ANZA Gems, and Melissa Quick, president of Steve Quick Jeweler, at the AGS Young Titleholders cocktail event


AGTA show 2022.
The Hall of Gems at the AGTA GemFair


Jen Cullen Williams Emili Vesilind and Krystle Craycraft
From left: Cullen Williams, Emili Vesilind (moi!), and Jewelers Mutual Group’s senior vice president of marketing Krystle Craycraft at the AGS Young Titleholder’s cocktail party


Suzy Landa moonstone jewelry
Moonstone and gold pieces from Suzy Landa New York at the AGTA show


Tucson hike
We squeezed in an early morning hike through the saguaros mid-week!


Artistry Ltd Susan Klemt
Artistry, Ltd. co-owner Susan Klemt with a raft of new (and briskly selling!) necklace designs at AGTA


Lauren Harwell Godfrey randi molofsky Mark Davidovitch
Harwell Godfrey founder Lauren Harwell Godfrey, For Future Reference co-founder Randi Molofsky and jewelry industry veteran Mark Davidovitch out for dinner


Parle brooch
A custom turquoise brooch designed by Brecken Farnsworth at Parlé Jewelry Designs
Gem industry expert Manos Phoundoulakis, Nan Lung Palmer of Luxe Rocks and Brecken Branstrator, senior editor of gemstones at National Jeweler


Mark Devereaux, Jewelers Mutual’s VP of sales, on a morning hike


Elyssa Jenkins Emili Vesilind
At the AGS soiree with Elyssa Jenkins-Pérez, director of membership & digital content for the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and vice president and co-founder of Black in Jewelry Coalition


Sally Bass
Sally Bass, founder of Tucson-based Sally Bass Jewelry, at the Pueblo Show


22nd ST SHOW
A jeweler in action at the 22nd St. Show Mineral, Fossil, Gem and Jewelry Show


Toby Pomeroy earrings
Toby Pomeroy earrings featuring Oregon moonstones


Vic and Julia Gomelsky
Sisters Victoria Gomelsky, editor-in-chief of JCK, and artist Julia Gomelsky at dinner


Top: Huge faceted blue topaz from German gem dealer Paul Wild OHG


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