Part trade-show, retail extravaganza, museum exhibition, cultural festival, and a whole lot of retail therapy, The Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase is an experience unmatched by any other. If you decide to go to Tucson, Arizona—and you really must—here are eight things you should know.
47 Shows at 45 Locations
Commonly referred to as the “Gem Show” The Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase encompasses 47 different shows at 45 locations around Tucson, Arizona.
It is the most comprehensive event of its kind in the world. The event grows larger each year. The showcase takes place for two weeks spanning the end of January to mid-February every year.
Not into Gems and Jewelry? Not a Problem
Some of the world's finest gems and jewelry are only part of what there is to see at the showcase. Dazzling geodes, fossils, rare mineral samples, polished rocks, rough rocks, crystals, sculptures, artwork, antiques, pottery, textiles, beads, furniture, and much, much more from every corner of the Earth can be found!
And…don't forget the food! Most shows include food vendors or are near fine local eateries so you hardly have to slow your roll to grab a bite! Wander writer, Elizabeth Rose shows us the international side of the Tucson Gem Show. You can shop 'til you drop!
There's an App for That!
Show-hoppers may use a smartphone app to help plan and navigate this vast event. The Official Tucson Gem Show Guide app (available for Andriod and IOS) is sponsored and updated by VisitTucson. There are a few other apps out there, but we can't vouch for accuracy. Some individual shows have created their own apps.
Be sure to check the websites and social profiles of your favorite shows to see if they have one. You don't have to be tech-savvy to navigate the showcase. Pick up an official Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase guide at Tucson International Airport or the Tucson Visitors Center located at the University of Arizona campus (811 N Euclid Ave Tucson, AZ 85719.)
You Can Park and Play!
Some incredibly smart and resourceful folks have created a FREE shuttle system to get showcasers from one show to the next every day of the event. The system is called GemRide and there are several locations where locals and visitors may park and hop a shuttle to experience 42 shows, via 34 stops on 4 routes.
The shuttles stop regularly so there isn't much of a wait and switching routes is super easy. The GemRide shuttles run January 26-February 11, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. View or print a map of shuttle routes and great places to park at the GemRide landing page.
You Don't Have to Be a Pro to Enjoy the Show!
A few shows are for wholesalers only, but the vast majority are open to the public for retail shopping (or just some general ogling.)
To benefit from wholesale prices, most shows/vendors require registration of a tax ID number. A few shows require proof of a retail outlet for wholesale benefits. The retail/wholesale status of shows is clearly communicated at each show and in the guides and apps.
Get Your Culture Fix
Dealers, vendors, wholesale buyers, and avid shoppers come to the show from nearly every country on the planet. If you speak another language, brush up! There is a 100 percent chance you will find the opportunity to use it with vendors or other shoppers.
There are also shows that focus on specific cultures or regions. At the new Native American Village show art, crafts, jewelry, and textiles from 150 tribal nations will be presented. The African Art Village show features vendors from 125 African countries to share regional food, art, carvings, masks, body products and more!
Where It All Began
Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® run by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society started it all. This group of brilliant and passionate rock hounds began buying, selling, and trading treasured finds from car trunks and truck beds in the parking lot of a local school back in 1955. Over the years the venues have changed but the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, now comfortably filling the Tucson Convention Center, is always the grand finale and pièce de résistance of the showcase.
Thousands of the most dazzling specimens of crystals and gems are on display.
The bonus? Guests can look AND touch at the Junior Education Area designed to fascinate and educate kids of all ages. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® is at the Tucson Convention Center usually the last weekend of the show. There is an admission charge for the show at the Tucson Convention Center. The experience is worth every single penny and more. Plan to spend at least a few hours!
During the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase, Tucson is literally bursting at the seams with things to do for visitors.
If you plan to stay overnight, be sure to make reservations ahead of time as many hotels sell out! Similarly, dinner reservations are always a great idea too!