Getting Ready for the 2018 AGTA GemFair™

My new year excitement has only just begun!  In just about two weeks, I will get to join hundreds of other gemstone and jewelry aficionados from all over the world for the American Gem Trade Association’s annual AGTA GemFair™ in Tucson, Ariz. at the Tucson Convention Center.  The GemFair™ is the world's leading colored gemstone and cultured pearl trade show and over the last several years (since Inspired Antiquity relocated to Phoenix, Ariz.) has become somewhat of a passion for me.  Frankly, it is something I look forward to every year.

Just the opportunity to walk around the convention center - as well as the tented areas - makes me feel like an elementary school kid all over again collecting rock samples for my “rock box.”  Truthfully, it is kind of a wonder why I didn’t become a geologist instead of going into a first response field!

So why do jewelry designers, manufacturers, rock hounds, media/bloggers and more flock to Tucson for the almost week-long trade show?  Well, in addition to the mountains of gemstones and rock specimens available, there are educational and informational classes, trade booths and exhibits featuring some of the newest and most cutting-edge designs.  And, of course, with the show being held in February every year, what better place to go than someplace where the average daytime temperatures make you forget it's winter and want to put on some flip-flops?

Just a sample of some of my booty from last year's AGTA GemFair™ - amethyst, Oregon sunstone & natural, baroque pearl.

The biggest question I always here is, "How do I know what to buy?"  For me, simple - I make a list.  I have a particular list of stones that I looking for and I create that list throughout the year.  Then, a couple weeks before the show, I sit down and re-evaluate and prioritize what I am really looking for and then marry it with my budget.  Like most, I don't have an unlimited budget to go hog-wild (and it IS tempting, let me tell you!).  So I prioritize my list and identify what it is that I am really looking for.  For example, it I have some vintage or antique settings that I want to update with some modern stones, I may rank those higher on my priority list.  And as an caveat to that - if you are looking for stones for a particular setting - bring the setting with you.  Then you can see if A) the stone you're interested in will fit and B) really get a visual for how it would looked if finished.

My other tip is to keep an open mind.  Don't limit yourself to just the basics like emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds.  This is the one show when you can really see some amazing gemstones that you may not find anywhere locally so have your "Wish List" and your "Must Have List."  My "Wish List" tends to be unusual stones that I may not have a specific project in mind for but that "speak to me" for some reason such as fluorite.

And, of course, don't forget that Tucson has some amazing attractions all on its own so be sure to check out the city as well.  I highly recommended visiting the Biosphere 2 at the University of Arizona which was originally designed to serve as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies.  There is also the Mission San Xavier del Bac, known as the ‘White Dove of the Desert,’ which was founded as a Catholic mission in 1692 and is the oldest, intact European structure in Arizona – filled with original statuary and murals.  

Sometimes called the 'White Dove of the Desert,' the Mission San Xavier del Bac is the oldest European structure
in Arizona & not to be missed if you're making the trip to Tucson!

Looking for a more natural view?  Tucson is settled into the stunning desert landscape where a sightseeing is an adventure all its own!  Travel outside the city just a tiny bit, keep a close eye out and you may see a Javelina or some of the wild horses which are the decedents of the original horses brought to North America by the Spanish conquistadors!

Javelinas may look cute & cuddly but be sure to only look from afar & not touch!  They can actually be
quite territorial & aggressive if they feel threatened or provoked.

Speaking of keeping an eye out, stay tuned to Inspired Antiquity’s Instagram and Facebook pages to keep up with my Tucson adventure!  When I return to Phoenix maybe you will be inspired to make it to the next AGTA GemFair™ in 2019!

Be sure and follow Inspired Antiquity on Facebook:, Twitter: @NpiredAntiquity, Pinterest: & Instagram: InspiredAntiquity


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