Brecken HeadshotWe all know how important nomenclature is in the industry; having not only the correct name but one that is also well known helps increase awareness and understanding for the products and pieces that go into the jewelry we all love so much.

Last year, my trip to Tucson was the first work trip I took as part of the National Jeweler team, and boy was it a quick crash course in colored stones. Since then, I’ve been to a few other places, including Las Vegas, of course, for market week, and San Diego last year for Conclave, all of which were a blast. But Tucson is still one of my favorite trips to take because of all the cool things it has to offer and the massive amounts of stones you can see.

Brecken HeadshotI had almost forgotten how much I loved stones, minerals, and gems until I found myself at this job and in the fine jewelry industry. But it makes so much sense now.

I used to have a tumbled rock collection that I was obsessed with and would guard from my siblings with my life, and was always on the lookout for the best ones to add to my collection.
At first, I thought this blog would be easy as pie. Pick my favorite gemstone jewels that I saw this year? You got it.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, probably multiple times over Pantone named Marsala, a dusky, earthy red color, as its hue of the year for 2015. And while it’s gotten a range of reactions from media, there was a lot of positive feedback coming from the team here, including yours truly.

When celebrities step out on the red carpet, you can usually count on them (or their stylists) choosing the statement jewelry that will get noticed, opting for major drop earrings and bold colored gemstones to accent their fashions in all the right ways.

But lately we’ve been seeing celebrities moving in the other direction when they’ve made public appearances--they are choosing smaller, delicate pieces that create an understated yet pulled-together look.

This has been especially true with earrings, with a number of celebs donning studs, small drops or getting trendy with ear climbers. They also are wearing sleek rings and bracelets that accent without taking the eye too far from their fashion and beauty looks.

Scroll down to see some of the best of the minimal pieces that stars have been wearing lately.

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One of the best parts of this job and this industry is hands down not only getting to see all the amazing jewelry but also getting to talk to the people--manufacturers, designers, retailers--behind it.

This is especially true when these conversations take place in person and I get to hear, for example, the inspiration and idea behind a jewelry collection from the artist themselves.

Last week I was lucky enough to meet with a designer who was new to me, Lisa Kim, and hear firsthand about her new collection, “Windlords.”

With a feminine-yet-edgy look that I think will speak to the modern self-purchaser, Kim’s jewelry draws from other interests of hers--mythology, fantasy literature and ancient history. She also has a background in animation and has studied the techniques of chasing and repoussé.

She is based in Los Angeles, where she produces all her jewelry locally. It’s available in karat gold or sterling silver, and uses ethically sourced gemstones chosen for their color and features. Currently she sells in a few select stores but is looking to expand her presence in independent retailers.

The design aesthetic of her new Windlords collection is a direct reflection of Kim’s belief in the parallel between “the mythic hero and the modern woman,” offering a big, bold look for a more affordable price point. Scroll down to see a few of my favorites from my recent visit with Kim.

Moonstone shield ring

This is Kim’s “Shield” ring, made with a rose-cut moonstone, oxidized sterling silver and 18-karat yellow gold ($6,125).

On Wednesday night, Nashville, Tenn. played host to the 48th Country Music Association Awards, bringing attention back to celebrity red carpet style at a time when there aren’t many awards ceremonies.

Associate Editor Brecken Branstrator explores why a new line of customizable jewelry appeals to her and her friends, all of whom are in their 20s.
Associate Editor Brecken Branstrator delves into another unusual category of jewelry, this time looking at the rather invasive pieces one designer said could capture a human’s kinetic energy.
Associate Editor Brecken Branstrator takes a look at a new headpiece designed by U.K.-based fashion house The Unseen, which is covered in gemstones that respond to brain activity by changing color.
Designer Monika Knutsson breathes new life into old pieces of lace by dipping them in karat gold or sterling silver to create jewelry. Read more in Associate Editor Brecken Branstrator’s Q&A with the artist.
With all the recent consumer press reports accusing major chains of selling lead glass-filled rubies without proper disclosure, Associate Editor Brecken Branstrator takes a look at the rules for selling these stones.
Brecken HeadshotThe work of gemstone miners and traders and how they extract minerals from the source seems to be a popular theme for documentaries these days.

Brecken HeadshotWe’ve been back in New York for about a week, giving me time to (somewhat) catch up on rest and reflect on my time at market week in Las Vegas. This trip was not only my first time at market week but also my first trip to Las Vegas, which meant that my to-do list of things to eat, see and visit was pretty extensive.

While I didn’t get to do everything on my list (here’s looking at you, High Roller), I had an amazing time while I was there.

The best thing that continues to come out of these work trips for me, besides the education, is getting to see more brands, designers and jewelry, meeting people in person that I’ve been emailing for a while and meeting tons of wonderful new people. I am constantly in awe of the passion, dedication and energy that seems to pervade the industry.

By day in Las Vegas, I was going on a few appointments of my own at the shows as well as accompanying both Hannah and Michelle on theirs. Nothing beats getting to see the jewelry in person and trying it on, and Las Vegas provided that opportunity in spades.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the trip.

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Starting top left and moving clockwise: Pamela Froman, Octium, Omi Privé, and Oscar Heyman

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.