Yearly Archives: 2013

A Buying Guide for Turquoise with Sunwest Silver

Sunwest Silver - Turquoise pendant and bracelet

Ernie Montoya started Sunwest Silver years ago, and has built it into one of the world’s largest turquoise suppliers, with six mines of its own, and over 30 different varieties of turquoise in stock. Famed throughout history, this beautiful blue stone has had a special place in the hearts and minds of the Native American peoples of the American Southwest, and every year at JOGS the world gets a chance to purchase some of the finest materials available.

Sunwest Silver - Turquoise Necklaces

Join us as we speak with Stacey Turpen, the man who is in charge of Sunwest’s turquoise from the time it is mined, while it is shaped and cut, and finally matched with the right buyers. Stacey explains how to judge turquoise on hardness, color, and matrix; how to avoid buying fake or imitation turquoise; and which types of turquoise are most appropriate for various uses.

Fine Points of Lapis Lazuli with Mr. Shah from Khyber Stone & Empire Gems

Khyber Stone - Empire Gems - Lapis Gemstone from Afghanistan

Mr. Qaiser Shah from Khyber Stone–a subsidiary of Empire Gems–is perhaps the best person in the world to discuss lapis lazuli with. When Mr. Shah is not at the international gem shows-here we caught him at JOGS 2012-he is traveling back and forth between Germany and Afghanistan, preparing a brilliant selection of stones for the world market. With Mr. Shah, we explore the various rough and cut pieces he has to offer.

In this video, we are taught what qualities to look for in lapis, a stone denoted by the deep blue color flecked by pyrite. Learn what to look for in imitations, and how to select a fine piece for your own uses. From the times of ancient Egypt throught the present, whether for jewelry, display or carving, this stone has held the eye of mankind for thousands of years.

Le Stage Minerals Presents Fine Amethyst from Uruguay

Le Stage Minerals Large Clam Shell Purple Amethyst

Mr Tambucho, a fine and charming man, is one of the finest guides to selecting excellent amethyst. His expertise arises from many years of working with Le Stage Minerals of Uruguay, one of the world’s top producers and the possessor of the world’s largest amethyst specimen.

Every year JOGS brings Le Stage to Tucson for the gem show and every year the most beautiful and interesting specimens of amethyst come with them. Their selection is largely a variety of decorative pieces, from cabinet specimens to large (huge) clam shell jewelry boxes or ‘treasure chests’ created from enormous geodesic amethysts.

Le Stage Minerals Amethyst from Uruguay

In this video, Mr Tambucho discusses the variety of crystals available and the qualities to look for when purchasing fine pieces. Visit them on the web at or find them on Facebook. Better yet: Visit Le Stage at JOGS 2014 during the Tucson Gem Show!

Blue Mountain Turquoise Features Artisan Created Knives

Blue Mountain Turquoise Knife Set

One of the more interesting ideas that we’ve come across at the JOGS show in 2012 was the matching of a homes’ stone decor to the items used in the same room…for example, Blue Mountain Turquoise explains how stone left over from your kithen’s countertops can be turned into handles for sets of knives–raising them from the status of utensils to that of home decor.

Blue Mountain Turquoise Knife Display

For the interior designer, matching sets of kitchen utensils which accent the counters and hard surfaces of the kitchen were once only a dream…here we see how they can become reality-and beautiful as well. Join us as we learn how and why this magic occurs, and see what the fine folks at Blue Mountain can do for you.

Abdul Gardezy’s ‘Brilliant Design’ and Fabulous Gems

Of course, we were very pleased to get a few minutes time with Abdul Gardezy of Brilliant Design, a jewelry designer extraordinaire. Perhaps the best term I can think of for his work is ‘over-the-top classic jewelry’ and when you see the amazing stones he has incorporated into his work, the phrase will be easy to understand.

Brilliant Design - 18kt gold Amethyst Pendant

In this video, we are introduced to the pin/pendant combination featuring a 200 carat tourmaline set in 18kt gold; an enormous gem of amethyst set as a stunning pendant; and more. Sourcing his stones globally, often during personal visits, but also from his fellow exhibitors at the winter JOGS show in Tucson, Mr Gardezy sometimes spends years with a gem before figuring just the perfect setting.

Brilliant Design - White Opal Ring

We welcome you to join us in our visit to this selection of wonderful custom design jewelry, and the man who is responsible for brining it to life!

Diamond jewelry and loose cut precious stones by Neotric Gems

Neotric Gems with Mr Mittal and Asha

My mission this for this year’s Tucson Gem and Mineral Show has been to find the hard-to-find, the unusual and the rare. Thankfully, my task is a relatively easy one, at least on the surface. As the visitor, whether buyer or exhibitor, to these annual shows knows; there are a million points of interest to be found. True to form however, it can take some digging to find those things that are a little extra special.

One of those things I found was an exhibitor with some exceptional cut aquamarines of the clearest blue. Brought to Tucson by Texas dealer Neotric Gems, I had the opportunity to view and discuss them with Mr Prem Mittal and his lovely wife Asha. After 12 years of providing top notch diamond jewelry and loose cut precious stones, it is of little surprise to find some real treasures in their displays. They were gracious enough to take a few minutes out of their busy routine to show off the stones and give some buying tips for those of us who admire the aquamarine.

“As with any other cut precious stone, you must always remember ‘Cut, Color and Clarity.'” Mr. Mittal advised. “The aquamarine is no different, the better the cut, the bluer the color and the fewer inclusions, the better.”

Neotric Gems - Aquamarine Cutstone

He pulled out a few of the aquamarines I had come in hopes of finding. Each was a large stone, emerald cut, and of such a stunning blue, I had to wonder if they were indeed aquamarines! “Indeed, these are aquamarines, all natural in color, no green-only this lovely blue. And please, notice how clear they are, they are very fine examples.” So they were. While it is not a rare occurrence to encounter such brilliant blue of high clarity when shopping for aquamarines, it is indeed rare to find them of such large size and brilliance.

Neotric Gems - tourmaline

The Mittals agreed, they were both smiling broadly as I spoke my thoughts. “We have been very happy about the client’s reactions to these stones, it has been very positive. So few stones of this size are seen, we are very lucky to have them.” I agree. If the average price, a shockingly low average of about $10000 hadn’t been out of my budget this year, I certainly would have taken a pair of them home, I already know what I would do with them…

Neotric Gems - Victorian inspired large bangles adorned with diamonds, and ruby or emerald accents

I had to sigh as well, about the line of jewelry the Mittals said were moving the fastest this year: gorgeous Victorian inspired large bangles adorned with diamonds, and ruby or emerald accents, these $12,500 dollar bracelets were simply some of the nicest I’ve seen this year. Avoiding the over-ornamentation of some Victorian pieces, there is nevertheless the same regal spirit in these bracelets so often associated with that era. I had to say “Perhaps next year…” with my fingers crossed.

It’s a good thing that the JOGS show is an annual event, because we can all be sure that when ‘next year’ rolls around, we already know where to go.

Al Zuni Global Jewelry and Spiny Oyster Jewelry

Each year, JOGS brings the best wholesale dealers to Tucson, along with their expertise and quality inventory. Al Zuni Global Jewelry has a history as a premier dealer in Native American jewelry, and they are proudly featured at the Southwestern Pavilion.

Al Zuni - Orange Spiny Oyster Necklace with various colorsAlZuni - Orange, Blue and Green Spiny Oyster Necklace AssortmentAl Zuni - Spiny Oyster Necklaces

When it comes to selecting jewelry, it is very important to be familiar with the components in order to make a good purchase. In this video, Mr. Khalaf shows us all how to best select pieces made with this exotic shell.

As discussed in the video, the Santo Domingo tribe produces some of the most colorful jewelry with shades of purples and oranges that are primarily found in the shell of the Spiny Oyster. Join us as we discuss what to look for, and what to pay, for these beautiful pieces.

– James S.

Kachina Country of Milan, NM

Every year at JOGS, one of the best known trading posts in America brings the world a selection of beautiful and exotic Native American arts. Featuring a brilliant selection of kachina dolls and Native American jewelry from the tribes of the Southwest, Kachina Country is the place to find what you’re after.

Kachina Country Navajo Dolls

Whether you want one-of-a-kind artist-carved kachinas, or a line of custom made dolls, Kachina Country is the place to find them. Roy, the owner, has a factory on site with Native artisans creating great works, and also has unique pieces created by his network of artists. Badger, Mudhead, or Eagle, this is the place for your kachina needs.

Kachina Country Navajo DollsKachina Country Navajo DollsKachina Country Navajo Dolls

If you happen to be after Native American jewelry as well, there is a wide variety of Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi jewelry available. Vintage or new, you can find gorgeous pieces of sterling silver jewelry set with turquoise, coral and jet, in all price ranges.

Beautiful Emeralds by El Refugio del sol

Just inside the west entrance at the Tucson Expo Center by Irvington and Palo Verde Roads, are some of the best emeralds to be found at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Refugio Del Sol, one of the first booths you will come upon at the 10th Annual JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show. The booth hosts not only the charming Molina family, but also some of the most beautiful emeralds available anywhere.

Helmed by Hernando Molina, and staffed by the next generation of Molinas embodied in Sebastian and Alejandro, Refugio Del Sol—Shelter of the Sun—is quite aptly named. A warm, bright and tranquil spot in the middle of what is often the busiest spot of the gem show—JOGS Show’s entry hallway. For the seventh year running, Tucson and much of the world have known for the past 7 years that these were the men to see for fine 18kt jewelry bedecked with fantastic Colombian emeralds, and a surprisingly wide variety of fine loose emeralds as well.

When they had a moment, which is pretty rare given how busy they are, the Molinas answered a few questions regarding their business, and the market as they’re experiencing it this year. “The first few days this year are the best we’ve seen for the last few years, there was definitely a pick up in traffic. It has evened out but it still is good.” What’s selling the best this year? “Of course, loose stones are our specialty so they are selling very well. We noticed also that rings are a very big seller this year, everyone is buying rings, rings, rings.”

Another customer stepped up, and I had to leave. A quick question—what has brought this exhibitor back to JOGS for so long? “The promoter, Vitaliy M. really does and excellent job of promoting the shows, and every year we get more customers, so we always come back.” Here’s hoping we see more of the Refugio Del Sol and their wonderful gems at the 2014 JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show!


– James S.

Cross Cultural Creations Brings Hill Tribe Designs to Tucson

As testament to the incredibly wide variety of exhibitors hosted at the Tucson Expo Center by JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show, we found a dealer here with a gorgeous selection of tribal jewelry as well as their own line of tribal inspired jewelry. This was a delight to find among all of the gems and beads and contemporary designs which are the stock in trade of JOGS.

Cross Cultural Creations, and its two principals Ben Chaffee and Alex Zinn, are only 3 years old as a business concern, but their wares are ‘as old as the hills’ one might say. When I had a chance to chat with Mr. Chaffee, he explained to me the inspiration for their designs come from the centuries-old traditions of the Hmong peoples, as well as some of the other regional hill-tribes in Southeast Asia.

Leading me to one side of their exhibitor booth, Mr. Chaffee described trips to the hinterlands of Laos and Thailand in search of the region’s traditional jewelry, and explained the appeal the pieces hold for visitor’s at the show, “It is not only the design itself that seems to attract the attention of buyers, but the materials as well. There is a certain tone to the metal—it is 30-40 percent silver, the rest being mostly copper—that gives a timeless look that seems to have a great appeal.” The next table over abounded with Cross Cultural Creations’ own unique designs, many of which are inspired directly by traditional Hmong style; others feature the materials native to the region combined with contemporary western sensibilities.

Gesturing to an interesting necklace of silvery feathers, Mr Chaffee explained that the wholesale buyers have been buying mostly necklaces “Like this one, which is actually zinc, a nice alternative to sterling at this time when everyone is conscious of cost; it has the great look, but at much less than you’d normally expect to spend. With a price point of about $20 it has probably been our best selling piece this year. Our bracelets from the Hmong people themselves have also been great sellers, and at about $100 to $150 each, they’re really going great.”

While this is only their first time at JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show, or attending TGMS, they are already planning their return next year. “Vitaliy (Maysenberg) has really done a great job of promoting this show, and we’ve done great business, we’re definitely looking at coming back next year.”

You can find out more about this exhibitor at their website– or by finding them on Facebook.