Brilliance in the Sonoran Desert

TUCSON, Ariz. — To experience the gemstone trade in all its polyglot glory, jewelers from around the world have a beloved annual ritual: For about three weeks every year, starting in late January, they flock to this city in the Sonoran Desert.

That is when tens of thousands of people with a stake in the gem business — miners, cutters, dealers, retailers, designers and collectors — arrive in southern Arizona to buy and sell colored stones at dozens of gem and mineral shows staged in hotel rooms, parking lots and tents across town.

The shows — an emporium for almost every variety of gem in the world, from $10 slabs of

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