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Tucson is home to the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and Arizona Fossil and Mineral Expo. A truly city-wide event, these shows are acclaimed for the spectrum of world-class specimens that can be viewed and purchased for the right price.
So, one would expect that Tucson would also offer up some pretty wonderful year-round rock shops. But we had been mostly disappointed in the shops we’d visited for their lack of unique or diverse collections. Not so after visiting the Tucson Mineral and Gem World!
Tucson Mineral and Gem World is a second-generation rock shop. The two owners grew up learning from their dad about all things gem and mineral. They are hugely knowledgeable about not only the gems and minerals in their shop, but also the local geology.
The store has been around for about 50 years and the quantity and diversity of specimens shows it.
They have a vast and inexpensive collection of Arizona specimens that are just perfect for the beginning or student collector. The proprietors, Richard and Ron Ratkevich, said they enjoy having teachers and student visitors to the shop.
But while we were there, we found them equally willing to talk about the specimens we found out in the rock piles. My favorite find was a specimen of Beryl, sp. Aquamarine in matrix. This little specimen will be perfect for showing our students how crystals are often found in the rough.
We also added a thumbnail of Molybddenum. Since we live in central Colorado and the Climax Molybdenum mine is close by, it will be another must-share for our students at home.
The stromatolite specimens, also found in the rock piles, were identified by our hosts as from the Amole Formation that lies close to the store. Most of the rocks that live in this area are volcanic. When the volcanoes erupted they sent the top layers flying. This resulted in huge, sometimes house-sized boulder of sedimentary rocks laying around the area.
The store includes a wonderful collection of ancient, including anasazi, artifacts and historical weaponry.
A step into this wonderful little shop is well worth the short drive out of town. Make sure it’s on our list the next time you’re in the area!