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Tucson is ON: Where we are going and what we are buying

Posted by Yvonne Raley on

By the time this blog is up, the final countdown is on.  Monday the 3rd we are leaving for our Urban Oasis, our beloved AirBNB in Tucson.  Peter is a super host; we will be welcomed with fresh fruit, a bottle of wine, and of course, by the resident dogs that live on Peter’s property across the yard.

Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson Arizona

It’s only a five minute drive to the shows and the two-hour time difference will allow us to rise and shine early.  We are lucky to have VIB-Status with the AGTA show, so we will get daily free breakfast and lunch.  Thank you to Jaimeen, Dudley, Vinod and all the other vendors who have recommended us.  Congrats also to Jaimeen (Shah, Prima Gems) for having become an AGTA board member as of January 2019.

Our very first stop at the show will be Dudley Blauwet’s booth.  Despite being in the back corner, his large area is usually raided within the first 15 minutes, with everyone looking for the best sapphires.  Luckily, Dudley has grown fond of us – we try to be VERY well-behaved buyers, always paying on time, never just putting a ton of gem jars on a tray to have them “held” and never to return, or begging for extra items on memo (yes it all happens).  In my now somewhat veteran opinion, Dudley has the largest collection of unheated Ceylon sapphires in the United States, among many other things: blue green tourmaline from Afghanistan, Burmese spinel, and the kornerupine that I have always managed to get (now pretty much sold out).  I write Dudley a list of what interests me before I get there, and he usually points me in the right direction so I can find my way amidst the oodles of enticing gem jars.  If any of you have not – yet – gotten the sapphire of your dreams, let us know!  Dudley does not do any retail, he has no website and isn’t planning on one, and he won’t entertain sending photos to retail buyers directly, so you must pick a retail business to work through.

Dudley Blauwet’s booth

Our next stop will most likely be the GJX, if we don’t get held up somehow (oh gosh, that happens so easily!).  I want to say hi to my emerald supplier Vinod Kotahwala, and Barker and Co, another company with pretty tourmalines and, as of late, spinel.

At the GJX I have to quickly say hi to Sergey and give him back the large demantoids from my website.  And since last time someone else bought a lot of the demantoid melee right out from under me, I want to get to those and at least set some aside.  I have also pretty much sold out of my smaller stock (3-4mm), which I guess is still more affordable, and so I would like to replenish that if possible.  I also love unusual cuts, but that’s tough to hope for in a demantoid.  Maybe I’ll get lucky!

2.9 mm matched pair Demantoid

And then I have to get started on the lavender sapphire melee, and ruby melee, and maybe 3mm lavender sapphire, match up sets and suites in anything from 1.5-4mm if possible.  That’s super hard work, but it has to be done.  Even jewelers buy these from me because, as one of them said, “we’d rather pay for your time because we know how long this takes.”  They’re not kidding.

3mm Lavender Sapphire

I also have in mind two more stops for lavender gems, one is from Vietnam, though I don’t have a lot of hope that there’s material there.  I can try though, and I want to be the first if there’s something good (so I’m not giving that spot away).  Same with the benitoites and a couple more Paraiba sources in addition to my New York one.

Paraiba Tourmalines 

I’m also going to stop at Nomads as well as Prima gems for their gorgeous green gems, in particular, blue green tourmalines, but possibly also mint garnet and tsavorite (though these have not sold well in my shop).  Maybe Jaimeen still has his old parcels of Mahenge spinels that he used to let me play with.  He also got some more lovely sphenes (very lemony), chrysoberyl, and a huge selection of Montana sapphires with pretty blue green colors. 

Another item I have put on my list is more color change gems, not just garnet but also alexandrite.  While expensive, melee sizes up to 3mm are swingable for the most part.  Again, however, it’s a matter of sitting down and very carefully selecting out of larger parcels which match in size and shape but not in saturation or strength of color shift.  So, this, too, can take hours. 

Too bad that day one isn’t two days long!  By the first day my head is usually spinning out of control and I have a hard time sleeping.  Meanwhile Debbie is usually exhausted after a mere 10 hours of helping me and being in touch with clients at the same time, so she sleeps like a baby.  Lucky Deb – and thank you in advance for coming with me, putting up with me and my spinning head, and being my right and left hand.

Debbie and I starting our day at last years gem show

(P.S. I am also a foodie, not just a gem addict, and I will try to share with you some of the best spots to eat this time – you may not know this, but Tucson has some amazing food, not just Mexican but all kinds.)


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