Professional Jeweler Archive: Tucson's a Stage

January 2004

Gemstones & Pearls/


Tucson's a Stage

Fashion will drive the interest in color at this year's gem shows, especially sapphires and green gems


It’s hard to know which way the winds of fortune will blow across Tucson in February. Some veterans say the 2004 edition of the gem shows held annually in this Arizona city could emerge the strongest in years.

High-end gems should continue to sell well, says James Alger of James Alger Co., a gem dealer in Bedford, NH. They may be seen as a form of investment protection from a questionable future.

Apparel trends continue to favor colored gemstone jewelry too, particularly sapphire and emerald, as well as tourmaline, garnet, amethyst and citrine.

All told, indicators point to a healthy shopping season. “I’m getting calls for better gems in general,” says Kambiz Sabouri of Gems 2000, Columbus, OH. Colored diamond popularity has pushed colors in sapphire also, he says.

However, gem futures are inconsistent. Dealers such as Anil Gupta of Kris Gems, New York City, says November (a peak season for trading gemstones before Christmas) was depressingly slow, and that may foreshadow sales at Tucson.

Big Three

Expect several good buys in Tucson. Sapphires from Madagascar and Africa, for example, remain plentiful, beautiful and multicolored. One big concern: controversial treatments. Experts suggest retailers and manufacturers re-examine ties with their suppliers. For large, important purchases, a laboratory certificate should accompany the gem.

Ruby transactions have dipped slightly as supplies from Myanmar, Sri Lanka and other sources taper off. Conversely, emeralds are returning to fashion, experts say. Prices remain reasonable.

Unusual or New

Also look for one-of-a-kind gems. For designers, various forms and colors of chalcedony, drusy quartz and mineral specimens will be available. Maxam Magnata of Maxam Magnata Inc., Tucson, AZ, has high hopes for dyed blue, green and yellow chalcedony beads and hand-carved amber.

Ventana Mining Co., based in Guatemala with a U.S. office in Hermosa Beach, CA, expects to bring larger samples of high-quality jadeite jade in qualities that rival fine Burmese jadeite. Some rare Guatemalan jadeite, such as those pictured here, are of a fine chrome green and are highly translucent.

Since last year, emeralds and other beryl discoveries from Canada have been announced – samples will likely be trotted out at Tucson.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Carved amber from Maxam Magnata, Tucson, AZ; (800) 639 4367.
Top-quality jadeite jade from the Motagua River district in Guatemala are courtesy of Ventana Mining Co., Hermosa Beach, CA; (310) 376-4310.

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