Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brilliant Hues - Lowe Associates at GJX!

There aren't enough adjectives in the English language to describe the row after row of beautiful gem rough and faceted gems in the Lowe Associates booth!  I am kicking myself for not taking a photo of the gigantic (that's a technical measurement) Color Change Garnet cut by Dave Perry!

Robert Lowe brings gems straight from the source...Brazilian gems, and he can tell you the mine source. So - when words don't work I can only let the pictures tell the story.

Contact Info:
Robert P. Lowe Jr.
Lowe Associates - Brasil
Gemstones, Rough, Specimens
Tucson - Feb 1 - 6, 2011 - GJX booth # 205
e-mail: USA  robertplowejr (at) 
e-mail: Brasil robertplowejr (at)

Watermelon Tourmaline Slices
Imperial Topaz in faceting grade to collector grade
Cacoxinite - some dealers call it Super7 

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?
Tourmaline bullets cut by the genius faceter, Steve Franzen

Don't you just love Quartz with stuff in it?

Glorious 11+ carat Pink Tourmaline

Tucson Gem Show: the GJX!

The other day I went over to the GJX show - this is a NOT TO BE MISSED show!  I can't say that strongly boasts some of the finest colored gems dealers with traditional and rare gem dealers, an amazing International Pavilion and the awe inspiring work of the Idar-Oberstein Carvers.

Photos aren't allowed at this show...but due to a great relationship with several dealers I have a few glimpses at some of my favorite venues.

The gorgeous Oregon Sunstone of the Dust Devil Mine - these guys are always eager to talk about their mines and new finds...their booth hosts an assortment of rough, cut gems, beads and carvings.

In the International Pavilion I ran into Poor Boy Opals...

Gem Rough, Cut Stones and some of the biggest names in the faceting world at the Lowe Associates booth...

...and did you know that there was Demantoid Garnet in California?  I didn't either until I met Shawn (I will be doing a post on him & this find later):

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jewelry Trends at Tucson Gem Show - Special Guest Post!

I am so excited about this Guest Post from the delightful Hilary Scott, VP at HalsteadBead, Inc.  She offers a glimpse at the Jewelry Trends from the Tucson Gem Show, which will be important in the coming year.  Should be helpful for those of you planning and already building Spring and Summer Collections.  
Thank you Hilary!

Tucson Gem Show Jewelry Trends

Each year we trek to Tucson to meet with colleagues and see what is trending in the jewelry trade. We walk the show floors to get a feel for what is popular and what is fading in our segment of the industry. Here is what we noticed this year.

Heating Up

-The lapidary stone trend is still growing and evolving. The semi-precious cabochons, slices and tiny geodes that picked up steam last year were now joined by even more stone cuts. Fine gems like corundum were widely available in cabs and tiny slices. Rough stones, particularly rough diamonds, were more common this year. Rough cut crystals and rocks were mounted in oversized prong settings in addition to the bezel set polished stones that have become so popular.

-Mixed media was huge. Tucson shows exhibited a wider range of materials than ever with an emphasis on textures. Materials like leather, chain, fabrics and cord were mingled with found objects, stone and paper. Seed bead stitching and bezeling were used in collage designs and bibs. The Steampunk trend was more widespread, as was a growing shabby chic romantic trend.

-The chain trend continued to evolve as well with opera length, single strand, fine chains with or without station links in a lot of booths. Layered chain looks, bibs and charm bracelets also continued to be strong.

-Rings were everywhere with evermore creative mountings and designs. Plus they were huge! Stones, crystals, watch faces, carvings – you name it and it was available on a ring. The emphasis in this group was on the more interesting lapidary cuts and carved gems instead of traditional prong head mounts with faceted gems.

-Alternative metals gained ground this year as precious metals continue to set records. Tungsten, titanium, stainless steel, brass and plated base metals with various patina effects and finishes significantly expanded the metallic palette.

Fading Out

-Stone and glass beads were definitely still available in Tucson but their presence is fading. There was more emphasis on stones for mounting, pearls, castings and component based products.
-Bali style again was still there but not in the large numbers like before. The high price of silver seems to be taking a toll on this market segment and fewer exhibitors made the trip from Asia.
-Circles as a design motif finally seem to be losing steam. The simple circle accents were replaced by more elaborate charms, pendants and montage designs.

What do you think? Are these trends you see in your business? What have you noticed at recent industry shows? Share your thoughts!

                 Hilary Halstead Scott is Vice-President at Halstead Bead Inc. She is a second
                 generation manager at the family owned and operated firm her parents 
                 established in 1973. She holds two masters degrees in business.
                 Halstead Bead Incprovides wholesale jewelry supplies to the trade. 
                 The company’s product line features findings, chain, wire, beads and charms in 
                 sterling silver and goldfilled.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Westward Look Fine Mineral Show

Gorgeous minerals in a glorious setting....what more can you ask?

Just a few on the photo for a larger view.

In the Bill Larson - Pala International Room:

This multicolored Fluorite caught my eye. 

I don't remember seeing African Rhodocrosite crystals before.

Rhodonite from Minas Geras in Brazil

Pakistani Epidote

Larson also had some of the Kunzite from the recent
find at the Oceanview Mine in Southern California 

From Dave Bunk Minerals:

Calcite with Chalcopyrite Sphalerite
and Quartz on Andradite

These big plates of Wulfenite always remind me of Tortilla Chips

The Marcus Budil Suite featured gemmy Tanzanite crystals - more in matrix than previous years:

Tanzanite Crystals from the source...

Alpine Minerals - Virgin Valley Opal from the Rainbow Ridge Mine, Virgin Valley, NV:

The Westward Look Fine Mineral Show is one of three shows by this promoter - check out their shows in Houston and San Francisco too!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blue Cap Productions at the Tucson Gem Show

For some of us two weeks of gems, minerals and jewelry just isn't enough...or is it that it is too much and we need a "do-over"?

The good folks at Blue Cap Productions give us the opportunity to bring a small piece home with us.

Their "What's Hot In Tucson" video series which has always offered the hottest and the newest in the mineral world, now has an insider's view of the AGTA GemFair show.

It is great watching Bryan Swoboda work - his family has been important in the gem and mineral world for decades, so between him and Dave Wilbur (host)  they "get" what people want to know.

Last year with the addition of the always interesting Bob Jones (of Rock & Gem magazine) and Delphine LeBlanc they expanded this informative series.

While I was checking out the Westward Look Fine Mineral Show I got some great "behind the scenes" shots of Bryan and the crew at work.

I especially love the shot to the right - Dave Wilbur steps aside and  Bob Jones interviews his son Evan Jones, of Evan Jones Minerals.

Collector's Day at the Westward Look Fine Mineral Show

This is on of the days in Tucson I most look forward to...I get together with Margo (Gemologist) and Roni (Geologist) and head out to Collector's Day at the Westward Look Resort Fine Mineral Show.

If you are familiar with the Fine Mineral Shows you know that it gathers some of the  finest mineral dealers in the world into 4 sets of suites at the exclusive Westward Look Resort.  It is basically akin to the quality you find in the gem collections of the larger Natural History Museums.

Saturday at this event features the collection of a noted collector - this year that was Wayne Sorenson:

Wayne sat down with Dave Wilber
and the stories really started flying.

Special Guest: Wayne Sorensen
Collection: Private Collection of Wayne R. Sorensen Family Trust
When: Saturday, February 5, 2011
Time: 10AM - 4PM
Where: Westward Look Resort Lobby
Wayne Sorensen has become incredibly well known for his impeccable taste in acquiring some of the finest mineral specimens we've seen. This February, Wayne will put on exhibit some of these outstanding specimens from his personal collection.

The lobby buzzed with excitement as the crowd grew  - I overheard Wayne say..."Every specimen has a story...want to hear the story of that Pyrite?"

I was especially partial to this Tourmaline from the Himalaya Mine in Southern California and the assortment of gem types in the piece below.

Bryan Swoboda of Blue Cap Productions was onsite filming their latest edition of "What's Hot In Tucson" - I got a shot of him filming lobby cases.

 This Tourmaline must have heard about the weather in Tucson and it brought it's own coat 
This event never fails to impress me - I always come away knowing more than I went in knowing.

Eco - Ethical in Jewelry Design - Bill Gallagher of Lori Bonn

"If you make sustainability your business - you will sustain your business."

Thanks to Bill Gallagher - this year's talk was great and very informative with actionable steps and a list of resources.

So - how about you and your jewelry design business?

Ethical - Ecological - Recycled - Fair Trade - Certified Fair Trade?

Have you started in some small way to green your business practices - and your products?

You may have all been hearing about the below freezing temps in Tucson this year - check out the great photo that Ann Marie took of a fountain on our way home last night!!!

BTW - this fountain is across the street from Gabrielle Giffords Congressional Office. The flowers, notes and candles that are building up in front of the office are very touching.

WholeBead Show at the Windmill Inn

This is a first for my blog - I have never covered this show before...mostly the location is pretty far from the rest of the shows AND I am really not much of a beadgirl.   So - that being said, when I got a note that one of my original Twitter friends was showing there I decided it was time to check it out!

While this show is a little out of the way...they provide shuttle service so it is an easy destination...and it was PACKED!  My roomate, Ann Marie of Heart's Desire Jewelry, needed to stop at Saki Silver so we made a trip out.

There are lots of great vendors at this my limited time there, these are the ones that stood out for me!

Just inside the lobby was a Bay Area gem bead dealer, Best Bead Shop, that Ann Marie knew...he has some really fine and unusual beads in pyrite, moss agate, included quartz (many varieties).  Beautiful quality and above and beyond that Sanjay and Amy Margaret are delightful to deal with.  I love to shop where the workers are having fun!  (note: they are listed at the show as Rocky's Designs)

Next stop Saki Silver - I really wanted to get you a shot of this room - and just as we were leaving it cleared out enough to see just how extensive the array of clasps, beadcaps and findings is from this company. 

If you want Silver from Saki you had to go to this venue because their booth at Best Bead only handles Copper, Brass and Shibuichi.  Meeting a wholesale minimum at this shop isn't hard to do.

Last but not least - my girl Heather...long long ago (;-p) at the advent of Twitter there really weren't a lot of jewelry folks using the platform and you had time to get to know each other.  Heather Parker DiSimone is @BeadinPath on Twitter, her shop The Beadin Path in Freeport, Maine specializes in Vintage - Metals and Acrylic.  

When I walked into her room she was giving a great demo of the new Riveting & Piercing Tool by Crafted Findings. What a fabulous tool - as a Metalsmith I will solder a join just to not have the struggle of riveting, but this tool really simplifies the process, from piercing the hole to adding the rivet.  I will be posting more on this tool on the Daily Jewel.

All week I have been searching for the latest Pantone Pink - Honeysuckle - have you seen it? found a great tray of vintage acrylic beads at The Beadin Path for you!

Speaking of Twitter - if you haven't checked out the Twitter Hub for the Tucson Gem Show - you should!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Renee Newman Debuts New Book At AGTA GemFair...

Today at AGTA GemFair, Renee Newman debuted the newest edition of her Exotic Gems series at the NAJA booth.

Also available were her other guides - I picked up a copy of "The Pearl Buying Guide" for one our roommates - it always feels special to have an autographed copy of a good reference.

Introducing - Exotic Gems Vol. 2

In words that everyone can understand Renee Newman walks you through the chemical, physical and optical qualities and then she takes you to the mines, shows you what it takes to cut some of these exotics and then finishes up with some of the most gorgeous photos of faceted gems, carved gems and gems in jewelry...and she even talks about the Metaphysical Lore of the gem.

The popularity of the television shopping networks has opened up a new era in gems in jewelry - there was a day when some faceted gems and beads on the market today were considered to soft for jewelry and they were only available as specimens for mineral collectors - those days are gone and this series gives us the information we need to make decisions about using these materials in jewelry and for those looking to purchase them.

With over 400 photos - this book is worth buying just for the "eye candy" value - delightful to see such a great range from bridge to fine jewelry - cutters to carvers. 

The new book will be available through the normal resources and the NAJA by the end of the month...Volume One is up at Amazon  and Barnes & Noble now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tucson: 15th Annual Orchid Dinner

WOW - what a great group of people showed up for the 15th Annual Orchid Dinner at TGIFriday's!

A big thanks go out the our wonderful host Dave Arens for setting everything up ahead of time and keeping the action rolling all night, what a charmer!  

The anticipation was palpable when Maureen BZap stealthily announced that it was raffle time and everyone should get their tickets out!  Why?  What were we raffling off?

From the generous Kevin Potter:
5 pancake dies (various patterns)
5 blanking dies (various patterns)
...and he brought in one of his Hydraulic Jewelry Presses for show & tell!

From the always supportive Charles Lewton Brain:
Lost Books: Chasing and Repouss√© - Lewton-Brain Just Published CD!
Cheap Thrills in the Tool Shop -- Lewton-Brain
Gold Surface Applications: A Technology Review -- Lewton-Brain 
Making a Chain Tool for Chasing - Lewton-Brain 
Build Your Own Draw Bench Instructions -- Lewton-Brain 

...and from the "The Saw Guy"  Lee Marshall:
5" Knew Concept Saw with a brand new "Quick Release" lever (not yet on the market)
(for those of you who aren't familiar with the evolution of the "red saws" - Cynthia Eid tells the story on her Orchid Blog )
...Lee we love that you trust us with your latest and greatest inventions and updates ♥

The room hummed all night, people getting to finally put a face with the name they have seen forever...and some that have never posted but will probably be more involved as a result.

Thanks to everyone who attended and made it a special night - I really enjoyed meeting each and everyone of you...and checking out your jewelry as you signed in ;)


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