When I visit a city it’s like visiting someone’s home. The atmosphere, weather, the people, the vibration of the place is like a host and I determine if it’s a lovely host or not and if I enjoy their brand of hospitality.

This stone was so huge, so beautiful, I was compelled to get close and sit in it.

With that said, can there actually be such a thing as too many warm, sunny days? I heard it said in Tucson on more than one occasion that cloudy, overcast, and rainy days are something the residents look forward to. The high was approximately 80 degrees every day with the sun shining brilliantly from a BIG sky, warming my face and shoulders.  It felt like kisses from heaven. With no skyscrapers to speak of, the vastness of the sky loomed large, a spotless blue and seemed to be everywhere. The land is flat and dry, not much grass, lots of succulents, cactus, and rock gardens, which is best in a drought-prone town.  I enjoyed looking at the style of houses, an ode to the abode style.

Though the days were nearly 80 degrees, sundown to sunrise the temps would gradually drop down into the 40s. I was prepared with light layers.  In the summer the temps can rise as high 123 degrees Fahrenheit.  One of my Uber drivers, who is Puerto Rican and from the Bronx, claimed that those triple digit temps are not too bad because of the lack of humidity.  Still, that number sounds crazy.  I won’t be visiting Arizona during the summer.

Yes, this is the one I sat in. Black quartz going for $250,000.

It’s not random that the Tucson Gem and Mineral show is held in the winter when it’s the perfect weather there. It’s a real treat for those of us coming from cold climates.  The Tucson show has to be in the largest in the world.  There are at least a couple thousand vendors set up all around the city for three glorious weeks. I was there for only four days.  It was such an inspiring experience to see rocks/gems of every size, color, shape, and quality imaginable. The range in size was from gargantuan to minuscule. Even the quantity of what was available was staggering. To think that all that beauty dwells in the bowels of the earth, is unearthed, farmed and brought to market, astounds me. A jeweler had warned before I left town to have a game plan otherwise, one could end up spending all they’ve budgeted for, on day one.  That turned out to be sage advice.

These are just some of the beauties I picked up.

In addition to gems, some of the other items at the show were sculptures, huge geodes, singing bowls, incense, Asian style clothing, fossils, and taxidermy.  There are also lots of tools for jewelry making, from handheld tools to sizeable machines. I was so happy to be able to find the quality of beads I hoped to find. Before heading to Tucson, I had had some instances of ordering triple-A quality rose quartz online, but sellers would send A quality, not triple A, even though the photo online would that of triple-A quality.  I would end up returning these orders.  I asked my friend Aingeel why do these vendors send inferior quality.  She said, “They are betting that buyers won’t know the difference.”  I’ve always had a keen eye for quality and nothing beats shopping for these stones in person. In Tucson, I was able to touch, feel, and purchase triple-A quality materials, so I can offer you the best that’s available with our Intentional Bracelets.

There was a Frank Lloyd Wright design quality to many of the homes.

The first three Uber drivers I had were all white, with long, silver, ponytails and most drove hybrid cars. They explained to me that Tucson is a haven for old hippies. It’s supposed to be the blue dot in a red state.  Besides my two friends who live in Arizona and my friends that I shared an AirBnB with, I can count on one hand the number of Black folks I saw in Tucson. I was told Phoenix is the big city and has a larger population of African Americans. The Uber drivers all shared that they love the laid back quality of Tucson, that living is easy and very affordable. I guess there’s always a trade-off no matter what you choose in life. I didn’t see any Native People that I could identify as Native while in Tucson, though I could feel their energy, a sacredness that is in the air.  Native People don’t necessarily walk around in traditional clothing so that I may have seen them and not known.  Let’s say that I didn’t get the opportunity to experience their culture, to go to a reservation or ceremony.  Perhaps it’s the ever-present mountains in Tucson that emits that sacred energy created by generations of Native People who once lived on and cared for that land.  I imagined what it would be like to spend winters there. Yes, I have a tendency to envision living in the places I visit.  The Arizona weather is a plus, affordability, I like that, but no Black folks, that’s kind of a difficult one, red state, double difficult.

Chelsea, Aingeel, Anu, and Candice

I had an amazing time in Tucson spending time and walking the shows with former Khamit Kinks Stylist, Aingeel Z and her friend Chelsea.  In addition to being a highly skilled and superb hair stylist, Aingeel is also a jewelry and accessories designer.  Since Aingeel now lives back home in California, she visits the Gem and Mineral Show annually. The photo above was an evening of great laughter and fine dining, a treat by friend Candice who is currently living in Arizona. I love Mexican food, and top-quality Mexican food was easy to find in Tucson. I was also treated to a wonderful evening by celebrated, natural hairstylist, Essence China who lives near Phoenix.

Essence China sunkissed from a trip to Barbados is here looking like a baby.

Yes, Tucson was a wonderful experience. The heart-shaped citron stone below sums it up.  I was pure love having this experience. I’ve been enjoying working with the many fine elements I picked at the Tucson Show. Check out our Intentional Bracelets and stay tuned for upcoming additions to our collection.