The 2010 Tucson Gem Show

On the Rocks

By: - Jan 27, 2010

Gem Gem Gem Gem

In Tucson for the winter of 1997 and partial to beautiful objects, it was a no-brainer to accept the invitation of long-time resident friends to spend an afternoon at something called the Gem Show. We drove to  the west side of Tucson, parked free in a large dusty section in the back and spent several hours wandering through the dozen large to mammoth-size tents. There were diverse collections of wares from 30 million year old fossils, sculptures carved from semiprecious stone, fine jewelry and the materials and tools to make them.

There were hundreds of booths and the majority of them provided a feast for the eye. The diversity of semiprecious stone presented a daunting amount of information. The multiplicity of creations for which that variety was exploited was dazzling. We loaded up on small inexpensive presents for kith and kin over the holidays and family festive events for the year to come.

That first year I thought the venue we attended was the gem show. It was not until the following year I discovered that it was, while overwhelming on its own, naught but a limb of the real beast.

The Gem show as Tucson knows it, is a collection of shows that are all held in this city from the end of January to the middle of February, some spanning the full period, some for a week, some for a few days. This year, 2010, there are 42 different shows being held here between Jan 22 and Feb 15.

For a full listing and guides to all see the links at the bottom of this page.

A number of these shows are directed at the jewelry trade and require credentials to enter while others are open to the general public. Many have a distinct focus. Several are devoted to beads and bead making arts. One of the largest is oriented around the healing, mystic and spiritual properties of gemstones. Several are primarily for fossil dealers and collectors. There is a show exclusively devoted to native American tribal art,  an African art village, and vendors from almost every natiom in the world. All together they are spread out over close to 100 square miles of the city.

For the first few years, I tried to visit every venue to which I could gain admittance. That turned out to be impossible if one truly wanted to explore their contents to full extent. I found myself falling victim eventually to the "eyes bigger than the mind" syndrome. After awhile I continued to want to look though no longer able to really see. It was too much to take in.

Over the last few years, a dozen or more sites have continued to draw my interest. This year I will do my best to attend all of those with the intent of sharing some of what  we see, discover and think with the readers of

The first mineral to seduce me pretended, (and still does) to be Onyx.  That turned out to be a ruse so commonly accepted that it is now convention. The fossil to first engage me was the ammonite and it has never disillusioned me. More about both next time.

Here is a link to a listing of all of this year's shows, their location and dates.

Show Guide

Here is a link to a listing by category of all of this year's shows, their location and dates.

Show Guide