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Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show continues

Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-06 00:18:37-05

Mathias Rheinlaender is a gem show vendor, but also, a world traveler. He's from just outside of Hamburg, Germany, but doesn't spend very much time at home. He spends most months of the year traveling around the world, seeking out precious gems, minerals, and fossils for showcases.

"All the material we acquire, we mine, we collect around the world," he said. "We do the same thing, we go to the Congo, to Zambia, Namibia, Bolivia, and all of these foreign countries, mostly from the developing world."

It started as a hobby, but quickly became a career for him.

"You could very well sit at a nice office in a bank or at an insurance company," he said. "Rather than traveling through the jungle of Africa."

This year marks his 33rd year at the Tucson show. However, he explained due to new political circumstances, it may be one of his last ones, and they may have a negative impact on the show itself.

"Moroccan dealers, Afghani, Pakistani dealers that make up quite a number of exhibitors here," Rheinlaender said. "And quite a number of buyers, they are talking about not coming back."

However -- there are plenty of other dealers that disagree. One of those dealers is Smeail Ouadfel, who's here at his 8th show. He's Moroccan, but lives in Los Angeles. He believes the show will go on, regardless of the political climate in the country.

"This has no relation to what is going on right now, actually," he said.

Ouadfel -- like Rheinlaender, spends a lot of time traveling the world as well. His main destination takes him back to Morocco multiple times every year, searching for fossils throughout the country.

"Fossils from the desert, fossils from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco," he said. "Minerals -- the same thing."

Showcases continue throughout the rest of the week, and the main show -- The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show -- runs from Feb. 9-12 at the Tucson Convention Center.