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

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-Mark-Brandee

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

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

 

 

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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