Your Guide to the Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase

January 28, 2016

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show offers a range of items both Earthly and hand-crafted. There are shows all over town that feature everything from rocks to entertainment to fry bread.

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show offers a range of items both Earthly and hand-crafted. There are shows all over town that feature everything from rocks to entertainment to fry bread.

By Cristina Manos

In Tucson, the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show brings about many reactions from locals. This is because for a couple of weeks every winter, Tucson is turned on its toes and must accommodate a huge influx of folks from all over the world. Most noticeable to locals is the increase in traffic, and the increase in restaurant business is a close second.

“We all recognize the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is one of the largest generators for tourism, making it an important economic engine for bringing outside money into the city,” says Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “I’m looking forward to this tremendous show, in part because it is the first time attendees will be able to take advantage of the Modern Street Car.”

Every year, Tucson is flooded with dealers and buyers of the most rare and precious gems and minerals from around the globe. There’s something for everyone, from high-end buyers to curious locals who just want a little nugget to have for a small home-collection of stones, jewels or rocks. The show spreads far and wide and it can be overwhelming to try to figure out where to go and how to get there.

For those looking to stay in Downtown and the surrounding areas for their Gem Show shopping spree, there are options that can keep you on a route where travel doesn’t require a car, and for those who want to travel by car, there are parking options. And as the Mayor said, theSun Link streetcar will be a big help.

The late John W. Anthony is remembered for his character, wit, humor and contribution to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. Anthony was a professor of geosciences at the U of A who contributed to bringing the academic & museum aspect to the Gem Show. Phtotgraph donated by Dorrie Anthony Bastimpillai.

The late John W. Anthony is remembered for his character, wit, humor and contribution to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. Anthony was a professor of geosciences at the U of A who contributed to bringing the academic & museum aspect to the Gem Show. Phtotgraph donated by Dorrie Anthony Bastimpillai.

Your Downtown & Surrounding Area Gem Show Get-Around Guide:

One way to make your route simple is to follow the Sun Link streetcar, starting from the west end. There is free parking at the Frontage Rd. at 22nd St. and I-10. Park there and start your tour with the 22nd Street Mineral, Fossil & Gem Show.

The 22nd Street Show boasts around 300 mid to high-end dealers on the top floor of a three-story building. The first two floors are filled with dozens whose merchandise is affordable for the modest budget. This show also features a variety of interesting eats from Italian street food to fry bread to acai bowls. You can get started here and take a shuttle north along the frontage road to your next stop.

At 1010 S. Freeway Rd. you will find the Globex Gem and Mineral Show at the Howard Johnson Hotel. This show offers a variety of choices in gems, minerals, fossils, metaphysical, jewelry and meteorites. Places like this also have rare finds that seem to pop out of nowhere, like a hand crafted belly dance costume, alternative fine art piece or a unique sculpture.

Heading north on the shuttle, go past the Tucson Modern Street Car to 350 S. Freeway Rd. for the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show at Riverpark Inn. This show promises a range of materials from all seven continents. Its location fashions a different side of Tucson with actual grass. And palm trees. Shuttles will take shoppers to the Sun Link streetcar every 15 minutes, making exploring on frontage road easy. Just a little further north you will find Rapa River Gem and Mineral Show at 292 S. Freeway Rd.

Once you’re ready to jump on the Sun Link streetcar, it’s easy to head to the shows on Granada and St. Mary’s. At 475 Granada and 330 Granada, the Hotel City Center, there are shows that feature dealers, stones, rocks, fossils and much more from around the world. At 450 Granada you will find the Fine Minerals International show where mineral collections are carefully examined for excellence.

Dr. John W. Anthony says "drink beer" with your gem show experience. The late professor was one of the inspiring characters who had a hand in growing the event, which is now one of the largest gem shows in the world. Photograph donated by Dorrie Anthony Bastiampillai

Dr. John W. Anthony says “drink beer” with your gem show experience. The late professor was one of the inspiring characters who had a hand in growing the event, which is now one of the largest gem shows in the world. Photograph donated by Dorrie Anthony Bastiampillai

The Main Show is held annually at the Tucson Convention Center at 260 S. Church and lasts for the last four days of the tour. From February 11-14, the main show runs from 10am to 6pm Thursday through Saturday, and 10am to 5pm on Sunday. After February 15 the Gem Show will roll out of town and Tucson will quiet down along just enough to take a nap before March Madness hits and U of A fans start the next community buzz.

Gem Show & Beer

It’s not as far fetched as it sounds. The integration of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show and beer has been around ever since the original “rock hounds” who started the Gem Show in 1955 took the torch from their U of A professor of geosciences & curator of the Mineralogical Museum, John W. Anthony, who was one of the leading characters in the geology scene. Anthony hit the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show as an educator, but his mere presence brought with it the mystique of a magician and the humor of a comedian.

As the Gem and Mineral show grew in popularity, the late Dr. Anthony’s students begged him to bring his black curtain tent and display museum items. Anthony was there to lend support, humorously tease his students, and to have beer with them. Anthony inspired the academic gravitas for the event – the museum and educational aspect – where beer and good company replaced buying and selling. According to his children Dorrie Anthony Bastiampillai and Ryan Anthony, Dr. Anthony was there to double and triple check his students’ displays making sure each and every mineral, stone, fossil or other piece of Earth was labeled properly – while cracking jokes and drinking beer.

Carry on the tradition as you travel in and around Downtown for the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show this year. Beer is available! Downtown offers a variety of restaurants and bars that can serve as a rest stop while on your treasure hunt.

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