My February U-Turn

Posted by Karen Sugarman on

Typically, I would venture to say, the type of jewelry designs I create are not especially fraught with danger since I do not use any torches, daunting equipment or noxious chemicals. Truth be told, I am designing jewelry that uses rather commonly found findings and beads along with some antique elements such as lockets and clasps. The more dangerous work is farmed out to jewelry workrooms that are well equipped with the proper tools and ventilation systems - even though I have designed the concept of the jewelry.


Believe it or not, I am always thinking of the large Tucson International Gem Show as early as the Fall before it begins - in February of the following year. It has become necessary to do so because many of my suppliers (from all over the globe) only show once a year - in February. Finding a safe hotel is in short supply during this annual Gem Show, so reservations need to be made well in advance. I was on top of my game this past Fall and made all the necessary reservations for the February 2020 Gem Show well in advance and devised my strategic plan of attack to see all of the necessary vendors and shows during this condensed timeline.


Breeze through the holidays, and this year, my compulsive attention to the news broadcasts. Although I was mesmerized by the television coverage of the House and Senate hearings, I was also being informed about a new virus outbreak occurring in China called Coronavirus. New broadcasts seemed to be vacillating between disturbing coverage of our own domestic issues and this new virus outbreak far away. I was scheduled to leave for Tucson on Sunday, February 2nd.


The continuing coverage of this new virus was not looking especially good and plane loads of Americans were being transported out of China. Saturday morning, I awoke to the television image of workers preparing housing for some of these Americans that would need to be quarantined for up to 2 weeks. That is when the light bulb went off for me! After discussing this issue with my husband and making a few phone calls to the Gem Show organizers, I was feeling more and more anxious. This Gem show is not my first rodeo and I KNOW in addition to the international buyers, there are many international vendors. Who knows how recently they might have arrived for the show and/or whom they may have been in contact with? I also had no idea of the artisans that prepare the stones and their health issues - although I normally assume they might not have the best sanitation habits available. Even during normal times, I frequently wash the gemstones in soapy water and always wash my hands frequently during fabrication of the jewelry designs. In the end, I decided to cancel my reservations for the Gem Show, cancel the dog sitter and forgo seeing my once a year suppliers, out of an abundance of caution. I can re-visit the idea of a Gem Show (maybe Las Vegas) later this year - once this has all blown over.


I happen to have bags of gemstones purchased from prior Gem Shows just waiting to be made up into beautiful designs and this would be a good way to address them this year. I actually probably have enough gemstones previously purchased to open a small bead shop - yikes! Until we get a better handle on this new virus, anything new that is brought into my studio will be subject to a through washing with soap and water - just in case. Hopefully. . . if you are a germophobe like myself, you will be comforted that I am taking every precaution for your safety as well as my own. Sometimes a “U-Turn” is the best idea of all!


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