Tucscon Gem Show!

Michael Valitutti gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the world-renowned Tucscon gem show!


  This important gem show occurs annually in Tucson, Arizona in late January to early February. It’s the largest and most important gem show in North America.  It’s 100% dedicated to colored gemstones, with products ranging from finished goods to rough.

tuscon gem show

The beautiful landscape of Tucscon.


  There is a stark difference between the Tucson and the Hong Kong shows. The latter is all interior and is what you would imagine a trade show to be like.  Tucson is almost like the Wild West...anything goes and I’ve seen everything there. Other than the Tucson Convention Center which houses the AGTA show and the GIA booth, all other gem shows in Tucson are either in large tents or  in the open air. Many shows are open to the public so you get a very eclectic clientele visiting Tucson. Everyone from top gem buyers, like me, to left over hippies in VW vans from the 1960’s (I mean this literally, they are of course in their 60’s and 70’s now but they look and dress the same I swear). It’s the most interesting show in the world and one that you can drive to versus the long journey to Hong Kong. In one afternoon you can go from the sophisticated indoor show at the Convention Center to an open air tent show ¼ mile away that makes you feel like you’re in Zanzibar. I’ve been at a large tent show making a deal on Lapis while a woman is walking the isles rubbing a brass prayer bowl with incense....it’s the most unique experience you can have in the gem trade; nothing else is like it.

Sorting Gems from a dealer at the Tucscon Gem Show.


  Professionally I like Tucson for the following reasons: EVERY colored gem variety on the planet is available there. Not just clear stones but ALL the opaque verities as well. It’s very unique in that manner because all other gem shows have diamonds and finished jewelry but Tucson is really all about colored gems.

   Tucson is the only gem show in North America where you can buy gem rough in just about every variety as well.  Every stone from sapphire to fossilized bone is available there in its rough, raw form making this a very unique experience. 


rough gemstone from tuscon gem show                                              uncut gemstone from tuscon gem show 
Various rough gemstones available ready-for-purchase at the Tucscon Gem Show.


  Tucson is also a delivery show, which means you pay and walk-away with the merchandise.  Tucson is also a great place for gem bargains but often not in large quantities.  As this show occurs after the Holidays many gem dealers use this venue to sell off excess inventory.  I have consistently found the best bargains at this show with the downside being often the deal is “limited” in quantity.  So when I say this was a Tucson find you need to jump on it as these deals usually are short lived.