By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
On Monday, Jan. 29, members of the Facebook group dubbed Gemology Worldwide Exchange and others will meet up in Tucson for the eighth consecutive year. It’s a super-casual gathering—no formal invitations are issued, and you buy your own drinks—that takes place at the Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa on the eve of the opening of the AGTA GemFair Tucson, Tuesday, Jan. 30–Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Upwards of 300 rockhounds, gemologists, and other jewelry industry folks have been known to convene at the affair, which was started by Philadelphia Jewelry Appraisals’ Owner Joshua Hyman.
You wouldn’t know about this gathering, though, unless you hear peers talking about it or belong to the Facebook group. Yours truly has heard bits and pieces about it from industry figures for a while—jewelry designer Robin Callahan of the eponymous firm told me she looks forward to it each year to connect with many of the gemstone cutters she features in her one-of-a-kind designs. And Color Source Gems’ Jeremy Chalchinsky posted a snapshot from last year’s event to another group online, stating that he was “Stoked” to gather again. “So many good people,” he said.
Hyman, a Philadelphia native, says the group was born “from the ashes of another” well-intentioned group where members talked about gemological issues. After the demise of the first one, another former member told Hyman that folks would follow them to a new forum if they made one. Enter Gemology Worldwide Exchange, born on the social media platform in 2015.
Since then, hundreds of jewelry industry members have connected over topics of education and pure enthusiasm for gems. All that camaraderie led to wanting to meet in person, and the annual mecca to Tucson made the most sense.
“Monday night in Tucson is set-up night—the evening after everyone has set up their booth,” says Hyman. “There are no scheduled events, and no one is taking clients out for dinner, so we decided to organize a meet and greet. It starts at 6 p.m. and goes until the last person leaves. I know many connections that started in the group, and some big names have met up at that get-together. I connected Derek Katzenbach with Victor Tuzlukov there, two cutters who had never met. And I met Jeff Hapeman of Earth’s Treasury because of that group; he’s become one of my best friends.”
Hyman doesn’t exhibit in Tucson, but as an appraiser he knows how important it is to be at shows.
“I go out every year to add research to my database,” he adds. “I need to know what things cost, and I’m a collector and businessman, so I partner with people on gem finds. All those connections happen in Tucson.”
The 2023 Gemology Worldwide Exchange Meetup occurs on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, starting at 6 p.m. at the Marriott at 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85745. Find everyone on that gorgeous back patio but arrive at 5 p.m. for the Nightly Tequila Toast!
This is proprietary content for AGTA and may not be reproduced.