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!

Erica Courtney’s Tucson Gem Show Tour

By Randi Molofsky

EC_Aug_headshotEach winter jewelry designers, stone dealers and rock hunters head to the desert for the world’s largest gem and mineral show. From teeny-tiny precious gems that go for tens of thousands a carat to massive geodes that have to be trucked in, the annual fair in Tucson, AZ, is a favorite of fine jewelry designers like Los Angeles-based Erica Courtney.

Although she regularly travels the globe in search of spectacular colored gems for her signature Drop Dead Gorgeous collection—recent trips include Tanzania and Hong Kong—it’s this pilgrimage to the Southwest that holds a special place in her heart.

“It’s just paradise for us,” Erica explains. “We get to see all these types of amazing gemstones, plus we get to meet new people in the industry. What could be better than networking and keeping ourselves updated with the latest gemstones?”

Below, Erica shares her three favorite gemstone finds from the show, and why exactly she’ll be bringing them home to use in upcoming collections.

EC tourmaline

Tourmaline

Tourmaline: Tourmaline has a bunch of different colorations, and we were loving them because we saw a lot of new and exciting colors. Some of them can be so bright and beautiful, it’s so hard to resist. Plus, the clarity of tourmalines is always exquisite.

EC csarite

Csarite

Csarite: Csarite is just such an interesting stone—did you know it’s only found in one place in the world, in the remote Turkish Anatolian mountains? Everyone loves the way the stone changes color from from kiwi greens in sunlight to raspberry purplish-pinks in candlelight; as well as the dispersion on the stone. It’s just so unique!

Purple Garnets: Purple garnets were also one the highlights of the show, they had such a saturated and vivid coloration—I have never seen such beautiful garnets! So different and super sparkly, just a shade different from amethyst. Gorgeous!

One look at Erica’s designs and you’ll understand why colored gemstones are so important for inspiration. Here are three brand new pieces by Erica Courtney with her signature detailed settings and bold color.

spinel

18K yellow gold “Sayeda” ring featuring a 5.49ct spinel, accented with 1.26ctw Rubelite Tourmaline and 1.21ctw diamonds.

mint tourmaline

18K yellow gold “Crossover” ring featuring a 7.42ct mint tourmaline, accented with two 0.47ctw opals on the sides and 1.09ctw diamonds.

pariaba

18K yellow gold “Cigar Band” ring featuring a 2.10ct paraiba tourmaline cabochon, accented with 0.22ctw paraiba tourmaline and 0.65ctw diamonds.