Live From AGTA Tucson 2016: 3 New Rare Bead Strands From Robert Bentley

The painter and stonecutter gave me a peek at some of the goods before the show opened

The tremendous logjam of AGTA Tucson GemFair (Feb. 2–7) shoppers queueing up this morning for entry is understandable once you arrive at the booth of bead maestro Robert Bentley.

The stone dealer with a well-known affinity—and following—for cabochon cuts and fat pebble strands of largely Brazilian-mined gemstones is arguably a destination for the design set. Bentley gave me a peek at some of the goods before the show opened, while others I saw today. Here are three stunners you should see—and try to buy if he still has any in inventory or gets similar merchandise moving forward.

Rutilated quartz

These ginormous strands—only two were available—are from Brazil, are not treated, and were cut in Bentley’s factory in Brazil. At press time, these were available, but I can’t imagine they will be for long (if they are not already sold). They will retail (triple keystone) for $3,000–$4,000.


One-of-a-kind rutilated quartz strands, $3,000–$4,000


Bentley explained that a shortage of labradorite in the world is casting a spotlight on kyanite. Enter, his own. “It’s got a luster and moonlight glow similar to labradorite,” he explained. This material hails from Brazil and is not treated. A few strands are left, and the entry triple keystone price for them is $2,200 (this strand).


Kyanite strands, $2,200 apiece


This funky quartz wouldn’t necessarily be attractive if it weren’t for Bentley’s team of cutters who know how to reveal the wonder—“we cut them in half,” he said—in mediocrity. This massive plate necklace is the only one available, has Brazilian origin, and is also not treated. Its retail (triple keystone) price is $880.


One-of-a-kind Londonite strand, $880

Bentley has loads more to see (such as cacoxenite and Butterfinger-textured specimens of Paraiba from Brazil), so head over there before it’s all sold out. As usual, the one-of-kinds and rarest finds go first and fast at the gem shows.

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