Brrrrrr. I just arrived in frigid New York City for a week of jewelry events culminating at this weekend’s GEM Awards and 24 Karat gala dinners. My mind, however, is somewhere else. I’m fixated on Tucson, where I’ll be on Feb. 1 for the opening of the third annual JCK Tucson show. The show runs through Saturday, Feb. 4, at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa, a gorgeous five-star property perched amid the hills overlooking the city.
The JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa
The Sonoran Desert is a perfect place to spend a week in winter. If you’re already planning to be in Arizona for the Centurion show, which concludes in Scottsdale on Feb. 1, or you’re coming to Tucson for the gem shows, anchored by the AGTA GemFair, no excuses! JCK Tucson is just eight minutes from downtown Tucson, and to make things extra easy for you, shuttles run every 30 minutes between both locations.
If sunny skies, cheap and delicious Mexican food, and gems for days aren’t enough to lure you, here are five additional reasons why you don’t want to miss this year’s event.
1. JCK Tucson is home to some of the country’s best designers.
Tucson is a hub for loose gems and minerals. JCK Tucson adds a much-needed finished jewelry dimension to gem week, with a focus on handmade, artisanal design. Here are just a few of the names that will be exhibiting this year: Pamela Froman, Suzy Landa, Todd Reed, Elizabeth Garvin, Atelier Zobel, Alishan, and Adel Chefridi. Fans of John Atencio will be delighted to learn that after years of not exhibiting within the trade, the Denver-based designer will make his big comeback at JCK Tucson.
Apollo oval link necklace in sterling silver with 14k gold with toggle clasp; johnatencio.com
Facet earrings in oxidized silver with green amethyst; elizabethgarvin.com
Raw Elegance pearl necklace in 18k yellow gold with 198.95 t.w. cts. pearls, 9.4 cts. t.w. white brilliant diamonds, and 0.115 ct. t.w. raw diamonds; toddreed.com
2. The show offers multiple opportunities to schmooze with the industry’s movers and shakers.
Meet and be inspired by luminaries of the trade at a series of Fireside Chats that will take place in the Arizona Ballroom Lounge on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and Friday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m., and on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m. The informal talks will feature John Atencio, Teresa Frye of TechForm Casting, Marylouise Sirignano Lugosch of the Contemporary Jewelry Design Group, Patricia Faber of Aaron Faber, Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel, and more.
On Thursday at 6 p.m., members of WJA, Gen-Next Jewelers, and the AGS Young Titleholders come together for the Gems After Dark celebration, which will include tequila tastings, stargazing, and a series of talks dubbed The Passion Project, which feature presenters talking about their passions outside of the jewelry trade. Click here to RSVP.
3. Where else can you do good by doing yoga?
On Wednesday and Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., JCK Tucson will host a yoga session on the JW Marriott’s Meecha Lawn. Your $10 admission fee will go directly to Jewelers for Children.
4. You’ll find everything from manufacturing help to totally legit Burmese rubies.
The show’s Tucson Ballroom houses the MJSA Pavilion, home to brands such as Gemvision (by Stuller) and TechForm Casting. Meanwhile, a new Myanmar Pavilion features Burmese exhibitors selling, among other things, homegrown rubies and jade, both of which became legal last October, when President Obama ended the 8-year-old embargo against them.
5. You can wake up to a Navajo ritual and close the day with a tequila toast.
My twin sister, Julia, and my dear friends Anna and Jen will be joining me at JCK Tucson this year. We are obsessed with the Mitakuye Oyasin morning ritual, led by a Navajo tribesman every morning at 7:30 a.m. on JW Marriott’s Salud Terrace. While burning sage and invoking his ancestors, he reminds us to focus our attention on the beauty of the surrounding desert and the awesome sight of the rising sun. It’s a powerful way to greet the day. By the same token, the JW Marriott’s tequila toast ritual is a perfect way to close it. In between, you’ll find food trucks, daily happy hours, and proximity to some of the best hiking Tucson has to offer.
If you’re looking for the perfect launchpad for your gem week adventures, look no further than the JCK Tucson show at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass. See you there!
(Photo at top: Facets earrings by Elizabeth Garvin)