Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, A Diamond in The Rough

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is internationally-renowned, and it’s a unique opportunity to stay up with the latest in jewelry design and gems. This is where you see the innovators–it’s where you’ll find new ideas and trends, and it’s scattered all over the dusty desert town, which has grown enormously since I last visited.

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I met several incredibly talented artists and saw a myriad of pieces that I longed for during my scavenger hunt filled with treasures of jewelry, geodes, fossils, dinosaur bones and other rarities.

From strands of swollen Tahitian pearls priced at around $11,000 to a breathtaking, fiery Australian opal ring for a cool 30 grand, it was a visual feast for any beauty-lover, and so many things caught my attention. But here’s what captured my wallet.

Sweet Child O’ Mine

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For my niece, who reminds me of the Guns ’N Roses song, and possesses the most innocent vivid blue eyes that speak of the sea, I am infatuated with a new stone: Larimar. A marbelized milky delicate blue-hued rock found exclusively in the Dominican Republic, it’s reminiscent of, basically, a cloud-dappled sky. I bought her a heart-shaped Larimar pendant, set in sterling, $25, and matching chain from the good people at Larimar USA.

Golden Boy

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For my nephew, who looks like a Huntington Beach surfer and who’s gifted at anything he cuts his teeth on, I bought an authentic shark tooth, $1. This kid already has it all, so I wanted to give him something very special. There were a million teeth to choose from, but I found the one I liked most with regard to color and curvature, and the great guy I got it from sold me everything I needed for my gift. He taught me how to use E-6000, a clear super adhesive that you can get at Michael’s Crafts for three bucks. It took two minutes to glue a silver bracket on the back of the tooth so it can be worn on a brown leather cord, but about 45 minutes for me to understand the simple directions written on the label. Total cost: $7.

There’s No Place Like Home

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For my mother, who has a heart of gold and nerves of steel, I bought a giant coral-inlaid silver Tibetan pendant, $80, from S & J’s fine jewelry courtesy of Sonnie and Jack Crowder in Suwanee, Georgia.

Kiss the Rings

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With Georgia on my mind, I snagged a couple of Tibetan rings from the same vendor, S & J’s, for myself. Both intricately etched and filigreed and crafted from solid brass, the first one features an enormous oblong black onyx set high on the hand for a lot of vertical depth and drama; the second one is narrow and long, about two inches, covering the first knuckle. It is punctuated with an ellipses of red coral. They are both quite stunning, and cost 70 bucks each.

Every gift was handpicked for its recipient, and just like the individuals themselves, each is unique.

The night ended in a wonderful dinner with a friend from high school, Tam, and her beautiful, precocious daughter. It’s been great seeing you all, and to all a good night.

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