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.
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.
Diamonds and Tsavorite garnets are reverse set in blackened Rhodium over 18kt gold. Image courtesy of Arunashi.
From designer Helen Ringus for Eurocraft Jewelry, a whimsical band playing on Lagniappe cultured pearl clouds. Image courtesy of American Pearl Company.
Countless gemstoneshave varieties or sub-sets which can subtly or dramatically differentiate each stones' appearance from one another; yet their basic chemical makeup remains the same.
Take opal for instance. This amorphous mineral species lists thirty-six varieties in the venerated "Gem Reference Guide," produced by Gemological Institute of America (GIA), used for reference in their colored gemstone program. Thirty-six, that's an impressive line-up for any gemstone.
What's wrong with consuming? Nothing, if it brings genuine pleasure to the individual and that person buys within their means. When it comes to jewelry, collecting would be the better way to go - always.
What if you could actually have it all - you could offer a gemstone that is rare, gorgeous, untreated, and with a naturally occurring color-change phenomenon? On top of that, you could honestly explain that it represents the vanguard of responsible mining in such a nuts-and- bolts way that your customers could actually understand what going green means? Maybe you can have it all - with Zultanite.
OK. Let's make a quick word connection - think cameo. ‘Grandma' is your answer? Try again. The ancient art of cameo making, old as it is, has undergone a sensational makeover in recent years. And jewelers at every price point are serving up sumptuously carved treats to their insatiable clientele.