Month: February 2012

Tucson Gem Show forgeries

$1 dollars-worth of counterfeit brand-name jewellery was siezed at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Wholesalers show a few days ago.

I love going to the gem show in Ottawa each September, and I always come away with a few bags of goodies.  Often I buy from local vendors that I visit here in Ottawa anyway. However, I do love the opportunity to shop the items that other vendors bring from shops outside of the area.  I’ve always wanted to make it to one of these massive gem shows, and Tucson’s is about as big as it gets, from what I can tell.  Lots of demos, hundreds of vendors, and more sparkly minerals and gemstones than you could shake a stick at.  My credit card shudders at the thought.

That said, with so many vendors, and so many gems and other goods, how possible is it to verify the stock of the vendors?  How can a shopper tell whether the stones or materials are genuine?  There are tips and tricks to checking the authenticity of some things (pearls should feel gritty if you rub them against your teeth, for instance), but without a lab assistant following you around it’s impossible to check most things.  It boils down to trust.

When I shop, whether for jewellery supplies or anything else, I love to ask questions.  It’s fun to learn what I can about a piece of fashion or the features of a new cellphone, and I hesitate to drop a lot of money in a store where staff don’t know their product.  When it comes to buying gemstones, I ask about what I’m buying.  Is it stabilized or colour-treated?  Where does it come from?  I’ve learned a lot about gems and minerals since I’ve been making jewellery, and I’ve taken a class in gem identification , but the store staff should be knowledgeable about their product.  I shop at places I trust, and I’m always happy to pass on my knowledge to curious customers.

Fortunately, fraudsters like those at the Tucson show are few and far between.  My experiences at shows and local events have been positive ones.  The next time you’re at a handmade craft event or art sale, ask lots of questions.  Artists and crafters love to talk about their craft, and are happy to show you of the quality of their product.

Treasure Hunt – using Etsy treasuries

I’ve been using Etsy for around a year and a half, and have been enjoying playing around with some of its features.  There’s a great one called Treasuries, where users can collect images of favourite items and show off these collections to the Etsy community.  Treasuries can be created by anyone – shoppers, sellers, and general Etsy fans alike.  Anyone with an Etsy account can create them.

Treasuries will usually have a theme.  Some will revolve around items of a certain colour.  Others will be seasonal, showing Christmas- or Valentine’s-themed items.  Still others involve themes like movies, or nature, or a time period.  The Etsy user collects up to 16 different items to fit the theme.  Add a great title, a description, and some tags, and you’re officially the curator of a treasury!

Curating (Etsy’s word for making a treasury) is a lot of fun, and a great excuse to window-shop and see what’s available on the site.  I’ve found plenty of great vintage and handmade items while hunting for things to include in my lists, and I’ve even ended up making a few purchases, too.  I particularly enjoy the challenge of coming up with unique and unusual themes.

To see some examples, peruse the list of treasuries that I’m curating.  Give it a try, it’s a lot of fun!

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