Tucson: Gem Hunting
A: steeped in sunshine and dramatic Sonoran Desert beauty.
B: saturated with excellent Mexican food, from street style to fine dining.
C: identified with the University of Arizona.
D: bursting at the seams in January and February with the Tucson International Gem and Mineral Show, which is 48 separate gem and mineral shows featuring more than 4,000 vendors.
All of the above apply, of course. Bet you can guess which Tucson definition is most relevant to Small World Gallery just about now (although we do relish majestic cacti, dining adventures, and campus architecture).
I’ll be in Tucson again this year on behalf of IBISwoman Jewelry and co-designer Briana Zimmerling. Some of our business associates will be there, plus I’ll be zeroing in on about five huge shows that we think will hold attractive new options for our customers. With good walking shoes and large backpack, I’ll scout for quality, price and rarity. (Plus, I get Bri’s invaluable input in the moment by sharing cellphone snapshots as I browse.)
The Tucson show defines visual overload. It's often too much to assess. There’s not enough brain power to process everything — and that can be just in one tent or building. Advance research and a sharp buying plan is essential. Unless one wants to stay for the entire three-week run of the shows, one can’t see it all. A buyer must focus on shows with more of what they want to see. (I, for example, am not interested in massive hunks of raw ore, finished jewelry, or diamonds.)
Still, it’s important to stay open to the new. Surprises are around the corner in any Tuscon show. One of them may just help your creative effort.
Most of all, Tucson represents learning. Respected and knowledgeable people may be at any booth that you approach. You may speak with an independent rock hunter with calloused hands and a trucker hat. Your eyes might be blinded by bright lights at a sparkling table with polished sales people.You may surmount a language barrier or two. Whatever. It’s an opportunity to look, listen and evaluate. With several years of Tuscon shows under my belt, I see materials better. Comparison shopping is possible.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the busman’s holiday as a "vacation or form of recreation that involves doing the same thing one does at work.” Coined in the United Kingdom in the late 1800s, busman’s holiday referred to bus drivers taking long bus rides to get to their holiday-making destinations.
Thus, Tucson is my own busman’s holiday where work and pleasure combine. If there’s a bit of extra time, I may be found ogling huge fossils and raw sculptural geodes at the vast indoor/outdoor market at the Kino Sports Complex. Or putting my feet up with a glass of wine and a piece of brick oven pizza at Time Market near the university.
We shall post snapshots on the Small World Gallery Facebook page and display our finds in an upcoming newsletter.