Each winter, we turn our resident creative jewel, Mini, loose in Arizona to search for inspiration! Tucson is home to the largest gem show in the United States. The show takes place every February, when most of the country is chilly. During this time, the bright western sky beckons for a few a days of searching for a list of gemstones needed for repair or custom jobs waiting on our jewelers benches. But also searching for something different…something inspiring…something that we can exclusively claim as ours once designs are drawn and details are decided.
The Tucson Gem Fair is not a jewelry show. Jewelry shows have a specific location, like a ballroom in a hotel or an exhibition hall in a convention center. There are booths with decorations, pipe and drape, and a map pointing you to the numbered booths corresponding to said map. Oh no…not in Tucson.
The Tucson Gem Fair takes place (not so quietly) all over the city, including in the backs of trucks in parking lots, picnic tables set up under trees on the side of the highway, hotel rooms with homemade signs advertising cuts and specialties. It is a bizarre array of gem dealers from all over the world, some in 3 piece suits wielding telescopes and managing pristine work environments. Then there are some in blue jean overalls who look like they just climbed out of bed without combing their beards.
As you navigate this colorful world, you are likely to bump into colleagues from all over the map as well. Fellow retailers and big name jewelry designers flock to Tucson. Our instagram feed fills up with pictures of them dipping their fingers in multi-color jars full of tourmalines or standing next to statues carved out of jasper or massive geodes split open to spill out a world of faceted gems. Fair describes the atmosphere just about right…some vendors are even pouring homemade margaritas or craft beers as you peruse their goods.
This is where Mini found herself wandering with the energy of the crowd…snapping pics that showed all of the eccentricities of the Tucson Gem Fair and texting them back to Charleston where we giggled and wondered what in the world she would tuck into her backpack for the trip back home. Remember, Mini is our homebody, the one that does not like to roam far from home…the one that gets a little homesick whenever she travels…and the one that always keeps Charleston front and center in her mind. So when she happened upon a dealer with flower carved stones in the most beautiful colors of lilac, rose and bottle green…she recognized the palate right away! She bought as many as she could then took off to source stones in contrasting hues that completed the look. Upon arriving home, she took off around town to find special places she knew of from her lifetime of wandering the streets in Charleston. The different color schemes of these special buildings and streets inspired her new line.
We call this line “Bloom Where You’re Planted!” Mini certainly has bloomed where she was planted, and she brings a quirky view of her hometown to all of her creative designs. From baby studs to large studs to multi-flower drops…each pair is made by hand, in house, and sold exclusively here at Croghan’s. We loved it when local photographer, Anne Rhett, jumped on board to photograph all of the buildings and streets that inspired these wonderful earrings! Take a look at the collection and consider a pair for a gift for Mom, a graduate, someone special, or yourself. They are surely to be a reminder of the colorful palette that graces Charleston at all times.