Question: I’ve never been to the annual February Tucson Gem and Mineral Show but I’ve heard many stories. I’m wondering, just how good is it really? Would any International Gem Society (IGS) members be willing to share their reviews of this event? What did you buy or what did you see that you wish you could have bought? [Reading time: 3 min]
“Velvet Beauty,” Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2007, by cobalt123 is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0

“Velvet Beauty,” a stunning azurite specimen displayed at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, 2007. Photo by cobalt123. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

Get to Know Your Vendors at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

rhodochrosite slab

Rhodochrosite displayed at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, 2007. Photo by cobalt123. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

I’ve been to the Tucson show several times. Be careful. It’s very addictive!

I’ve purchased two new colors of topaz, already faceted. One was labeled “glacier blue,” a very bright blue, deeper than Swiss Blue. The other was teal colored. I also purchased some lab-created emerald and several odd lots of faceted stones from vendors I’ve dealt with before.

Going to the show enables me to meet people face-to-face, which really means a lot for future purchases. I love visiting with people I’ve done business with before. Once I know the people I’m dealing with, my online/mail purchases are so much easier. I’ve also taken a faceting class there. Many classes are available. They fill up fast (and so do the hotel rooms).

Carol

Be Ready to Track Down the Best Prices

I’m a faceter and I’ve been going to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show regularly for the past 15 years. I buy both rough and cut stones. It’s a very big show, so it really helps if you know what you want and can stay long enough to search for the best prices. The prices are not as good as going directly to the mines in Asia, but since I don’t want to travel now, Tucson is the next best thing. Prices can be very good to very expensive for the same things. If I’m going to buy in quantity, I always try to track down the sources.

Janice

“Tucson Gem and Mineral Show,” 2010, by Patrick Gibbons is licensed under CC By 2.0

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, 2010. Photo by Patrick Gibbons. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

From Mammoth Tusks to Amethyst Chunks

You won’t believe what you’ll see until you actually go to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. The whole town is taken over by gem dealers, buyers, rock hounds, mineralogists, and geologists. Tucson is two weeks long and sports 25 shows with over 20,000 vendors. You’ll find everything. I mean everything, from a matched pair of 8′ long fossilized mammoth tusks to amethyst chunks the size of your fist, as well as the finest emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, all at below wholesale prices. Tucson is the gemstone trading center of the world for those two short weeks. Most people plan a year ahead of time to make sure they have a place to sleep. Every hotel, motel, or dirt lot is turned into vendor space during the day and sleeping quarters at night.

Good luck,

Douglas LeGrand, GG

“Tucson Gem and Mineral Show,” Tents at Tucson Electric Park, 2010, by Patrick Gibbons is licensed under CC By 2.0

Tents at Tucson Electric Park, Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, 2010. Photo by Patrick Gibbons. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

More IGS Member Reviews of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Editor’s note: Under Lapidary Clubs and Shows as well as Gem Tourism, you’ll find more reviews of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, including:

You’ll also find reviews of other gem shows and destinations, as well as a gem show FAQ and a guide to gem business etiquette.

“Five or Ten? Take Your Pick,” Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2009, by Jason is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0

“Five or Ten? Take Your Pick,” Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, 2009. Photo by Jason. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.