Jewelry Trends at Tucson Gem Show

This article was originally posted as a guest blog on Robyn Hawk’s site Tucson Gem Show – Live! Special thanks to Robyn for having me and for always providing such great content for jewelers on the Tucson Gem Show blog and The Daily Jewel.

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 Inc. provides wholesale jewelry supplies to the trade. The company’s product line features findings, chain, wire, beads and charms in sterling silver and goldfilled.

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