Surviving The Tucson Gem Show

If you’ve ever considered heading to the Tucson Gem Show that happens every Spring, here is the information you need to survive (yes I use that word purposely)! Now for ease, when I saw ‘Tucson Gem Show’ I am referring to the ‘collection’ of shows that happen…. you’ll see what I mean below. Not only will I cover ‘what’ the Tucson crystal shows are, but the tips and tricks that have gotten me through the past several years. Most of this post will be based off of going for the purpose of buying for your crystal shop, but if you are looking to go to the Tucson Gem Show just out of curiosity and personal shopping, you can still get some helpful info. You can also see a section at the very bottom dedicated to ‘personal shopping’.

Tucson Gem Show
The Mineral & Fossil Co-Op building at the Tucson Gem Show

When Is The Tucson Gem Show?

Well this in itself is a slightly loaded question haha. The Tucson Gem & Mineral Festival, the official show is typically around the second week of February every year. This large show takes place at the Convention Center. I’ll admit, I’ve never actually stayed at the shows long enough to make it to this specific one, but from what I hear it is somewhere between ‘look at the pretty museum pieces’ and a retail side. If you are trying to sell crystals, this is likely not the show you need for purchasing, but if you have time to go, I’m sure it is cool!

How long is the Tucson Gem Show you ask? Well, the official show is only a weekend, but the rest of the ‘show’ actually takes place for about 4-6 weeks from mid January to mid to late February. We will get into how that makes sense next.

Tucson Gem Show Schedule
The 2023 Tucson Gem Show Schedule – You Can See The Date Range

What Is the Tucson Gem Show?

When most people refer to ‘The Tucson Gem Show’ we are actually speaking of a collective set of 40-50 jewelry and crystal shows that take place across the city of Tucson throughout the 4-6 week period. Crazy to think about right? This past year for example there were technically 40 shows, but there are always inevitably other shows or warehouses you can venture off to. When I say all over the city, I really mean that. They are all over the place. In hotels, in warehouses, in random tents on the side of the road, and even just someone with a table on a random corner. They range from mostly jewelry to mostly crystals, some are fine specimens, while some are affordable raw crystal sellers, most are wholesale crystals shopping, but a handful are open to the public.

Each show has a different set of dates that they determine. Some will be toward the end of January while some won’t start until February. Some are only 3 days, and some sellers are there for 6 weeks. I wish I could give you a better idea of who is where and when, but even the official dates aren’t truly accurate. The best place to find them is on this site, but even these are updated last minute half the time, and some sellers will open early or late.

Even after many trips I have still not been to every show! It’s just not possible unless you have many weeks to kill and don’t have to worry about getting things done. I did make it my mission in 2020 to go to as many of the Tucson crystal shows as possible, just so I knew which ones I didn’t have to go back to again because they were not a fit for my business.

22nd Street Show At TheTucson Gem Shows
One of the largest of the Tucson Gem Show, the 22nd Street Show is over 300 vendors alone!

Warehouse Shows

Some shows like the 1820 Oracle Show are a collection of single-occupant warehouses that are near each other. While Mineral City Show is also a collection of warehouses, but there are dozens of sellers in each warehouse building. Then there are others like the Arizona Independent Warehouse or JK Stone where they are just a single building off on their own. That’s not to mention the warehouses that are open during the show but aren’t ‘officially’ part of the show (aka not in the show book).

Hotel Shows

Many of the Tucson Gem Show events take place in hotels, right down to in the hotel rooms. Yes, that has become fairly common in crystal world as weird as that may seem. Now the fun part about this is that over the years the hotel names change haha. So something you may call the ‘Motel 6’ show may end up being a Days Inn next year and you won’t know what you are doing.

Tent Shows

There are quite a few tent shows, with 22nd Street being one of the most well known, and in my opinion one of the biggest hot messes I try to avoid these days (I’ll talk about that below). These tent shows can range from 40 vendors to 300+ (like 22nd street). Some of the major jewelry shows are also part of tent crew. Holidome (jewelry) is one that is actually 4 tents and apparently multiple shows if we want to get technical.

Tucson Crystal Show
The ‘load-in’ of the JG&M Show before the 2021 Tucson Gem Show

Other mentions are random shows like JOGS which is in a small convention center by the airport. There are a few buildings off of Main Street that aren’t technically part of a show, but are in one of the ‘hubs’. There are also a lot of spots that are technically 2-3 shows but are for all intensive purposes, one. Take the Rapa River Show that is really just a side off-shoot to the Motel 6 show.

It Can Be Confusing – You Aren’t Alone!

Are you confused yet? Yeah, I know. I’ve been going for years now and they still confuse me. Here is the good news. Every time you go you will get better at going. But first let me confuse you a bit more.

For whatever reason people found it would be a GREAT idea to give shows similar names. So there is no joke a ‘Fossil & Mineral Alley’ and a ‘Mineral & Fossil Marketplace’. A ‘Mineral & Fossil Co-Op’ and a ‘Miners Co-Op’.

Then there are all the dang acronyms! There are 3 GIGM shows, 2 G&LW shows, 2 JG&M shows, GJX, RMGM and more. Yeah, head explosion right?

The ONLY thing that stopped this confusion for me was to create myself a google sheet. I started keeping track of the shows I DID like going to along with some helpful information so I could keep them all straight. Here are some things I added:

  • Show Name: By that I mean the official one as well as the nickname I give it so I can remember.
  • Show Details: things that will help ME remember what show it is and where on earth it is in the city, keeping in mind they tend to change names and hotel chains.
  • Suppliers I Like: Now this may change too, but by putting the suppliers I liked down for each show it will not only remind me what show it is, it will help me the next year when I’m planning my buys.
  • Show Info: Dates, Times, Address. Again some of these may change each year, but it will give me an idea.

Keep in mind that while you can get a show brochure each year with more information, you typically can’t get this until you arrive in Tucson. They DO have an option on the XPO site to get one shipped ahead of the show, but it will cost you.

Tucson Gem Show Book
The 2023 Tucson Gem Show Book

Now that we’ve kind of gotten the ‘what is the Tucson Gem Show’ out of the way and addressed some of the confusing aspects, let’s get into more of the planning and survival skills. It is a grind, which is why I use the word survival.

Traveling To The Tucson Gem Show

This of course will vary widely based off of where you live, of course. If you are trying to buy a lot of rocks haha, you will want to drive if it is reasonable. Luckily you can rent cargo vans fairly cheaply compared to SUV’s or other car rentals. Keep an eye on them on Expedia leading up to your trip. You can usually reserve and cancel for free if you find a better deal. If you can’t drive in due to distance, luckily Tucson itself does have a fairly large airport so you can fly right in. Some flights will take you through a layover in Phoenix. It is about a 3 hour drive between the two, so you do have an option to drive if there is a ridiculous layover. If you fly in, there are shipping options at the show, more on that later.

I choose to stay in an AirBnb when I’m in town because it works better for my needs. But if you prefer a hotel, don’t worry there are lots of those too. Tucson does have a somewhat ‘city-like’ downtown area with hotels, food, and more. I prefer to stay away from cities, what can I say, it’s not my jam, and after a day of shows I don’t need more ‘action’. When you choose a place to stay I recommend somewhere near one of the 3 ‘show pockets’. This will mean staying either by the Kino Sports Complex, by the Mineral City and Oracle Shows, or by the Pueblo and Globex (Red Lion) shows. All three of those will give you at least a couple days of ‘easy access’ to shows. The rest should still be within about 20 minutes. Of course the further you go away from the shows the cheaper places will be to stay…. hotels and AirBnB hosts are not stupid… they do increase prices for the show dates.

How long you stay will depend on how much you need, how much you are comfortable spending (both on crystals and accommodations), and how long you can realistically be away from your business, family, etc. Some shows can easily take a full day to get through, especially if you are looking at everything closely. You will get quicker and better at ‘scanning’ as you do this longer.

If you fly home with crystals, be aware that TSA will check your goods thoroughly. Due to the mineral composition of crystals, they show up on X-Rays in a fairly shady manner. I once flew home with crystals in both my carry-on and in my checked bags. Both of my checked bags were searched (I got a note), and I watched TSA go through every piece of my carry-on.

tucson gem show tips

Shopping At The Tucson Gem Show

Like I mentioned, you will get better at this every time you go. Depending on your needs, you will find the shows that offer what you need, which ones you can probably skip. How to maximize your time at each shows, which days to go where, and so on. It takes time and years to get it down…. I’m still waiting for that year where I feel like I really ‘got it’. I thought I had, then Covid hit and the shows got all jumbled and dealers moved around and it still hasn’t completely normalized.

I am certainly not a morning person, but it drives my absolutely bonkers that 90% of the gem shows don’t open until 10am. When I’m in Tucson, I’m on a mission, and I’m spending a lot of time and money I don’t have to be there…. I want to maximize my time! Ok, sorry for the bitching. But it is true, most shows don’t open until later, and most close at 4pm, some 5pm, and a very tiny handful will stay open till 6:30ish.


You will want to prep for your day with the assumption that you won’t have time for full lunch breaks and you will be on the go constantly. See my tips below on that. Many times once you head to a show you will be there until you are done shopping that entire show, after all, why add to your stress of driving to a new show and trying to find parking after it’s already full. Unless of course you finish the show, then of course leave haha.

Some shows do have paid parking, so you will definitely want to try to maximize that parking fee (hey it all adds up right $$). Pueblo, Rapa River, African Arts Village, and Globex all share a parking lot technically speaking. Meaning that if you can get through all of those shows in one day, it will cost you a one $10 parking fee. If you did that 3 different days, it would be $30 in parking. You can get some good crystals for $20 that you can turn into $60-80! Just saying. 22nd Street is also paid parking, and with 300 or so vendors, you don’t want to show up at 3pm and think you’ll get through it.

Speaking of 22nd Street…. the opening day is in fact a nightmare. I heard it got better this year, but in 2021 I was traumatized and couldn’t force myself to go to the show this year. We sat on the literal side of the road for 2 hours waiting for the parking lot to open. Then you get to pay to park. Then they tell you where to park and then get mad that you parked there. Seriously. It’s chaos once they open the doors, and honestly I ended up buying from only 4 out of 300 booths. But I do have friends who have luck there, so it’s up to you!

Many dealers will let you keep your boxes in the booth so you can come pick up. This won’t work for EVERY show, but shows like Pueblo, Globex, Kino, etc. will let you drive through and do pickups. Some shows like 22nd Street will not. Check my suggestions below on these situations. Remember to always keep your receipt (especially if you already paid), and try to have them write your company name or tape your business card on the box.


Since the shows open on different days, you will want to try to plan out your days ahead of time. You will want to have some backup plans just in case you make it through shows faster than you thought, or have to go back a second day, etc. So plan with flexibility. I create a little word document of the days I’ll be there. Under the first day it will be the places I know I can get in to and where I REALLY want to shop from first. Then I will go through their priority levels depending on which shows are open what days. Some days I will be at 1-2 shows, some days I will end up at 5-6 spots.

Keep in mind everything takes longer than you think. You have to/want to chat with and get to know suppliers, you’ll shop, then you have to checkout which isn’t always immediate, then they have to wrap everything up. Sometimes you have to wrap up haha. Some dealers will ask you to come back later, and sometimes you have to do that a couple times because they won’t have it done.


Above I mentioned the physical types of the Tucson Gem Show like tent, warehouse, etc. but there are also show types in the sense that there are shows that are mainly crystals, shows that will be mostly raw jewelry materials, some that are completed jewelry products, some that are more ‘gift’ type of items like the African Arts Village (aka not actual crystals), and some that will be a blend of all of the above. Some will be a mix of all affordability levels, and some shows will be super high end. You’ll want to determine your shop (or personal) needs. I’m going to give a kind of run down below of which shows match what. But they are constantly changing and evolving.

Mostly Crystals (or Mixed Shows)

22nd Street, Oracle Shows (1801 and 1820), Arizona Independent Warehouse (2 dealers), Enter The Earth (single dealer), Fossil & Mineral Alley (mostly fossils), GIGM Globex (Red Lion)/Rapa River, GIGM Motel 6/Quality Inn (they are next to each other), JK Stone Warehouse (one dealer – mostly bulk lots), Kino, La Fuente de Piedras (2 dealers – by Mineral City), Madagascar Minerals (single dealer), Mineral & Fossil Co-op (like 8 dealers), Mineral & Fossil Marketplace (about 8 dealers), Miners Co-Op, Raining Rocks (only a couple – next to RMGM & Oracle), Tucson Showplace (only like 6 dealers), JG&M Simpson Street, Pueblo

Higher End Crystals

Fine Minerals International, Granada Gallery, Just Minerals and Crystals, Mineral City Show, RMGM Mineral & Fossil, Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery, The Mineral Vault (by Mineral City)

Mostly Jewelry

JOGS (mostly completed, some crystals), G&LW Shows (Holidome/Gem Mall – Same Spot), GJX (expensive), AGTA GemFair, Colors of the Stone, To Bead True Blue, Tucson Whole Bead

Gift & Other Shows

African Art Village, American Indian Arts, Kent’s Lapidary (I’m pretty sure it’s just the tools store, I’ve never seen anything happening), Tucson Artisan Workshops, Gem & Jam Festival (music festival and jewelry)


You will know what you need and like so I won’t give you guidance on WHAT to pick. But here are my suggestions for shopping booths.

  • Get a clear expectation of prices before you get too far. Are things keystone? Are they buy weight? Are they by piece? If you aren’t comfortable with the price, try to see if there is any possibility of negotiation (NICELY). If not, and if you aren’t going to want to pay those prices, don’t spend too much time there. I’ve been there a couple times and wasted time I didn’t have and ended up walking away or paying a price I didn’t want to.
  • If you put together a bin of items to check out later, be sure to put your business card there, and then try to hide the bin… some people may grab your items, fair warning. In that same vein, do not be the person taking from someone’s bin either! Do NOT pick out a bunch of items and never come back for them. That’s like someone who ghosts you on an Instagram sale. Sucks right?
  • For the love of all things, PLEASEEEEEEEEE do not be the person that does Live Sales in other people’s booths. I cannot tell you how obnoxious this trend has become. You are ruining it for everyone else. Some booths will allow you to SCHEDULE a sale during a time when the show is over so you aren’t intruding on everyone.
  • Keep a running list (I use the ‘notes app’ in iPhone) of places you need to go back to pick up from.
  • Most sellers will need to at least see a copy of your sellers permit. I keep one in my purse and extra copies in my cart and wagon.


There are a few things to keep in mind on the money side of things. First off, there is a huge cash side of this business. Many sellers are from other countries and do not have bank accounts in the United States. You will need to plan on using 25-50% cash on these trips. Some will take company checks (not personal). If you cannot do this then be sure to ask before shopping if they take card. Many of the larger sellers will take card. Keep your daily withdrawal limits in mind if you do not want to bring cash with you.

If you plan on ‘negotiating’ then keep this in mind. If you beat them down in a mean way, you might get a deal once. If you build a relationship you will get more deals in the long term. The bigger sellers won’t even say the word discount under several thousand. You’ll get to know who those people are quickly.

Personal Shopping At The Show

This might come as a surprise, but I really don’t recommend going to the Tucson Gem Show if you are not buying for a shop. It is incredibly overwhelming, and not exactly a ‘just shopping’ friendly situation. You are talking about a lot of people spending a lot of money around you. The wholesalers are going to be entirely welcoming to someone who just wants to buy one piece. I’ve seen it myself when I’ve only found one or two things in a booth. It’s night and day how you get treated versus when you have a cart full.

On top of that it is just plain overwhelming. Think about all of the shows I mentioned above and how many booths there are. Like said, I bought from 4 of 300 booths at 22nd Street. You pay crystal shops to go through all of the chaos to find you the best of the best of these shows… trust me there is a lot of crap. If you want to find a specific piece it can get even more stressful. Even as someone who has been many years I can’t tell you specifically where to find something because it depends on so many variables, not to mention you have to end up liking those options.

To give you an idea of how it would be. Imagine if you went through the live sale or story sales and websites of even just 50 crystal shops in one weekend. Would you be able to find that exact piece you have to have? Would you be overwhelmed by choices? What if the item you wanted sold before you went back for it? What if you grabbed a piece and then found one you liked better? And that is from the comfort of your own home. Add the stress of the shows to that scenario. It’s a lot of emotions, even for me.

Now there ARE shows that are open to the public, mainly 22nd street, Pueblo, Kino, the hotel shows mostly. You likely won’t be able to go to most of the warehouses. Some dealers within the shows will be wholesale only, so still be prepared to be turned away. Some shows will have ‘public days’, and some don’t care either way. If you visit the show site posted above you can get a better idea. Most of the shows also have their own website with additional information.

Packing For Tucson Gem Show

This is a list of items that I have found will come in super handy for your Tucson Gem Show adventures. You won’t always end up needing to use everything, but they will be worth bringing just in case!

comfortable shoes for tucson crystal show
Supportive Shoes Are Key


Tucson is one of those places that can fluctuate in temperature quite a bit. I have been there when it was a high in the 40’s and quite literally snowed this past year during the show, to in the 90’s. Bring LAYERS!! I always run hot, so I typically have to have a tank top layer that I can end up with, and then I’ll add in sweaters/sweatshirts, and a heavier jacket. Remember the desert swings more from morning, to the day, to the afternoon where it starts to cool again. Keep the layers handy if possible.

Some of the tents are temperature controlled, some are not. Most of the shows are outdoors or have some indoor and outdoor, and you will be going frequently from sun to shade.

I have found the absolute MUST is the supportive shoe side of things. I’m not just talking comfortable, but supportive. Yes, even in my young age I bought orthopedic shoes for gem show hunting, and SO THANKFUL I did! This past year was the first year my feet and back weren’t killing me at the end of the day. Remember you are going to be on your feet almost the entire day, in parking lots, on cement, on dirt roads, and rocky paths.

Here are some of my favorites for Tucson Gem Show outfits:

  • My ‘Cute’ Orthopedic Shoes – Hey I still needed SOME style!
  • Life saver last year was my USB hand warmer! – Everyone was stealing it!
  • Cross Body Bag – Small but will hold all the essentials… pen, business cards, sunglasses, wallet, phone, small snack.
  • Slippers and the comfy clothes. Believe me you will want to lounge at the end of the day!

You will also want to bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lightweight gloves, rain jacket or poncho if it looks like it might rain.

Above all, make sure you will be comfortable all day! You have enough going on.

foldable wagon for tucson gem show
A Folding Wagon or Rolling Bag Cart Is Essential


Some sort of rolling cart is a MUST if you are shopping smaller items or quantities. Those purchases will usually end up being packed in bags or just a roll of newspaper. They weight adds up quickly. Here are my two favorites:

Just keep in mind it will be something that you have to keep an eye on and not walk away from. You’ll have to find a place to park it when you go in a booth, and you may have a harder time getting around. It won’t work well for ALL shows, but some, like 22nd Street and Pueblo it will be a life saver!


If you are traveling to the show in a car (or at least will have a car at the show). There are some definite essentials to keep in the car.

  • Cooler Bag – Keep waters, electrolyte drinks, tea or energy type drinks, fruit, nuts, snacks (we like to pack sandwiches we make at the AirBnB). A lot of times if you don’t bring food you won’t get to eat. I packed it every morning and put in the car.
  • Pen and Paper – keep notes of the show for your next trip.
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Hanging Flashlight (you never know what will happen or when you’ll need to look through your stash in the dark)
  • Black Blankets
  • Nail Clippers – trust me…
  • Bandaids – trust me again…

Other things that are must brings:

  • Business Cards: you will need A LOT of these. To give to vendors, to leave in bins, to put on boxes, when you meet people.
  • Water and snacks!
  • Disinfecting wipes or spray…. you won’t always get to wash your hands.
  • If you have space in the car, I bring my foam roller for my back and legs at night.
  • This past year with the cold I even packed my heating vest… doubled for warmth and back relief!
  • Travel humidifier. Tucson can get super dry and you are talking all day every day. I bring my litte travel one with me for the AirBnB.
  • Vitamins! I bring my vitamins and add some extra ‘immune boosters’ during the week before during and after traveling to the show. You are meeting tons of people, touching lots of things, wearing down your body physically, and traveling on top of it. It definitely can hit you hard.
  • Anything that will help you sleep best. I bring my own pillow and blanket when I travel so it is a little more like my own bed. I’ve found this helps reduce my travel sleep problems.

Tucson Gem Show Food

Now my top recommendation is that if you CAN bring food with you, do. Not because Tucson doesn’t have places to eat, but to make your life easier. Travel can be stressful and exhausting no matter what. Add the physical aspect of crystal shopping and you are bound to be out for the count every night. Honestly I want to go to bed at 7pm every night I’m there. It is exhausting! The last thing I want to do is have to cook or decide what to eat for dinner. During the day you are lucky if there are any food options around, let alone if you have time. The first year I went to Tucson, lived on wheat thins, and I had one meal the entire week, and it was McDonald’s. Yikes.

I’ve learned to make it WAY easier. First of all I pack a couple days worth of sandwich rolls that I make at home. They last really well, and they are easy to eat on the go. Then I bring the remaining ingredients and make more a few days in to the trip. Add some quick snacks and I am so much better off!

For dinners, I rely on Factor75! This meal plan program is available pretty much all over the country and you can have meals delivered every week, but I only get them for the gem show trips. They deliver to Tucson too! Usually because I will be there before it would deliver, I’ll order a batch to my house first, back a couple days worth so I know I’ve got decent food once I get to Tucson. Then I will have another round delivered directly to my Tucson AirBnB! The meals just microwave for 3 minutes and you are done! You can get a discount on your first order if you use my link too. They have a ton of different dietary options and you get to pick your exact meals.

travelling to tucson gem show

Tucson Gem Show Safety

Now I’d be remiss if I did not mention the possible safety issues during the Tucson Gem Show. There are a few things you need to keep in mind. As with any city, there are spots you don’t want to be after dark. This is especially true of the Oracle/Main area. This is straight from the vendors telling me. This is why these shows close before dark.

There is also an issue with potential theft. I have heard various stories from the girl who was stealing from vendors and got arrested with a room full of stolen crystals in 2023, to groups working together to grab from vendors. But as a shopper you should be most concerned with your CAR. After all it is pretty obvious… you leave the show with a box of goodies, you go to your car, you walk back to the show without the box… obviously said box is in the car that is now unattended. I’ve had friends cars ‘marked’ before, thankfully nothing happened. But i have heard of car thefts at these shows.

Minimize Risk

What we do to minimize this risk. We TRY not to go out to the car that often and just do a ‘vendor pickup’ route as we are leaving. But that isn’t always possible. So we always bring black moving blankets or sheets to cover any boxes that are in the car. We black out the windows (especially in a cargo van or camper shell), and hang a black sheet curtain from the front seats to the back. You don’t know what you can steal if you can’t see it!

If you have to re-arrange for space, try to do it in a location where people won’t see you.

On top of that we also add additional alarms to all of the doors that can access the crystals. These are technically motorcycle alarms that I just command strip to the door for just the trip. They are super sensitive and will give a warning alarm if the car is even just touched. If the ‘movement’ continues it will set off a super loud alarm.

As always be alert and aware of what is going on around you. Just keep in mind that everyone and their mother is aware that this gem show is happening. Think about all of the $$$ that comes into the city during this show, both in crystal value and literal money… a lot of these wholesalers are cash only… and people know.

Last Thoughts On Tucson Gem Show

Be careful, have fun, don’t spend too much! If you want to sell crystals, the Tucson Gem Show is definitely a place to visit at least once in your lifetime!