I've been to one International Gem & Jewelry Show last Dec in
Chicago. I only saw the retail show (I'll get to the wholesale
side this year). I found the commercial booths to be much less
interesting near the entrance. The Karens et al. have described
them pretty well. Also saw tons of amber looking material.
I found the last two rows of booths to be more interesting with
more local businesses and groups and also tool sellers with a
lot more tools and better prices than I find locally. One lady
from San Francisco had some terrific one of a kind peices. The
other booths in the cheap seats also were more willing to talk
to one with out high pressure sales.
I'm sure I'll find the wholesale side more interesting.
Of course, I'm a newbie, but I found the experience worth while.
I wouldn't avoid it altogether unless I've already seen a bunch
like it. If you ask the Karens (sorry for this lumping together)
how they met their favorite cutters and pearl guys, it might
have been by going to one of the shows.
The biggest problem I had was that there is almost no seating
available. Afew tables and chairs in a corner where some food
was sold were usually overloaded. No seating at all in the
extensive lobby area! I guess if you are sitting down, you're
not buying, and if you're not buying, you shouldn't be there.
This year, I'll be driving myself rather than being tied to a
bus full of other folks, so I'll be able to leave when I've seen
what I want.