(Malachite "pickle" from the Mineral Oddities show. )
Where: Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.
2009 update: Busy show when Arizona Bead Dog attended on the last day, and great mineral specimens, as in years past, for the whole family to enjoy.
What: Aside from the 200+ vendors at the show, this show provides a lecture series, mostly about minerals, Thursday through Saturday. For example, the Geo-Literary Society is presenting "George Frederick Kunz's Contribution to the Gem & Mineral Literature of the U.S." Indeed, 2008's theme is the "Minerals of the USA," and many of the lectures concern minerals and their deposits here in this country. The mineral displays took 2 years to put together and were, as always, like a museum visit. You could see gold, native silver, tourmaline, pyromorphite, and fluorescent minerals, among many others. Hundreds of people stood in line opening morning. You'll also find lots of beautiful finished jewelry--fine (gold, silver, platinum) and fun. There's carvings, mineral specimens, inlaid wood vases, sterling silver findings, bead strands, pearls, display-ware, purses, raku and glass beads, opals, Native American art and jewelry, mineral photographs, and many trinket items. The prices seemed generally competitive to those at the wholesale and other public gem shows. It would be easy to spend 2-3 hours or more here.
In 2008, the show's entrance was on the west side of the TCC, so for those of us who bought tickets on the far northeast side, it was a bit of a hike to get in. If you're in a wheelchair, try to start from the west side; tickets are available there, too.
(Top, caclite "bird's nest;" bottom left, calcite on jamesonite "ice cream scoops;" right, more calcite "eggs" from the Mineral Oddities show.)
or Out: Inside; the booth setup here gives you an idea what the buyer-only shows look and feel like. This venue is open and airy. There was actually a table with chairs to sit and chat, pull your camera from your knapsack, or just rest a moment before going to the next display.
Tip: 2011 admission prices not available as of 12/23/10, but be prepared to pay admission costs. 2008 ticket costs were $9 (2009 cost: $9.25, which looks to be the same in 2010) for adults. (Those with military ID can get $2 discount on Friday, as can seniors 65 and older; children 14 and under are free with a paying adult). 2008 parking was an additional $4.
Parking: Ample, but unless you find a meter or on-street parking, you’ll pay.
Food: Tortilla Express, BBQ, coffee, ice cream, lemonade and other sweets.
rooms: Ample, inside.
dates: Only open the last 4 days of the larger gem & mineral show, February 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th (Thursday through Sunday).
Show hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except the last day, Sunday, the show closes early at 5 p.m.
2009 Shuttle routes: Ruby/Emerald/Citrine/Tanzanite/Copper/Amber
For additional information: www.tgms.org.
(Gold "bristlecone" and native silver.)