tucson gem show

tucson cactus

I just returned from my first sourcing trip at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Tucson is the Super Bowl of gem shows: 43 shows in 41 locations over the span of two weeks.  A candy store of gorgeous gems, rare pearls and general all around goodness, the NY Times recently wrote that “70 percent of the world’s colored gemstones on the market pass through Tucson during the month of February”.  Holy good gracious.

pearls at Tucson Gem Show

As a first time attendee, I had heard about the show but had no concept of the breadth or scope of the offerings. It is wildly overwhelming and it is only once that you admit defeat that it is even remotely possible to move forward. We had 5 days and only got to 4 shows…and we were booking it.

pearls at tha Tucson Gem Show

Tips for tackling the show:

  • Map out your plan. Grab a Tucson Gem Guide in advance and rip out the dates, locations and offerings at each spot. Maximize your time by establishing a “must see list”
  • Talk to people who have been. Shows shift year to year, so find out which ones would be the best for your shopping needs. Call other jewelers who regularly attend before going.
  • Leave room for impulse purchases. There are unbelievable things offered here: from dinosaur bones to drusy quartz. Give your budget some wiggle room to pick up some great, one of a kind pieces – you won’t find them anywhere else.
  • Bring a friend. Best thing ever: it is a huge advantage to have someone to bounce ideas and purchases off of.
  • Get out. By golly, shop those shows, but allocate time to get out of the tents. Go hike in the mountains, go indulge some awesome food (Cafe Cosa Poca might have been one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten), go hug a cactus. Tucson is a neat place: be sure to get out of the frenzy and go enjoy it.


Interested in more? Hop over to the NYTimes full article here.

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2013 by in news and tagged , , , .

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