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5 Top Tips to buying at Gem Shows

Whether you’re a gemstone enthusiast, a jeweller looking for inspiration or simply curious about gemstones, gem shows are an amazing way to hunt down some great purchases and meet loads of interesting people at the same time.

Over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough both to attend and exhibit at some world-famous gem shows and am looking forward to many more.

Gem shows can be quite overwhelming for a newbie. With hundreds of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of gemstones to see, gemstones can be quite overwhelming for a newbie. I’ve learned a few things over my time on the gem show circuit, so today’s post is about giving you some pointers before you go.

Tip 1: do your research

Gem shows, particularly the famous ones, tend to have a very particular ‘feel’. Depending on your reasons for attending, some may be suitable for you and others not. If you’re a jeweller looking for small stones for setting, a show specialising in specimen gems or geodes is probably not going to be much use to you. Likewise, if you’re an interested amateur rock hound, don’t plan on going to trade-only gem shows as you won’t be allowed in.

Tip 2: set a budget

With so many thousands of gorgeous stones on display, it’s all too easy to get carried away at a gem show. Don’t bankrupt yourself! One way of setting a budget is to take cash only, so you can’t spend more than you’d bargained for. Make sure you carry it in a secure money belt, though.

Tip 3: prepare beforehand

It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to take a strong bag with a secure closure to keep your purchases safe. A notebook and mini stapler are also really useful so that you can staple a seller’s card to each page and have space to make notes on price, range etc.

Tip 4: have a game plan

Study the list of vendors and the exhibition map beforehand and note down any that you really want to see. In the hustle and bustle of a gem show, you may get distracted and forget to find the stands you meant to visit. On the other hand, it can be enjoyable not to make your game plan too regimented. Part of the fun of gem shows is letting the show itself lead you—you might come across some unexpected treasures!

Tip 5: make connections

Don’t forget to stop and chat. Vendors tend to love talking about the gems they have for sale and are usually really keen to share their experience and knowledge with you. Make sure you take a heap of business cards with you, so you can easily swap details. Who knows, you might make some friends and contacts for life!

Kim Rix, GG (GIA)

Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence

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