I'm fortunate to live in the Phoenix area, so the Gem Show is just a day-trip away. So many people ask me about it: do I go (yes), what's it like (amazing), and what can you find there (just about anything crystal or mineral-related that you can think of). With all the excitement about the shows starting up in Tucson this month, I thought I'd share a little information about it to encourage you to check it out for yourself.
From late January to about the second week of February, the Tucson Gem Show is widely considered to be the biggest gem and mineral show in the world. One of the things that most people I talk to don't realize, is that the Tucson Gem Show isn't just one show, it's comprised of more than 45 different shows all running simultaneously throughout different locations in the city. The officially-titled "Tucson Gem and Mineral Show" is held every year at the Tucson Convention Center, and features a lecture series on gems and minerals, along with merchandise for sale, and museums and private collectors showcasing some of their best pieces. There's an admission fee, but if you're into the science of mineralogy, then this might be the show for you. From my experience, however, if you're really just into the shopping and seeking the "Gem Show" experience (and bargains), you're better off going to other shows around town instead.
Every year you will find vendors selling their wares all over the city: exhibit halls, warehouses, sprawling roadside tents, hotel rooms, motels, and even parking lots comprise different "shows", each featuring crystal and mineral dealers from all over the world. The international mix of sellers and items for sale varies from year to year, with some people calling it the "World's Largest Treasure Hunt"! Some of the shows are for specific merchandise, such as beads and jewelry-making supplies, lapidary equipment, minerals and fossils, high-end gemstones, or wholesale only. For the most part, though, the shows are free and open to the everyone, and offer a wide variety of merchandise.
You can find tumbled stones for just a couple of dollars, to low and high-end crystal jewelry, rare collector and museum-quality specimens, carved crystal sculptures, giant-sized crystals and geodes fit for corporate offices and hotel lobbies, dinosaur fossils … and everything in between. Just seeing the amazing variety of crystals and minerals is staggering, sometimes overwhelming, and for a crystal-lover like myself, a complete blast! Not to mention the people watching, with literally tens of thousands of sellers, buyers, prospectors, and collectors converging there from all over the globe for an intense two weeks of crystal-mania. If anyone is at all interested in crystals in any way, I tell them they need to experience the Tucson Gem Shows at least once!
Next time, I'll share some tips for shopping at the Tucson Gem Shows, so check back again!