Often the last week of January finds my wife and me leaving chilly Cape Cod and boarding a plane to Tucson, Arizona, site of the largest gathering of gemstone dealers from around the world. Thousands of jewelers and goldsmiths explore dozens of venues across the city. From convention centers to tiny motel rooms hundreds of dealers display natural material from $2 mineral specimens to individual gems worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although I prepare a shopping list of stones (like opals, pearls, and watermelon tourmalines) that I’ll need for my current designs, my primary goal lies elsewhere. At Tucson I can always find the traditional precious stones – rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds – but, for me, these shows are really an extended treasure hunt for the unique, the unexpected, and the surprisingly beautiful gems that will inspire new creative efforts. On my last visit I discovered some stunning tourmaline crystal clusters not intended for use in jewelry. It took me over a year to figure out how to use each one as the centerpiece of a striking 18K gold necklace – truly one-of-a-kind designs.
The covid pandemic prevented me from going to Tucson last year and will again this year. As a result, I have been digging through all the stones I’ve been accumulating over the past 50 years. I’ve unearthed some forgotten treasures and some literally hidden gems, many of which I’ve set into new one-of-a-kind rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. This year’s hunt will have to take place on the web, but I hope next year to return to Tucson.