The Wide World of Gems

Every year, I look forward to the first week of February and my annual pilgrimage to Tucson, home to scores of events celebrating colored stones.

The 10th edition of the high-end Centurion show kicked things off. Held at the ­Westin La Paloma located north of the city center, with the Santa Catalina Mountains as backdrop, the event offers the perfect mixture of prestige, elegance, and laid-back fun.

In what is hopefully a great sign for the year ahead, the show was hopping! Exhibitors were fully booked with appointments, retailers placed orders…even the noise level was exciting. By the end of the show, the exhibitors had a happy look of exhaustion we haven’t seen in years. Congrats to Howard Hauben and his terrific team on a successful show. Centurion moves to the luxurious Phoenician Hotel in Phoenix next year (a little more than an hour away). We’ll miss the La Paloma, but we look forward to the show’s new incarnation.

JCK publisher Mark Smelzer, JCK editor in chief Victoria Gomelsky, gem dealer Tom Cushman, and Gemfields CEO Ian Harebottle at the Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association gala dinner in Tucson

Every year, our fantastic sales team at ?JCK takes advantage of being together in T­ucson for a one-day sales retreat at the beautiful JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa. We began the day with a (cold!) 7:30 a.m. hike through the saguaro cactus-­covered hills. Our day was packed, as we needed to get up to speed on the new advertising opportunities on, all of our show products, and our exciting, new, “reborn” JCK Show Daily. Look out for it at JCK Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, June 3–6.

Wednesday night was the annual Cultured Pearl Association of America party at the Cushing Street Bar & Grill. JCK sponsored the event this year, and our host, Kathy Grenier of Imperial Deltah Pearls, went all out to make the party a smash. (The navy aprons, worn by the staff and emblazoned with the JCK logo, were a great touch.)

Victoria Gomelsky and Bill Furman, JCK’s group sales director, hike through Tucson’s saguaro cactus-covered hills to jump-start a one-day sales retreat for the publishing team.

Congrats also go to Doug Hucker, executive director of the American Gem Trade Association, on a successful GemFair! The energy on the show floor was high, and optimism about the year ahead was evident all around.

The best thing about Gem Week in Tucson is the vibe. I like to think of it as the Indiana Jones part of our business—the world of the international gem trade. On Thursday evening, one of those international adventurers, Ian Harebottle, the CEO of Gemfields, a Zambian emerald mining company, was honored at the Indian Diamond and ­Colorstone Association annual awards dinner. Ian is a South African, raising his family in Tanzania. JCK editor in chief Victoria Gomelsky, group sales director Bill Furman, and I were honored to be his guests. Among our fellow guests were gem dealer Tom Cushman and his beautiful wife, Emma, who split their time between their homes in Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Sun Valley, Idaho.

The gem trade’s globetrotting cast of characters is yet another reason I love this wonderful international business. Next up is the JA Show here in New York City, and then Baselworld. See you there!

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