For two weeks, each January and February, Tucson, Arizona is transformed into a city of gem, mineral, bead and jewelry vendors and enthusiasts. If you love gems from around the world, unusual gifts, fossils and gemstone jewelry, Tucson is the place to be in January and February.
The first time I went to the “gem show,” I was totally confused. I contacted one show coordinator and got information. I thought it was “the” show. Only later did I find out that Tucson is filled with gem and mineral shows and the one I contacted was just one of many. In fact, you’ll find vendors in every nook and cranny of Tucson, from street corners to hotel rooms. The shows are linked together by convenient shuttle buses. Free GemRide Shuttle Information Website
What You Need to Know About Tucson Gem Shows
- First of all, there are many shows. While vendors are clustered in arenas, tents and hotels, you’ll need a plan to make sure you find the shows you are most interested in. There are wholesale shows, retail shows and exhibition shows.
- You’ll have two weeks to see the sparkling gems, buy international bargains and tour the shows. Most shows run from the end of January through the first two weekends in February.
- The best place to find out about the other shows in the area is the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau website. You can search for the type of show you want to attend (jewelry, fossils, minerals, etc) and find out when the shows open and whether or not they are restricted to wholesale buyers. The website includes information on other Tucson attractions.
- Finding a place to stay during gem show is very difficult. Between the vendors, wholesale buyers and visitors, most rooms are taken. Here are some places to stay in Tucson.
Gem and Mineral Show for the General Public
The most informational show is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show™ which is held at Tucson Convention Center Exhibition Hall and the Arena. This is a public show. It is important to know that this show does not necessarily open at the beginning of the season. This is the best show for children and families.
The acclaimed Tucson Gem and Mineral Show™ is held every year on the second full weekend of February. It has set the standard for gem and mineral shows around the world, and is now the largest gem and mineral show in the United States. The Show is open to the public and presents retail dealers only. Proceeds from the show remain in the Tucson area and are used to support mineral knowledge and appreciation. For more information go to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society website.
Shows for Wholesale Buyers
While there are many tents and hotels housing vendors selling wholesale, I recommend the following:
JOGS Show: The J.O.G.S. show is held in the Tucson Expo Center, one of Tucson’s largest professional convention centers. The whole show takes place under one roof and on the same floor. There are vendors from all over the world. Featured are amber, gem decor items, strings of beads and gorgeous jewelry. You’ll need a business license allowing you to buy wholesale in order to register for this show. Website
Gem & Lapidary Wholesalers, Inc. (G&LW): This is an excellent wholesale show with vendors placed comfortably under two semi-permanent tents with a good food court outside. You’ll find beads, jewelry from around the world and gift items. You’ll need a business license allowing you to buy wholesale in order to register for this show. Website
Shows for Wholesale and Retail
While billed as a wholesale show, this conglomeration of international vendors, does sell to the general public. I always head for the Pueblo Gem Show at the Riverpark
Inn. These motels are a fun place to shop during gem show. You’ll see Tibetan singing bowls, knit clothing from Ecuador and, of course, the beads and jewelry. Amazing gemstones and fossils will entrance visitors. There is a nice food area in the outdoor central courtyard.
Many shows are open to the public.
There are many websites and publications that will lead you to the shows. The Jewelry Show Guide is one of them.
The fall show line-up is growing. Some buyers can’t wait until January and February to stock up and so little by little shows are started offering a fall option.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose