| Tanya Gruenberg
What is the Tucson Gem Show?
It is every jewelry maker’s dream to meet people with similar interests and even greater skills. This is what the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase brings to Arizona each year. This show is the largest and oldest of its kind around the world. It is where art meets history and treasures are revealed.
The Tucson Gem Show was first held in 1955, in an elementary school. It has since then gained international recognition and attracted researchers, miners, gemologists, authors, alongside almost 4000 trade companies for each event.
For a satisfying two and a half weeks in the months of January and February, all gem lovers get to see the brightest, most rare and stunning gems ever. The event is open to the public, so you have no excuse to miss such an incredible and rewarding event.
The Tucson Gem Show has over 40 venues open across town and there you would find every rock, specimen, and jewel being peddled. As an adventurous jewel maker with a love for natural gemstones, I hold the Tucson Gem Show in high regard. I also love most of the shows featured in the showcase.
Where to stay?
We stayed a bit far away; maybe about 45 minute drive to the main shows. Most of the hotels that are close to the gem shows book up pretty quickly, so be sure to plan in advance.
How long to go for?
The ideal amount of time to go to the Tucson Gem Show would be at least three days, but unfortunately I only had time to go for two full days.
Which shows to attend?
Saying the Tucson Gem Show is enormous is an understatement. It really is important to plan ahead of time deciding which shows are worth checking out. The Tucson Gem Show does have an 'Official Tucson Gem Show Guide' App which you could download on your phone -- Awesome to have handy! It lists every show with dates, times, addresses and whether the show is open to the public or if it's trade only.
If you are planning on going to the trade-only shows, t is super important to have your resale number and a business card which includes your company name and name. I made sure to bring my EIN, LLC and some other buisness-related items.
With such limited time, the shows I went to see were the AGTA, GJX, Holodome and Pueblo Show. AGTA, GJX and Pueblo were conveniently located very near each other; actually across from one another.
What shows did we check out?
Here are a few you can look towards for the next annual event.
The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA GemFair)
If you are like me and you fancy natural colored gemstones, then the AGTA GemFair was made just for us. The show brings in retail jewelers, designers, and manufacturers to offer the widest range of products.
GJX is said to have begun with only 35 booths, but now they boast of more than 700 booths - And boy is it huge! Located across the convention center in downtown Tucson, it features gemstones, gem carvings, industry equipment, and of course; jewelry. This was where we made the majority of purchases.
This show is very much a marketplace and was definitely a favorite. With over 500 exhibitors from all over the world, you can find the most diverse collection of products in the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase. You can ship items you buy directly from the show. It is a jewelers paradise. You can also find these there (which we werent mad about):
The PUEBLO Gem and Mineral Show
The Pueblo Show has lots of mineral specimens, large geodes (which is great for those photo ops you pretty much see on instagram).
This show is often regarded as the most diverse Tucson show, and it definitely met up to it's description. It is held in downtown Tucson, in a unique setting amidst palm trees and manicured lawn.
The laid back and relaxing environment puts you in the right mood to marvel at the fine jewelry, large amethyst geodes and holistics. My favorite were all the beads - I did buy a few black opal and opal beads to add to my collection of gems.