Over Thanksgiving my mom, who is a rockhound (an amateur rock seeker and collector) and has recently started her own jewelry line called IndigoMesa using the rocks she finds, invited me to join her and her lovely partner (hi Karl!) at the gem and mineral shows held every January in Quartzsite, Arizona. You don’t really have to ask me twice to take a vacation, nor to stare at pretty crystals all day, so duh, I was in. Of course I also can’t really sit still so I knew that if I was already in Arizona I would be meandering across the state in search of some of the abundant natural beauty it offers, so drove in on my own and left my mom and Karl to the field trips to collect materials (various rocks and minerals) offered by Quartzsite’s rockhound club while I did my shopping and “detours” to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tucson, and the Chiricahua National Monument.
Quartzsite is the “rougher” sister to Tucson’s gem shows that take place late January through February but sometimes that’s more charming. Sometimes. I learned the hard way it’s the kind of town with one small bank and where only the convenience store Family Dollar offers cash back, but they charge for it. This matters, of course, because I was in town for a giant rock swap meet and many of the vendors deal only in cash. And I never deal in cash. I chose to check out the Desert Gardens Rock, Gem and Mineral Show because it was the one best suited to “beauty collectors” rather than the QIA Pow Wow, best for legit artists looking for slabs to turn into cabochons, or Tyson Wells, which seemed like a free-for-all selling all kinds of tchotchkes and random junk I just wasn’t interested in wading through (though that’s the show with soft pretzels, so do what you need to do). At Desert Gardens there is an ATM but the building that housed it was locked and I had to call a number posted on the door to get someone to open it for me. Like I said, a little rough. Some of the vendors here also leave to set up in Tucson so don’t be like me, leave something behind you like and try to come back later only to find the entire booth is gone and your rocks are on their way to the city you just left behind (more on Tucson soon!). You know, especially after you bought socks you didn’t really need just to get cash back you had to pay for. Holla, Family Dollar! -_-
But who cares in the end, when I came home with some pretty baubles and got to stare at countless others? There were lots of American-sourced minerals but also lots of vendors from Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. It was a little overwhelming for me as a novice so I didn’t buy much but if you are interested in rocks and crystals and shiny things it’s a super fun excursion out of LA and prices were definitely lower than you find at either the hipster or wealthy “gypset” shops we have. Crystalarium, I am looking at you. Gorgeous, unparalleled selection, but so bloody expensive.