So what’s reeeeally going down in Tucson? I’m here to share super-sparkly shopping tips just for Crystal Hotties specific to shopping in Tucson.
I’ve been visiting the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show for many years now & documenting what I’ve been up to while out there on my blog. Here are a couple of my posts from past trips:
One thing you’ll notice right away in Tucson, being the largest Gem & Mineral Show on Mama Earth you’ll find the place crawling with geo-geeks, miners & fossil freaks. ‘Tis exciting stuffs! And, now in more recent years, I’ve noticed it getting more & more popular with the metaphysical community too. It’s becoming Crystal Hottie Central. If you’re willing to really keep your ears & eyes open this is a great opportunity to learn so much about the crystals & stones. It’s like an accelerated course on the subject. That’s 1 reason why I love going so much. There’s always more to learn.
WATCH THIS FIRST for a General Overview of what the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is Like:
The “Tucson Gem & Mineral Show” isn’t one show or convention but really more of an “event” or “happening” that some say kicks off in December, but really gets going in late January to early February, then fizzles out towards the end of February.
First off, this whole shin-dig is more like a convention that’s happening all over the town than a single “show.”
The “show” generally peaks the last week of January through the first week of February.
The official show is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show™, held at Tucson Convention Center Exhibition Hall and Arena. Its a four-day event, beginning the second Thursday in February towards the very end of all the Tucson gem show hooplah; (basically the 2nd full weekend of February). This show sets the gold & silver standard for the year & showcases the most supreme specimens from around the planet. They also host academic talks…if you’re into that sort of geekery (like moi). I try to make it to this show each year, but it’s not a must. You won’t get your best prices here as it’s a retail show but its great for learning more about the minerals! Also, a great spot if you’re looking for very high quality hard to find specimens.
Here’s some footage from the official show in 2013:
To find out more about the other shows in the area check out the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau website or grab the latest issue of Rock & Gem magazine on your newsstand. They always have lots of ads for the largest shows & where they’ll be located that year (as I mentioned in the above general overview video…they tend to move about).
When you get to town go grab a show magazine; I like the Tucson Show Guide (you can pick 1 of these suckers up for free in almost any hotel in town) & that will give a good list of the main shows & where they’re located.
It’s not easy to find a hotel/motel room during Gem Show time unless you plan ahead. I book my travel about 6 months in advance. Or you can book your room outside of Tucson-proper & then drive in to visit the shows.
Pack your stuffs in a rolling luggage that can pull double-duty for you while you shop the shows & stuff it with your crystal & stone purchases! Those crystals get heavy & you do not want to use a backpack for this….your back, neck & shoulders will thank me later.
Oh! Make sure you call & confirm all travel arrangements beforehand. I’ve had problems before showing up to a hotel that had no record of my reservation & then the hotel was completely booked and there was no room at the inn! Good thing though I had my email confirmation printed out on PAPER & insisted on seeing the hotel manager. They magically found me a room. Booo-yah! So, my big-tip here is always get an email confirmation then print it out & bring it with you. TRUST!
Are you flying in? Depending on where you’re coming from its usually easier & cheaper to fly in to Phoenix, rent a car & drive the 2 hours into Tucson. The drive is lovely & usually sans traffic.
If you are flying directly in to Tucson, check out the airport info tables when you land. You’ll be able to snap up all sorts of brochures and information on local sights and things to do.
If you don’t rent a car, you can take advantage of the GemRide!! It’s a free shuttle that drops peeps off at the major gem shows. Very convenient. There are different routes so it is important to find out which route you’d prefer.
And… when traveling anywhere I make sure to follow my regular crystalline travel tips.
TIPS FOR SHIPPING CRYSTALS HOME:
If you don’t want to use USPS, you can bring your UPS or FedEx account numbers with you and ask where the shipping locations are as soon as you get into town. Some shows have a shipping booth right there for convenience.
We gather up old newspapers while in Tucson to use as shipping filler for the boxes we’ll be sending home.
Watch All My Tucson Gem Show Video Footage from over the Years in this Playlist:
Insider Secret Gems I’ve Learned the Hard Way:
- I pack my shipping tape dispenser to use for packing boxes with later after I’m ready to ship the crystals home
- Bring a notebook & pen for taking notes while shopping
- I have a Tucson Folder that I add important notes, ads & buyer info to throughout the year & then each year I’ve added favorite buyer info (in hopes that they’ll be in the same spot again next year or that I can contact them outside of the show) or good spots to eat, etc.
- Call your credit card company BEFORE you get to the show and let them know where you’ll be & how much you plan on spending so they don’t “freeze“ your account due to “unusual activity”.
- Bring cash! $$$ Some vendors take credit cards, but you’ll get the best deals with cash. Try to avoid having to go to an ATM, b/c the fees can be $6/withdrawal. Ouch. I don’t travel with cash but once I get into town I stop at a bank & withdraw what I think I’ll need to get me through the show or at least that day.
- Create a shopping list ahead of time so you don’t forget anything…as we can get quite distracted & forget why we’re even there!!
- Unpack all your clothes from the rolling luggage you used to travel with & get it ready & empty for shopping. It’s best if you can use one that zips open on the top so that you can quickly unzip & pop your glittery purchases in it w/o having to lay it down in the middle of the gem show & opening it up sideways.
- Bring a ton of biz cards (for both crystal biz networking & some vendors actually ask for them). I had some cards printed up with my resale number right on them just for the show; just to make things quick & easy. If you don’t have biz cards, that’s OK. It’s not mandatory.
- Bring extra copies of your reseller license. Most shows won’t ask to see this to get in but some vendors will ask to see it & may even want to keep a copy so have extra copies on hand.
- Wear comfy worn in shoes or sneakers. You’re going to be walking a lot! And a lot of times you’re walking in desert sand/dust or gravel. This is not the time to show off you’re new adorable unbroken-in cowboy boot purchase (note to self!!!)
- Wear & bring sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen, & layers (scarf or sweater) b/c you’ll go from hot to cold in a jiffy.
- Be friendly & talk to other buyers or don’t be shy to ask “Where did you get that?” You never know who you’ll meet & you’ll get some great buying tips. 🙂
- Walk around the entire show & look at everything before you start buying. Even make some notes (in your trusty notebook) of the item, price & where it was located so you can go back & find it again. Why do you want to do this? You’re gonna notice really fast that several vendors may be selling the same stuff for wildly varying prices, quality or both! Your goal, of course, is to locate the best quality for the best price & not get duped with any fakes. BUT BEWARE…while you take the time to do this, that same sparkly super-large pink Lemurian wand with your name written all over it may not be there when you get back (yeah…something I’d rather forget ever happened!) so use your intuition here, Crystal Hottie.
- Hey, it’s OK to negotiate prices here…usually. It’s expected. So don’t be shy to talk to the vendors. You’ll get much further when dealing with cash & purchasing in bulk or buying several items from the same seller.
- Consider bringing a jeweler’s loupe with you to check the clarity of stones, look for chips, inclusions or enhydro bubbles!
- Bring extra baggies so you can keep your purchases organized (some vendors don’t use bags at all). Also, bring a sharpie so you can mark the bag with whats contained inside. Then as you make your purchases, tuck each receipt into the corresponding bag. Hear me now, thank me laters on this one. If you really want to get organized; I love having a little ritual of spreading out my purchases for the day on the bed & making a list of what I bought from each vendor & its price. Then I keep that in my trusty Tucson Folder.
- Stock a fanny pack or light backpack (nothing heavy here) with things you’ll need while out & about like tissues, hand wipes (or hand sanitizer b/c rocks can be dirty), aspirin, snacks, a water bottle (don’t forget…you’re in the desert, Baby).
- Be very aware the whole time! There are a lot of people around you. It’s like being in a crazy airport while all the glittery objects around you distract you constantly!! Keep checking your stuffs & make sure you haven’t lost anything (your last purchase), left anything behind (your credit card) or had anything stolen. It can happen.
BEWARE THE FAKES
Lastly, all shows have both great vendors & those that may sell fakes (not a ton but they’re there). The best tool you have is just knowin’ your stuff. My Hibiscus Moon Advanced Crystal Masters go through special geologic training that teaches them how to test & identify so they’re well-informed about this sort of thing.
I’ve heard from them again & again how gaining that knowledge has proven to be quite empowering!
Then once you’ve been properly educated, the rest of your gem-buying-confidence just comes with experience; getting out there & doing it. You may get burned a few times, but oh…the lessons you learn from that! Invaluable. If you stick to the big/main shows & avoid the little offshoot ones (although there are great deals to be had there), you’ll usually be better safeguarded against any possible fakes.
I hope this post has been helpful & if you have more tips to share or ideas for more info to add, please pop it in the comments below!