Tucson Gem Shows 2020: Where and How to Shop With Daria de Koning

The 2020 Tucson gem shows kick off officially at the end of the month. Since jewelry designer Daria de Koning has pounded this pavement plenty of times before, I wanted to know: a) what was on her shopping list this year, and b) if she had any tips for jewelry professionals who have logged less mileage—or are heading into the fray for the first time.

The List

“I’m not hunting a specific gemstone per se, but I am looking for specific shapes and colors that I know sell well with my clients: round, oval, pear, angular, and the colors I’m looking for are blue, green, gray/white, some pinks, and yellows,” says de Koning.

 The Shopping Strategy

“For the most part, I walk with my head down looking only at gems in cases until I find something that catches my eye. I try to stick with buying what I need to flesh out my collection, but I am a rock junkie and I often can’t turn down something fabulous.

“I’m always interested in being exposed to new gemstones that I was previously unaware of, plus anything that is unique and different. After all, what you see one year is not there the next, so you have to splurge sometimes. What is that fabulous thing? I’m never sure, but I know it when I see it.”

Last year’s gem hunt unearthed two unexpected finds for de Koning: some egg-shape Siberian cat’s-eye pink tourmaline and natural tanzanite slabs.

Daria de Koning siberia pink tourmaline pendant
The Siberian cat’s-eye pink tourmaline centerpiece of the bracelet pictured at top detaches from the links and can be worn as a pendant on a textured 18k gold chain (above; scroll down for full details). “That egg-size hot pink is ridiculous,” says de Koning. “I’d never seen anything like it.”
Daria de.Koning Waterfall earrings
One-of-a-kind Waterfall earrings with natural tanzanite drops, aquamarine, rainbow moonstone, and faceted oval tourmaline plus accents of apatite and rose-cut light gray diamonds in 18k yellow gold, $19,500

The Advice

  • Give yourself plenty of time to take it all in and get to all the shows. My main shows are AGTA, GJX, and Pueblo, but don’t ignore the farther out/more obscure shows. There’s always that one random vendor that has just what you want.
  • Search the shows’ aisles like a grid, and you won’t miss a thing.
  • Go with a max budget in mind. That way you can estimate how many stones you can get for “x” dollars. There will always be those splurge stones that might set you over, which is okay, but you know you can’t buy only stones that each cost $5,000 or you won’t have enough pieces for your collection when you come away.
  • Make sure to bring a backpack (best so your hands/shoulders are free) and/or a tote bag with a zipper. You’d be amazed at how much stuff you pick up.
  • I always wear sneakers or hiking shoes (lots of walking!), bring a scarf or sweater (it can get cold), plus bring a large bottle of water (you will get dehydrated).
  • The shows are exhausting because it’s a lot of mental stimulation in addition to the walking, so bring a snack (there are lots of food trucks, but if you like something specific, bring it) and make sure to take breaks to recharge.


Top: One-of-a-kind Eye of Siberia bracelet with an egg-size, 84.2 ct. Siberian cat’s-eye pink tourmaline, diamonds, pink tourmaline cabochons, and navy iolite in 18k gold, $54,000


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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