The city of Tucson, AZ turns into an amazing marketplace for Gems, Jewelry, Fossils, Oddities, Stone Work, Wood Work, Metal Work, Bead Work, Jewelers, Designers and Artisans of every possible medium you can think of – and some you haven’t yet considered – in the annual Gem and Jewelry Show that starts mid-January and continues through February!
First let me say that the “Gem and Jewelry Show” is a total misnomer. This title would have you thinking that there is a convention somewhere in town that you can go to and have your fill of all things BLINGY, then drive home, rest your weary feet, and look through all your amazing purchases and live happy ever after. Well, that may be how it started some 50 years ago or so, but NOW…..NOW it’s a whole different ball-game! Now-a-days, the ENTIRE TOWN OF TUCSON turns into a giant marketplace for all things mostly focused on rocks and jewelry, but now also including skin-care, clothing, beads, artwork, blades, bones, artifacts, shells, and everything in-between. This marketplace literally expands into hotel venues, RV Parks, the Convention Centers and Banquet Halls and GIANT event tents that run the length of football fields in nearly 70 locations across town! While some shows are more intimate and botique-y feeling, others are just rows and rows of both, stalls, and tables with vendors from all over the world showing their wares and hoping you will spend all your money with them.
There’s a FREE 250 page guidebook printed by www.tucsonshowguide.com you can pick up all over town, but if that is not enough – try the phone APP that shows where to shop and what to look for! Have trouble getting around town – no problem! – there are even shuttle busses that will take shoppers from one venue to the others all day long. You do need to do a little research before coming down because some of the shows are wholesale only and others are open to the general public, many of which are also providing wholesale prices for the event, so that’s nice. Some of the shows also focus on certain types of vendors and have a larger selection of fossils, metals, gems, and other specific things that buyers may be looking for.
This year, I was fortunate enough to teach bead weaving classes at the Colors of the Stone – To Bead True Blue Show held at the Casino del Sol. This is a somewhat smaller show that is geared more towards beaders and individual artisans than many of the other venues. The Casino has a giant ballroom that gets filled with bead and stone vendors, suppliers, designers, crafters, and Artists selling beads, supplies, finished jewelry, amazing focals, and tools. This show is also home to a bevy of instructors that hold classes in glass, clay, wire, beadwork, etc and is a great place to shop and learn a new technique!
I think many out of town travelers, other than the vendors that were showing, were still on the fence about traveling to crowded venues this year because attendance overall looked a little light everywhere I went, but it was great to see people being patient, voluntarily wearing masks, and keeping a bit of distance while ogling the goods. The classes were also a little light on pre-registration, but we had some same-day sign-ups and some unfortunate last-minute cancelations too.
All in all it was great trip and is worth checking out, if you can make it down here sometime. Just pace yourself and don’t expect to “see everything” and remember to wear sunglasses because well, its bright down here and all the BLINGY crystals and jewelry will make your eyes pop out of their sockets! So start saving up your bead money and come on down to play with us!
PS: I want one of those giant bathtub size geodes!!!