Last updateTue, 14 Jan 2020 10pm

The Story Behind the Stone: Tucson treasures

A slow show - yes, a sign of the times, to be sure. Tucson's many gem and mineral shows bore the evidence of a jittery state of affairs, not just here in the US, but worldwide. This is after all a global bazaar. Rare often unpronounceable gems were still there. Top end eye popping couture jewels still shimmered in their cases. Dinosaur eggs and T-Rex skulls still made their way to the outlying shows circumnavigating the big daddies at the Convention Center (AGTA GemFair) and the white tents (GJX) set up across the road.

Scary economy notwithstanding, it seemed to bear little weight on the creative genius of the designers who did attend. And attendees sailed relentlessly up and down the aisles on task to find something new - and they did just that if they went to the booths I visited.

American Pearl Company's Lagniappe cultured pearls were a big hit - as they should be. These hefty free form pearls are the freshwater equivalent of authentic saltwater keshi pearls, which are collected rabidly for their rich heavy nacre through and through.

Jade lovers thrilled at Heyden Stone, Inc. purple jade. The story of its discovery is as exotic as the idea of natural (no enhancements whatsoever) purple jade itself. This material hails from the deserts of Turkey. How'd they stumble on that? It's a natural beauty.

Arunashi turned heads with their daring collection of ultra modern jewels. Round brilliant cut stones are set pavilion side out on globe-like pendant earrings set in dramatic blackened rhodium over 18kt gold. Truly arresting.
Designer Sarah Graham took metalsmithing to new heights by showing her 18kt gold and blackened steel collection in the Designers Pavilion at the AGTA GemFair. Young and edgy, of course, but Graham shows off her expertise as a metalsmith in the details of her line. Serious jewelry lovers take note.

Philip Zahm's collection at the Centurion Jewelry expo showed us a thing or two about beautifully tailored jewelry designs pumped up with bolder proportions paired with intensely colored gemstones. A perfect fit for cognoscenti who take their fun seriously.

Lucoral of Taiwan brought calibrated cameos in volume this year for the manufacturer or designer who wants to jump on this hot trend and fold carved shells into their collection. Beija Flor Gems of Hawaii had some cherry specimens of transparent rhodochrocite.

There were much more wonderful finds at the shows of course. If you went, you saw the goods. If you didn't, this should get your creative wheels turning.

Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She's a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.



Diamonds and Tsavorite garnets are reverse set in blackened Rhodium over 18kt gold. Image courtesy of Arunashi.

Jarrett-Ringus-AprilFrom designer Helen Ringus for Eurocraft Jewelry, a whimsical band playing on Lagniappe cultured pearl clouds. Image courtesy of American Pearl Company.

Trio of playful yet elegant "Margarita" rings featuring spinel, spessartite garnet and blue-green tourmaline set in 18kt white gold. Ruby, fancy sapphire, garnet and tanzanite complete the gallery's design while adding additional vivid color to the overall look. Image courtesy of Mark R. Davis.