Sunday, February 06, 2011

Overwhelmed as usual by Tucson gem show

This is my 5th Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase, and I'm still blown away and overwhelmed. Even if you spend all day, each day of the 2-week long series of events, I doubt you can see it all. And if you take the time to talk with the dealers and collectors, you're lucky to see more than a few of the 50 or so independent shows underway around town.

We've had two sets of friends in town the past week for other reasons, who had never been to the show. It's always fun to watch their discovery of just how gigantic and diverse this extravaganza really is. Yesterday, after hitting the show at the Hotel Tucson (formerly Inn Suites), Mineral & Fossil Co-op, and wrapping up the day at the fabulous Westward Look mineral show, our friends Margie and John from Salt Lake City, seemed to be in shell shock.

That's me with giant garnets in schist from New South Wales, Australia. I hadn't seen these before but there were large blocks like this at two different dealers - one had sold most of his by Saturday.

Also, there was a lot more rhodochrosite from China this year than I recall seeing [right].

Despite the size of the showcase, it's amazing how many friends and colleagues we bumped into everywhere we go. ASU geology prof Steve Semken and his wife Jean were at Hotel Tucson when we got there. We ran into Prescott geologist and collector Steve Maslansky at Westward Look Resort and he shepherded us through a number of rooms, offering histories and insights on some of the most specatular mineral specimens at the whole show. Steve is going to give a dinner talk on mineral collecting to the AIPG national board this Friday at their mid-year meeting that they hold in conjunction with the gem show.

We literally bumped into Joe Iovenitti, VP of Exploration for geothermal company Alta Rock Energy, who was in town with his girlfriend Angela. I introduced Joe to Steve, whereupon they discovered they had each bought some of their very first minerals from a small rock shop next to Saks 5th Avenue in NY when they were both young kids.


  1. Thanks for the heads-up on the good spots, Lee. Last year I attended the show for the first time, but I made the mistake of going to the convention center. I saw row after row of of cut gems. I didn't want cut gems, I wanted rocks! The gnarlier, the better. The only consolation was looking at the moon rock on display. I had just been to Meteor Crater a few weeks before, so I recognized shocked rock. WAY cool. If I can get down to Tucson this week, I'll check out your recommendations.

  2. One day I'll get to this show, one day! I know I'll be overwhelmed but I can deal with that ;-) Thanks, Gee

  3. One day I'll get to this show, one day! I know I'll be overwhelmed but I think I can deal with that! Thanks, Gee

  4. I'd really love to get to this show in Tuscon one day. Everyone says how it's impossible to see everything so your recommendations are welcome. Thanks, Gee

  5. Anonymous10:01 AM

    The convention center has lots of great rocks, minerals, and fossils as well. I also found some great photographs of minerals printed on canvas and stretched on a frame. I also really like looking at the display cases at the convention center. I make some purchases every year.