Tucson Gem Show

Every year for 16 days, a massive Gem Show rolls into Tucson to sell everything from tiny rocks to dinosaur bones. I used to avoid attending this gigantic production, thinking I wasn’t interested in seeing a bunch of stones. It was on a complete whim one year that I decided to see what all the hoopla was about. Indeed, I quickly discovered that I was missing a lot, for this was no mere jewelry show as I always imagined — this was a veritable natural history museum on steroids. I soon grew suspicious that I was rubbing elbows with museum curators making purchases to stuff their ever-growing institutions. What exactly do I mean by that, you ask? Here, allow me to present Exhibit A:

Pictured above are full-blown dinosaur skeletons available for purchase. Provided you have enough money, you can bring home an entire T-Rex to decorate your living room. Seriously. A full T-Rex. If a T-Rex isn’t your style, you could always opt for a Triceratops. The choice is absolutely yours.

Now, I don’t know how many of those skeletons are authentic versus synthetic, but my point is that you can buy them there. Tell me where else I could possibly purchase reconstructed dinosaur bones. Let me guess, you can’t think of anywhere. I didn’t think so. I’ve never seen them for sale anywhere else either. I never thought I wanted to own a dinosaur skeleton, but now I do. I just don’t have anywhere to put one. That’s the only reason I didn’t shove one into my car to come home with me. It had nothing to do with the fact that I was too afraid to ask the salesperson how much they cost. I was also too shy to ask someone how much a ginormous chunk of crystal would set me back. I assumed if I had to ask, I couldn’t afford it.

That rock was bigger than my head. Heck, it was bigger than my torso. I didn’t know when they thought Jeff Bezos would stroll in, but that had to be the caliber of customer they were catering to. They sure had a lot of giant gems all packed up and ready to go to a happy home. Here’s a picture of one of the “smaller” ones sitting in an oversized milkcrate:

If I’m assuming correctly, I’m guessing whoever’s reading this can’t afford giant crystals either. Well, for $5, anyone can sit in an amethyst geode and take a selfie, as this guy did.

Doesn’t that look comfy? Well, anything for novelty, I suppose. Looks a little dark in there, though. I personally think he would’ve gotten a better shot simply standing in front of this beautiful geode for free:

Who buys these things?? Hotels? Rich people? Elon Musk?

They are gorgeous, aren’t they? I don’t even want to know the story behind anything I see there, though, as I’m sure child and slave labor laws don’t apply. It’s admittedly hard not to think about where the gems come from, though. For the most part, everything is sold pretty darn cheap. Prices on the rocks pictured below were negotiable, with the salesperson telling me I could pick 20 rocks for $5 a piece. That is insanely affordable. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to do with 20 rocks, so I didn’t buy any. But I was tempted. Oh, how I was tempted.

Tents like that are found everywhere throughout the city. Each “show” tends to focus on a specialty, be it loose gems, fossils, minerals, beads, or meteorites. Freaking meteorites! It’s intense. I know of nowhere else where I can overhear two people arguing about how to put a dinosaur together. I took a picture of the display after they walked away in frustration.

It’s such a joy to walk around the pop-up Gem Show stores carved out of converted hotel rooms. My husband said it best when he described the experience as a modern-day Trajan’s market. All of the Empire is there, speaking a motley of foreign languages.

Sadly, I have no use for Rock Crystal Powder, but I do know where to buy some should the need ever arise. The Tucson Gem Show is definitely where I’d do my shopping if I decide to become a witch, for it would be my go-to place for all my obscure product supplies.

My book Memory Road Trip is available as e-book or paperback! Buy it either at Amazon or at most major retailers

Published by Krista Marson

Hi, my name is Krista, and I'm a traveling fiend. I am passionate about history, nature, art, gardening, writing, and watching movies. I created this blog to let people know I have some travel novels available to read. Enjoy!

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