3 Reasons to Get Excited About Colored Stones This Fall

This is the second year in a row that I’m missing the media viewing of the Spectrum and Cutting Edge Award winners at Manhattan’s Ramscale Studios (taking place today) and I’m not happy about it. The event—expertly organized by my dear friend and industry partner-in-crime Michelle Orman—is a bellwether for colored stone trends. 

But just because I can’t be there in person doesn’t mean I’m bowing out of the gemstone conversation. Here are three reasons I’m super-excited about the prospects for color this fall:

1.    JAR comes to the Met.

If you know anything about Joel Arthur Rosenthal, aka JAR, you’ll understand why he is the only living jeweler to get an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From Nov. 20 to March 9, the granddaddy of all New York City museums will showcase more than 400 of his works in a landmark exhibition entitled, simply, Jewels by JAR. The reclusive jeweler, known for his visionary approach to color, was born in the Bronx and educated at Harvard, but he made his greatest mark on the jewelry trade in Paris, where he works from an exclusive—to say the least—showroom located on Place Vendôme.

Very early in his career, Rosenthal revealed his superb sense of color, whether in the hue of an exotic violet sapphire, the shimmer of topaz and ruby, or the simple clarity of a perfect diamond,” writes the Met.

In the fall of 2010, I wrote an International Herald Tribune story about which contemporary jewelers are considered rivals to the late great Peter Carl Fabergé and JAR was at the very top of the list. I tracked down his email address and sent him a message saying how much I admired his work, and how pleased I’d be if he replied to my questions. I expected crickets, but the next morning, I was astonished to see JAR’s name in my inbox. He had graciously agreed to look over my questions (though, alas, he never replied to the ones that I sent). No matter—to this day, I consider getting a reply from him one of the crowning achievements of my career in jewelry.

2.    Opals to become national sensation—literally.

Katey Brunini, one of my all-time favorite designers, is always working on something cool and out of the ordinary, so I was impressed but not surprised to learn that she’s partnered with Australia’s National Opal Collection to create 40 pieces of rare opal jewelry that will make their debut at Meridian Jewelers in Aspen, Colo., Dec. 28–31 and will then go on tour (starting in February) to high-end independent jewelers and Neiman Marcus locations around the country. The opal supplier has given Brunini some incredible one-of-a-kind specimens to work with, including the little-known Koriot and Yowah varieties. Appropriately, they’ve dubbed their touring collaboration—or “walkabout” in Oz slang—“Travelling Dreamtime,” after the sacred creation myth of aboriginal culture.

Skipping Stones necklace in 18k yellow, white, and rose gold with opals and 0.15 ct. t.w. diamonds; $53,680; K. Brunini Jewels (photos courtesy of K. Brunini Jewels)

October’s birthstone has shouldered the burden of some heavy spiritual baggage over the centruies—a longstanding belief that the gem brings bad luck continues to linger—but thanks to jewelers like Brunini, its reputation as a gem of fire and light and mesmerizing plays of color is sure to trump any of the past’s more fraught associations. 

I mean, just look at all this gorgeousness!

Large Twig cuffs in sterling silver with opal and colored diamonds; from $7,600 to $12,000; K. Brunini Jewels

Objects Organique earrings in 18k yellow gold with opals and turquoise bead cascade; $11,340; K. Brunini Jewels 

3.    The buzz around Tucson is beginning.

We all know that Tucson, Ariz., in February is the gem trade’s answer to Mecca. It’s as if the cosmic plane containing the gem universe is depressed once a year at precisely the coordinates for this desert city, creating a cone effect that sends inhabitants tumbling down the folds of space and time only to land smack dab in the middle of Arizona mineral country. Virtually every nation with a stake in the gem trade sends a delegation.

Well, here at the JCK offices, the buzz over the 2014 gathering has already begun. We’re thrilled about the new JCK Tucson show, coming to the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa Feb. 3–8. Designed as a counterpoint to Tucson’s wealth of loose gem and mineral offerings, the show will feature 120 exhibitors dedicated to finished jewelry. We’ve just completed a gem-focused supplement, “JCK’s Guide to Tucson From A to Z,” that will be out with the November issue of the magazine, and it’s a can’t-miss read. Researching all the great dining, shopping, and leisure opportunities that abound in Tucson has us crazed about colored stones and the soulful desert city where they’re traded every year. I, for one, have already booked my room at the Marriott Starr Pass. The hotel’s outdoor patio, with views of the city, is the best place to relax after a day of hunting color.