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Tucson Debriefing?

Hi Folks -

I’d love to hear about your experiences at the Tucson Gem Shows.

Specifically info about specific shows that we can add to our Do Not
Miss list for next year, or about specific vendors, or places to
eat, or places to stay, or specific strategies for transportation or
shipping, or any advice in general?

I’m gonna get there sooner or later!


What a good idea…after reading Noel’s post about the value of
going to Tucson (for those who don’t live here), I’ve been mulling.

What is the value? Well, on the surface I am personally astonished
at the huge amount of junk that has taken over in the last few
years…the amount of cheap/fake gemstone beads is really kinda
scary (as are the crafters and store owners who snap 'em up by the
armload) and depressing.

I personally only visit a few favorite vendors, the tool shows, and
maybe one show with a friend for fun…but mostly I steer clear. It’s
just too much, and you can make serious buying mistakes when tired
and overloaded.

If I were buying rough for cutting (I already have plenty), then
there would be more value in beating through many of the tents,
especially the mines and importers.

BUT, Tucson is not just about buying. There is other value to being
here. The free seminars, classes and workshops offered at Rio alone
would pay for the trip. As would the networking, at the Rio weekend
ALONE, not to mention all the other shows. Many other venues also
offer classes.

Combine some judicious buying with learning with networking, and I
think you get a really good value. It also infuses one with new
energy and creativity. I only spent an afternoon at Rio and was so
jazzed - since collapsing after Christmas and then following that
with a complete business plan overhaul I was really in the doldrums.
Not enjoying the bench any more :-((

But the enthusiasm energy and CREATIVITY celebrated at Rio just got
me going again!

Now THAT is priceless.

The biggest thing that comes out of attending the Tucson shows, in
my estimation, is education. It’s not just the education you get
while watching demos or attending seminars, it’s the info you pick
up when talking to dealers & other attendees. You also get to see
1st hand everything that’s available & while you might not use it ,
seeing it leaves an impression on you & you never know, down the
road some place recalling the strange looking item may be just
the spark you need to get going on a design or solving a problem.

Another thing attending the shows does, is help keep you abreast of
what’s going on in the industry. This comes from conversations with
other attendees, seeing all the stuff that’s available & even
reading some of advertisements.

But for us Orchidians, the biggest blast is the Orchid Dinner! A
chance to visit with old friends & meet ones we never knew we had.


It seems that one way to “justify” going to Tucson is to think of it
the way you do going to a conference, such as SNAG. You just pay
for the travel because you have to to get there.

Thinking of Tucson in that way, with some buying as a bonus, might

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay