Momentum is building behind the AGTA's Jan. 31–Feb. 5 GemFair . According to American Gem Trade Association executive director Doug Hucker's informal "hotel room reservation index," the number of people who had booked rooms at press time was 49 percent greater than last year. "It's probably one of the best indicators we have to know who's going to the show," he says.
Forty-three free gem and jewelry seminars, by presenters such as The Knot's Laura Cave and industry favorite David Peters of Jewelers of America, will anchor the show's highly rated educational segment. Additionally, the "At the Bench Live" program by the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America will return, along with fee-based lab classes from the Gemological Institute of America.
But all work and no play is anathema to Tucson's hard-partying reputation: The week's party circuit will once again be highlighted by the AGTA's Spectrum Awards  Gala on Feb. 4.
Pearl enthusiasts will want to drop by the Cultured Pearl Association of America 's booth to see new designs and learn about a new sales tool. Winning entries from CPAA's second International Design Competition will be on display, along with nine pieces of jewelry resulting from a month-long documentary organized by the CPAA, which covered seven pearling regions including Japan, the Philippines, Fiji, China, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Producers from each place gifted pearls to CPAA, which enlisted designers such as Paula Crevoshay and Zoltan David to create finished pieces. The educational (but engaging!) film will be for sale as a multi-DVD set.
"Creating jewelry signifies the last stage of the pearl's journey," says CPAA marketing director Kathy Grenier. "This documentary connects with the retailers at their level."
Stay tuned to Style360  for peeks at the newest jewels from Tucson.