2012-02-05T05:14:22+00:00 Jewelry|

I am so very very lucky that I have a place to crash when I’m in Tucson AZ. I have become a serious rock fanatic. At present, here’s nothing else I’d rather spend time, money and energy on. The place for me in the dead of winter is Tucson.

Amongst the saguaros

At the end of January the gem shows start. That’s plural. With an “S”. I’m often asked, “So how was the Gem Show?”. Show? There are venues all over town, and I mean giant venues that take a whole day or more to check out. It’s a HUMUNGOUS extraordinary occurrence. It takes stamina, patience, steely determination, focus and really good hiking boots. It is the only time when my fashion sense takes a nose dive. When I’m in Tucson, everything goes with hiking boots. Just so you know, I am seriously in love with shoes. Here’s what I bought in Tucson the day before any of the shows opened:

I began the last week of January with a long road trip. My usual stops are Austin or San Antonio TX. Then a night in Marfa (population 2100; a concentration of really good restaurants, plus a couple of cool “boutique” hotels, and a lot of art galleries. In the middle of nowhere – who knew? I knew). The road is long and boring. The only bonus besides a stop in Marfa, is the 80 mile an hour speed limit in most of Texas.

Finally I arrive in Tucson. I’m a day early (which explains the shoes). The vendors begin setting up. The next day, I find myself hanging around the fossil/mineral/geode exhibits (you can also buy meteorites). I end up with some very nice orthoceras, ammonites and baby geodes.

Orthoceras, in case you were wondering what they were...


More shows open. I buy more cool stuff. Then the BIG shows open and I get serious. For days and days I look at batches of tourmalines, rose cut sapphires, gorgeous rutile quartz (Yay!) strands and strands of all kinds of precious stones in all kinds of shapes and sizes, pearls, and handfuls of little itty bitty stones for accents. It’s too much. But it’s not enough. I have to choose, I can’t have it all. Plus, I can’t find the drops I want.

A batch of rose cut tourmalines


Rutile Quartz


I end up at the rough rock areas. Buying pounds and kilos of rough stuff. Bargaining with guys that can’t speak English, borderline barbarians and gentle touchy-feely eccentrics. I haul the rocks for what feels like miles back to my car. (Of course when I’M ready to go, there’s no shuttle in sight, the parking lots are bigger than the shows, acres and acres of cars and usually there are a lot of shuttles). My back and shoulders are killing me.

A small fortune

Some days I wake up and wonder what the hell I’m doing. Is any of this going to amount to a hill of beans? Because I decided that I have to have some stupid shape?? I’m giving a small fortune of rocks to a stranger who’s going to take it halfway around the world and cut it up? I have visions of little kids squatting over lap wheels, ruining their little hands. He swears up and down that his workers are treated well. There is no child or any other kind of abuse, it would not be tolerated. I’m skeptical, yet he convinces me.

And then, I find a treasure, like this:

Hand carved Italian cameos

I have never had an opportunity to acquire a parcel of such wonderful unset cameo pieces. They were brought to the US over 60 years ago by the dealer’s father who started a jewelry business in New York.  I went through the batches and wept.

It’s over. The intensity has overwhelmed me. I’m exhausted. Can things get any better? Of course they can! My nephew’s wife Stepha is the best massage therapist in town. She soothes my aching bones and I make plans to head home. Thank you. I am so very very lucky.



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  1. Maureen Frances Tulloch (nee Hill) February 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Lovely Blog, sounds so exciting and fun. Glad you found your passion in life. You were always creative.

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