The Tucson Gem Show is almost here!  What is the Tucson Gem Show, you might be asking yourself?  It’s the oldest and largest gem and mineral show in the world, started in the 1970s.  And, technically, it’s not ‘a’ gem show; it’s actually comprised of over 50 different gem and mineral shows.  In essence, the entire city is taken over by gem and mineral vendors.  (Picture every parking lot, hotel room and convention center being converted into a shop filled with jewels and treasure.)   If you have never been, it’s definitely worth the trip.

SparkleSwap will be in Tucson for the shows next week; keep your eyes open for pictures and videos of this mecca of gems and jewelry!

As I’m preparing for the big week, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for navigating the show like a boss!

  1.  Comfortable shoes are a must.  You will be doing a lot of walking, and I mean a lot, while at the show.  And layers.  In the desert, it can be downright chilly in the mornings and evenings and warm during the day.  Dress accordingly.
  2. Plan ahead – make a list of the shows you want to attend, and specific vendors you want to visit.  Note that some of the shows are wholesale only and may require a tax resale license in order to attend.
  3. Make a list of the items that you want/need ahead of time and (do your best to) stick to that list.  Take pictures of your current supplies to avoid purchasing doubles (or in my case, triples!) of things you already have at home.
  4. Bring cash… for a couple of reasons.  One, it helps you to stick to a budget (another suggestion if you have a limited budget – leave the debit and credit cards at home).  Two, sometimes you can negotiate a discount with vendors for paying cash.
  5. Take a class or two while you are there; learn some new tricks or improve some old ones.  Several companies are offering courses and many well-known artists will be teaching them.  Last I checked, many still have plenty of open spaces:
  6. Safety: while there are plenty of security and police in the area, these types of events can tend to attract some whose intentions are not the best.  Always be aware of your surroundings.  Upon leaving a show, remove your badge.  Avoid carrying articles in the ‘freebie’ bags handed out at the shows.  Both of these are an advertisement that you may be carrying valuables.
  7. Business Cards – bring plenty of business cards.  Some vendors will require a card during your purchase.  Plus, you are likely to meet some new friends and it’s a great way to exchange contact information.
  8. Bag on wheels – particularly if you are planning to purchase large quantities or heavy items.  Just keep in mind that the shows can get pretty crowded, and you’ll need to be aware of where your bag is resting and hopefully not trip up your neighbors.
  9. If you see something you love, grab it.  The shows are filled with lots of unique treasures, and typically at great prices that you will likely not be able to find back home.  Skip it now; regret it later.  (But, refer back to point 4 and be mindful of that budget!)
  10. Local scenery – Tucson is absolutely beautiful this time of year.  Take a break from the shows and check out some of the local scenery:  Sabino Canyon, Mount Lemmon, Biosphere 2, and Kartchner Caverns to name a few.  Check out Visit Tucson for additional details.

And those are my tips!  For those of you going to Tucson, enjoy and I hope to see you there!

What are some of your tips for attending the Tucson Gem Show?  Please share below.


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