You won’t really know the scale of the gem and mineral exhibition (TGMS) until you visit Tucson. Even for an experienced participant, this can be overwhelming. Founded in the 1970s, TGMS is the world’s largest, oldest and most prestigious exhibition of gemstones and minerals. Thousands of people took part in the exhibition. The meeting was attended by 250 retailers from almost every country in the world. Tucson lived for a week, breathing gems and minerals. Frankly, the scale and scope of the exhibition is incredible.
But at JewellyLife Jewelry, there’s one thing that doesn’t boggle our minds, and that’s gems! Even just saying the names of some of these stones gives us shivers: Herkimer diamonds, Peruvian opals, rubies. Whether we are buying finished stones like opals and diamonds or raw materials like druzys, crystals, or petrified wood and abalone shells, when we are at the TGMS we are right in our element–sourcing the most beautiful and interesting materials to provide you with unique handmade jewelry.
Every year, JewellyLife Jewelry staff attend the TGMS to meet face-to-face with our preferred supplies and vendors that we’ve built relationships with over the past decade, as well as to scope out potential new sources of beads, pendants, cord materials, technologies, tools, and display ideas. We identify beauty and quality and bring them home to you, in the form of our artisan bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Each year we fall in love with a few different gems and minerals, and this year was no exception. We fairly swooned over the crystal rhodochrosite, which represents unconditional love. Evolved over the millennia from a combination of manganese carbonate, rhodochrosite’s beautiful pink color and unique patterns of white bands create a stunning contrast that’s easy on the eyes. Often called “the compassionate cheerleader,” rhodochrosite is a heart-based healing crystal and opens up the heart chakras to the possibilities of healing, happiness, and love. Our artisans are busy in our Bend, OR studio designing ways to bring rhodochrosite to you in the form of beaded jewelry and pendant necklaces.
Australian opals caught our fancy this year as well, due to their luminous iridescence. More than 95% of the world’s precious opals come from Australia, and it’s the national gemstone of that country. Opal was rare and considered invaluable in antiquity, and was prized by royalty across Europe. Until the vast Australian opal deposits became available to the rest of the world in the 19th century, the only known source of opals was in Slovakia.
We spend hours combing through special one-of-a-kind gemstones and druzys to find perfect pairs for earrings and necklaces that we sell to our lucky studio shoppers in Bend. Why not just source these gems online? Because the exquisite druzys and other precious gems we use in our artisan jewelry must be hand-selected in order to provide our customers with the high quality beaded bracelets, gemstone earrings, and artisan necklaces they expect from our brand. We have to see and touch these materials to be assured of their integrity.
Druzy crystals have become one of our favorite materials for creating sparkly, breathtaking necklaces and earrings. In addition to making any piece of jewelry eye-catching, druzy crystals are reported to imbue the wearer with heightened creativity and imagination, as well as relaxation and stress relief. Look great while feeling mellow? Sign us up!
Jewelry artists aren’t the only ones who frequent the TGMS; it’s an annual gathering place for rock-hounds as well. Because honestly, where else are you going to find items like 15′ tall amethyst towers or petrified woolly mammoth tusks? Lapidary artists (those who form stones and minerals into decorative items) frequent the TGMS to buy their raw materials, hauling away great buys like giant chunks of raw turquoise.
JewellyLife Jewelry has used African trade beads in our necklaces almost since the very first piece we designed, and we still haven’t tired of these vibrant glass beads. Just looking at the riot of color available from our bead suppliers makes us happy, and sourcing materials from our trusted friends at our favorite African trade bead booth makes us even happier.
At the end of the show, we were all exhausted, but we were also full of imagination. When our thoughts turn back to our home, our minds are filled with the idea of creating new and fresh jewelry, completely rock.”