Tucson Technology Recap

As reported by JCK staff this past week, the mood in Tucson marked the tuning point towards optimism for both buyers and exhibitors. On my brief visit the Centurion show, the mood among vendors was nearly euphoric. It seems that after nearly a year of the doldrums, retailers are now filling in with much needed inventory for the Spring season.

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I might add that this was my first visit to the Centurion and I can honestly say that it is by far the finest selection of designer and carriage trade exhibitors one could ask for. The elegant office style exhibit is reminiscent of Basel or Vicenza and brings to mind a sense of class long lost at other North American shows. If you are ever invited to attend this event, I would encourage you to do so. While I did not expect to see too much technology at Centurion, I was pleasantly surprised to find several new and interesting things to report

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I visited first with my old friend Barry Kraft from ASC, the oldest and most prestigious software supplier for retail jewelers. With over 30 years of development, ASC serves many long time clients that are among the who’s who of our industry. Barry was invited to provide a lecture series at Centurion on structuring an “Open To Buy” program for retailers rounding out an excellent educational program.

After some time with Barry, my next stop led to the discovery of a new white paper study outlining research performed by the GIA in Carlsbad

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The experiments centered on modifying diamond refraction and reflection properties to improve light dispersion, commonly referred to by the trade as “fire”.

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Using mirco-lithography by plasma etching, the process creates a series of grating lines ( 5000 / cm ) on specific areas of the pavilion which can significantly change the perceived appearance of a stone

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The process works by first applying a resist coating to mask most of the pavilion surface.

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After the resist is cured, the diamond is then placed in a vacuum chamber and precisely aligned so that an electron beam can be targeted to only those facets to be treated. The electron beam changes the chemical composition of the resist so that only specific facets will be affected by the nano-cutting process.

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With the surface mask prepared, the diamond is then placed in another vacuum chamber for plasma etching. Oxygen is introduced and charged via an electro-magnetic field which etches  linear patterns onto the revealed surfaces.. Once complete, the stone is then placed in an acid bath to remove the remaining resist. The entire process can take up to 5 hours with most of that time taken to precisely plot facets to be etched.

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The patent pending process has been licensed to Suberi Brothers, LLC under the trademark FIREPOLISH who will be providing the service to the trade. According to Bob Lynn of the Lynn’s Jewelry Studio who has participated in the study, the new process does increase the fire and dispersion to a noticeable degree on the very best cut diamonds however diamonds of a lesser cut tolerance are not significantly improved. Thus if you deal in the very best cut stones today, you may want to investigate this process to differentiate your firm from the rest of the crowd.  For more information on this innovative process please contact Glenn Markman by Email  or Jessica Sachariason at the GIA Public Relations office. My thanks to the GIA for providing images by Robert Weldon and the PDF article excerpt from Gems and Gemology Winter 2009 for this posting

The AGTA Gem Fair a few miles away was also brisk with visitors where we exhibited at the new MJSA Expo West Pavilion.

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MJSA provided a wonderful series of their “Bench Live” seminars by jewelry and CAD/CAM experts Gary Dawson, Lee Krumbholz, Alishan Halebian, and Lisa Krikawa. The new venue was busy with tool and technology seekers throughout the entire show, even on Super Bowl Sunday.

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Techform exhibited near Gemvision and I was amazed to see how much interest there is in their new Counter Sketch product developed in a strategic partnership with Stuller.

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There is so much to say about this development that I will have to report back on that subject alone. Suffice it to say, that these two firms are far ahead of the curve on the leading edge of technology.

On the social side we had the opportunity to share some quality time with friends in celebration of Dave Trout of Coffin and Trout fame who passed away last year.

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Dave was the recipient of seven (7) AGTA Spectrum awards and will be greatly missed by many of us in the trade. My personal thanks to his partner Randy Coffin and Dave’s family for sharing with us the stories and photos of a true gentlemen of our industry.

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Lastly, with typical style like no other, Lisa and John Krikawa invited hundreds to a sensational party to celebrate their new studio. For those of you who do not know Krikawa Designs, they are stellar examples of the next generation of custom retailers. garnering over 23 major design and business awards in just a few short years. The party included wine and song with a live band and a spectacular performance by local fire-dancers. I only hope that they make this an annual event, it was indeed the best party the Tucson Gem Fair had to offer….hope to see you there next year.

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