If It’s February, This Must Be Tucson

If you thought the economic slowdown would mean easy-to-navigate, bargain-filled gem shows in Tucson this year, you were in for a shock. The aisles of the major shows were filled with retailers and designers looking at well-stocked gem cases and familiar prices. Outside, long lines of show-goers waited to register, and parking lots overflowed. Bargains were few, unless you wanted moderate-quality pearls, including the Chinese freshwater cultured pearls. In fact, the Chinese pearls were downright cheap. And with no other "stone du jour," that's the real story of Tucson. CFWCPs. For the past three years, the industry has been watching as the size, quality, and quantity of Chinese freshwater cultured pearls (CFWCPs) all increased. As some predicted, those increases are now affecting prices. Most of the CFWCPs were selling for $20 or less. Taj Company, with booths at four different shows,

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