Pre-Plan Your Tucson Gem Show Trek with the 2019 Tucson Show Guide
I want to go to Tucson. I mean, I really want to go to Tucson. As I write this, it is cold and rainy and gray in eastern Pennsylvania. And I keep thinking about warm, sunny Tucson. How I would love to be there right now.
ABOVE: Tucson skyline. Photo courtesy of Visit Tucson
So as I contemplate the weather, I’m also thinking about the annual Tucson gem, mineral, fossil, jewelry, and bead shows in February. I suppose I can wait until February, but it will be tough.
In the meantime, I’m planning out my Tucson trip in my head. I very much enjoy all of the Tucson shows, but like everyone else, I do have my favorites.
Tucson Gem Shows: 22nd Street
I especially love the 22nd Street Show. It’s always been a great place to find unusual stones and findings. But the show added an amazing Showplace in 2018. Not only did it have fascinating fossils and meteorites and stones, the Showplace featured full-size dinosaur skeletons. The dino geek in me freaked out when I saw those. I can’t wait to go back and see what they have in 2019!
Tucson Gem Shows: Along the Strip
I’m also a big fan of the shows along the I-10 strip. I love to spend a whole day at the Quality Inn show, the Howard Johnson show, the Globe-X show, the Pueblo show, and the Rapa River show. These indoor/outdoor venues include amazing stones, gorgeous finished jewelry, spectacular tools, and awesome findings. A lot of them also include non-jewelry items like clothes and purses and more. There’s even a great sunglasses vendor at Rapa River that I love to visit every year.
Tucson Gem Shows: GJX
For top-of-the-line gemstones, my favorite venue is GJX. I always reserve a good portion of my budget for this show, and I can spend hours and hours just wandering up and down the aisles between the booths. The hard part? Deciding what to spend my money on. There’s just so much.
I will admit that one of my favorite vendors at GJX is Gary Wilson. Gary has the most incredible array of stones and other materials for jewelry making. I always pick up some Leland Blue stones (industrial slag turned to stone in Lake Michigan). I’ve also found some awesome Fordite at that booth. (I’m from a family of Detroit auto maker employees and car collectors, so Fordite is one of my favorite stones.) I’ve even purchased pool ball slices from Gary. They’re wonderful to mount in pendants. Pool ball jewelry? How can you go wrong?
Tucson Gem Shows: African Art Village
But if I were forced to choose my very favorite Tucson show, I’d have to say that it’s the African Art Village. This smaller show may be off the beaten path, but it’s well worth a little walk! I love the fabulous stone and metal beads, the fabrics, and the chains. But there’s so much more there. You can find drums and other instruments, clothing, statues, and bags. And carvings! Such incredible carvings. Several years ago, I bought a small carving of a mother and baby hippo. I love it so much! The other things I love to buy at African Art Village are small metal or wooden masks. I’ll scour the booths until I find just the right one. Or two. Or three. I love to turn them into pendants, but I also love to just hang them around my office. They’re delightful!
Start Planning Your Tucson Gem Show Trip
Well, those are my favorite can’t-miss shows. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below. And no, it’s definitely not too early to start planning your February Tucson trek.
As you start thinking about Tucson, the best resource for information on all of the shows is the Tucson Show Guide. The 2019 Tucson Show Guide will be available at the end of December. But this year we’ll be offering a pre-order option and if you don’t want to miss the first chance to buy, you can sign up below and we’ll send you a special email notification the moment it’s available for pre-order.
I can’t wait to get mine.
See you around the shows!
Managing Editor, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Tucson Show Guide