I have returned from the desert where I wandered for only four days but had my mind utterly blown by the glorious colored gemstone bonanza that is the AGTA GemFair™.
AGTA stands for American Gemstone Trade Association. Widely acknowledged as the world’s authority in color, AGTA and its members lead the industry in educational resources, ethical practices, and the finest colored gemstones and cultured pearls.
AGTA’s trade shows – especially the legendary annual Tucson GemFair™ – brings together the most spectacular colored gemstone and pearl dealers, while maintaining ethical standards that mean every business there is one you can feel good about supporting.
This was the third year I had the honor of serving as one of AGTA’s designated GemFair™ Gembassadors, charged with the sacred duty of sharing all the colored gemstone magic with those of you who couldn’t be there in person.
AGTA GemFair™ is a closed event, only open to the jewelry industry…but its treasures are Not To Be Missed. And that’s exactly why I made sure to take SO MANY pictures.
Colored gemstone heaven: AGTA GemFair 2019.
It’s beyond inspiring to walk around AGTA GemFair™ Tucson and see the difference between finished designer jewelry and the abstract beauty loose colored gemstones and pearls. I will never be able to adequately express how impressive I think it is that jewelry designers can take a pile of rocks and turn them into an exquisite piece of wearable art.
Speaking of exquisite wearable art, the brooch above is a masterpiece by the one and only Paula Crevoshay, a designer who is quite rightfully famous for her colored gemstone designs.
There’s something mesmerizing about a well-organized colored gemstone display. This rainbow-themed box of luscious sapphires at Kimberly Collins Colored Gems stopped me in my tracks. I don’t even want to turn them into jewelry when I see them like this, I just want to own them so that I can have a little box of happiness to look at when I’m sad.
Also: how cool are sapphires that they come in all of these colors?!?
This year, for the first time, AGTA gathered the designers showing finished colored gemstone jewelry and put them together in the bright, airy Grand Ballroom upstairs at the Tucson Convention Center. I loved this, because it made it super easy for me to wander around and see all of the designers – which allowed me to discover and love new-to-me brands like Belle Brooke Designs!
Belle Brooke’s style aesthetic is very fresh and appealing. This kind of delicate, circle-ish detailing is her signature, and I loved seeing it in this necklace with the mixed metal and powerful pop of color from the tourmaline.
This ring by Campbellian Collection is a perfect visual representation of everything I love about colored gemstone jewelry.
Just look how utterly spectacular those colors are together – the green tourmaline, bright diamonds, and purpley pink sapphires positively sing in combination with each other. They glow, they come alive! I feel joy when I look at this ring.
I was pretty much just standing in front of Yen’s Jewelry’s pearl display, pleasantly spacing out in the general direction of their mesmerizing rows and rows of pearls, when the dealer walked over and asked if I wanted to see something exciting.
He then whipped out this: a strand of glorious, perfectly-matched South Sea pearls. Finding pearls this consistent in color and size is quite a feat, especially when they’re this big! And look at that luster. So glamorous.
How utterly spectacular are these rings from Suzy Landa?? I’m obsessed. They’re so bold!
I love a ring that takes up vertical space on the finger, and these two are killer. I especially love the shades of tourmaline in the ring on the left, and the long, unusual lozenges of tourmaline in the ring on my pointer finger. (You can see a video of these beauties here.)
I had never even heard of the rare colored gemstone grandidierite until I visited Michael Couch’s booth at the 2019 AGTA GemFair™. It’s a lovely light blue color that reminds me a bit of aquamarine or blue topaz but with different undertones.
It’s quite lovely and I would love to see some used in jewelry. Also, “grandidierite” is really fun to say.
And now for something a little different…how wild are these carved gemstone birds from BB Gems?? I’ve seen statues like this that are very small, like a few inches high, but I’d never seen any this big before!
They had one that was almost as tall as me. I’m only 5′ 2″, but that’s still a pretty big bird.
This is a magnificent jewel from Dream Choice Jewelry, another new-t0-me designer I discovered for the first time at this year’s AGTA GemFair™ in Tucson.
This piece is so eye-catching and elegant. The showpiece here is that incredible colored gemstone: it’s a starlight-cut garnet framed by gorgeous, glowing leaves set with natural orange and yellow diamonds. Absolutely stunning.
If you’ve read any of my past AGTA GemFair™recaps, you’ll know that one of my favorite things to do at this event is to hang out with Dallas Prince, who I bonded with over a tiara at my first ever GemFair™. Dallas Prince is like a human padparadscha sapphire: warm and beautiful and rare and strong. I adore her and her designs.
In the photo above I’m decked it out in several of Dallas’ latest designs, which feature diamonds and padparadscha sapphires in rose gold. It is so pretty and romantic I can hardly stand it.
I’d never even heard of sphene until I was several years into jewelry blogging, but this rare, charismatic colored gemstone has become one of my favorites. It’s a vivid green with incredible orange flashes and I can’t get enough of it.
Sphene is a delicate gemstone that’s hard to cut, so you don’t see it very often. This large, heart-shaped sphene is spectacular. Michael Couch had this beauty at the AGTA GemFair™. It’s kinda perfect with my manicure, don’t you think?
I love this color wheel feel of this luscious rainbow pendant by Suzy Landa.
Suzy’s signature is the wonderful bumpy texture of her gold, a detail that adds dimension and visual interest to everything she does. I love the size of the stones in this piece and their perfectly contrasting hues.
One of the reasons I always love to visit American Pearl Company is because not only do they always have a really cool variety of different kinds of pearls, they also often have examples of the kinds of shells that the pearls come from!!
I find the juxtaposition fascinating: it really drives home the fact of just how unlikely and cool it is that pearls are even a thing that happens.
How beautiful is this pink color?? These beauties are by Parlé Gems, and they feature Pink Lotus garnet with sparkling white diamonds. It’s such a dreamy, romantic combination.
Parlé has quite a selection of these lovely Pink Lotus gems on hand! I loved them all. So wearable and pretty.
I adore this pendant. That alluring iridescent stone is labradorite, one of my favorites.
I love how big this stone is and I love even more how Lika Behar has set it with these subtle but perfectly shaped gold accents. The gold really encourages your eyes to dance across the surface of the stone.
And while we’re on the subject of iridescence…how about some magnificent moonstones? These are by the lovely Bella of Campbellian Collection.
My favorite thing about these rings is how Bella has set these moonstones alongside colored gemstone accents that help to bring out the naturally occurring colors in the main stone. And you can easily see here how exceptional those moonstones are – look at them flashing blue and orange and gold! Gorgeous.
Emeralds and sapphires together are one of my very favorite colored gemstone combinations, and I love how the two gems swirl around each other in this ring by Beverly K.
Beverly K’s specialty is vintage-inspired jewelry, so it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to their old school aesthetic. This ring has a strong Art Deco vibe, but those bright swirls of color feel fully modern.
This is Cecelia! I didn’t pick her name but I do think it’s a perfect fit.
Cecelia is a masterpiece from Brenda Smith Fine Jewelry. Look at that magnificent opal wing! I think my favorite detail is how her body (her thorax?) is made from alternating cabochons and emerald cut colored gemstones. It really doses feel like the segmented body of an insect. Also she’s so wonderfully large! Not a shy gal, our Cecelia. See video here.
The rainbow colored gemstone trend has been holding strong the past few years, and I loved these vivid rainbow and ombre line bracelets from Michael Couch.
They’re a very simple design, but the vibrant, carefully selected colors of the sapphires makes them irresistible. I even love them all stacked together like this, although most people might find this a bit extra for daily wear.
These earrings are also by Dallas Prince Designs.
I’m super into this collection – it has such a beautiful vintage vibe but these luscious beauties are all new in warm, textured rose gold. There’s a matching pendant, too, and it’s so good. I wore these around the Grand Ballroom for quite a while, just hanging out and basking in their glory.
Amethyst isn’t usually a gemstone that I gravitate towards, but I’ve been into it lately.
These super cool amethyst earrings by Elizabeth Garvin definitely float my boat. I love that bold faceting of the amethysts and the way that the metal of the design echoes that dramatic geometry.
When I asked you all which colored gemstone you wanted to photograph for you at the AGTA GemFair™, a whole lot of you asked for opals! Very understandable, since opals are, scientifically speaking, magic made solid.
I think these two glorious boxes filled with shimmering opal iridescence should do the trick nicely. Can you believe those colors?! Opals are incredible.
I love tourmaline so much, and this one is extraordinary.
Doesn’t it rock your world that this is a stone that formed naturally in the earth? Sure, it’s been faceted by humans, but that glorious color is all Mother Nature.
The AGTA GemFair™ mostly shows contemporary colored gemstone jewelry, loose stones, and pearls, but it does have a few dealers who specialize in antique, estate, and vintage jewelry. Under the Crown is one of these, and they always have something that’s guaranteed to blow my mind.
This year they rocked my world with this Edwardian era opal ring. Do you see the vibrant red flashes in that opal? This is a truly rare and exceptional stone in a mounting that was made for it 100 years ago. Such a treasure.
I love Kimberly Collins Colored Gems’ Yumdrop rings so much that I bought one for myself at last year’s AGTA GemFair™, but I can’t resist stacking them up every time I see them.
These jasper Lika Behar earrings are utterly perfect to represent my visit to AGTA GemFair™ because not only are they a gorgeous use of an unusual colored gemstone, they also look like windows unto a beautiful desert.
I already showed you one Paula Crevoshay masterpiece in this post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also show you this one.
Inspired by a sea anemone, this brooch features opal, blue zircon, sapphires, tsavorite, apatite and a large sphene. Did you recognize the sphene after we talked about it up above? The orange flash is a dead giveaway.
Here are some luscious Tahitian pearl jewels by another new-to-me designer, Valerie Naifeh.
Much of Valerie’s jewelry is inspired by ancient jewelry – you’ll notice the Etruscan-style gold granulation adorning this piece, but the lightness and ease of her overall designs is fully fresh and modern. This is actually a few separate pieces, but I loved them together.
One of the perks of going to Tucson for the AGTA GemFair™ is that I’m there for the Spectrum Gala – the awards ceremony and celebration dedicated to the industry’s most prestigious colored gemstone awards.
This year I was lucky enough to attend decked out in sapphire and tanzanite jewels by Erica Courtney (necklace) and Kimberly Collins Colored Gems (earrings).
I did take 4,000 photos at the 2019 AGTA GemFair™, but I’ve gotta stop this post somewhere. Keep an eye on my IG for videos of many of these beauties in the near future.
This sponsored post is brought to you by the American Gemstone Trade Association (AGTA).