Trend-Spotting Jewels and Gems at JCK Tucson 2018

The 2018 Tucson gem shows have come and gone and my biggest (and only) regret is that I didn’t buy the silver squash blossom necklace with Sleeping Beauty turquoise that I kept going back to admire at the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise booth at the AGTA GemFair.

I should know better than to let one-of-a-kind pieces linger. (The no. 1 rule in gem hunting? You snooze, you lose.)

The rest of the week went swimmingly. While walking the aisles of the GemFair and the nearby GJX show, I learned that the talk of the gem trade is the same Ethiopian emerald deposit (“Shakiso”) that first made news at last year’s gem shows. The only difference is that now, there’s a lot more material on the market. At the GemFair, Mayer & Watt had a case of lively green gems, which co-owner Laurie Watt described as being “closer to Muzo” in color, referring to the legendary Colombian deposit.

I also heard whispers of an Ethiopian sapphire deposit. AGTA dealer Michael Couch told me the find is yielding sapphires in shades of “denim” blue, as well as green; they’re coming out “quite” large; and the find is alluvial, “so there’s probably a lot more coming out.” Watch this space for more info as it becomes available.

As issues go, the top subject of conversation at Tucson was supply chain transparency. Why it’s important and how to achieve it—and whether, in the opaque world of colored stones, it’s achievable in the first place. I’ll be returning to this subject in the coming months, as more members of the gem community embrace the call for responsible sourcing and begin exploring newfangled solutions such as the suddenly ubiquitous blockchain technology.

For now, however, my focus remains on 2018 trends, like those I spotted at Tucson’s finest showcase of finished jewelry, the JCK Tucson show at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa.

Pantone Ultra Violet

WBritt amethyst circle pendant

Circle pendant in silver with amethyst, $225;


Alex Sepkus tourmaline and tanzanite beaded necklaces

Necklace with tourmaline, Little Windows clasp in 18k yellow gold with diamonds, $6,535, and necklace with tanzanite, The Orchard clasp in 18k gold with diamonds, $6,440 (both clasp styles available, but comparable necklace prices vary with beads selected);

Bicolor Tourmaline

IO Collective watermelon tourmaline earrings

Bridgette earrings in 18k yellow gold with rose cut tourmalines and diamonds, $5,300;

Spinel in Shades of Pink and Lavender

The Rock Hound Chromanteq lilac spinel Bombe ring

Chromanteq bombe ring in 9k recycled rose gold with 2.74 ct. lilac Myanmar spinel and hot pink nanoceramic coating, £5,100 (about $7,057); (Also at top)

Long Mismatched Earrings

Nina Nguyen Interchangeable silver earrings

Interchangeable earrings in 18k gold and oxidized silver, $2,500;

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JCK Magazine Editor