A trip to the Stars
2 May 2020
From Interview with our in-house Gemologist - Kengo Kajita
on his Tucson Trip with the purchasing team
Summarised & edited by: Annabelle
We miss traveling as much as you do! Let us throw back to our trip in February this year. Discover our journey on gemstone hunting in Tucson, Arizona where the world's biggest gemstones & mineral show is held annually since 1955.
A little about Tucson
Tucson is located in south-central Arizona. It is one of the sunniest cities in the US with the climate of a desert valley. Considering its geographic location, it is not surprising to find giant cacti along the highway roads or across the grass plains in the city.
TUCSON GEM & MINERAL SHOW
One of the biggest events held in Tucson every year since 1955 - Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. An estimated 60,000+ people from more than 20 countries attend this event held in early February of the year.
It consists of dozen major independent shows held at various locations across the whole city. Some of the finest minerals specimens known to exists are shown here and hence, attracting many gem dealers and rock hounds here in Tucson every year.
(1)Cacti outside the convention centre (2) En route to airbnb (3) F/K purchasing team with giant cactus (4) our airbnb
EN ROUTE TO TUCSON
"Our Tucson trip lasted about three to four days. With so many gem and mineral show happening in the city, yes, we must say that our schedule was indeed very packed.
Our trip began with a twelve hours flight to Los Angeles (LA) and another one-hour domestic flight from LA to Tucson (TUS). Upon reaching Tucson International Airport, we rented a car and drove to our Airbnb located one hour away from the airport.
It was not our first time in Tucson! We have been here for more than six or seven times (some of us more than ten) but we were still awed by the sight of vast plains and gigantic cacti along the roads. Before reaching our homestay, we stopped by the Whole Foods Market to buy some prep food like bagels, bread, and hams as there was not much time to dine in the restaurants on show days."
"There, we found stones with unique inclusions like the Gilalite Quartz which reminded us of the Ramuna Soda with their fizzy and neon coloured gilalites."
DAY: GEM HUNTING
"Next day, we began our gem hunting journey at a few convention centres. With hundreds of booths in one convention centre, we split the team up to do the buying and get together again for some quick lunch in the car.
We were glad to see familiar faces as we walked from booth to booth and greeted our regular stone dealers like old friends. Some from the US, some from Brazil and some from Germany.
Every year, the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show never fails to inspire and amaze us with wide variety of gemstones all around the world. This time, we found stones with unique inclusions like the Gilalite quartz which reminded us of the Ramune Soda (a type of Japanese soda) with their fizzy and neon coloured gilalites inclusions; as well as some Dumortierite quartz which resemble snow domes!
Besides those unique stones, stones with the finest qualities can be found across the booths at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show as well - untreated Tanzanite from Tanzania, black opals from Australia, Emeralds from the new Ethiopia mine and more!
During lunch time, we whipped up some quick meal with bagels, ham, salads and talk about our morning buys before heading into the convention centre again."
(5)Whole Foods Market (6) one of the convention centres (7) Gilalite quartz (8) quick lunch in the car (9) our Gemologist Kajita-san examing a gem (10) gemstones
"In the evening, we settled down for dinner at a local owned steakhouse with other gemstone buyers from Japan. Munching bites on our "Cow Boy" steaks, sipping on some local brews and having small talks with one another simply beat our tiredness after a long day."
"The highlight of this trip is definitely the stargazing activity outside our airbnb. There is nothing quite like being in the middle of vast plains and seeing twinkling stars shining through the beautiful night sky. Many stargazing spots can be found in Arizona. With little light pollutions and dry clear nights, you can see the stars expanding out to every corner of the sky. Some popular stargazing spots in Tucson are Kitt Peak, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Oracle State Park.
It might be warm during the day but the temperature dropped to near -6 degree Celcius at night. We grabbed the blankets from our rooms, made ourselves cups of hot wine (wine + orange juice + cinnamon) and brought our cameras out to shoot some stars just right outside our Airbnb.
It might not be the best season or spot for stargazing, we were thrilled to capture these images of starry night sky. Twinkling stars in the clear and peaceful night sky simply reminded us of those glistening gemstones we encountered during the day."
"There is nothing quite like being in the middle of the vast plains and seeing twinkling stars shining through the beautiful night sky."
(11) dinner at local steakhouse (12) (13) stargazing outside our airbnb
SEE YOU AGAIN, NEXT YEAR
"Despite the short trip, we definitely enjoyed our days of gem hunting across hundred of booths, whipping up quick lunches in the cars, having warm and friendly exchange with regular gemstone dealers and gazing at those shimmering stars in the velvet, dark night sky.
Till next time, Tucson!"
Some of our unique buys from the show and we can't wait to transform them into dazzling jewellery!