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Tucson 2005 Show Report

Tucson 2005 Report and Viewpoint (on my 24th year attending the
show)

I did not see any new mineral items or gems in Tucson this year. Of
note

is what seems to be an increased production of medium quality pink
and apricot colored morganite from Nigeria. I saw more of this rough
than in years past. Most had the normal inclusions for morganite.
It was challenging to find clean facet morganite, but with work,
small amounts could be had. There was also a re-emergence of the old
time Nigerian dark “pencil” aqua rough and some exceptionally fine
colored dark Madagascar aqua rough available. The Nigerian pink
tourmaline bonanza of the past 6 years seems to be waning. Prices
for pink tourmaline material have been steadily moving higher. Rough
availability from Tanzania and Kenya is also way down as per
conversations with knowledgeable rough dealers and personal
observations. Overall the availability of rough from Africa was much
lower than past years.

I did see a very nice parcel of Brazilian rough opal from Piaui. An
old friend (who got me into this business 25 years ago) brought
about 500 grams of fine rough from Pedro Segundo to the show with
him. From conversations with knowledgeable sources, it seems we may
be seeing a little more of this high quality material on the market
soon. It is said

that this Brazilian source of opal produces the most stable and
hardest of all opal of any worldwide locality. It is milky whitish
"semi-crystal" with full play of all colors and patterns. This
material could easily be confused with Australian but those who
know can recognize it as Brazilian.

In my opinion the biggest news from Tucson this year is the
reorganization of various shows. This is having and will have a very
strong affect on the show in the future.

The Gem Lapidary and Dealers Association (GLDA) left the downtown
Radisson Hotel this year in favor of Starr Pass Marriott which is a
fair distance out of town. Many of the GLDA dealers were not happy
with this decision and opted instead to obtain a booth with the GJX
owner who opened another “Annex” tent especially to accommodate them
so they could remain in a downtown location. Within the GJX Annex
was a selection of very high quality items represented by the many
Idar-Oberstein and other worldwide dealers. The GJX owner has also
obtained the lease for the Radisson Hotel for 2006 and plans to
create a show at this location. I heard the name will be “World Gem
Show”. He has also stated that the “Annex” is a temporary show and
all the dealers within will move back to the Radisson in 2006. Time
will tell.

Although I did not make it to the AGTA show, I heard that they made
some changes to their layout. A gem dealer friend / recent AGTA
member with a new booth at the AGTA was very disappointed in the
traffic at his new booth. This was most likely due to the change in
show layout. He stated that he will not be exhibiting at the AGTA
in 2006 and instead will continue with his one booth at the GJX
where his traffic was much higher. It seems that the main room is
the only place to be at the AGTA for gem dealers.

This year the GJX and the AGTA shows opened and closed at the exact
same times and dates. There was much grumbling about this at the
shows end. It seems likely that the opening and closing dates for
these two shows will again be staggered for 2006.

The GJX Annex offered a superior venue to the many fine dealers who
had previously been lost in the mazes and labyrinths of the
confusing Radisson layout. No longer having to endure narrow aisles
and hidden locations it seems difficult to imagine that these GJX
Annex dealers would willingly go back to the difficult and
confusing Radisson floor plan in 2006. It would not surprise me one
bit if 2006 saw the continuation of the GJX Annex and the reopening
of the Radisson with all new dealers which there seems to be a never
ending supply of.

With the moving of the GLDA to remote Starr Pass and the defection
of many quality dealers to the GJX Annex, the inner workings of
Tucson are changing. Add to this the acquisition of the Radisson
by the GJX Show and it seems inevitable that the owner of the GJX
is poised to become the number one heavy hitter in the Tucson Gem
Show promotion business. Judging from his past achievements this
may not be a bad thing.

Steve Green
Rough and Ready Gems
Gem Quality Briolettes and Precision Ultrasonic Drilling
www.briolettes.com