Every year my parents and I take three main trips to shows and expos in order to find new items for the Stagecoach. Perhaps the most important of these is the Gem and Mineral Show in Tucson, Arizona. Here we find much of our amazing handcrafted jewelry, fabulous rocks, and stones for my dad to make his own jewelry. Though called the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, you would not believe the fascinating and downright weird things you can find.
The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show started in 1955 when the local Mineral Society decided to host a free exhibit at an elementary school. I imagine these rock hounds were simply interested in spreading their love and knowledge of minerals. The popularity in that first year led to making it an annual event. Today, more than 50,000 people converge on Tucson each year to attend the Gem and Mineral Show. The entire event plays host to around 45 different exhibits all around the city of Tucson. These range from hotels with a few dozen vendors to the Tucson Convention Center which has hundreds of vendors showcasing everything from rocks to full dinosaur skeletons.
The scale of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is simply mind-blowing. My parents and I spend our time (roughly four days) at four of these 45 exhibits, and barely scratch the surface of each. It's no wonder the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show runs for about three weeks.
I full heartedly believe that everyone should experience the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at least once in their life. The thoughts that enter my mind during a day at the show wonder between "fascinating" and "bizarre." Although the name applies it is purely about rocks, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is much more. At one exhibit, there was a vendor that sold nothing but buffalo skulls and had them stacked in huge piles ready to be picked through. Across from that was a place that sold animal sculptures made entirely from scrap metal. Walk in another tent and you’ll find Civil War-era rifles and currency. There are so many of these wonderful finds that by the end of the day I was completely exhausted.
As fun as it is to explore all of these strange items, we are constantly searching for things that would fit well at the Stagecoach. Tucson is where we pick up a good portion of our handcrafted jewelry. While there are several places we know and trust, our eyes are always peeled for exciting new jewelry. This year, in particular, we got a new line of brass bracelets wrapped in leather with some neat copper designs. We also pick out most of our druzy and amber jewelry at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Some of these places have so much on display that it is very difficult to pick what we like. I couldn't even venture to guess how many thousands of individual pieces of jewelry one vendor may have on display. Needless to say, you see a lot of security guards walking around.
Another important aspect of our trip to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is for stones. My dad is always hunting for stones for his own handcrafted jewelry creations. Typically, he heads to the show with an idea of the different kind of stones he's looking for. With turquoise, for example, he may be looking for a few specific mines. Sometimes, depending on the stone's current availability, he may not find what he's looking for. However, he always finds stones that he likes, that seem to speak to him. My dad has an artist's eye and often finds sudden inspiration from a single stone. I am very lucky to be able to witness his entire process of choosing a particular stone and using his vision to create an entirely handcrafted piece of jewelry. This process begins at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
Much of our creativity and motivation at the Stagecoach comes from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. We always find amazing jewelry and beautiful rocks that I love bringing back for our customers to see and enjoy. After seeing where our products come from, my mom, dad, and I always return with a rejuvenated sense of joy for what we do. I cannot wait for next year's Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.