I missed the Tucson Gem Show last year for the first time in over a decade. After taking a year off, it was illuminating to visit with fresh perspective. There is no doubt the event has consolidated. The show overall has been declining for years and venues continue to condense. However, these are welcome changes. The disparate scattering of locations is still overwhelming but it seems less scattershot than before. The city has apparently cracked down on the random parking lot and street corner pop-ups so the nomadic vibe has diminished. Yet Tucson is still a far cry from the usual industry gathering. The gem show is essentially a large swap meet of over the table sales ranging from top end diamonds and stone specimens to costume jewelry and baskets. Vendor quality has improved since the nadir of the recession when the tents became a sea of poor quality goods. It is difficult to say for sure but I would wager attendance was up this year. Aisles were busy for the first time in many years, perhaps due to the reduced number of sites. These were the top trends that caught my eye.
Moonstone and Labradorite moved to center stage in the stone selection. These perennial gems are usually peripheral mainstays but they took a leading role across the board from costume to fine jewelry categories.
Opera length necklaces with fancy links remain strong after many years in the limelight. The swinging flapper accessory is now joined by swishy tassels and fringe. Swaying elements were crafted from chain, leather, seed beads and more to give this trend significant breadth and creative possibilities.
The opposite design motif of sway, structure is the new front runner in the jewelry world. Stiff pieces with strong architectural lines and negative space were some of the most eye catching items on the show floor. This trend is prevalent in collars, cuffs and rings in particular.
Hides are still hot. The naughty and nice juxtaposition of riveted leather along with sweet pearls and beads was everywhere. The much-hyped Fifty Shades of Grey premier this season promises to keep this edgy material in the spotlight at least through 2015.