All About The Jewelry

Last week I spoke about all of the non-jewelry aspects of our time in Tucson, this time it's all about the jewelry! Since it has been a while I may get things a bit out of order but I will do my best to recount everything. As I mentioned last week, we stayed in Oro Valley, a beautiful area about 40 minutes north of the shows. We came to town every day and shopped in spurts as to not burn Kuochun out too much. Things were definitely different at the shows in 2021 than in past years. The weather was also a lot warmer in early April than it is in mid-February when the shows normally take place. Since two of the shows I enjoy attending started on the same day, I had to decide which show to attend first. My first thought was let me find my Tibetan jewelry vendor as although she brings a massive inventory with her, she is so popular my favorite items always go fast. The show location changed due to the pandemic, the original site was reserved for COVID vaccinations. The new location was close by though. The difference was that there were no permanent buildings, only large tents. We searched the entire show but the Tibetan jewelry was not there, nor some Native American artists who I was also hoping to buy from again.

We did see the large purveyor of Native American Navajo jewelry, they represent many fine artists. Last year I purchased very little from them because I know it is easy to spend a fortune but since I was not seeing the usual vendors I decided to take the plunge. It was hot in the tent but they had fans which helped a bit. I made many selections, focusing on pieces with stones in a variety of colors and pieces with no stones. I have seen the gentleman who helped me on the company's Facebook live sales so I mentioned to him how much I enjoyed their sales and the hostess. He said she is like a daughter to her which I thought was so sweet. He helped me tremendously by writing artist's names and the mines the turquoise came from so I could pass that information on to all of you. It was a great experience! Below are just a few of the pieces I purchased that day. I just posted ten of these items to the online store this week, CLICK HERE to see the details. These pieces are more than I usually spend but they are all fabulous quality, artist signed and I am offering them as low as possible at half of retail. The square pendant by Donovan Cadman is a solid chunk of silver and a classic which will never go out of style. The bug pins are by Herbert Ration, he is famous for them and they sell online for much more than I am asking.

Being out in the heat was wearing us down so we headed to an air conditioned show. We visited the sister booth to this company which is their largest display and I found some more great pieces without stones. The jewelry below is by Daniel "Sunshine" Reeves, he is a very famous master Navajo silversmith. He is also my age which I think is very cool, I have always felt like people my age are kindred spirits. All of his pieces are outstanding quality. The thunderbird cuff was a splurge but I know eventually I will find the right home for it. I just loved the rings on the black velveteen display and kept one for now. I need to get used to wearing rings again, I have not regularly worn a ring since my divorce 20 years ago.

While visiting this booth, I noticed someone very well known in the turquoise world shopping there as well. She is unmistakable with her unique style - bleached blonde hair piled on top of her head, huge horn-rimmed glasses and TONS of jewelry. One of the pieces she was wearing was a massive squash blossom necklace which was down past her stomach in length. She has a huge business and sells to very famous celebrities. Although her appearance was standout, she was low-key and seemed to be very down to earth with the sellers. Little did I know that this would become a theme for the rest of the week - big fish coming in and buying lots of great pieces right before me, narrowing down my selections. We ran through a good portion of the show, I was looking for vendors I had purchased from before such as the Thai folks and the flamboyant and fun Mexican gentleman but they were not to be found. At that point we decided to call it a day.

The next day, I headed back to the second show to look more in depth. Since the folks I usually buy from did not come this year I decided to try someone new. This show has an entire section devoted to amber. When I receive amber jewelry it is very popular and sells quickly. It has been in my mind for quite some time to give some new amber a try. One booth stood out to me as really having unique pieces. There were also lots of people looking at their jewelry while the surrounding booths were basically a ghost town. While I was patiently waiting my turn, a well-dressed woman proceeded to buy most of the super unique pieces. I was disappointed but there were still plenty of other pieces to choose from and I bought a lot. The styles varied from antique and vintage-inspired to modern. I found necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings and rings. Some of the standout pieces are the Art Nouveau bugs, the Russian fairytale pendants and rings, and the tri-color modern pendants.

The vendor asked us to come back in an hour while they tallied up my order so we walked around the show some more. I decided to buy some Native American jewelry from another booth and found some cute Zuni butterfly earrings, thunderbird pins, fun statement rings and a Chimney Butte pendant for myself. Chimney Butte was an artist I saw at the show last year but I did not stop because the booth was small and so crowded. At the time I had heard of him before but would not be able to point out his work in a lineup. I sure can now! I watch Facebook live sales of Native American jewelry by a very successful woman who has loyal fans. I am one of them and I have purchased many Chimney Butte pieces among other things from her this past year. I am first and foremost a pendant person - I have Navajo pearls in every size and it is so easy to put a pendant on a strand and go. These pendants are so "me" in that the stones are surrounded by points, curly ques and other darling shapes. So far I have one piece in the online store - I bought it for myself and never wore it. I still think it is cool but since then found two other pendants from the same person in the same stone (wild horse magnesite) that I preferred. I was really disappointed that Chimney Butte was not at the show and hope he will be there in 2022. It is a line I would love to present to you! Click on the photo for the details about this pendant.

At this point, Kuochun decided to go back to the first show and take photos of all the rocks and minerals for his best friend Roy who owns Chinese gift shops. I decided to go back to the Native American booth and really look in depth. They are amazingly trustful, there is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry out for customers to select on their own in addition to that much more in cases. I took the time to go through the items which were out slowly and carefully to be sure I did not miss anything. I found some great pieces which were dated a few years ago before the price of silver skyrocketed including pendants, cuff bracelets and rings. I also found plenty that were more recent but that I just loved and could not pass up. I was almost finished working the room when Kuochun came back from his excursion so I finished that up and took one more spin around the cases. It was really helpful that it was later in the day and not crowded. The sellers were able to follow me around the cases and show me what I would like to see right away. There was a huge bin of jewelry in plastic bags in the middle of the case area and the sellers allowed us to go dig through. Kuochun was so lovely and patient, he even kept trying to find pieces he thought I would like. I would say he had about a 75% success rate which is pretty good! I have not had the chance to dive into photographing or pricing these pieces yet but will plan to slowly but surely over the summer.

On Day 3, we switched gears and took a road trip to the Mexico border. Both Kuochun and I wanted to visit a pawn shop and find some vintage jewelry. I found one which had one positive Yelp review, but he said the folks were easy to work with and they did sell sterling silver jewelry wholesale. We made the trek down but before going to the pawn shop, we stopped in the auto parts store on the same block. For years I have been trying to find something to hold my phone in the car up to eye level and also support the weight of my phone which is an iPhone XS Max with an OtterBox. The Briesmobile is a 2010 and therefore does not have a built-in GPS or a good place to display a phone. However we found the solution, a holder that was attached to a big pancake-like plastic piece which is inserted into the CD player. It has been the only solution that has ever worked and all we needed to do was hit an area where the residents likely have older cars.

After that we walked into the pawn shop. The owner is a woman and she was very nice and pleasant. However when I looked around, I did not see much in silver in the cases. I mentioned why I was there and she said she did not have anything right now. I was disappointed thinking we had made the trip for nothing but decided to look in the cases more in depth to see if there was anything I could find. To my surprise, I found a number of pieces, then the owner realized she had a "live one." She started bringing out tray after tray just groaning with silver jewelry including many Native American and Mexican pieces. The prices were higher than I usually pay - the owner said during the pandemic people just were not parting with their jewelry as much - but there were so many unique pieces that I had never seen before. I also wanted to strike up a good rapport so we could come buy in the future. Six thousand dollars later, I had been through all of her stash. We had to go to the bank because she was only accepting cash, understandably. I have only had the chance to introduce a few pieces into the caravan but I am looking forward to sharing these pieces with you as well. On the way back we stopped in Tubac which is a wonderful charming town. Unfortunately the shops close at 5:00 and we were both so hungry, by the time we were finished eating the shops were closed. I was sad to have missed the trading post, they have the best selection of vintage Native American jewelry plus the Ashley family artists who make the most charming jewelry. I have quite a few Ashley pieces. Luckily Melinda had made a run down to visit a friend a couple of weeks before that and picked up a few for me.

Day 4 marked the first day another show opened - Mother and I attended this show last year and it has got to be the nicest, most well-run show of them all. The vendors are all top-notch. I was looking forward to see what this show had to offer and I was absolutely thrilled to see my lovely Tibetan lady! Sure enough, someone had come through and bought a ton right before me but there was still plenty to see and lots of new designs as well. I purchased a combination of the classic and the new styles. I also bought a bunch of statement rings with genuine stones. The cluster necklaces with genuine stones are a great way to get the look for a fraction of the price of Native American-made.

While my order was being tallied, we explored the rest of the show. A booth that I was intimidated by last year was Federico - he is a very famous Mixtec (Mexican) artist who has the most amazing designs and sells to celebrities. I decided to take a chance and visit his booth. I just kept saying to myself OMG, OMG this is the most beautiful jewelry! It made me want to ditch half my collection and upgrade. I started to choose a few pieces and Federico himself was working the booth. He let me know the wholesale price was 50% off. I found a few items I liked for myself and chose some earrings for resale. Then one of his helpers let me know it would be an extra 20% off. This opened the door to allowing me to choose more pieces for resale. I chose enough that the extra discount turned out to be 30% so I bought even more! I am most excited about getting these pieces into the online store, the designs are amazing and the quality is impeccable. I found a dramatic fish necklace which I will probably keep and they did not have matching earrings, so they made me a pair, shipped them to me and did not even charge me. What fabulous customer service and I will definitely be shopping with them again!

I was very touched by Federico's sacred heart pendants with butterfly and hummingbird themes. I purchased several in different sizes and kept one for myself which is a tribute to Dad. It has two hummingbirds, for me representing a father protecting his daughter as well as a butterfly which we both love. I feel Dad has come to me in the form of a hummingbird more than once so it is very appropriate to be talking about this pendant today. Happy Heavenly Father's Day, Dad!

Our final purchase was also Mexican jewelry from Elysium, whom I purchased from last year as well. Their designs are so unique and of great quality, handmade by artists in Mexico. I had spent so much already but I did buy a nice selection of pieces in a variety of price ranges.

That evening, I happened to catch a Facebook live sale by the turquoise lady. She was already back home and raving about this whimsical silver jewelry from Bali that she bought in Tucson. It was so fanciful with sea creatures and a variety of other themes. The rings were amazing and she was wearing a ring with a huge pair of angel wings. I know our customers love angels and would love this sentiment. I thought I was finished buying but this intrigued me so much. Since I knew which sale she attended I decided to go again the next day and try to find the booth. We were successful! The prices were reasonable and a lot of the statement pieces had sold (probably to her) but I was able to buy some as well as earrings and rings with horse, owl, bird, turtle, octopus themes and more. I let the seller know how I found them and he was very surprised to hear how famous she was. He said I just know her by her first name. I was very glad that I learned about the Bali jewelry before we left town. A good portion has been introduced to the jewelry caravan and has been popular so far. One piece I loved was the koi fish pendant, it sold quickly. I wish they would have had more koi. The angel wings are still available though! I will be back for sure.

Even though Tucson was different due to the pandemic we made the most of it and came away with so much good stuff. Now the challenge is to find the time to introduce it all to everyone. If we can have successful selling this summer I will seriously contemplate going back to Tucson for their September show.

Mother is calling and needs my help so I will sign off for now!