By Brecken Branstrator
A shot from the 2020 AGTA GemFair Tucson show floor (Image courtesy of AGTA)
Dallas—The American Gem Trade Association still plans to hold GemFair Tucson 2021.

AGTA CEO Doug Hucker confirmed to National Jeweler that the organization, as of now, is moving forward with plans to host the trade show next year, slated for Feb. 2-7 at the Tucson Convention Center.

They had to submit an application to the Pima County Health Department to hold the event given the current circumstances, Hucker said, which is pending approval, but he added that, barring any “impossible objections” from the department, “we plan on having the show.”

The event will have many protocols in place to protect exhibitors and attendees, like temperature checks, masks, social distancing, one-way aisles with directional signage, plexiglass barriers at booths, registration and guest services, and enhanced cleaning procedures.

A full list of the safety protocols and procedures for GemFair Tucson 2021 can be found on the AGTA website.

The organization hasn’t added hotel information to its website yet so people don’t make reservations until they receive final approval on the show, Hucker said, but they expect to have it up soon.

A lot could change before February, though, and AGTA will continue to monitor and asses the situation, including an upcoming board meeting in which they will discuss the show, and be in communication with exhibitor members and interested attendees. 

“No one is super confident that we’re going to be able to just not worry about it. We’re trying to be as positive as we possibly can,” Hucker told National Jeweler.

“We’re not going to do anything that is going to subject our members, customers or attendees at the show to health problems. We don’t want people coming in and getting sick. If we can put the show on safely and responsibly, which we think we can, we’ll go for it.”

Hucker said they do expect a drop in attendance, in particular from international visitors.

The organization sent out a survey to exhibitors to gauge interest, receiving feedback so far from about 1,700 buyers out of a total 7,000, with results indicating about 53 percent are planning to attend.

The show will be a little smaller physically, with booths shrinking about 2 feet in size to make wider aisles that allow for social distancing. Additionally, exhibitor numbers have, perhaps unsurprisingly, dropped a bit—around 346 planned booths currently, compared with 415 booths during normal years, Hucker said.  

But what makes their show different from many others that happen in Tucson in late January to early February is that it’s not open to the public, Hucker noted, allowing for greater control and creating less risk of spread within the Tucson community.

The strong public attendance and local aspect of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show played a large part in the 2021 event’s recent cancellation.

Organizers of the GJX show, another trade-facing event, did not respond to an email inquiry from National Jeweler requesting an update on its 2021 edition.  

However, its website still says: “We are both hopeful and optimistic as we continue with our preparations for the 2021 show. The safety and well-being of our buyers, exhibitors and staff is our top priority. We will follow all CDC, state and federal guidelines that will be in place at that time. As we move forward, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed.”

JCK Events also did not return a request for comment about the status of JCK Tucson, nor did organizers of the Select show. The latter still has information and dates for its 2021 Tucson event posted to its website and Facebook page.

The JOGS Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show also still has its 2021 dates posted, with no information to the contrary.

Some other shows open to the public are still planning their 2021 events as well, including the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show and the 22nd Street Show, which has changed its floorplan to be in compliance with safety protocols, according to its website.

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