In recognition of Arizona's Centennial, the state's minerals take a star turn as what's being billed as "The World's Largest Treasure Hunt," which gets under way this weekend.
There will still be countless items from all corners of the world including amethyst and fossils, gold and diamond jewelry to view and buy at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, known around town simply as "the gem show." Actually a compilation of more than 40 shows that span the Tucson metro area, the showcase opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 12. The majority of shows will be open to the public, but others are for wholesalers.
At the center is the venerable 58th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center, which started as a small gathering for rockhounds in 1955 and has grown to be the largest gem and mineral show in the United States. It will take place Feb. 9 to 12, and organizers are pulling out all of the stops to celebrate the state's history of minerals and mining.
This year's theme is "Minerals of Arizona" and the featured exhibit is "Arizona's Mineral Treasures: Celebrating Arizona's Centennial," featuring some of the most spectacular minerals mined in the Grand Canyon state.
Collectors from throughout the world, including museums such as Royal Museum of Edinburgh in addition to private collectors, are loaning the absolute best they have from Arizona for this show.
Upping the wow factor, many consider Arizona to have one of the most varied and exceptional mineral-producing regions in the world.
Paul Harter, chairman of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Show, predicted that the excitement surrounding Arizona minerals will have a trickle-down effect on the showcase.
"There's going to be a lot more Arizona material around," said Harter.
What follows is a guide on how to navigate the gem and mineral shows, along with ways to get involved in Tucson's mineral scene throughout the year.