|2010 Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase Shows
1820 Oracle Wholesale Show
If you’re interested in gems, minerals, fossils or extraterrestrial objects like meteorites, you should plan to be in the desert Southwest early next year.
That’s when the Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase will be held in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 30-Feb. 14, 2010. Also known as the Tucson Gem Show, the event is the largest of its kind in the world and is attended by thousands of rock hounds, jewelers and others who buy, sell and exhibit. Some 4,500 vendors are expected to attend the February showcase.
Yet the two-week run of the Gem Show is more than one single event — it’s actually dozens of shows taking place at the same time at nearly 50 hotels, resorts, exhibits halls and in giant white tents, all located around the city of Tucson and in surrounding towns.
More than 55,000 people visited the various shows throughout the city last year, according to Kimberly Schmitz, director of public relations and communications for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau.
While the Showcase features something for everyone in nearly every corner of town, the main event is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, located in the downtown Tucson Convention Center on Granada Avenue during the Showcase’s final weekend. This year’s Gem and Mineral Show will run from Feb. 11-14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the first three days, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $9.25 with discounts for active military personnel, seniors and children.
Show organizers report thousands of attendees have come to the show in past years from around the world to view the displays from museums and private collections, and to bargain with the 250 retail dealers handling gemstones, minerals, jewelry and fossils. It’s not unusual to find gold, diamonds, other precious stones, granite, glass beads, dinosaur fossils and Australian Outback opals among the offerings.
In addition, the show in the Convention Center features hands-on exhibits especially for school children.
The Gem Show got its start in 1955 as a free exhibition sponsored by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society. As the years went by, the show gained in popularity so that it had to be moved to the Tucson Rodeo Grounds to accommodate the crowds. Eventually, the show moved into the convention center to be able to handle more vendors and visitors.
Another event is the Jewelry, Gem and Minerals Expo, open at two locations during the Showcase’s entire two-week run. The JG&M Expo hosts a wholesale show featuring 10 large vendors in a building at 3300 E. Michigan Street, next door to the Palo Verde Holiday Inn, which hosts hundreds of retail and wholesale vendors. The other JG&M Expo location is at 601 W. Simpson Street, a large tent housing 100 vendors that are open to the public for retail sales.
“We try to get an assortment of all kinds of dealers,” said Clifton Porter of Upper Marlboro, Md,, the owner of the Jewelry, Gem and Minerals Expo. “Our vendors have beads, carvings, amethyst geodes, vintage and antique jewelry, and a pretty good assortment of a little bit of everything.”
Porter pointed out that the Simpson Street retail expo draws a lot of traffic from around southern Arizona, as well as out-of-town visitors.
“From the feedback we’ve received, they enjoy having a retail place where they can come and buy,” Porter said. “I don’t know that there’s another retail show in the Showcase that’s the size of ours, and also one that offers free parking as we do. Our vendors report they’ve done a pretty brisk business.”