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