-  Elaine B Jewelry -

Tucson Gem Show Experience 2024

If there's one thing we've learned from our adventures at the Tucson Gem Show, it's that every stone has a story to tell. From the beautiful stones of our trusted partners to the exciting selection from vendors we just met for the first time, and of course your heirloom stones that have a —history—  each gem was one to be remembered. Our time at the Tucson Gem Show was more than just sourcing stones, it was about building community, pushing boundaries, celebrating old friends, and making new ones.

The Tucson Gem Show isn't just an event; it's an immersive experience that weaves together the stories of artisans, miners, and designers from around the globe. It's a celebration of storytelling, community building, and the hopes of pushing boundaries in the world of gemstones and jewelry design. As we reflect on our adventures at the Tucson Gem Show, we are reminded of the meaningful connections we made, the inspiring achievements witnessed, and the breathtaking stones discovered along the way.

xo Elaine

Above: Visiting with our friends at Misfit Diamonds in Tucson!

Celebrating Gemstones in Tucson

Did you know there are nearly 50 gem shows happening in Tucson throughout January and February? We attended 6 of them this year! There is a wide range of things offered from gemstones to big rock crystals. Every winter, it’s estimated that roughly 4,000 vendors and 65,000 visitors come to Tucson.

Sharing Stories

At the heart of the Tucson Gem Show experience are the stories – stories of passion, innovation, and the joy of doing what we love. We had the privilege of reconnecting with trusted partners and vendors, each sharing a personal snippet about their own journey with us. From Lewis & Clark Sapphires, where we caught up with husband and wife duo, Debbie and Neal - to Sorbet Sapphire, where Justin shared his vision for ethical sourcing and traceability, every encounter was a testament to the importance of transparency and trust in the industry. We were inspired by Misfit Diamonds' commitment to breaking the mold and celebrating the unexpected, and moved by Capricorn Gems' journey from the landscapes of Queensland, Australia, to the sparkling showcases of the Ethical Gem and OJB Shows.

We heard inspiring stories from people of all ages. Ian, of Capricorn Gems, told us about his adventures as a kid camping in sapphire fields and picking for gems. We loved the idea of going on a weekend getaway and finding sapphires in a big field - how magical! We also heard the story of a super talented 17 year old gem cutter named Nadine.

Above: Checking out Debbie & Neal's booth for Lewis and Clark Sapphires in Tucson!

Here's a little more about the vendors we caught up with in Tucson:

Lewis & Clark Sapphires:

Husband and wife duo, Debbie and Neal, run this family-owned business dedicated to ethically sourcing and hand-selecting exquisite Montana sapphires, offering customers a one-of-a-kind and personalized experience. Learn more about them here.

Sorbet Sapphire:

Our long-time friend, Justin, is the founder of Sorbet Sapphire. He is committed to providing ethically sourced, rare, and beautifully colored sapphires, sharing his passion for unique gemstones with the world through sustainable practices and transparent sourcing. You can read more about our collaboration with Sorbet Sapphire here as well as visit their website here.

Misfit Diamonds:

Our friends at Misfit are on a mission to disrupt the traditional diamond industry by offering ethically sourced, conflict-free diamonds that are traceable from mine to market, ensuring transparency and sustainability. You can read more about their mission here.

Capricorn Gems:

We were so excited to meet Ian of Capricorn Gems, based in Queensland, Australia. They are renowned for exceptional quality gemstones sourced sustainably from the heart of the Australian Outback, offering a diverse range of unique and stunning stones to customers worldwide. You can read more about them here. (They also have tons of great Youtube videos!)

Left: Beautiful Australian sapphires from Capricorn Gems. Right: Natasha checking out some stones in a showcase in Tucson!

Community Building

The Tucson Gem Show isn't just about buying and selling—it's about building relationships and learning from fellow artisans in the industry. We are always so inspired by the connections made between jewelers, miners, and suppliers, and we can't wait to bring that sense of camaraderie back to our customers. Whether it's swapping stories with old friends or bonding over a shared love of gemstones with new acquaintances, the Tucson Gem Show is a place where lifelong connections are made. 

We also love that Tucson gives us the unique opportunity to check out the gems up close and personal with the people who mine and cut them. There’s a chance to have intimate conversations about the stones and where they come from that you don’t always get through online communication. Ian, from Capricorn Gems, educated us even more about how sapphires actually form. Sapphires naturally grow in hexagonal shapes. They can be long and skinny or short and wide. It was really cool to see the rough sapphires that he brought from his mine in Queensland. They looked quite different from the sapphire rough we have seen from Montana, but the rough still stayed true to the hexagonal natural shape. Tucson really is all about building community around education and craft! 

Pushing Boundaries in Mining & Design

One of the most exciting aspects of the Tucson Gem Show is the opportunity to discover unique and unexpected stones that challenge conventions and redefine traditional notions of beauty. So many of the artisans showcasing pushed the boundaries of mining and design!

At Elaine B Jewelry, we are proud to be part of a community that celebrates alternative stones and embraces the diversity of the natural world. Gone are the days of only wanting a bright blue sapphire and only clear white diamonds. We love embracing these stones for their one-of-a-kind natural properties! Salt and pepper diamonds with galaxies of carbon inclusions and radiant sapphires in shades of every color. These stones aren't just beautiful - they're symbols of creativity, individuality, and the possibilities of jewelry making. Each stone tells a story, and it's our privilege to help bring those stories to life through thoughtfully crafted designs that resonate with our customers.

Old & New Friends

From insightful conversations with new faces to impromptu dinners with old friends, the Tucson Gem Show provided a unique opportunity to build bridges and foster lasting relationships that enrich both our work and our lives. 

We were really excited to have dinner with Debbie, Neal, Justin, and his wife Keely. It was a chance to get to know each other on a deeper personal level, and not just from a business standpoint! We had a great night exchanging family stories and enjoying food together. 

Justin also graciously invited us to attend the OJB Experience, where we enjoyed happy hour and made some special connections with new people and vendors. Justin and Keely curated the entire show! The OJB Experience was all about personal connection and appreciation for the craft. It gave us an inside look at some really special gemstones and celebrated craftsmanship and curated collections from renowned vendors. This show was a bit more intimate compared to the larger ones nearby so we were able to have great conversations with new and old faces, it was really special to be a part of. You can read more about it here.

Left: Enjoying dinner out with Debbie & Neal and Justin & Keely. Right: Natasha, Heather, and Elaine pictured with Justin at OJB Experience happy hour. 

Discovering Stones at Various Tucson Shows

From all the shows we attended in Tucson, there were two that we can’t stop thinking about! From the grandeur of the AGTA show to the laid-back charm of the 22nd St. show, we experienced the full spectrum of Tucson’s offerings.  The AGTA Gemfair was filled with security and exclusive offerings open to businesses only, while the 22nd St. Show welcomed the public to its treasure trove of hidden gems. Whether you're a seasoned collector or a curious newcomer, there's something magical about stumbling upon a stunning stone in Tucson.

The AGTA Gemfair, or American Gem Trade Association, showcases a massive array of gemstones and jewelry, offering a premier platform for industry professionals to discover rare and exquisite gems sourced from around the world. You have to be a business to attend and there’s quite a bit of security! Some of the gems are worth thousands upon thousands of dollars - check out the diamonds Elaine is holding below. Although these aren’t exactly the types of gems we purchase, they are really fun to look at and post on instagram for you all to see!

Left: The team outside the AGTA Gemfair in Tucson. Right: Elaine holding 20 carats of flawless diamonds on her hand - these were a real showstopper on our instagram story!

The 22nd Street Mineral, Fossil, Gem, and Jewelry Show is sort of on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as exclusivity. It’s open to the public and anyone can come check it out! The show features all kinds of minerals, gems, fossils, meteorites, jewelry, beads, and art!! There’s truly something for everyone at this show. It’s one of the biggest gem shows in Tucson! We were telling everyone about the charm of this show - even our Uber drivers! Debbie and Neal, from Lewis and Clark, love to showcase here just because of the stories that come from the people that attend. So many people come eager to learn about stones and just have a fun conversation surrounding their passion for gems! You meet people from all different backgrounds at 22nd Street.

Above: The team poses with some big stone sculptures in Tucson!

Inspiring Achievements

And let's not forget about the incredible achievements celebrated at the AGTA Spectrum awards. From beautiful designs to innovative techniques, we were inspired by the talent and creativity of our friends and partners in the industry. As we navigated the show floor, we were so excited to stumble upon awards given to familiar friends and faces. We were proud to celebrate alongside them, knowing that their success is a reflection of the passion and creativity that drives us all. 

Here’s an award we couldn’t help but smile about! Congratulations Debbie and Neal! 

Left: Neal is awarded an Honorable Mention for a Phenomenal Stone for Lewis and Clark Sapphires - it was a gorgeous Montana Sapphire! Right: The team poses on a sculpted stone chair. 

Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Designed

As you can see, at Elaine B Jewelry, every design starts with a story. From the stone sourcing process to the final polish, we're committed to transparency, trust, and celebrating the unique stories behind each gem. So whether you're looking for a handmade design or a one-of-a-kind ring, you can trust that every piece is crafted with love, care, and a whole lot of sparkle. 

We hope you enjoyed our Tucson adventures!! For more behind the scenes, be sure to follow us on instagram!

View our Custom Gallery here.

Shop All Collections here.

Read more about our Stone Sourcing here.