"For two weeks every winter, the world meets in Tucson as it becomes a bustling, international marketplace of buyers and sellers at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase.
"The legendary Showcase has grown from a 'club show' to a major show for collectors and enthusiasts from around the country and the world. Showcased here are over 250 of the best gems, minerals, jewelry, lapidary and publication dealers from across the US. Also displayed are items from private collections and renowned museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
"The main event of this two-week showcase is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show which packs downtown's Tucson Convention Center over the final weekend. This show attracts thousands of treasure hunters from every corner of the globe and is open to the public.
"There's something for everyone at the many open-to-the-public shows--from gold and diamonds to granite bookends and glass beads, and from fine specimens of dinosaur fossils to opals dug from the Australian Outback.
We were not aware of the Gem Show's schedule when we planned our stay in Tucson, so we had to do a quick review of the shows open to the public, the type of merchandise (gems, minerals, fossils, or "other"), and the locations of the shows. We began with the JOGS International Exhibit, one of the largest, both in number of dealers and variety of merchandise.
We spoke briefly with Ben Chaffee and Alex Zinn during two stops at their display area. They travel extensively to Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to purchase the items shown in these photographs.