This was originally sent as an off list response to the
Quartzsite query. However, there seems to be a number of list
members familiar with or interested in Quartzsite.
I was in Quartzsite on January 18th (last Monday). The
difference between Quartzsite shows and the Tucson shows is
dramatic. If you are looking for quality finished stones, exotic
rough lapidary material or quality jewelry, Tucson is the place.
Quartzsite offers very good prices on lapidary rough, although
not faceting or exotic rough (Peitersite, star ruby, etc).
Exotic for Quartzsite is the new “velvet obsidian”. Rough opal
is abundant and relatively cheap (everyone is willing to make a
deal), but the quality is lower than Tucson. The jewelry offered
is mostly low end imports (purchased by the vendors from Blake
Brothers, Village Originals, etc.)
There are some excellent materials which are at Quartzsite and
which never get to Tucson (or if they do the price has
skyrocketed). I bought some outstanding Louisianna palm in deep
yellow/orange and red hues from an 84 year old gentleman from
Louisianna. He cheerfully knocked off corners of his stones to
expose the colors under the skin (try that in Tucson). The palm
was $6.50 per pound. Last year I helped an Austrailian dealer
highgrade his chrysoprase into two different quality piles. I
threw out the materials I wanted and got them at $10 per pound.
I got some excellent opal rough this year at very good prices
(1/2 asking price).
There are several shows. Clouds Jamboree on the North East end
of town (next to the east exit into Quartzsite) is almost all
lapidary. My favorite vendor, Luis de los Santos of St. Paul
minerals was out when I was there on Monday. He mines and sells
some very exotic agates (Condor, Puma & Crater agates) from
Patagonia, Argentina. The Main Event show is a waste of time.
It’s located on the North West side of town. The Pow Wow,
Quartzsite’s oldest show, is in the center of town on the north
side of Interstate 10. It’s usually pretty good, is mostly
lapidary and is much shorter than the other shows, but is
concurrent with the Tucson shows. The newest lapidary show is
the Tyson Wells show on the south side of I 10 about the center
of town. I have not attended it, but some of the lapidary
dealers I know who are exhibiting there have good material.
The one other unusual aspect of Quartzsite is the number of
small time U.S. miners who sell there and no where else. There
are some folks selling small quantities of very nice jasper from
unique locations and other miners selling stones from very small
Well worth your time if you are a lapidary cutting a wide
variety of cabs, but not if you primarily facet.