First Timer at the Tucson Gem Show

Stories of hotels full of stones and gems. Tents of rocks that span blocks. Amethyst cathedrals and gigantic clear quartz crystals. Tiny drops of heaven glittering in the sunlight. These images clouded my mind the night before I attended the gem show for the first time. I went over the list of stones I planned to hunt for as I drifted off to sleep: chrysoprase, sunstone, kunzite, malachite, lapis lazuli, argonite, fluorite. I tossed and turned in anticipation.

My husband and I had booked a room at the Casino del Sol. The room was spacious and hosted a king size bed and a desk, along with a chaise lounge sofa. A large window allowed in ample sunlight during the day but had a dark curtain that blocked the brightness if desired. I didn’t even have to wait for my alarm to go off, I awoke excited.

I had heard that things didn’t really get going and everyone wasn’t open until around ten o’clock. After getting ready we drove about twenty minutes to the Decibel Coffee. The vibe was eclectic, located in a complex made of rusty containers with the interiors converted into retail and restaurant space. Portions of the containers were replaced with large windows and the rust on the exterior contrasted nicely with the white walls on the inside. Plants flourished from pleasantly placed planters. One of their specialty coffee drinks was the Cafe de Olla which featured espresso, chocolate, house made syrup with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and piloncillo. The result was a delicious combination of bitter, sweet, and warm spice flavors. I had my coffee and it was time for the gem show.

Luckily, I found and reached out to them for some suggestions and tips and they were extremely helpful and provided valuable insight. The first thing I discovered, which shocked me, was that the “Tucson Gem Show” was actually an accumulation of about fifty separate shows occurring at the same time in the city. Driving around all of the signs and tents make it challenging to decide where to stop or where to start. I had been advised that the Pueblo Gem Show had a nice variety of stones, so that is where we headed first. The Pueblo Gem Show was hosted at the Ramada Inn. Easy-ups and canopies lined the exterior walls of the hotel and inside the courtyard. A large white tent sat in the parking lot covering an area the size of a football field. Inside tables sat lined with crystals.

Before parking I was in awe. We drove past quartz towers taller than an adult. Large crystal balls the size of beach balls glimmered in the sunlight. This was the moment I realized I probably didn’t need the coffee because being around all of these rocks drove my energy through the roof. Also, it didn’t hurt that my senses were stimulated by all the people bustling about.

Admittedly, the first few hours were overwhelming. Upon further exploration, we discovered that the first floor rooms had been converted into storefronts. The hotel furniture had been removed from the rooms and had been replaced with store shelves and glass cabinets. Not only were all walkways lined with tables and booths, but there were rooms to explore as well. Pricing was also something I did not originally understand. Some vendors have each piece tagged with a price and others tell you the price per gram or kilogram for each stone, so if you wanted the actual price they would need to weigh it. It wasn’t until my second day there that I realized I could bargain. Some vendors were not interested in this but others responded well and I was able to save significant amounts of money by bargaining on the price per kilogram. I wish I knew that from the beginning. It definitely doesn’t hurt to ask.

There were storefronts that offered flats of crystal specimens. Vendors sold bags of tumbled stones and boxes of towers. There was so much to see and I was apprehensive to buy at the beginning because I didn’t know what I was going to see next. I had ventured to the gem show for my personal collection, yet seeing the stones and the prices made me want to follow my dream of opening a metaphysical shop lined with crystals. I definitely know where I would go for my stock if that was something I decided to do.

Overall, the first day was full of a variety of emotions. It was exhilarating and draining. I found some of the items on my list and added other items I saw that caught my eye. My favorite piece I picked up from the first day is a smokey quartz sphere with phantoms throughout that catch the light. I would advise any first timers to enter the first day with an open mind and don’t feel rushed to purchase anything. There are possibly more affordable options at different booths or shows. There might even be specimens that are more beautiful or have better energy. The Tucson Gem Show is like Disneyland for stone lovers. Create a list of what you want to see, buy,  and the activities you want to do while you are there to efficiently use your time.

Back to blog