January 24 Through February 4—TUCSON, ARIZONA: Annual show
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 Post subject: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:33 am 
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Tucson 2024 is now largely over.

The crowd was noticeably thinner at Pueblo and GJX compared to last year, which was already down from pre-covid. The inflation and sky-high prices of gemstones are most likely to blame. The folks who visited tended to reduce their time in town to the maximum.

Despite all of that, the first 3 days at GJX were extremely busy and I heard it was the same for the first 2 days at AGTA.
The number of visitors visibly dropped off afterwards, the last 2 days at GJX were quiet. AGTA was a ghost town.

The sticker shock was real for many people, and I’m afraid they aren’t fully ready for that’s to come. I found the prices of some material, such as unheated blue sapphires, to be largely behind of what you see in Asia now. I discussed it in Bangkok last December with a prominent ruby and sapphire dealer who told me the price of fine unheated blue sapphires tripled over the past 3 years.

Price for fine pink/red spinels from Mahenge is absolutely insane now.

How sustainable is that? I have some serious doubts, and I’m not the only one judging from the conversations I had with other dealers in Tucson.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, we found some interesting deals for rough (such as zircon) and faceted stones for recutting. But you had to go hunting for them and not be afraid to buy whole parcels.

I’m not sure how it was for the other shows, probably other members of GO will chime in.

I didn’t have much free time to wander around, only during my last day there. I still managed to snap some pictures.





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An incredible black opal from Lightning Ridge, with 2 completely different color bars. Phenomenal stuff. From Aurora Opals booth in Pueblo show.


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A very large silver bar from the 1622 wreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. Seen at the Big Blue Wreck Salvage booth.


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Sweet fluorites on display at the Main show.

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More mineral wonders at the Main show.


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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 5:31 am 
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Thank you for this report and for the stunning photos .
The black Opal is stunning !!

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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:09 pm 
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I recognize that Opal! It was a stunner and I think they were asking $60k if I recall correctly.

It was my first trip to Tucson so I can’t say much about the crowds but for sure rough prices were higher than expected, and much less quality material than I’d hoped. Lots of different dealers with usual faceting materials but the majority of them had very low quality stuff that you had to really pick through to get anything near clean. And then the prices that were asked were what I’d have expected for clean material.

There were the big known names at 22nd Street and Pueblo with properly graded top-quality rough with prices to match, though not really that much more than the crap dealers, and I didn’t have to spend all the time looking for clean pieces

The best part was finally getting to meet in person many of the people I’ve conversed with through GO and Facebook over the years. I met up with Syed of Hafiz Gemstones, and Farooq who used to run Mine Direct - both dealers I’ve been buying from for perhaps 20 years! As well as Stephen and Tim Challener both at their booth of amazing exotic synthetics and at the GO dinner.

The trip exceeded expectations and I hope to be able to go again. But first I need to start cutting again and finish some of the pieces I bought :D

-Allan

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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 9:38 pm 
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gembug wrote:
I recognize that Opal! It was a stunner and I think they were asking $60k if I recall correctly.


Ahaha, you are more couragous than me, I didn't dare to ask Michelle for the price on that one, knowing I would have to sell my organs to be able to afford it. :lol:
She always has awesome stuff: I still remember vividly the palm-sized, rolling mackerel black opal she had in HK show maybe 10 years ago or so. Mindblowing.

gembug wrote:
It was my first trip to Tucson so I can’t say much about the crowds but for sure rough prices were higher than expected, and much less quality material than I’d hoped. Lots of different dealers with usual faceting materials but the majority of them had very low quality stuff that you had to really pick through to get anything near clean. And then the prices that were asked were what I’d have expected for clean material.


It's not you, it's the reality of the market now. There's less material coming out in many places and the competition is far fiercer than before. Most of the fine rough goes directly to Thailand / Sri Lanka / China.

Glad to hear you had a nice trip in Tucson. It's a fun place and by far my favourite trade show. Much more relaxed and easygoing than the others, and serious business is happening too.


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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2024 9:40 pm 
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More pictures from minerals at the main show. So many beautiful specimens on display, it's hard to pick a favourite.


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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2024 4:04 pm 
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My impressions are broadly similar based on what we saw at 22nd street ( I didn't get to do much wandering). Prices on most things continue to be way up. The big exception was Ethiopian opal which was way down. Sellers said it was just overproduction. Quality was good and rough that might have been 15-25/g a few years back was more like 8 and down, even less with a bigger purchase. I don't even do much with Ethiopian opal anymore but I bought a fair amount including several to hopefully get some nice pics of through the microscope. I also got some cut stones for my dad that came out to about 13/ct for extremely nice cabochons with very vivid play of color and bases ranging from transparent to dark brown, I couldn't believe the quality for the price.

I did snork a couple other deals here and there: light green Nigerian spodumene (maybe really light toned hiddenite), big pieces and mostly clean for 1/g, some aquamarines that should star when cabbed and a parcel from Madagascar with a 3g rough alexandrite in it (yellow green to red), plus a bunch of dops and some index gears.

We ended up doing 98% in sales of what we did last year at 22nd street but the distribution was totally different. Last year was a pretty hot start and the last weekend was totally dead, this year it started slow and the last weekend was very good. The ovearll number of sales was larger too. It's hard for us to compare though since last year we were in the back corner of the 22nd street north tent (which used to be a separate tent entirely, very bad for findability) and this year we were in the middle of the main tent closer to a door.

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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2024 2:10 am 
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Stephen Challener wrote:
My impressions are broadly similar based on what we saw at 22nd street [...]
We ended up doing 98% in sales of what we did last year at 22nd street but the distribution was totally different. Last year was a pretty hot start and the last weekend was totally dead, this year it started slow and the last weekend was very good. The ovearll number of sales was larger too. It's hard for us to compare though since last year we were in the back corner of the 22nd street north tent (which used to be a separate tent entirely, very bad for findability) and this year we were in the middle of the main tent closer to a door.


Two of my colleagues and I stopped by your booth toward the end of the show. The crazy fluorescence of your LuAG was fun to see in person!
We purchased a couple of samples of various types of YAG for fun; I can send you some pictures when they are done if you are interested.

Now that I’ve garnered a bit of more feedback from several exhibitors, it really appears that this 2024 edition was a mixed bag in terms of results.

We had a good show, as did a portion of the sellers in AGTA and GJX, but many didn’t. Some Sri Lankan vendors complained they sold virtually nothing. Other said they managed to “salvage the show in the end”, which isn’t an encouraging description.

Quite a shift from 2022, when everyone had an excellent show (Covid lockdown revenge spending spree and all), despite the already declining attendance numbers compared to the pre-covid years.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend continued in the 2025 edition. Time will tell.


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 Post subject: Re: Tucson 2024 memory lane.
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2024 5:32 pm 
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I'm a bit late to this thread -- slowly getting caught up after two weeks in Tucson. The first, my normal Tucson adventures. The second one was as a dealer at the TGMS show.

I am in agreement with the previous comments. Attendance seemed down. I was amazed that there was no line to pick up credentials at AGTA -- even early on the opening day. The aisles did not seem crowded.

Likewise, Pueblo seemed down. There were times when there wasn't any line for the ladies' restroom! The showcase tent at 22nd street seemed to have a reasonable crowd, but the main tent did not seem as crowded as I have seen it before. JOGS was similar to the 22nd showcase.

Prices for rough didn't shock me. I went through the sticker shock a few years back.

For the second week, I was somewhat disappointed. It was my first time as a dealer there so I wasn't sure what to expect. My previous experience at that show was 2019 when it was very crowded and it appeared people where actually buying.

The bright side for me during the first week was that dealers of fine faceted materials had time to chat and shared some useful perspectives.

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