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Gem Show History

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® Started It All in 1955

The Show That Started It All

The original "gem show" that started today's multi-show Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® (TGMS).  It started out in 1955 as a club show organized by the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society at a local elementary school; it was an immediate hit, prompting organizers to make it an annual event. The following year, the show moved to a Quonset hut at Pima County Fair and Rodeo Grounds, where it stayed until 1972. The show eventually settled at Tucson Convention Center where it remains today, still hosted by Tucson Gem & Mineral Society volunteers. 

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® has enjoyed international stature since the 1970s, partly due to the high quality and authenticity of exhibits, many drawn from private collections and museums around the world, including Smithsonian Institution and Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The show includes a lecture series and a junior education area as well as vendor displays for both serious and novice collectors, with gems, minerals, crystals, beads and fossils, finished jewelry, lapidary supplies and equipment, and books for rock-hounds and hobbyists. 

Mineral collectors and rock-hounds at Tucson Gem and Mineral Society held the first show at an elementary school in 1955. 

Video: Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase

Specimen Quality and Variety 

Organizers believe this was the first show of its kind to assemble hobby enthusiasts, curators/professionals, and the public for discovery and discussion. The most important factors in building the show's early reputation were the variety and quality of the specimens on display. The show is known for bringing in the prominent gem, mineral and fossil displays from major museums. Each year, a mineral or group of minerals is designated as the show's theme mineral. In the recent past, the show has highlighted minerals from Asia, Africa, and China.

Because of interest generated by the original show, satellite shows have proliferated all over Tucson. These shows cater to the interests of the growing number of people coming to town. Beads and fossils are among the growing segments -- first-time visitors to a bead or fossil show will be dazzled by the array available here.

Together, the original show and the satellite shows make up the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase -- one of the largest and most popular events in the gem and mineral world, attracting an estimated 55,000 people to Tucson in a two-week period. This crowd fills hotel and resort rooms, restaurantsrental cars and airline seats many months in advance.

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