Colored Stones / Designers / Industry / Shows

AGTA President Kimberly Collins on the 2024 GemFair in Tucson


The 2024 American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) GemFair is right around the corner! Who better to tap for expectations on the show than Kimberly Collins, president and owner of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems in Reno, Nev., and president of the AGTA board of directors?

Kimberly Collins
Kimberly Collins (photo by Kelli Price Photography)

From Jan. 30 to Feb. 4, Collins will be posted at her booth at the Tucson Convention Center, where she’ll show a mix of loose gems and finished jewelry.

“My focus this year is on being able to continue the momentum the jewelry industry has been riding on since the pandemic,” Collins tells JCK. “I want to support my stores and designers and help keep that flow going. We saw a huge surge in high-end collectible stones last year, but it’s an election year and we need to see how the industry is doing.”

Kimberly Collins rainbow drop earrings
Rainbow sapphire hexagon dangle earrings in 18k yellow gold with 4.03 cts. t.w. sapphires, $3,875

Below, Collins outlines her expectations for this year’s gem extravaganza in the Arizona desert.

On the colors that will prevail this year

The color green in any gem seems to be crazy good. That’s been the case since last year, but the opposing side is that the pinks and that Barbie influence are still going. And, of course, with the Pantone color, Peach Fuzz, people will have their eyes on peach at the show, from padparadscha sapphires to beautiful pink tourmalines and spinels.

Kimberly Collins 2.06-ct Green Sapphire
2.06 ct. green sapphire

On holiday 2023 sales

I’m just starting to get reports from the holiday. A few of my stores did really well, but the majority are saying the holidays were soft. I have one client in particular—we text a lot—and he said, “Oh my God, I’m down,” but I said he needed to look at his year as a whole.

Kimberly Collins 2.17-ct Imperial Topaz
2.17 ct. Imperial topaz

I think the buying pattern in our industry is changing. Whereas when I started 28 years ago, Christmas was still huge. People would buy big pieces of jewelry for Christmas and birthdays, but now women are spending more on themselves and they’re spending throughout the year. I think stores need to start looking at the year as a whole rather putting all their eggs in that Christmas basket.

On the outlook for 2024

Coming into an election year, this industry gets verklempt. We cannot predict what’s going to happen. The ones who are more nervous clamp down a bit more and don’t buy as much and then I see some very successful stores that say, “Screw it,” and they’re successful because they’re not freaking out.

Kimberly Collins 2.21-ct Montana Sapphire
2.21 ct. Montana sapphire

The typical spending pattern is that people are more conservative during an election year. It’s my 28th year in my business, and if I was giving advice, I’d say do business as usual. At the end of the day, we cannot control it. I’ve been quoted before saying this: Everyone on this planet has a birthday. Anniversaries, graduations, baby births—there are so many things to commemorate, and we need to provide for that.

On finished jewelry she’s bringing to Tucson

I’m doing more bicolor jewelry; bicolor tourmalines and sapphires have been really hot. They’re more fun and organic and lend themselves to more storytelling, and my stores are successful with them because they’re exotic.

I specialize in rainbow layouts and will have prominent pieces of rainbow jewelry as well as loose gems. The rainbow layouts have done extremely well—they’re such happy pieces of jewelry.

Kimberly Collins rainbow necklace
Rainbow sapphire baguette tennis necklace in 18k yellow gold with 26.26 cts. t.w. sapphires, $27,500

On what’s new at the GemFair

Our designer ballroom is at max capacity. We’re back to the best numbers AGTA has ever had as far as our gem hall floor and that designer ballroom are concerned. We have designers coming straight from Centurion to Tucson to do the show. The focus in the ballroom is colored gemstone jewelry, not diamonds.

Kimberly Collins 5.27-ct Bicolor Tourmaline
5.27 ct. bicolor tourmaline

On her favorite places to eat and drink in Tucson

Hotel Congress—that’s a hub in Tucson whether you eat at their restaurant, The Cup, or mingle at the bar. I call it the international matchup spot. You will find people from all over the world there. It has a really eclectic scene and a great vibe.

Right across the street in the old train station is Maynard’s. It’s close by and the food is delicious. They have a homemade focaccia that’s to die for. And a really good cocktail list. I like it for a fancier dinner.

For an old-school Tucson experience, I know a lot of people like Daisy Mae’s and Li’l Abner’s. Get your big ol’ steak and have a margarita.

The other place I’ve always loved is Kingfisher on Grant St. The focus is more on fish. You can get oysters on half shell. It’s been around as long as I’ve been going to Tucson.

Top: 13.95 cts. t.w. bicolor tourmaline bezel dangles in 18k yellow gold, $6,500

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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