Colored Stones: Trends and Winners From the AGTA Spectrum and Cutting Edge Awards

Shades of AGTA

Opals were the biggest trend to come out of the 2015 ­American Gem Trade ­Association’s Spectrum and Cutting Edge awards. ­According to CEO Doug Hucker, there were more opals than anything else in the contest’s 31st year.

“And not just Ethiopian opal. There was a lot of black opal,” he says. “I think it’s because designers are getting into combining colors—interesting uses of color. Opal gives you a great opportunity to surround it with stones like paraiba tourmaline and tsavorite garnet that bring out the colors you see in opal.”

In total, there were 471 entries, 377 of which appeared in the finished jewelry (or Spectrum) portion of the contest, up from last year’s 460.

The bridal category, ­including engagement rings with colored stone centers, also saw a bump in submissions, as did men’s entries. “We used to have a tiny little area with men’s ­jewelry,” Hucker says. “This year we had two tables of it.”

Fire Fly

Goleta’s Pride earrings in 18k white gold with 68.88 cts. t.w. Mexican fire opal and 2.19 cts. t.w. diamonds; $22,000; Gregoré Joailliers, Santa Barbara, Calif.; 805-453-6073;

Gregoré Morin is no stranger to AGTA Spectrum Award wins—he has 17 to date—but his latest is courtesy of the journalists who attended the event’s press day in the fall. His Goleta’s Pride ­earrings in 18k gold with diamonds and butterfly-shape fire opals took this year’s Editor’s Choice Award. The delicate fireball-colored butterflies are softly perched on pavé branches, creating a light, whimsical overall effect.

“Goleta is a town near where I live that hosts the butterflies all winter just like in Mexico,” explains the Santa Barbara, Calif.–based Morin. Visitors to the Goleta Butterfly Grove can view the monarchs that migrate there each November through February. Or just buy the award-winning one-of-a-kind earrings. They’re still for sale.

For more colorful gemstone talk