Kino Gem and Mineral Show 2015 - Pavilion Tent

Kino Gem and Mineral Show Pavilion Tent
Kino Gem and Mineral Show Pavilion Tent

The Kino Gem and Mineral Show is one of the largest shows held during the February Tucson Gem Fair season. It is held at the Kino Sports Complex at the southern end of town, closer to the airport. This show is open to both the public and wholesale buyer. 

There is ample free parking at the Kino Show and the gem fair shuttles regularly come to pick up buyers to take them to nearby shows. 

No Parking At 22nd Street Gem Shows

Some of the shows, like the Pueblo Show, have no parking available except for valet. Most of the hotels that are hosting the Peublo gem show and the other shows along 22nd street and S. Freeway will not allow you to park in their parking lots. There are private parking lots two or more blocks from the show that cost between $3 to $5. 

Kino Gem and Mineral Show Map

Kino Gem and Mineral Show Map

The first main tent just off the parking lot is the Pavilion tent, which houses 146 vendors. The majority sell beads and finished jewelry. 

Comparing to the pro shows, like the G&LW, the bead prices in the Pavilion tent were generally higher. However, for certain types of beads, the prices were lower. I found most vendors willing to lower their prices by a few dollars. None were willing to give big discounts.

Here are some price comparisons:
  • Medium sized opalite beads were $4 to $5 a 15" strand both at Kino and pro shows.
  • Prehenite beads were $20. Some of the pro vendors sold the same beads for $12 a strand, but the quality of was lower.
  • Large larimar beads (15mm) were $300 a strand. The pro vendors were selling the same size but lesser quality for $120/strand
  • Larimar cabochons were selling for $1.00/carat. At the pro shows, larimar was sold for at least $2.00/carat.
  • Aquamarine beads were expensive at both the Kino and the pro shows at $20+/strand.  
  • Large rose quartz beads were from $18 a strand, similar pricing as the pro shows. 
  • Large clear quartz beads (15mm) were $20 a strand at Kino. The same type of beads at the pro shows were $50 or more!
**Tip: Prices dramatically fall on the last day of any show. 

Kino Gem and Mineral beads
Kino Gem and Mineral beads

Kino Gem and Mineral beads

Minnesota Vendors at Kino

After seeing the 50th vendor at a show, your eyes start to glaze over and everything starts to look the same. So I was very surprised when my attention was drawn to a finished jewelry vendor, Diamonds, Gems and Pearls, who had a large selection of loose gemstones. I was happy to learn that they were from my home state of Minnesota. In addition to selling at gem shows, this company also runs a jewelry store in Minnetonka, called Tatyana's Jewelry. Owner, Tatyana Vyalkin, designs jewelry pieces, cuts the gem from rough, and sets the finished gemstones in the jewelry. 

Diamonds, Gems, and Pearls at Kino
Diamonds, Gems and Pearls at Kino

diamond cut rhodolite
2 karat diamond cut rhodolite

Diamonds, Gems, and Pearls had a huge assortment of rhodolite garnet, my favorite gemstone. Their rhodolite was a very high grade which exhibited the pink-red color with lots of lively flashes and not too dark.

LED gem loupe
LED 60x gem loupe

I took out my 60x gem loupe and asked to see some of their best rhodolite gemstones. I saw the characteristic cross-hair type inclusions that positively identify the stone as a rhodolite garnet. Cool!

rhodolite inclusions

Rhodolite garnet cross-hair inclusions

Buying Gemstones 

I was looking at rhodolite garnets at a pro show a few days later, and couldn't find any inclusions within the stones. The absence of any inclusions means that further testing must be done to conclude the identification of the stone. However, in the busy environment of a show, further testing would be near impossible. Please check out my post on gem testing equipment.

The best way to positively ID stones that have no inclusions is to send them to a lab. Luckily, the GIA  (Gemological Institute of America) operates a testing booth at the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) show during the first week of the Tucson show. However, you will need to be a pro to have access to the AGTA show, so this is not an option for many. 

While I was looking at the rhodolites under a loupe, a lady came up to me and asked me to look at some sapphires for her. The vendor was selling the sapphires for $4 a carat, which is very suspicious, since sapphires are usually $100+ a carat.

I looked at the sapphire under my loupe and saw that it was covered in cracks. Also, the light from my loupe could not penetrate through the gemstone. I gave the stones back to the lady and told her that they were probably sapphires, but were very low grade and were treated with lead glass.

The cracks (called "crazing") on the surface are evidence of lead glass treatment, whereby the fissures in the stones are filled with colored lead glass. She was very disappointed when I told her this, but I said that they were still very pretty stones and that setting them in sterling silver would make a fine ring. I also mentioned that the price was right for the stone.

Surface cracks of lead glass filled ruby
Surface cracks of glass filled ruby

If I cannot ID a stone and the price is just dollars a karat, I would buy the stone if I thought it was pretty. However, I would walk away from a purchase if the price was high and I couldn't ID the stone with my loupe. Inclusions are your friends!

**Treated Sapphires and rubies are now very difficult to differentiate from heated sapphires and rubies. The only way to positively ID these stones is to send them to the GIA. Please read "A New Method for Detecting Be Diffusion-Treated Sapphires: Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)"

Dichroic Glass Pendants and Jewelry at Fuse-Me-Glass

A few steps away from Diamonds, Gems, and Pearls, is another Minnesotan vendor, Fuse-Me-Glass. The artist, Eva Joy Lund, is a retired teacher, who spends her time creating beautiful dichroic glass jewelry, travelling and selling to gem shows across the country. Eva achieves the depth of color and vibrancy by layering her glass. You can learn more about her jewelry making process as well as see if she is visiting your town soon from her website.

Fuse-Me-Glass vendor at Kino
Fuse-Me-Glass stall at Kino

dichroic glass pendants purple

dichroic glass pendants

dichroic glass pendants orange

More Reading:

Fossils and Large Minerals at the Kino Gem and Mineral Show 2015
Home Decor and Fur Traders at the Kino Gem and Mineral Show 2015

If you are interested in learning more about gem identification, I recommend the following books and tools: