Crown jewel of Tucson Gem and Mineral Show kicks off Thursday

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show dealers prepare for big show

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Hundreds of precious stone and mineral dealers from around the world are busy setting up for the crown jewel show; what everything has been building up to. Over the past couple of weeks, there have been about 50 gem shows around the city, but the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is what started it all.

Thursday morning, the 66th largest gem show on earth put on by a team of volunteers kicks off at the Tucson Convention Center.

“This is the finale!” said Peter Megaw, the cochair and exhibits chair of the show. “This is like going to the firework on the Fourth of July and seeing little bits of things pop off. Then, at the end when they blow it all off. That’s the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.”

About 250 vendors brought the best of the best with them, hoping to attract buyers. Not everything is for sale, though -- 150 exhibitors are displaying some priceless items, such as dinosaur bones and a rock encrusted with pure gold.

In a room with so much value, Megaw said organizers take security very seriously.

“You will see police walking around,” he said. “We also have officers in plain clothes. There’s a lot of them here and they are bringing a lot of electronic surveillance equipment with them.”

Vendors are also taking security measures of their own.

“A lot of the cases you’ll see with the glass doors are for security,” said Les Presmyk, a mineral dealer and longtime member of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Society.

Presmyk said the cases are also to protect crystals and jewels from being overly-handled.

“People should always ask if they can photograph a specimen and they should always ask if they can touch a specimen, it’s the courteous thing to do,” he said.

One thing Presmyk has become known for is his geodes. He has a table full of unassuming rocks with a beautiful crystal surprise inside. Kids are able to crack them open with a pipe wrench (with guidance) if they choose.

“And kids are defined, when it comes to geodes, as three to 93,” said Presmyk. “It’s the first time [a person] lays eyes on the crystals in 40 million years.”

The part-time mineral dealer of from Gilbert, Arizona, was at the TCC all morning, afternoon and evening on Wednesday unpacking display items and making the most of his space.

“We do three shows a year, this is our big show,” said Presmyk. “This is the equivalent of Christmas for mineral dealers in terms of sales.”

The show runs from Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information on admission, click here.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.