Full Coverage

 Weather Channel's 'Prospectors' in town for Gem Show

1 year ago

SNEAK PEAK: Tucson Gem and Mineral show begins today!

TUCSON- Tucson's annual Gem and Mineral Show begins today at the Tucson Convention Center. This years theme is "60 Years of Diamonds, Gems, Silver and Gold".

The show begins at 10 am, Thursday through Sunday. Doors close at 6pm through Saturday and 5pm on Sunday.

News 4 Tucson's Ryan Haarer got a sneak peak into some of the show's most valuable and exclusive pieces. Click on the video above for the full story.

You can also check out their website at http://www.tgms.org/ for special events and details.

1 year ago

Tucson man creates unique jewelry for Gem and Mineral Show

TUCSON- Tomorrow the 60th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show kicks off at the Tucson Convention Center. You'll see everything from raw gems and minerals to finished products, cut and polished for sale.

In aisle 13 you can find Troy Simmons, a Tucsonan who has been crafting his own unique jewelry for more than 20 years.

Click on the video to see how his art comes together.

1 year ago

UA Mineral Museum hosts Gem and Mineral Show exhibit

TUCSON- The Flandrau Science Center does some amazing work when it comes to minerals and their exhibit kicking off tonight showcases Arizona collectors and their magnificent minerals.

Typically the Mineral Museum is hard at work studying an 8,000 species mineral donation.

"Basically it was minerals that are very, very, concisely and precisely labeled. It gives you the provenance on them; we know where they are from. It makes a big difference when you are studying minerals," said Mark Candee, Collection Manager at the UA Mineral Museum.

It was a contribution to the RRUFF Project, an attempt to compile information on every known mineral in the world.

"It's creating a database that will fit in a tri quarter size device someday. We will be able to take our cell phone and point it at a mineral, or a gem or food, or whatever and be able to know exactly what's in it."

That science is contributing to the NASA Curiosity mission right now on the red planet.

"it was a big component of what they wanted to take up their was that ability to know what they are looking at without having to shift Data back and forth between Earth and Mars."

But, the exhibit kicking off Saturday morning at 10 a.m. is a bit different.

"It highlights the collectors that are here in Arizona. It highlights what they have in their safes, what they enjoy. A lot of these pieces are self collected. They literally went out and found these."

This exhibit will be on display through June. They are open seven days a week.

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1 year ago

Weather Channel's 'Prospectors' in town for Gem Show

TUCSON - A reality show is filming right now in Tucson for the Gem Show.

The Weather Channel's 'Prospectors' features several families that dig for precious metals in Colorado.

Some of them are in town selling off their treasures at the Gem Show.

The 'Prospectors' are set up at 22nd and Interstate 10.

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1 year ago

Gem dealers staying one step ahead of thieves

TUCSON - Tens of thousands of tourists from around the world have converged on Tucson to get an up-close look at rare fossils and gems. It means about $100-million to the local economy. And where there's big money, there are thieves. A million dollar heist a couple years ago has dealers stepping up security.

Long time dealers we talked with have different ways of dealing with theft. Some have invested in hidden cameras other have hired private security.

Loose stones, jewelry, rare gems and minerals, some worth thousands of dollars. To ward off sticky fingers security guards and Tucson Police are making their presence known. TPD has parked their mobile command center, front and center.

Vendor John Bickner says, "It's always a challenge, we try to keep on top of everything, and make sure if flows properly."

A vendor for 35 years in Tucson, Bickner comes from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "So we make custom sinks, bowls, chandeliers."

He brought two semi trucks worth of valuable goods. Bickner says he's been a victim of theft in the past, so he's installed hidden cameras.

"For the most part, most people are pretty honest," says Bickner.

"We close our showcase, for the most precious things," says vendor Michel Anbroise.

He's invested in displays, with more locks and keeps two people on the sales floor, at all times to keep watch. "If I have to go outside, I ask my neighbor to watch," says Anbroise.

In 2012, gems valued around $900,000 were stolen. The vendors were from Washington. The goods were recovered a year later in Tucson.

With more than 40 separate shows, 55,000 people are expected to attend over two weeks. The Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase is happening now. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show runs February 13-16.

For details on specific shows, for wholesalers and the public click here.

1 year ago

Scammers falsely claim to be part of Gem Show

TUCSON - The Tucson Police Department is warning about a scam in which several individuals claim to be a part of the various gem shows around town.

On Feb. 4, a man contacted the Tucson Police Department reporting that he had been fraudulently scammed out of several hundred dollars.

He reported that while he was pumping gas he was approached by a woman at the Chevron on Ajo near Kino. The woman told him that by pumping gas at that location he already won points to game called "Race Way to Bluff" that is authorized by the Gem Show.

The woman directed him to the back of a white trailer where she explained the game. The player is given marbles to roll into a box with holes on the bottom, the player must bet with every roll and once they've reached 100 points they are awarded the prize money.

The man lost the game several times and says he lost hundreds of dollars. He became suspicious and looked the game up online and noticed it was very similar to a game called "Razzle Dazzle".

The gem shows are not sponsoring any game at an offsite location.

Tucson Police believe that the suspects have left the city and would like to use this incident as a reminder for people to remain aware of opportunities that seem to good to be true.

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1 year ago

Homeless occupy Downtown during gem show

TUCSON - Homeless people will continue to sleep on a busy Downtown sidewalk as the gem shows start.

Jon Mclane was one of the main organizers of Occupy Tucson in 2011. Now he is helping the homeless at what he calls the Safe Park at Veinte de Agosto Park. Mclane wants the homeless to be visible on the main road into Downtown.

"Hopefully, now that it's out on front street, they realize that these people have the legal right to do this," Mclane said. "They'll start thinking of some solutions to make it so people won't have to be out here."

Saturday night, organizers invited the public to "Sleep Over in Solidarity" to support the people on the sidewalk.

Only a few extra people showed up, including Michele Ream. She works for the Primavera Foundation helping homeless people for a living.

"When I bought my house Downtown about 20 years ago, it was the homeless guys from Downtown that helped me fix it up and worked on it with me," Ream said. "And so I'm forever indebted to them."

The first gem show at the Tucson Convention Center starts Tuesday.

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1 year ago

Families take advantage of educational experiences at Gem Show

TUCSON - As the Gem Show takes its first full day lease on the city, families are taking advantage of its educational opportunities.

Roughly 55,000 people will participate including 5-year-old Maddux Gauthier and his family. They decided to take advantage of the GeoDecor fossil exhibit at the Mineral and Fossil Co-Op located near Oracle and Speedway. It's just one of several exhibits across town as part of the Gem Show.

Maddux's favorite part? The dinosaurs.

"The T-Rex," Maddux said. "Because it's a big meat-eater and it lived 100 million years ago."

Maddux's mother, Adena, just knew this would be perfect for him.

"My son is five and we thought well let's go have an opportunity to look around and see if it's a good opportunity for a family event and we are just so impressed," Adena Gauthier told News 4 Tucson.

Sarina Smith is a teacher at a local school and took her 4-year-old son Zach to see the fossils.

"I'm shocked that you can be so close and it's really an intimate location so it's nice, it's really neat," Smith said, adding how important these types of hands-on learning experiences are for children.

"I think it's incredible. I think it's wonderful to be able to have little ones be able to do this," she said.

The full T-Rex display is the first fully-assembled one of its kind to make an appearance in Tucson. It will remain on display for the next two weeks at 1635 N. Oracle Rd.

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1 year ago

Tucson celebrates gem show start

TUCSON - Gem shows have started all over town.

Paul Harter has been involved in the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show for 40 years. It is the biggest show open to the public. He is sure people will find his event at the Tucson Convention Center later in February, but said it will be even easier next year with the streetcar.

"Any time you're riding on public transportation, whether it's a light rail, or a trolley car, or a streetcar, and you have these designated stops, there's always a designated stop at the major locations," Harter said.

He said he likes the recent improvements at the Convention Center and is thankful for the space.

"The TCC has done a great job the last 2 or 3 years at upgrading the facility," Harter said. "And they're committed to future upgrades, so we know that the facility will continue to get better and better."

City Manager Richard Miranda said his staff has worked hard to make sure the gem shows are successful for years to come.

"They deal with parking. They deal with shuttles. They deal with hospitality at the TCC," Miranda said. "We start talking about expansion. We start talking about hospitality and logistics and making sure that their stay is as best as possible"

The main wholesale show, not open to the public, starts at the TCC Tuesday. Other shows along the freeway and throughout town are already open.

1 year ago

Tucson gem shows help boost local economy

TUCSON- Every winter the Tucson gem shows attract hundreds of dealers, all ready to sell the best minerals, beads and jewels.

And with that shimmery showcase, comes the customers, from near and far.

Over the next two weeks about 55,000 people will be visiting Tucson, to check out more than 40 shows across town. Local businesses like Empire Pizza & Pub on Congress Street, welcome the crowds. "It's kinda fun, especially when you get people from the east coast," Kathy Lauderdale says. "They come in and they're excited for New York pizza."

Lauderdale says the two weeks help bring in a lot of business. Not only do they serve customers in the store, they also deliver pizzas to people at the shows.

Other businesses like Rainbow Ice Company, park a truck at one of the shows. "This is a great business because everyone that comes to see us is happy and they're looking forward to some new treat," says Owner Marlene Rockwell of Green Valley.

It's a jam packed couple of weeks that bring in about $100 million to the local economy. "I love being in Tucson, I try to stay a few extra days and go see sites," says Rebecca Blair, who visits every year from Gainesville, FL.

The big gem show, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, is set for February 13-16 at the Tucson Convention Center.

1 year ago

TPD beefs up patrols around the Gem Shows

TUCSON- The Gem show kicks into full gear next week, but already Tucson Police has beefed up their presence downtown.

Assistant Chief John Leavitt says, "We do our best to make sure that everybody knows the area around the Gem Show is absolutely safe to keep people from trying to do anything."

TPD's Gem show deployment has already started to shine. Squads from other areas of Tucson have been assigned to the downtown area . A patrol officer was checking license plates when he came across a maroon SUV with a suspended license and insurance. Leavitt adds, "We've really increased the staffing in the area of the shows and the presence is really everywhere."

These are proactive measures vendors are thankful for. Robson Venterini is from Brazil. "I am very comfortable very secure. I have never had a problem here in Tucson."

It's not just the vendors from other countries who are saying this. Walter Martinez is from Tucson and works at the River Park Inn. TPD's Mobile Command Post is across the street, reassuring the public of their safety. "We've got the best security here in this hotel, and never had problems. I've been working here 9 years."

According to officials, it's estimated 55,000 people will fly into Tucson over the next two weeks and another 30,000 will drive.

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1 year ago

"Downtown Ambassdors" needed for Gem Show

Tucson- The Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is one of the biggest event that takes place in the Old Pueblo.

According to Visit Tucson, $10 million is pumped into the local economy as thousands of visitors come to the show every year. Once again the city is recruiting "Downtown Ambassadors" to make those who come to the show feel even more welcome.

The current deep freeze back East isn't the only reason the city is expecting a very prosperous tourist season this year. The business community is also counting on the biggest Gem Show in the world to again keep the dollars flowing in.

For the second year, Brandi Haga, with the Downtown Tucson Partnership is recruiting volunteers to help visitors navigate the city during their visit to Tucson. "I'll be teaching them about the Gem Show, the history, where the exhibits are and who attends. We will also be training them about downtown, make sure we tell our visitors to visit downtown, to visit downtown merchants, check out the restaurants, go check out the shopping, there is a lot that downtown has to offer."

Volunteer Tom Skinner says the ambassadors not only serve as guides, directing people to the various exhibits all over the city, they also sell Tucson. "I thought it was important not only to direct them to their favorite Gem Show, I thought it was also important tell them about Tucson and try to get them to leave some of their money here."

The show officially begins February 1st and runs through the 16th. But some exhibits are already open for business.

More than 50,000 people from all over the world are expected to visit. Brendi Haga says It is the downtown ambassador's mission to keep them coming back for more. "We want to see the gem show stay here for years to come and have these people that visit the gem show come back every year as well as the locals."

Last year nearly 50 people volunteered, this time around they are hoping to double that number. For more information on how you can become a "Downtown Ambassador" click on the link below.

Downtown Ambassadors

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1 year ago

City to crack down on homeless at 'Safe Park' ahead of Gem Show

TUCSON - Homeless camps have taken hold over the so-called "Safe Park" in downtown prompting the city to crack down as it preps for the peak tourism season.

With just days until from the Gem Show, one of Tucson's biggest draws for tourism, the city is looking at putting its best foot forward. That means city leaders are looking to address the dozens of homeless persons at Veinte de Agosto Park.

Gregory Williams sleeps at "Safe Park" every night. He's one of several dozen homeless folks who worry that they might have to pack up and leave soon.

"They don't want people coming into the city and having the first thing they see when they come down Congress and Church is a homeless encampment ... and that's understandable," Williams told News 4 Tucson.

The Gem Show usually attracts about 55,000 visitors, adding a roughly $100 million infusion into the local economy.

While city ordinance prevents people from camping in a public park, sleeping on the sidewalk is OK given that it isn't blocked off.

Access to the park is especially important for some people choosing to sleep there, since the number of beds in Tucson shelters is scarce. There is only one available bed for every 10 homeless Tucsonans.

Roughly 7,600 homeless persons were reported in Pima County last year.

Michelle Ream, an outreach specialist with Primavera, works with homeless individuals on a daily basis.

"I've had to send people [to "Safe Park"] which is not an ideal referral for anyone, but when you have someone sitting in front of you crying, scared that they're going to be hurt or raped or have all their possessions stolen, you have to send them somewhere," Ream said. "This has been a place of last resort where we will send people."

News 4 Tucson reached out to the city multiple times but they were unavailable for comment.

As for Williams, he's worried about what kind of message trying to "clean out the homeless" sends about Tucson.

"If you're going to make people... be herded around like cattle because you don't want them seen by a bunch of people you're really not getting paid from anyway... That tells me there is seriously something wrong with the way this city is being run," Williams said.

News 4 Tucson is told that the individuals at the park will be served with a 72-hour notice to move out on Thursday morning.

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1 year ago

Gem show tents are popping up across Tucson

TUCSON- If you have recently taken a drive along I-10 between 22nd Street and Speedway Blvd, you have probably seen the white tents.

Every year around this time they start popping up in the Old Pueblo, as more than 5,000 vendors start setting up for more than 40 gem shows across the metro area. "We have just about everything in the gem and mineral industry, from finished jewelry, to products right out of the mine," says Chris Hartley.

Hartley has been setting up the Pueblo Gem Show at the River Park Inn for the past eleven years. It takes his crew about seven weeks to set up about 300,000 pounds of equipment.

It's a lot of work, but it pays off for Hartley and nearby motels and hotels, which help house the estimated 55,000 visitors who flock to Tucson to see the shows. "It really helps us get through the slow summers," says Charles Wetegrove of the Hotel Tucson City Center. "When it's so unbearably hot nobody wants to come to the desert, so we're able to stretch that revenue out."

Every year the Hotel Tucson City Center hosts the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show. About 300 dealers take over the property. "It's exciting," Wetegrove says. "Thousands of people come through daily."

Of course the big show is The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, which runs February 13-February 16 at the Tucson Convention Center. This year it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Together all the shows help bring in an estimated $100 million for the local economy and Jane Roxbury of Visit Tucson says it's just the beginning of the peak tourism season. "It is in my opinion, the kick off of a whole chain of events that Visit Tucson is actively participating in," Roxbury says. "There's Accenture Match Play, major league soccer, the rodeo."

For more information about the 2014 gem shows, click here.

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