Tucson 2019 - Day 2 - AGTA, GJX and Seminars

 Spectrum Competition Meeting

After another brisk sunrise walk around Sentinel Peak and the breakfast offerings at the hotel, it was off to the Tucson Convention center (a one mile walk from the hotel) for an 8:30 session with AGTA about their Spectrum Awards competition. I had never really read the competition rules – by the time my faceting was getting to the level where I might start considering it, life had me heading off in another direction.

Recently I heard that there had been some issues with how the competition was being handled that upset many of the US gem cutters and jewelry designers.  I was curious to learn what the situation really was. From what I could see of past award winners, it did seem like the one with the deepest pockets was likely to be the winner in certain categories. For instance, excellence of cutting did not seem to be obvious in the classic stone category (emerald, ruby, sapphire).  

There was a good dialog during the session. The AGTA staff listened to the complaints and seemed to be willing to address a couple of items. For instance, when a piece of jewelry was the result of a collaboration effort, the existing rules allowed for only one name to be placed on the entry. With respect to other issues, the AGTA told the attendees to come up with specific proposals for consideration.  They cautioned that they could not expand the competition to add a lot of additional categories.

Overall, a good hour for me coming away with a much better understanding of what goes on for a piece to win a Spectrum Award. Plus I got to meet some nice people who are among those who had won the Spectrum.


Then it was out to the show floor where there was booth after booth showing sapphires, emeralds, jewelry and other gemstones of all types. I was thrilled to meet Michael Dyber at his booth and find him so willing to share his experience. Several of his gemstone carvings were quartz with large flat beautifully polished surfaces. I asked how he managed to accomplish that as I have, like many other faceters, found that quartz can be troublesome. He explained, not only that he did all his “faceting” by hand holding the stones, but he described the tools he made and used for the process.

Colored Stone Price Guide Seminar

It wasn’t too long before another seminar of interest was scheduled. During the USFG talks there was mention of a colored stone pricing guide that a couple of the pros found useful. The company that creates that guide had a seminar explaining the various grading categories and how they interacted to come up with a grade for use with the pricing guide.

Their view of grading diverged from what my old GIA course had offered, but basically was closer to what I believed useful. The bad news was that their guide is not inexpensive and it sounded as if it required purchase of an equally pricey color guide in order to make use of the subscription.

More of the AGTA show

Next, back on the show floor to continue exploring the exhibits. Last year I bought a two pieces of sunstone rough there. The mine owner was quite friendly and gave out a GIA produced DVD about his operation. In the past year, we used that DVD as a program for the San Luis Obispo Gem and Mineral Club and it was a big hit with those in attendance. I stopped by the booth to let him know how much the movie was enjoyed. Also, I wanted to get his opinion on the one sunstone I had gotten around to cutting to be sure that I was on the right track for faceting those gems.


Then my schedule directed me to head across the street to the GJX tent. There the aisles were narrower and seemed more crowded. As I cruised along the first row of booths, I was surprised to see some folks there I did not expect to see until the TGMS the following week. After a brief catch up conversation, I got back to walking up and down the aisles.

prasiolite rough parcelEventually I reached the Brazilian vendor who had the nicest prasiolite last year. And there was plenty more this year. I came away with a few large pieces. These will get sawn into more manageable sizes and be perfect to use over the next few months as I learn to use some of the more advanced features of the Ultra Tec Fantasy machine I recently acquired.

At that point there was still at least have of the show to check out. In that second half I found an African rough vendor that I remember from last year having reasonable pricing and decent looking materials. I was planning to purchase something from them then, but the broken wrist issue got in the way and I did not have the energy to find their booth in the large hall. Their materials this year were similar, so I made some notes and got an idea of pricing before finishing my GJX scouting expedition.

Entry of Pueblo showI finished up the GJX a little ahead of my schedule so I was able to swing by the Pueblo show on the way back to the hotel and get some ideas of rough there and pricing.





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