"Rock On!" Tucson Gem Show!

"Rock On!" Tucson Gem Show!

Talk about winging it!

picture of heather at the tucson gem show with quartz wings behind her

The Tucson Gem Show is something that's been going on every year since around 1955! This is a market and mecca for rockhounds, jewelry industry professionals, serious collectors, geologists, educators, enthusiasts, and now, many shows are open to the public as well!

Shows? Did you catch that part?
(over 40 of them)

colorful mosaic on the tucson convention center in arizona

Yep! All together this major event encompasses over 40 individual shows throughout the city for a full month between mid January until mid February! Each show has a different run time, entry requirements, specialties and overall feel! There's truly something for everyone to enjoy! This year, I finally had the chance to check things out!

3 Shows in 2 Days!

holding a large chunk of raw rough aquamarine in front of tucson landscape backdrop

Like mentioned earlier, there are tons and tons of shows! I was able to squeak in 3 during my visit and can't wait to share a little bit about them with you!

The three shows I visited were the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, The 22nd Street Show, and The Kino Show. Each one as a totally different experience and worth checking out! Here's a little summary of what I found:


Tucson Gem & Mineral Show:

The "original" gem show of Tucson, this show boasts 2 floors of incredible mineral and gem formations behind glass, lectures, and if you owned a jewelry store and wanted to load up your case with appealingly priced manufactured goods, or if you're looking to buy yourself some special finished goods - this is your place!

There's parking available within and around the convention center if you get there early and there is a fee for admittance, in the form of a 1 or 2 day pass.

The experience here was curated and museum-like. Geodes, raw gems and minerals available for sale were cleaned, sparkling and many of them were sold in a case. Ideal for the collector that wants to place their purchase immediately on a shelf! 

This was a fun experience to window shop and look around as if touring a gallery. For handmade jewelry designers though, and especially if you have limited time, I think you may find other shows to be a little more beneficial.


The 22nd Street Show:

bead picture from 22nd street show in tucson

2 GIANT tents full of about 300 vendors pop-up for the 22nd Street Show!
Right off the highway, this show felt a little more along the lines of gem shows I'm more familiar with (and love). Tables full of beads to sift through, finding treasures in random piles, and making design choices and commitments on the spot! 

Admittance was free for this show, however there was a $10 parking fee to be on-site. Like both of the other two shows I visited, most goods were stones, agates, minerals, and crystals but there were a few awesome tables of beads!

The Kino Show:


chrysocolla, rose quartz, amethyst raw rough rocks on a tarp

(mounds of chrysocolla, amethyst, rose quartz and more piled on a tarp for sifting through)

It goes without saying... you'll see all the pictures... This show was BY FAR my favorite of the 3! I think it would probably take 2 full days to really thoroughly complete strolling through this endless show. One of the longer running markets, vendors are set up here from January 19th through February 11th selling everything from cut gems, beads, healing crystals, raw stones, agates, minerals, carved statues and legit pallets of of unbelievable finds!

a bin of raw malochite

The grittiest of the 3 shows, but definitely the coolest (in my opinion) if you love to actually get your hands dirty picking up some of the most amazing rocks you've ever seen in real life, aren't scared of putting MILES on your sneakers, and know you're going to be using a stain stick to get the mud and earth off of your jeans and hoodie - this is your place!

rose quartz in a bin at the tucson gem show

Rows of booths and tables lined the inside of multiple LARGE tents- filled with everything from small items like flats of figurines and worry stones, towers, and pocket-sized rough stones to HUGE lamps created from stone slabs, table tops and sink bowls carved from agate, petrified wood and fluorite. This show truly had some of the neatest things I've ever seen and I can't recommend this stop enough!

table of blue lapis towers and carved stones and buckets of rose quartz and aquamarine on the ground 

Outside the massive tents, smaller 10x10 pop ups lined the walls and gravel walkways and paths. Tables full of of treasures, hand carved pieces and buckets of raw gems like rose quartz and aquamarine were tossed casually around for shoppers to peruse.

metal trash cans full of blue lace agate raw stones

Metal trashcans and crates filled spaces between tents for artisans and collectors to dig through! It wasn't on the list.. but we came home with some pretty cool finds and managed to keep our suitcases under the travel weight!

 nate with a raw fluorite rock at the kino show in tucon

It was really easy to get off-task with all of the incredible distractions! Luckily I found 2 great vendors that had just the beads I was looking for and everything I didn't even know I needed! These kind of gem shows aren't for the faint of heart but they can be really fun! I kind of liken it to an EXTREME TJ Maxx situation- If you bring your patience, stay calm, and are willing to do lots of digging, you can find treasures like no one else has!

buckets of beads from kino show in tucson rows of beads from booth at kino show in tucson

 Hope you liked getting a little behind the scenes peek at these shows and what goes into creating pieces from scratch! 

Thank you again for being part of this creative journey with me!!

:) Heather 

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