Tucson 2019 - Day 1 - Meeting up with Online Folks

Somehow the year has flown by despite best intentions of posting more frequently. All of a sudden it was time again for Tucson.


We arrived at our hotel over an hour later than planned as a result of the Phoenix to Tucson flight delayed due to weather elsewhere. The room we got this year was not nearly as nice as the one last year. One of the bedside lights was missing the lightbulb, the microwave was missing the turntable, the heater was falling out of the wall, a non-slip pad had been applied in the tub in a sloppy way, etc. (The staff took care of the first two items the next morning.) Basically the room needs a complete update.

We headed off to a very late dinner at the Kettle, the diner located next to the hotel.  There, overhearing us talking about the gem shows, a young man from Mali came over to talk to us.  And of course he had some gem material to show us that he was hoping to sell. Tucson is like that.

Day 1 Thursday - Sunrise from Sentinel Peak

Sunrise from Sentinel PeakNext morning I got up early to meet Steve Ulatowski for the sunrise walk around Sentinel Peak. It was very cold - at least to my moderate climate sensibilities. The car windows were coated with frost.  It had been many years since I had to scrape the windows and the rental car did not come with a scraper.  I managed to clear just enough to see out using the plastic room “key” and made it to the meet up point in time. The sky was clear, there was a bit of a breeze and more than enough to get one wide awake.

USFG Seminar and First Purchase

After the walk it was back to the hotel for a hot shower to thaw out and have breakfast. Then I was off to the Old Pueblo Lapidary Club building for the US Faceters Guild talks.

OPLC club roomThe first presentation was by Dan Lynch and Peter Toracca on faceting as a business. They shared their experiences, good and bad, and provided tips on tools, resources and other topics that would be valuable to an individual who is moving from hobby to professional level faceting.

Peter and Dan had been to Africa recently to help teach the miners in Malawi about the gem trade, gemology and geology.  Malawi is one of the poorest places in Africa, but the gem resources there may be a key to improving life there. They had also been involved for some years in the building of a library for the local children. It was close to completion now and Dan Lynch had several parcels of Malawi garnets available for purchase.  All the money from the sale of the parcels was going to finish the library.  That was a no-brainer for me -- and my first Tucson 2019 purchase was done.

Malawi Garnet parcel

AGTA and GJX Preview

I had expected to spend the entire day at OPLC, but the second presentation of the day was cancelled. I headed back to our hotel which was by the I10 freeway. There was just enough time to get my badges for the AGTA and GJX shows and take a quick peak. AGTA had white carpeting in the ballroom where the Spectrum Award winners were being displayed. I felt guilty walking in there with shoes that had not very long before had to walk through the muddy parking next to the hotel.

At GJX, I located a vendor who had the great prasiolite the previous year and then went by John Dyer’s booth to check out his fantasy cut stones. As usual, he had a couple spectacular gems.  One large morganite square cushion stone looked like fireworks went off in the stone.

Back to USFG Presentations

Then it was time to go back to the OPLC for a presentation on recutting by Boyd Fox. Boyd has been doing a lot of recutting and repair work on expensive gems. He described his approach to reviving a gem and finding the right angle for a particular facet.

The thing that he could not really explain was how he is able to dop the stone so accurately and do it multiple times in a complicated job since he removes stones to check progress. I think most of us in the audience were awed by that part. The best explanation offered by someone in the room was that it gets easier after about 500 stones.

GemologyOnline.com Meet Up

After that talk, I made a brief stop at the hotel to refresh before heading out to the GemologyOnline.com dinner meet up. There was a mix up with respect to the reservations for the group, but the restaurant managed to find space despite it being very busy.

A great group showed up for a couple hours of good food and lots of stories. As last year, it was great to get to know the faces behind the screen names.  And this year, since it was my second time, I got to renew a few acquaintances as well.  Some present had already been to several of the shows and had interesting finds to show off. There was an amazing amount of knowledge about gemology and related subjects in that group.  The evening ended way too soon!





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