City kicks off Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

City kicks off Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson city officials welcomed gem, mineral, and fossil show vendors into town on Friday with an official kick-off event.

It is the 60th annual event and city officials said it was very important for the city both economically and culturally.

For the next two weeks, city officials said 55,000 people would be converging on Tucson.  The event pumped about $65 Million into the local economy, and an estimated 150,000 hotel rooms were already booked.

The official treasure hunt started on Saturday, but some shows kicked off their event a day early, to help sellers and early buyers.

Chris Hartley, the production manager of the Pueblo Gem Show at Riverpark Inn said the buying and selling began way before the official start of the event, in fact the first sales started when the first boxes started opening.

Bruce Baines, a mineral dealer from Capetown, South Africa had brought ten tons of rocks with him to sell in Tucson.

"The freight I can tell you is about $6,000."

Baines said he had already made some big sales, before the event even began.

"The keen buyers, the best buyers are here before the show opens. 50% of the business is done before the show opens," said Baines.  He hoped to sell 70-80% of his product, the rest would be left in storage in Tucson.

"It's not just money for us, selling here.  This is the center of the gem show world right here, for 2-3 weeks," said Baines.

About 300 vendors and exhibitors were set up at Riverpark Inn from all over the world.  This was just one of 41 locations throughout the city, where tents will be set up for the next two weeks.     

Buyers who came from all over world said they made some great finds in Tucson.  It was an event where new items were unveiled, and trends were set.

Allison Wilson with Starborn Creations was selling unique jewelry that used meteorites and fossils in their creations.

"You can wear a rock from outer space around your neck," said Wilon.

The new item they unveiled this year as stones typically used in jewelry, turned into lit artwork for your walls.  They had created wall sconces and jewelry art, using amber from Indonesia.

"This is truly the show, you will see things here you would only see in museums at the Tucson gem show," said Wilson.

The city of Tucson's ParkWise was offering "Gem Rides" to visitors, it is a free shuttle service that connects downtown parking locations with 33 of the Gem, Mineral, and Fossil shows around Tucson.  City officials said the shuttle's four routes covered 29 different stops and ran from 7 AM to 7PM through Feb. 16.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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