The annual Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase happily overtakes Tucson about this time every year.
There are 47 individual shows and more than 4,000 vendors spread out across Tucson for the 2018 show. We stopped by the 22nd Street Mineral & Fossil Show, which has 200 vendors and a food court.
1. Jenya Formister traveled to Tucson from Los Angeles for the gem show. She decided to go to the 22nd Street show because of the wide range of quartz crystals— amethyst, rose quartz, smoky quartz, and more — that the vendors offer. “I enjoy my time here,” she says.
2. Mark and Vicki Hill are visiting Tucson from Michigan and decided to check out the gem show. They admit that they don’t know much about gems or minerals at all; they’re just in Tucson to escape the cold weather in Michigan. They visited the 22nd Street show last year, enjoyed it, and decided to go back. Mark says the show gives them something to do, but he enjoys the diversity of both vendors and guests alike. He adds, “I’m impressed by the magnitude of this showcase. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
3. Mary Ellen Warmbier is also from Michigan. Warmbier traveled to Tucson specifically for the gem show. She decided to visit the 22nd Street show because she says it’s the most-advertised and one of the biggest shows in the showcase.
4. When one of Adam Hail’s friends told him about Tucson’s gem show, he knew he had to leave Minnesota to visit. His friend recommended the 22nd Street show and he listened. “I’ve been able to find a lot of good stuff,” he says.
5. Henrik Allanson, from Florida, has came to Tucson to visit the gem show for three years. He finds himself coming back to the 22nd Street show year after year because of the amount of vendors and the large diversity in prices.
5 INTERESTING VENDORS
1. Conveniently located in front of a giant dinosaur fossil exhibit, the Dinosaur Brokers is one of the most kid-friendly booths we’ve seen. With stuffed and plastic animals, coloring books, and a treasure hunt digsite, aspiring paleontologists will fall in love with the Dinosaur Brokers booth.
2. The Butterflies by God booth is filled with frames of dead butterflies. It sounds a tad spooky, but it’s definitely a must-see. The most inexpensive one we found was $38.
3. A few booths offer up fossilized dinosaur poop, including Utah Dump Digger and Kings of Coprolite. In person, it’s even cooler than it sounds.
4. Hagar’s Fossils & Minerals showcases some outstanding gems and minerals, but the real stars are the Alaskan mammoth tusks, teeth and bones. You can’t miss them when walking by.
5. Among the many things at the Alaska Scrimshaw Connection booth are real leaves preserved in 24-karat gold. The leaves even come as pendants for necklaces and earrings and trust us — their booth was busy.
5 MUST-SEE GEMS & MINERALS
1. The 22nd Street show features a lot of purple amethyst. For one of the many vendors selling it, visit the Mosselin Stones booth where the amethyst sparkles endlessly in the fluorescent lights. They even have some that are heart-shaped. Other vendors with amethyst include Amethyst & Materials from Uruguay and Becker Stones.
2. The Piritas de Navajun booth is most known for its pyrite, which is a cubed mineral with a mirror-like surface. It’s as though it’s carved, but according to one of the salespeople, it comes from Spain and is all natural.
3. The Rockology booth comes from Queen Creek and has hundreds of amethyst on display. But what caught our eye was the Copper Splash hung on the wall. The vendor says it’s made when copper is melted, splashed onto a steel plate, and heated. From there, he says the copper releases its elements to produce all-natural colors, including purple, pink, yellow, and orange. It’s almost as if someone slapped a Tucson sunset on a piece of metal.
4. The B&R Rock Shop has many gems and minerals for sale, but tucked away on the back table are several intricate ships made of jade. They’re smooth, delicate, and look incredibly well-designed.
5. Mt. St. Helens Gems & Jewelry comes from Leavenworth, Washington, and has dozens of sparkling jewelry on display. Among the many shiny gems are moissanite, which is said to have been discovered in Arizona, and bright green emerald.
5 AFFORDABLE OPTIONS
1. Michigan Rocks & Minerals sells lots of turquoise and copper. Some is pricey, but other small pieces are only $25.
2. Matrix India sells boxes of zeolite for only $35. Not $35 each, but $35 for an entire box.
3. The NZ Bismuth booth features rainbow-y bismuth crystals for as low as $5. They also have affordable jewelry options, including necklaces, some for only $10 or $15.
4. The Throwin’ Stones booth is fairly large, and almost everything is affordable and sometimes even on sale. Among the many finds at the booth are Aura Quartz glow-in-the-dark skulls for $40 and natural stone jewelry ranging from $5 to $10. One of the vendors says the business works closely with families in South Africa and aims for sustainability. Throwin’ Stones also has a more expensive booth at the Pueblo Gem Show on Cushing Street, but the 22nd Street one remains affordable. “We want a little girl to see a pink crystal, see that it’s only $5 or $10, and know that she can afford it with her own allowance money,” the salesman says.
5. Have you ever wanted a crystal lamp? Now’s your chance. The Idaho Bling Bling booth features Himalayan salt lamps starting at $20. They also have $6 candle holders made from the same material, and $2 toy animals carved from soapstone.