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2017 Tucson Show - InnSuites Scenes

We are proud to present our coverage of this year's Tucson shows. Every year, at the end of January and beginning of February, the city of Tucson, Arizona, becomes a hub of mineral and gemstone activity, with hundreds of tents and hotel rooms becoming makeshift sources of material. The Tucson show is not a single show, but a collection of many events, both large and small.

One of the largest events of interest to mineral collectors is the InnSuites show. This show, hosted in the Hotel Tucson City Center, is located in a sprawling outdoor hotel complex with hundreds of rooms that become dealer booths. The hotel was originally known as the InnSuites, hence the name of the show, though several years ago the hotel name was changed to the Hotel Tucson City Center. The original InnSuites name has stuck, though this year for the first time I have heard people refer to this show as the "HTCC Show."

This show is a must for anyone visiting Tucson. The quality and quantity of minerals available for sale is astounding. Almost all the fine and well-known mineral dealers have a sales room here, where they move in and set up shop for about two weeks. Our first post of this year's Tucson show is outdoor scenes from the Innsuites, aka the HTCC Show.

Hotel Tucson City Center with New Traffic Pattern
Hotel Tucson City Center with New Traffic Pattern.
The old parking area is now a blocked by a wall for pending construction.

Dinosaurs roaming the area at the InnSuites
Dinosaurs Roaming the Area at the InnSuites

New Tents this Year in the Courtyard Area
New Tents this Year in the Courtyard Area

More Dinosaurs Roaming the Area
More Dinosaurs Roaming the Area

Giant Shark Teeth Just and Jaw Cast Just Hanging Out at the Show
Giant Shark Teeth Just and Jaw Cast Just Hanging Out at the Show

Gila Monster Replica
Gila Monster Replica

The Front of the InnSuites as Dusk Approaches
The Front of the InnSuites as Dusk Approaches

Early Evening Show Scene
Early Evening Show Scene

Sunset Over the InnSuites
Sunset Over the InnSuites

Guest Post: All about Tanzanite from Tanzania

Traveling to Tanzania for Tanzanite

Steve Moriarty, an experienced jeweler from Indiana has been traveling to Tanzania for the past 20 years in search of Tanzanite. His first trip was in 1994. On his first trip, he chose hundreds of rough stones, and two of his most notable pieces that were over 250 carats each. One cut to 97 carats and another to 122 carats. He has been going back ever since.

What Can You Find in Tanzania?

Steve’s latest trip to Tanzania was in search of more Tanzanite rough and other gemstones that have been mined in the area in recent years. Many people think Tanzania only has Tanzanite, but there are actually quite a few different gemstones coming out of the area’s mines. Some of the local gemstones purchased by Steve on this trip included over 100 carats of rough Tanzanite, 16 carats of Rhodolite Garnet, 7 carats of Zircon, 24 carats of Spessartite Garnet, and a few carats of the other gemstones including yellow Star Sapphire.

Buying Gemstones in Tanzania

Have you ever considered traveling to Tanzania for Tanzanite? There are different places you can go to find Tanzanite and other gemstones in Tanzania. When traveling to Tanzania in search of gemstones, it is easiest is to stay in the main towns such as Arusha and meet with local dealers. These local dealers tend to charge more than other in the more remote locations. . Buying in the towns is generally safer, with the buying usually held behind locked doors and with security guards. One can never be too safe there! Many times, dealers will come to the hotels of known buyers to show you their finds.. Another option is going directly to the mines. You can sometimes run into miners looking to sell what they just brought up out of the mines. You really are getting them direct, sometimes a third less than the price that they are in town. During Steve’s last trip, he actually went down into the mines to see Tanzanite being mined right out of the walls around him. It was quite an experience. The riskiest way to buy is directly in the small mining towns. The benefit of buying here is that you’re getting what just came out of the ground, with an excellent selection of gemstones. They are also much cheaper than at other locations, because they haven’t gone through any middlemen. There is a $100 mine fee, but the price at what you get the Tanzanite for covers it easily. But the risk is safety. You can get robbed or worse. Many times Steve was followed when doing buying trips. He now keeps a bodyguard and local representative with him when doing these types of trips. During his last trip a miner ran straight up to the car, but then revealed the biggest Tanzanite he had seen on his trip. An amazing piece, but the cost was well beyond budget, so as good as it was, he couldn’t afford it at that time.

Testing Tanzanite

Being in close proximity to the mining sources of Tanzanite doesn’t preclude the risk of running into fakes or just poor quality material. Its important to have a background in gemstones, and be very knowledgeable about Tanzanite. Tools can be used to grade and test Tanzanite. What Steve likes to do is immerse the Tanzanite in a special liquid to see inside the stone. It covers the outside of the stone so you can more accurately seen the inside's imperfections if it has any. Steve’s recommended tools include the following:
  • Dicroscope
  • Loupe
  • Visor
  • Emerson Fluid
  • Pen Light

Getting Tanzanite Back to the USA

As of November 2015,the Tanzanian government made it illegal to export rough Tanzanite out of the country. To counter this law, Steve therefore set up a cutting center in Tanzania where he could cut the gemstones that he just purchased into a finished state.. This allows him to bring it back into the United States legally. Most people traveling to Tanzania are buying Tanzanite already in a finished state, so they won’t have such a problem.

What is the Future of Tanzanite?

Because Tanzania is the only country in the world where Tanzanite is found, there is a possibility that it may run out. Natural disasters, mining rights, and government control can also stop the mining of this valuable gemstone. This makes Tanzanite not only great for jewelry, but as an investment as well.

About Steve Moriarty

Steve Moriarty has been in the jewelry industry for over 30 years as both a wholesaler and owning his own jewelry store. He is a certified gemologist, a gem cutter,and an appraiser. He has traveled the world in search of gemstones, especially Africa, in the last decade. He is not the only Moriarty in the jewelry business:his two sons, wife, brother and nephew also work along with him.
Content sponsored by Tanzanite Jewelry Designs.

Minerals of the Midwest: Special Tucson Edition Post

In recognition of the 2017 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, we are proud to present "Minerals of the Midwest," a compilation of photos of some of the most well-known mineral types from the Midwestern United States. "Minerals of the Midwest" is the theme this year at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, which will feature public showcase exhibits of some of the finest Midwest minerals of the world from museums and private collections.
"Midwest" is a broadly defined term. The show organizers have incorporated a loose definition of the Midwest to include the following states: Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
A special thank you goes to John Betts for supplying the exceptional photos for this compilation.

Elk Creek, South Dakota

Barite "Desert Rose"
Norman, Oklahoma

Elmwood Mine,


North Vernon,

Calcite with Sand Inclusions
Rattlesnake Butte
South Dakota

Sweetwater Mine,


Flambeau Mine,
Ladysmith, Wisconsin

Chalcopyrite (oxidized)
Sweetwater Mine

Keweenaw Peninsula,

Diamond (macle)

Annabel Lee-Mine


Elmwood Mine

Tri-State District,

Gypsum (Selenite)
with sand inclusions
Jet, Oklahoma

Millerite in Geode
Hall's Gap, Kentucky

Quartz & Calcite
in Geode

Mt. Ida, Arkansas

Dug Hill,


Remainder Carbonates in our System Completed

We completed rewriting all of the remainder carbonate minerals in our guide. This involved a complete rewrite on all aspects of the minerals with newer information and a better writing style. We have also added larger 3D crystals and have added many new images of additional mineral habits. Here is a list of the additional updated minerals: