A Cut Above the Best

Intergem, which takes place in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, every year, is a gem among gem shows. Although it’s small enough to be held in an indoor tennis facility, the show is huge in terms of quality.

With only 131 vendors, Intergem 2005 provided a calm contrast to the pinball pace of Tucson, where gem buyers bounce around among dozens of individual shows, and the monumental scale of Las Vegas, with its masses and multitudes and relentless glitz.

Exhibitors at Intergem specialize in faceted and cabochon gems, carvings, cameos, engravings and beads, fancy-color diamonds, gem-set jewelry, pearls, and gem-cutting and gemological equipment.

Dieter Lorenz, the master of unusual (“but not too unusual”) shapes who has won praise the past few years for his bowls and boats (or, as he calls them, “navettes”), displayed some new items. This year’s Intergem saw him carving out chalcedony bangles as well as covered cups.

“When people come to a show, they expect to find something outstanding, original, and affordable,” Lorenz said. “Standard items are out, and the price must be right. As a specialized show, it is a good place for me to test new models and materials.” To view more of Lorenz’s carvings, log onto his Web site at www.lorenzedelsteindesign.de.

Another standout was Manfred Wild of Emil Becker, who creates lifelike carvings. Also in attendance was lapidary artist Hans-Ulrich Pauly, celebrating 20 years in his own business.

Gem community superstars Tom Munsteiner and Constantin Wild show at Intergem as well, as do companies like Groh + Ripp, Hermann Grimm, Wild & Petsch, and Hans-Dieter Haag and firms that specialize in a particular material, including Ekkehard Schneider (mandarin garnet), Rolf Goerlitz (alexandrite and demantoid), Hermann Lind II (garnets), and Emil Weis (opals). Fine-jewelry-quality beads were available at companies like Engel & Co., Rohm, Alfred Ruppenthal, and Ulrike Weyrich. Of 131 exhibitors this year, only 14 were from outside Germany.

Many of the dealers at Intergem have centuries-old family connections with mining families in Madagascar, East Africa, and Brazil. Such connections sometimes allow an Idar-based company to buy a mining company’s entire production and sell it piece by piece, which means that the only place to see it is in Idar.

This year, the Intergem press office reported on a new find of natural-color, unheated copper tourmalines discovered last May in Mozambique (see box on p. 113). Constantin Wild made his mark at Intergem 2005 by promoting them. “Our new unheated tourmalines from Mozambique drew a lot of attention,” Wild says. “Their colors are so vibrant: pink, purple, green, and blue.” Some of his inventory is displayed on his Web site at www.gemstone.de.

THE TRENDS

This is the year of pale colors. Werner Fürstenberg-Franzmann, owner of Herbert Fürstenberg, says, “Think pink tourmaline; aquamarine; blue topaz; rose quartz; chalcedony; moonstone in gray, orange, and chocolate colors; and pink coral. Popular shapes include drops (with or without facets), pear shapes, as well as special and individual cuts.” Some of Fürstenberg’s work can be seen at www.edelsteinschleiferei.de.

Constantin Wild (pronounced “veeld”) noted that “besides the big colors of tanzanite, peridot, and aquamarine, we felt that people were looking for purple, like amethyst and spinel.”

“At the moment, faceted Mexican fire opals are extremely popular,” says Juergen Schuetz, of Emil Weis Opals, which celebrated its 100th year in business in 2005. “We can sell calibrated and uncalibrated in all sizes, shapes, and colors as soon as we have finished them.”

Other popular opals at the show were pink and blue (but mostly pink) opal from Peru. “It sells well as beads, lentils, and cabochons,” says Schuetz. “Australian opal is a little more difficult,” he adds. “Demand is very particular, and the mines in Australia did not produce a lot of suitable material this year.”

The other big news at Intergem this year was an impending move for the show, slated for two years hence. “Intergem ’07 will be held in a new exhibition hall in the industrial park Nahetal,” says Franzmann. “The new hall should measure more than 4,000 square meters, with parking available for 600 to 800 cars. The hall is now scheduled to be built in 2006. We hoped to open Intergem in the new hall in 2006, but I fear this is only a wish.”