Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bring on the Beads for 2011

It’s a new year and with that comes the excitement of seeing what the new trends in beading will be this year. I get excited about learning new techniques and I can hardly wait to see some of the new products. Then of course you can’t start out the New Year without new beads!

If you have been a beadaholic for a while now and browsed through a few beading magazines I am sure you have heard in passing about The Tucson Bead Show. Well Tucson is more then just a city in Arizona and Arizona is known for more then just great turquoise jewelry. From the end of January to the middle of February the city of Tuscon turns into the world’s largest treasure hunt known as “The Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show”.

From January 29th through February 13th the city of Tucson will host 40 different show sites located in hotels, convention centers, fair grounds and tents. Many shows are taking place at the same time so you can hit a few different locations in one day if you are feeling so ambitious. The main event is located at The Tucson Convention Center located in the heart of the city and features the most amazing display of rocks, fossils, gems, minerals, jewelry, beads, dinosaurs, and meteorites of all time. This is the 57th year for the show and the theme for 2011 will be “Minerals of California”

This is truly like the Disney Land of beads being it is the largest show of this kind in the United States.  To get around to the different show locations, there are shuttles that do run from hotels and venues. Take lots of extra cash or credit cards because there are so many rare gems and jewels that you will not see anywhere else. Plan to pack comfortable clothes and shoes. It is pretty mild and comfortable this time of year in Arizona so it is a great time to go west. Some shows get a bit crowded so be prepared and try to arrive early. You will want to bring a rolling bag or several different bags for shopping and transporting your goods. Many people end up shipping their goods home so they do not have to lug them around or bring them on the airplane. Many of these shows are retail shows and there are no admission fees. There are a few wholesale only shows so you do want to look up that information before you go to that location. If you do have a wholesale license bring several copies with you for you may have to give a copy to the seller. Also, wholesale shows do require you to register so go early to fill out any paper work.

So where does one start to shop? Try and get a good idea of what you might be looking for. As mentioned above you can go online and view a show guide and get a list of vendors and the wares they are selling. Importers come from all over the world so you will see many rare gems. I am a pearl girl myself so I love to hit the vendors from the orient to see what sort of great deals I can find and look for pearls that have great luster and finish. If you are looking for fine gems you can buy diamonds and rubies if you are so inclined at insane prices. The” J.O.G.S” show is recommended for both pearls and rare stones and other amazing treasures. You can’t come to Tuscan though without at least checking out the amazing selection of Turquoise. You can find some great Turquoise from local Arizona mines as well as imported from Mexico, China and other exotic places. Once again there are many great bargains to be had with a little bit of investigation.

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I really enjoy the “To Bead True Blue” show as well as the “Whole Bead” show.  There are 500 exhibitors, workshops, and forums to choose from. You will see bead making, lapidary art, art couture, artistic glass, textile, art jewelry, embellishment, metalwork, clay art, wearable art, enameling, collectible, antiquities, and interior décor –together with wholesale artisan suppliers and direct importers to the trade. Many big companies like Swarovski, Terra Cast and Rio Grande have booths at this show and you can get a preview of there newest products before they even hit your local bead shops. There are also workshops and classes you can take but not all show locations offer them. “To Bead True Blue” dose offer a unique listing of classes offered by some great artists and instructors. No matter what your bead interest or skill levels are this is a must hit show.

As I mentioned above the main event is at The Tuscan Convention Center which is sponsored by The Tuscan Gem and Mineral Society Inc… You can see private collections of fossils, gems and dinosaurs that are rare and unusual which can give you an opportunity to make this a family event. It offers some great educational opportunities as far as history, culture and science. Plus the city of Tuscan has so many great sites to visit. I find the whole experience very inspiring and it gets me excited to do more beading, learn more and buy more beads!

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