Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets
by Judy Ellis
The Tucson gem shows are world-famous, attracting international gem-lovers for close to 50 years to the Tucson desert, the great winter escape that every jewelry artist should take at least once.

Here are some tips for surviving the Tucson gem shows - and if you can't make it this year, you can use this guide for any local gem shows in your area.
Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - , General Education, , Tucson Skyline
Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - , General Education, , JewelryTools Classes banner
Tucson Tips
Things to Bring:

1. A waterbottle and a couple snacks

2. Lots of your business cards

3. Copies of your business license and sales tax license, state resale license or seller's permit, if you are going to a wholesale show. Your state may call them different things, but basically you need something that proves you sell jewelry in your state, and something that proves you collect tax. Some shows make sure that you sell jewelry or related things - so not just any business will get in!

4. A ruler in both inches and millimeters (a 6″ one will work) so you can quickly measure cabochons and strands of beads.

5. A calculator. Your cell phone may have a calculator function: practice using it before the show!

6. Hand sanitizer

7. A camera (always ask vendors first - and some shows may not allow photography)

8. If you're going to outdoor shows, bring sunglasses or a visor or hat, and sunscreen.

9. A jacket. Yes, this is the desert, but it gets chilly at night! Layers are your friend.

10. A Sharpie to mark price and other details on bags of stones

11. A list of the things you want to see, including any gifts you want to find for friends.

12. Don't want to bother driving and parking at each show? Grab a shuttle guide! There are several shuttles that run in between the shows in Tucson and it really makes getting around to all the shows a breeze.

13. Items to remember so you can get in to all the shows. While some shows are open to the public, some of them require proper credentials to get in.
Bring the following and you should be able to get into any show you want:

  • Sales Tax License,
  • A few recent invoices for supplies or gemstones
  • A business cards or business identification.
  • Someone tells me they have big rocks in Tucson.
    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - , General Education, , Big rock in Tucson
    Things to prepare ahead of time:

    14. Dress casually. The gems are the star of the show - so feel free to wear your comfortable shoes and comfortable clothing. For fun, bring a pedometer, so you can brag about how much you walked! (It's going to be a lot! Call it your winter exercise.)

    15. I strongly suggest bringing something such as a canvas bag to stash your purchases in. Many shows give vendors the same bags to use, and it is all to easy to set your bag down to examine a gem, and then not be sure where it went. With all your treasures in a bag that looks like yours, you'll know where yours is at all times - and it's easier to carry, too. This might want to be a bag with wheels, so you don't get tired.

    16. Plan your trip. There are many online guides available for free, and once you get to Tucson, there are many printed guides you can pick up. There's even a shuttle route guide that maps out the free shutttle routes. With a game plan, you'll be able to spend the most time shopping, and very little time deciding what to see next.

    17. Don't buy the first thing you want. Last year I saw a bunch of dyed agate slices and had to have one. But I waited. Sure enough, show after show, I kept seeing the agate slices pop up. I was able to keep track of the prices and then I went back to the vendor who had the best deal.

    18. Take notes on what you see. Comparison shopping is no good unless you know what price was at what booth!

    19. Are there discounts or special offers available to show attendees? Some shows are open to the public, and your wholesale license might give you a discount. At JOGS in booth N1, JewelryTools.com will be offering free shipping and other great deals - stop by for more details :)

    21. Follow up with vendors. Don't just see Tucson as a gem flea market. This is where you could find suppliers you'll reorder from for years and years. So make sure to ask if they will continue to carry the items you're buying, and how you can buy from them after the show.

    22. Set a budget, and use cash if at all possible. Cash is your friend, because not all vendors are set up to take credit cards, or they may require a minimum amount for credit cards. Plus, your bank may get worried and decline charges for fear that your card has been stolen and taken across the country. Lastly, you're less likely to over-spend if you use cash. I bring my budget with me in cash, and give myself an allowance each day, carrying it in my pocket and leaving the rest at home. Then when the money's gone, I stop shopping and go into "looking" mode. If I see something I have to have, I'll come back for it tomorrow. Or, if it's a one-of-a-kind item, I'll give the vendor my business card and let them know I'd like to come back for it the next day.

    23. Tuck away an extra bit of money in case there is something you have to have that you only see as you leave your last show. It happens! You can set this as an amount to withdraw at an ATM (the ATMs will likely charge fees, of course) or keep it in a secret pocket of your wallet.

    24. Plan a way to send your goodies home. I pack a spare purse that I can use as a carry-on for my fragile items on the plane. If you are doing some serious shopping, consider shipping your treasures home via UPS or the Post Office. Savvy Tucson visitors have been known to ship their laundry home via the Post Office, and carry their valuable
    A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration
    We thought it would be fun to do a little show-and-tell of some of the beautiful things brought back by some of our staff members.

    Dry Creek Turquoise set in Sterling Silver
    Pietersite
    Turquoise
    Fire Agate
    #8 Turquoise
    Dendrite Quartz



    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - <b>A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration</b>, General Education, , Dry Creek Turquoise set in Sterling Silver
    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - <b>A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration</b>, General Education, , Peitersite
    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - <b>A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration</b>, General Education, , Turquoise
    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - <b>A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration</b>, General Education, , Fire Agate
    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - <b>A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration</b>, General Education, , #8 Turquoise
    Judy Ellis's Tips for Tucson Shopping- Gem Show Secrets - <b>A Little Show and Tell for Inspiration</b>, General Education, , Dendrite Quartz

    Materials

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    WireJewelry - Ultimate Wire-Pliers Jewelry Pliers with Case, Set of 5
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    • Category: General Education
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