The 59th annual gem show ended on Sunday and as we have driven around town we have been surprised how quickly any evidence that it was here is disappearing. Workers are dismantling the huge tents that were scattered all around town and in front of hotels and we wonder where the massive and weighty contents that were inside have gone. It has been an impressive operation from put-up to take-down. A shuttle bus ran around between the 46 venues, for those who did not have their own cars here or wanted to avoid finding and paying for parking. We did not find that to be difficult except at the event that was for wholesalers that we accidentally bought tickets to on Groupon.
The show inside the convention center had a slightly different feel than the outside venues. The central area was full of display cases with collections of rocks that were entered into competition. We did not understand what it was all about; to our ignorant eyes some amazing displays had received no recognition and some rather mundane appearing collections were festooned with award ribbons. We assumed that the "best of the best" was for sale here, but we would not know the difference. It is easy for jewelers to substitute great looking man-made rocks for real jewels. I've bought most of my best jewelry on streets around the world and paid prices low enough that getting ripped off was never a concern. And when you wear T-shirts and blue jeans most of the time, how much jewelry do you need?
We've heard that there was a time not too long ago when attendance at the show was down and some wondered if this event was past its prime. Clearly that is not the case and there were more vendors and displays here than ever. Looking at rocks is not something we want to do every day, but if were are fortunate enough to come back to Tucson some future winter, I would look forward to moseying around the vast display tents once again.