3 Stone and Jewelry Trends from the 2017 Tucson Gem Shows

By Jennifer Heebner, Guest Writer

Like tourists to the Grand Canyon, thousands of people routinely descend on Tucson, Arizona, in the first quarter of every year. The reason? Gemstones!

An annual gathering of miners and cutters that is loosely dubbed the “Tucson Gem Shows” is the draw, with 40-plus individual fairs targeting largely professional buyers of rough and loose stones and some finished jewelry.

While some venues permit entry to consumers, the bulk of the shows exist to serve the business-to-business audience. As a longtime member of the trade, the American Gem Society secures entry to the toniest destination in town—the American Gem Trade Association’s GemFair Tucson, held Jan. 31 to Feb. 5—to find out what AGS member artisans brought for your favorite stores to buy.To wit, here are three trends that you can shop by fall.

To wit, here are three trends that you can shop by fall.

Colored gemstone halo style engagement rings. You’re accustomed to seeing all-diamond halo-style rings in stores, but colored stone merchants are getting in on this style game with their own vivid versions. Think naturally color-changing alexandrite melee surrounding purple spinel at OMI Gems, or multiple hues of fancy color sapphires. These options are fresh in terms of look and can also help contain costs, depending on the gems. “Young couples are really interested in color for engagement rings—and not just blue!” observes Kambiz Sabouri, president of Gem 2000.

Omi Prive Alexandrite

Ring with a purple spinel center stone and a halo of diamonds and alexandrite from OMI Gems.

Unexpected color combinations. From rare pink Mahenge spinels with Mozambique ruby to opals with tsavorite or mandarin garnet, there are no rules for robust and beautifully colored gem pairings. In fact, Royal India isn’t creating anything that could be considered a basic look anymore; instead, it is making one-of-a-kinds. “People are tired of being ‘dull,’” remarks CEO Vishal Kotahwala. Helping to grow the numbers of sui generis? Rare stones like Paraiba tourmaline. “Paraiba with anything is wonderful,” notes Sabrina Bindra, director of sales and marketing for B & B Fine Gems.

RoyalIndia

Earrings with mixed colors of gemstones from Royal India.

Long necklaces for layering. Length remains a go-to for many fine jewelry-buying fashionistas. Versatility is one reason—heard of layering?—but so is a variety of materials. Long necklaces from pearl maker Mastoloni feature not just round or baroque shapes of South Sea pearls but also gemstone accents. And at Jye’s International, lightweight numbers, particularly 36-inch-long necklaces with rose-cut sapphires, are most in demand. “The younger generation loves to mix up their wardrobes with functional pieces,” says founder Jennifer Chang.

Jyes

Multi-strand necklace with rose-cut multi-color sapphires from Jye’s International.

Want to learn more about these gemstones and trends? Do you have your own designs in mind? Visit an AGS-certified jeweler near you and they’ll be happy to help you find the gems and look that’s right for you!

Could You Propose Without an Engagement Ring?

Man Making Proposal With Wedding Ring And Gift Box, Wedding ConcThe answer is, YES! It’s okay to think outside of the proverbial engagement ring box when it comes to popping the question. Picking the right engagement ring is a big decision and investment, putting a lot of pressure on the one proposing. They’re already feeling the stress of whether or not their heartfelt proposal will be jubilantly accepted.

But for those who don’t want to propose empty handed, AGS member, The Inspired Collection, has designed a creative and contemporary alternative: Wilshi – The Proposal Ring®. They have nine quality ring designs crafted from sterling silver and each comes in a hand-crafted wooden box.

“The idea came from chatting to lots of men and women who were wanting to plan a romantic surprise proposal but ended up proposing without a ring because they wanted their love to be a part of the selection process,” says Chris Benham, CEO of Inspired Jewellery Limited. “If he involved her in the selection process before the proposal then it would ruin the surprise. So we thought, let’s create a fun collection of rings that allowed him to make a surprise proposal and still drop down on one knee and surprise her.”

For your inspiration, here are a few of their beautifully designed rings:

Straight from the heart.
Wilshi® Heart Ring

Oceans of love.
Wilshi® Shell Ring

Shhh—it’s our little secret.
Wilshi® Secret Ring

Check out their website to see more designs, be inspired by the Wilshi® Epiphany story, and get some terrific proposal ideas!

Once the two of you are ready to shop for an engagement ring together, be sure to shop with a knowledgeable jeweler you can trust: an AGS credentialed jeweler. They will take the time to listen to your needs and help you pick out that perfect ring. Click here to find an AGS jeweler near you.

We wish you all the best this Valentine’s Day and may you and yours find the greatest happiness!

Chase Away the Winter Blues With December’s Birthstones

decemberbluesDecember’s birthstones offer three ways to fight the winter blues: tanzanite, zircon, and turquoise—all of them, appropriately, best known for beautiful shades of blue.

These gems range from the oldest on earth (zircon) to one of the first mined and used in jewelry (turquoise), to one of the most recently discovered (tanzanite).

Below is a collection of beautiful blues designed by our AGS members. Click on the images to see all the beautiful details!

Tanzanite

Tanzanite is the exquisite blue variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery.

Due to pleochroism, tanzanite can display different colors when viewed from different angles. Stones must be cut properly to highlight the more attractive blue and violet hues and deemphasize the undesirable brown tones.

The majority of tanzanite on the market today is heat treated to minimize the brown colors found naturally and to enhance the blue shades that can rival sapphire. Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many—whether one is born in December or not!

 

Zircon

Zircon is an underrated gem that’s often confused with synthetic cubic zirconia due to similar names and shared use as diamond simulants. Few people realize that zircon is a spectacular natural gem available in a variety of colors.

Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Blue zircon, in particular, is the alternative birthstone for December.

Whether you’re buying blue zircon to celebrate a December birthday, or selecting another shade just to own a gorgeous piece of earth’s oldest history, zircon offers many options.

Turquoise

Turquoise, the traditional birthstone of December, is also gifted on the 11th wedding anniversary. But buying turquoise doesn’t require special occasions; its namesake blue color has been internationally revered for centuries as a symbol of protection, friendship, and happiness.

Thanks to its historical and cultural significance in many Native American tribes, turquoise remains most popular throughout the southwestern U.S.—which supplies most of the world’s turquoise today.

Turquoise is one of few gems not judged by the 4Cs of diamond quality. Instead, the main factors that determine its value are color, matrix, hardness, and size. The most prized turquoise color is a bright, even sky blue. Greenish tones can lower the value of a stone, although some designers prefer it.

Because of its fragility, turquoise is often treated to enhance durability and color. Some treatments involving wax and oil are relatively harmless, while other methods—including dye, impregnation, and reconstitution—are more controversial. Seek out an AGS jeweler who can help you find the best quality turquoise.

 

Shopping for fine jewelry should never make you blue! Make sure you shop with a trusted jeweler and buy it with confidence. Click here to search for an AGS jeweler near you.

Shopping for an Engagement Ring? Give ‘em a Hint!

By Catherine Jessee, The Knot

November marks the first month of proposal season, the period between November and February when up to 38 percent of couples get engaged.* With so many to-be-weds on the market for an engagement ring, buying such an important piece of jewelry can seem daunting.

To lessen that stress, more couples are involving each other in ring research and shopping, but according to The Knot, some still struggle to describe the ring they’re looking for—though they might know what they like when they see it. Aiming to demystify the process of shopping for an engagement ring, the leading wedding brand has created a new service to make it easier for couples to navigate the process of buying a ring together.

knot-hint2The tool is called Hint, and it gives users a unique opportunity to learn more about the rings they prefer and—if they so choose—to drop a hint. “Eighty percent of grooms said they got a little input from their fiancées or one of her friends or family members before purchasing the ring,” said Kellie Gould, editor in chief of The Knot. “Hint takes the anxiety out of finding the right ring and makes it even easier to drop the perfect hint to your partner.”

Not only does the service help you identify your favorite styles—a must for all jewelry lovers—but it gives you the opportunity to collaborate with friends, family, and even your partner. Simply select six engagement rings you like and the service gives you personalized feedback that includes size, shape, and color that match your taste. The service also includes a list of specific ring designers to consider, which after dropping a “hint,” makes it easier for the proposer to connect with local jewelers.

* The Knot Real Wedding Study 2015