Sunrise hike up Sentinel Peak
For day two, the alarm was set for 6am and I was able to grab breakfast downstairs before heading out. This time I found my way without any mistakes. It was much quieter and very few people were out for a normal morning. The moon was still close to full and bright as I started up the road. It was also not as cold as it had been the previous day. I stopped at various spots along the way to take photos of the view. And as I was on the downhill part of the walk, it finally clicked that the surroundings were not some botanical garden, but that the cactus and other desert plants were local natives.
The plan for the day was to go through two of the wholesale only shows. The first was the AGTA show (http://www.agta.org/tradeshows/gemfair-tucson.html) being held in the convention center. I had pre-registered for these online, so it did not take too long to get my badge and be able to start wandering around. I first went into the tech hall. Cad software for custom jewelry design and 3D printers were a significant proportion of the booths. I watched for a few minutes as one CAD vendor was demonstrating how his product would work and marveled at how far things have come since I started out programming with punch cards in the mainframe days. A few minutes later around the corner I heard someone say “Morro Bay”. The nearby booth for a safe jewelry cleaner product belonged to a local firm. (http://www.lavishjewelrycleaner.com/) We chatted briefly, and then I headed off to the main hall.
This was yet another large venue with aisle after aisle of vendor displaying mostly high end goods. There were so many different vendors with GIA certificated sapphires I don’t know how someone who was shopping for such an item to get started. Plus there was lots of sapphire not displaying papers in addition to many emerald and pearl booths. And of course there were many dealers with other colored stones ranging from packets of dust size melee to large specimens that would be hard to use in jewelry due to size. I noticed that quite a few of these vendors included something in their booths that I had not expected - large heavy duty safes. I assume that was to provide an extra layer of security for the hours where the show was closed.
Meanwhile, as I walked the show aisles, I learned to stay a distance from the show cases. When I walked closer to get a better look at all the shiny objects, it was too easy to put my hand on the edge of the cases – and be rewarded was a shock. This was another effect of the dry Arizona air. I had to feel sorry for some of the sales people who did not have the option of staying away from the cases.
At one end of the room, the Spectrum award winners for this year were on display. While there was some impressive design and craftsmanship displayed as well as killer gems, I did not see much in the bunch for regular folks to wear. I had to laugh at a couple of items that were categorized as “business / daywear”. No clue what sort of business would be compatible with that amount of bling. I was somewhat disappointed that there were not more designer booths at AGTA. My recollection from long ago was of getting to see in person work by well-known designers. Perhaps it is just a style thing and what was being shown did not fit my concepts for design.
I made my first purchase of the trip there – two pieces of rough facet grade Oregon Sunstone. The gentleman who assisted me was quite helpful. It turned out that he was president of the mining company (http://www.desertsungems.com/). He also gave me a DVD made by GIA about their mining operations which may work out nicely as a program for our local gem and mineral club.
It was mid-afternoon by the time I left AGTA and headed across the street to the GJX show (http://www.gjxusa.com/). Yet another huge venue! Since I had my AGTA badge on, getting the one for GJX was very quick – they just put a sticker on the AGTA badge. I could have skipped the annoyance of pre-registering.
There was one vendor there who had posted on the faceting yahoo group list that he would have all sorts of facet rough. There was a small sign on the booth counter to ask about facet rough. What was pulled out was far from what was advertised. Very little material and even less variety. So with that option scratched off the list, I explored the booths and found several other vendors with quantities of interesting rough and a few that even were affordably priced.
I found that the floorplan for GJX was hazardous – little ramps covering the electrical distribution were placed frequently across the aisles. Although they were marked with a bright color, in that sort of environment my eyes were held by the glitter in the booths and I tripped on them several times before I changed from walking the aisles along the front of the booths to using the ones that were perpendicular between booths.
I reached the far end of the hall and started heading back to the entry thinking I had seen all there was to see there. Only instead of the exit, I found there was another room. And after that, another one. Fortunately, those were much smaller spaces and eventually I made my way out.
Gemology online meet up
The evening plans were for a dinner meet up with others who were members of the Gemology Online forum (https://www.gemologyonline.com/Forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=95). While I have not been particularly active in posting, I follow the colored stones lapidary post and have gotten a lot of good information from that group as I have gotten back into faceting after many years away. I was looking forward to meeting some of the people behind the online posts. In fact, meeting others who are involved with gems and jewelry was the top of my goals for Tucson. Buying facet rough was a vague second. I was not disappointed by the event. Everyone was friendly. Some there had been friends for years. Others like me were newcomers to the group. I only wish I could have gotten around the room more to meet a few more of those attending. A few of those I got to speak with included Barbara Voltaire, Julie Kerlin, Justin Prim, Lisa Elser, Arya Akhaven and Stephen Challener.