Yearly, across the finish of January and the beginning of February, the world’s coloured stone consumers and sellers converge on Tucson, Ariz., for a confluence of some 40 gem and mineral exhibits that take over this desert metropolis for the higher a part of a month.

Attending the gathering, which dates again to the Fifties, when members of a neighborhood gem and mineral society started to stage common meetups, is a time-honored ritual for a lot of main jewellery designers, however it has taken on new resonance within the age of social media.

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“The Tucson gem exhibits are beginning to turn into identified amongst jewellery connoisseurs because the place designers go to get high-end coloured stones,” says Ali Galgano, founding father of Serpentine Jewels, a customized jeweler primarily based in New York Metropolis.

“Folks have a picture of coloured stones,” she says, “the place it’s important to go to the nation of origin to get the perfect choice. ‘I would like an emerald, I ought to e book a ticket to Colombia.’ Or: ‘I’m going to Thailand, I should purchase a gemstone there.’ That’s not likely the case.”

In Tucson, “I can see a sapphire seller I’ve labored with for years who’s primarily based out of Bangkok or a Colombian seller I wouldn’t even learn about with out the connection the gem present presents,” she provides. “It’s actually cool that everybody there’s bonded by their love of jewellery.”

Learn on for 3 takes on this 12 months’s gem extravaganza within the Sonoran Desert.

Ali Galgano, Serpentine Jewels

Ali Galgano on the Tuscon gem shows

Ali Galgano on the Tuscon gem exhibits

For Galgano, coming to Tucson is all about shopping for and promoting.

Along with scoping out neon-red spinels and kite-shaped stones for customized tasks already within the works, the jeweler, who lately opened a glam new townhouse in Greenwich, Conn., has discovered that posting movies and photographs of the gem present expertise to her social channels attracts a great deal of purchasers her approach.

“Folks love seeing issues at their genesis,” Galgano tells Robb Report. “This 12 months, I introduced my designer together with me — she is going to sketch issues on the spot. We have been looking for a 5- to 6-carat blue sapphire in an oval form, barely lighter than a Kashmir sapphire. We discovered it and Molly sketched up a fast concept of what it might like in a three-stone ring. In the end, we have been in a position to promote it, utilizing a sketch, a video and photos.

“It’s sort of a brand new world,” she provides. “I discover individuals over the previous few years have turn into a lot extra snug shopping for issues sight unseen as a result of the expertise is so a lot better. As a result of you possibly can ship a extremely crisp image and video — there’s not a lot left to the creativeness anymore.”

Galgano is hardly the one jeweler to pre-sell her items through Instagram, nicely earlier than they’re even made, however she is amongst a brand new and rising cohort of designers doing so from the tough and tumble tents of the Tucson gem exhibits.

“I began to go to Tucson in 2020,” says the graduate gemologist. “I had solely handled distributors from New York. I didn’t know gemstone sellers past that. The primary Tucson expertise I had was so enlightening as a result of I met sellers from all around the world and was in a position to house in on individuals who had nice picks and who I had the perfect relationships with.”

Throughout this 12 months’s occasion, Galgano made it to the largest and most essential exhibits on the Tucson calendar: the GemFair organized by the American Gem Commerce Affiliation (AGTA) on the Tucson Conference Middle, the Gem and Jewellery Alternate (GJX) present positioned in a tent throughout the road, and the Pueblo Gem and Mineral Present, which sprawls throughout the close by Ramada Inn property and surrounding car parking zone.

“I had an inventory of purchasers I used to be looking for,” says Galgano. “I’m actually into spinel proper now and I’ve an concept for a spinel ring that requires an electrical reddish pink spinel. However it’s very exhausting to search out that actual stone. Individuals who carry that product aren’t plentiful.”

And but, as a result of that is Tucson, a gem emporium like no different, Galgano says she finally discovered the suitable stone. “I haven’t purchased it but as a result of it was very costly,” she says. “However I believe I’m going to tug the set off on it.”

Jade Ruzzo

Jade Ruzzo on the Tuscon gem shows

Jade Ruzzo on the Tuscon gem exhibits

A Tucson first-timer, Jade Ruzzo got here to the exhibits ready. “I used to be fearful it might be extraordinarily overwhelming, however I used to be pleasantly shocked,” says the designer. “I discovered it pretty straightforward to remain targeted. I got here with an inventory of the sizes and colours of stones that match into my new assortment, and was additionally seeking to construct relationships with distributors of stones that I’m drawn to, like moonstone and pearl.”

From her house base in New York’s Hudson Valley, the designer, a former private stylist who segued over the previous couple years into making customized jewellery, is presently at work on a set impressed by the world of percussion (assume: wind chime earrings) in honor of her late father, Vic, a drummer.

“He was an ’80s hair band rock-n-roll man,” Ruzzo tells Robb Report. “He was an in-studio session drummer. He had a drum store in our home. Earlier than I used to be born, he performed lots with Alice Cooper.”

After her dad handed away six years in the past, Ruzzo put collectively “a small smattering of items” patterned after a bit of jewellery he’d given her and launched it final Could. “One among his associates had made me a home made turquoise ring and I used that as a reference,” she says. “That was my foray into jewellery. From there, I discovered a lot. I’m having enjoyable enjoying with completely different stone sorts and 18 karat gold. I’m actually into weighty items. I just like the heft and feeling of an heirloom piece.”

At first look, Ruzzo’s fashion, which leans minimalist, won’t appear appropriate with heaps of coloration, however she is studying to work with hues that complement her aesthetic.

“My first mini capsule assortment was green-heavy — I like tourmaline,” Ruzzo says. “Since then, I’ve began feeling my approach by coloration that may act as a impartial.

In Tucson, Ruzzo was enamored with coloured stones in cabochon cuts. “What I like is one thing that may be worn throughout the day casually however could be elevated at night time,” she says. “It’s that juicy, sweet, gemmy vibe that I’m drawn to.”

She was additionally captivated by pearls. “I discovered some unimaginable dusty lilac mauve-pink pearl strands and walked away with much more pearls than I anticipated,” Ruzzo says. “I fell in love.”

Andy Lifschutz, Andy Lif Jewellery

Andy Lifschutz on the Tuscon gem shows

Andy Lifschutz on the Tuscon gem exhibits

Within the months main as much as Tucson, Andy Lifschutz, the founding father of Los Angeles-based Andy Lif Jewellery, begins reaching out to his greatest purchasers and planting seeds for Tucson.

“If somebody is in search of a gemstone and so they need to create a customized piece and have probably the most choices out there for value, dimension and coloration, it’s such an unimaginable alternative to have somebody who can go to take a look at all these completely different items of earth, all these completely different localities,” Lifschutz tells Robb Report.

“You possibly can examine stones from Brazil, Afghanistan, Maine and so they’re all tourmaline and so they all have nuance to them,” he says. “In my studio, I can’t supply that choice. However in Tucson, I can supply all these choices and there’s a robust probability of getting that aha second of discovering a stone that connects to you.”

This 12 months, Lifschutz had loads of these moments for himself. “Throughout the board, I leaned brighter this 12 months, whether or not for the road or personal purchasers,” he says. “Shiny generally is a pastel shade of sapphire in addition to a brilliant pink spinel — each issues I purchased.

“I didn’t purchase any grey spinels, or darker blues,” he provides. “I’m leaning into the brights. Why? That’s what’s popping out of the bottom proper now. There’s some actually thrilling materials popping out of East Africa.”

After almost per week of strolling the exhibits, the designer was additionally struck by the progress he famous amongst gem sellers who’re dedicated to buying their gems responsibly.

“The traceability and moral sourcing is known as a huge takeaway,” Lifschutz says. “Greater than any 12 months I’ve been to Tucson, it’s a precedence and it’s a ardour for gem sellers, collectors and the top shopper. Giving again is beginning to bear fruit; all the colleges which have been constructed, and wells which have been dug — the circle has been linked.”

For Lifschutz, who’s been attending the gem exhibits since 2017, crucial side of Tucson is the way it unites the complete gem and jewellery ecosystem. “The occasions across the exhibits are simply as important because the exhibits themselves,” he says. “All of the gemological talks, chopping demonstrations and simply speaking at occasions with gemologists, geologists, paleontologists.”

“For these of us who love geeking out on what these minerals are comprised of earlier than they turn into a jewel, Tucson is like Disneyland,” Lifschutz concludes. “It’s not potential to have a boring dialog right here.”

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