TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson's largest gem show kicked off Thursday morning, Feb. 8.
The 64th annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center runs through Sunday, Feb. 11.
It is the first and longest-running gem show in Tucson.
LIST OF SHOWS: See the full schedule of Tucson's gem shows
"It is a pretty big event worldwide, back in '69 it wasn't," said Bill Larson, president of Pala International. "In the 70s those of us who were coming here, we would go to Africa - I have over 40 trips to Africa - and we would, you know, you would meet them in a short time and say if you come to Tucson with some of your rocks, we'll buy it."
The theme of this year is "Crystals and Crystal Forms."
Hundreds of dealers will have collections on display. And there is a little something for everyone from items that only cost a few dollars to priceless gems.
But the show isn't just about buying and selling. There is an educational aspect, since museums come to show their collections.
"You'll see a lot of things, and a lot of museums bring their displays here: The Smithsonian, The National Museum of Natural History in New York; I think Harvard has a display here. It is amazing" Larson said.
Some dealers have been coming to this show for decades and they said this is the best in the world.
"It is the largest grouping of minerals in the world and there is nowhere else you can go see it. You don't have to get on an airplane and go fly somewhere. It is right here in town, so if you miss it, it is kind of a shame," said Gene Schlepp, co-owner of Western Minerals.
Governor Doug Ducey was scheduled to be at the opening ceremony.
Admission is $13 for adults. Admission for kids 14 and under is free with a paying adult.