A trip the the Tucson Gem Show feels like being a kid in a candy store.
It’s easy to get swept up in the aisles of glittering gemstones, the seas of pearls, and the dizzying glow of the halogen lights. My first trip to Tucson was 9 years ago. Even after all this time it still has not lost its luster.
The Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is a collection of over 40 individual shows across the city of Tucson, Arizona. It runs from late January into early February of each year, bringing together rockhounds, collectors and jewelers of all stripes. Some shows require wholesale credentials for admission, but many are open to the general public.
You’ll find vendors from around the world packed into exhibit halls, hotel rooms and street fair tents. Bins full of crystals and boxes of fossils line the booths. Huge specimens are on display in hotel lobbies just waiting for a selfie.
Treasures can be found at every turn of the Tucson Gem Fair.
Tucson is my opportunity to pick out gemstones in person that I can use in pieces throughout the year. This trip I focused on finding some beautiful sapphires for my bridal collection. While it’s true that my jewelry is not very gem heavy, it’s hard not to be inspired by the sights and colors I see at these shows.
It’s a great time for me to introduce myself to vendors and to explore new options for ethically sourced gemstones. I like to ask lots of questions and take a look at the range and quality of their inventory. I meet so many trustworthy resources each time I go.
From the outside it may seem like the possibilities are endless. I mean, it looks like a literal sea of colorful gems! But what’s available one year to the next can vary.
If I get tunnel vision about shopping for a specific gem, odds are I won’t find it (I’m looking at you, elusive red-grey cushion diamond…) Next year I’ve vowed to change my shopping strategy so I don’t spend too much time on the hunt for unicorns.
A Jewelers Field Trip
The best part about my trip to Tucson was traveling with my friends! We have a pretty fantastic jewelry community here in San Francisco. Six of us banded together for this buying trip.
We loaded into our rental mercedes and cruised around Tucson hitting the major shows. It pays to have a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes when I’m mulling over an expensive purchase. It’s also so informative to tag along and listen while another jeweler shops and asks questions
It was a blast. We drank margaritas. We ate all the tacos. But my favorite time together was our show and tell at the end of the day. Like kids comparing a trick-or-treat haul, we’d gather nightly to show our new gems to the group one by one.
Seeing each designer light up when they mused about their future creations was the highlight of my whole trip. I can’t wait for next year!