Tucson is my favourite trade show of the year and for a good reason. This event is always a great way to get a hint of what might happen in the coloured gemstone market for the rest of the year. The collective deals that take place out here in the desert can also form the springboard from which a previously unknown gemstone offering can storm to the top of any collector's list.
Upon entering the main hall, the proverbial ‘buzz’ is always electrifying, the whispers at every booth form the soundtrack to each and every show.
The information that we had previously gathered through our contacts in the industry indicated that Garnet was on the rise and may well feature as a headline act at this year’s show, however even with this prior knowledge, we were blown away to see it become the superstar.
Due to the soaring price of all Garnet varieties, negotiations started earlier and lasted a lot longer than in previous years. It was an intense atmosphere at the booth, witnessing my good friend, and Gemporia Purchasing Director, Jake Thompson valiantly trying to secure some of the world's most prized Garnet.
“In a bid to bring the price down on these exquisite Garnets we hand selected three different parcels of the most prized gemstones in his portfolio.”
Mint-coloured stones of all species were also commanding huge premiums. In an unprecedented move, I witnessed traders prefixing their top grade Tsavorite Garnets with the term ‘mint’ in an attempt to piggy-back on the insatiable appetite of the absent Merelani Mint Garnets from the market and the premiums that these stones are now commanding from private collectors.
Comeria Garnets rose significantly in price over the week too, with conservative estimates placing comparable 'Grape Garnets' at $325 per carat. We were able to enter into negotiations with one of the world’s finest gemstone traders who is based in Mozambique, a gentleman we have a great relationship with. This was one of the most sophisticated deals that we have ever entered into. In a bid to bring the price down on these exquisite Garnets we hand selected three different parcels of the most prized gemstones in his portfolio.
In effect, we put together an even larger deal encompassing a range of Garnets from prized locations, as well as a very special parcel of Tourmaline – which was also being studied by an independent Tourmaline investor who wanted to offer it to the world’s largest jewellery houses. This ended up being our biggest ever Paraiba Tourmaline deal, which we finalised very recently in Hong Kong. It is also important to mention that part of this deal was an exclusive offering of world-famous Bekily Colour Change Garnet from Madagascar which I can’t wait to share with you all.
“All I will say is this… the stone is very reminiscent of fine grade Galilea Morganite and completely natural.”
Tucson, unlike Hong Kong, is an amalgamation of several smaller shows – much like the famous Glastonbury Music Festival where there is a main stage and several smaller stages scattered around. In Hong Kong, it is all contained in one huge exhibition centre. In Tucson, the show is spread across the desert and we are constantly hopping in and out of cabs to see as much as possible. This year, we focussed on getting out to as many of the smaller shows as possible, to discover the truly hidden gems. We did find something utterly exceptional, which I had to promise Jake I would not mention in much detail due to the fact that negotiations as of the time of writing this are still very much ongoing, as we want exclusivity of this rare and exquisite gemstone. All I will say is this… the stone is very reminiscent of fine grade Galilea Morganite and completely natural.
I think a fitting conclusion to this year’s show would be to say that the pendulum has well and truly shifted. For years, gemmologists have been speculating that Garnet would have its 'Spinel' moment (there was a time when Spinel went from a previously underappreciated gemstone to a rare designer stone craved by all). I think Garnet's time has finally come.
Places to Visit in Tucson
ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM
The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: Zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium. The Museum's conservation and research programs help conserve the Sonoran Desert region.
SABINO CANYON TOUR
Experience the beauty of one of the most unique Southwestern desert canyons on a Sabino Canyon tram ride. Sabino Canyon is a natural desert oasis located in Tucson’s Coronado National Forest and is home to spectacular desert landscapes and abundant wildlife.
PIMA AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aviation and space museums in the world. Featuring over 300 historical aircrafts, the museum is spans 80 acres and encompasses five indoor exhibit hangars (two dedicated to WWII).