Today, the Tucson Gem Show is without a doubt the largest, oldest and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.
From humble beginnings come great things! Its founder, Dan Caudle, a member of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society initiated the show called the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in March of 1955 in the Helen Keeling Elementary School. The mission of the society was to encourage interest and study in geology, mineralogy, lapidary, and allied earth sciences. The first show included nine dealers. Admission was free. Surprised and pleased with the nearly 1500 people who attended the first show, the group was encouraged to plan a bigger and better one the following year.
History in the making! The show moved to a Quonset hut at the Pima Country Fair and Rodeo Grounds, where it remained until 1972 when the Tucson Convention Center opened. The year 1961 was a pivotal time for the show as it was the first time the Smithsonian Institution was involved. Its display was themed “Uncommon Gemstones and Mineral Crystals.” It was also the first time a satellite show appeared. An unsponsored group of 13 wholesale dealers organized at the Holiday Inn. It must have been a success! Other shows started “popping up” all over Tucson.
Oh my! Look what you’ve become! Today the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase encompasses the entire city with independent shows set up in huge circus tents, expo halls, hotels, warehouses as well as the city’s convention center. At about 45 locations, nearly 5000 trade companies from every continent gather to share their wares ranging from every type of polished and rough rock and fossil specimen, to microscopes, tweezers and finished jewelry.
Still doing what you do best! The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show – the original show - has always been known for its displays of world class gem, mineral and fossil collections sourced both from private collections and major museums including the Smithsonian and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History among others. Each year a mineral or group of minerals is designated as the show’s theme mineral highlighting collections from all over the world. The show also includes educational lectures and seminars, hands on demonstrations and a junior education area.
Build it and they will come! The Showcase hailed as one of the largest and most popular events in the gem and mineral world attracts nearly 60,000 people annually during a two week period in late January and early February. Do you have a passion for gems? Most of the shows are open to the public except for certain wholesale trade shows which require registration with a business license.
What about the natives! Crowds are welcomed as they fill hotel and resort rooms, restaurants, rental cars and airline seats many, many months in advance. The show has had a huge positive impact on the local economy. In response, the city provides many services to help manage the influx of people including a free shuttle service called Gemride. In recent years a smart phone app – The Official Tucson Gem Show Guide - is available to help navigate the vast locations and options available for the enrichment of the attendees.
What does it mean for you? Brian and Alison, both GIA Graduate Gemologists as well as AGS Certified Gemologists look forward to their annual trip to sunny, warm Tucson. They have, in fact, found the show app to be indispensible to the success of their search for gems destined to become Beeghly and Company treasures! Stay tuned next week . . . we will share examples of some of their great finds! And make you an offer you may find hard to resist!
Photos courtesy of Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, Tucson Gem Mineral & Fossil Showcase, Visittucson.org