Catalogs, gem shows, websites, some local folks and some folks afar.
In the beginning of my career, pre-Google, I acquired a catalog from a friend. I enjoyed poring over the pages of the pictured gemstones and the dimensions I could purchase them in. A couple years later I heard about a gem show in a nearby city that I could attend to see offerings from many vendors. This was a very exciting thing for me. I saw many stones that I desired but in a price range far above my budget. Still I felt pure joy to be experiencing such things of beauty. Attending a gem show annually became my regular schedule. I raised my budget a little each year in order to allow myself to experience the pleasure of using some of the more costly gems. The rapport I have developed with the gem dealers at the shows has given me confidence to order from some of them online in between gem shows. Purchasing online could have its dangers, but because of the relationships I have built, I have been satisfied.
I mentioned “some local folks” by whom I mean the rockhounds who are involved in Kentucky Agate hunting and cutting/polishing. More about Kentucky Agate in another blog post.
And for “some folks afar”, I have been lucky to have friends in other parts of the world from whom I have acquired raw materials to cut myself or to have a lapidary (gem cutter) cut for me.
If a customer has some gemstones, I can make some special order pieces for them. This is a fun process!