By Brecken Branstrator
This 14-karat white gold ring by Drukker Designs featuring color-gradient tourmalines and diamonds ($500) was among the pieces showcased at GemFair Tucson 2014, which took place Feb. 4 to 9.
Tucson--Perhaps one of the best indicators of what’s to come in the year, even years, ahead for fine gemstone jewelry are the trends that pop up during them gem shows that take over Tucson every February.

This year, colors on the cooler end of the spectrum seemed most popular, and a few stones were moving beyond their most well-known shades to show their versatility.

With the help of a few industry experts, National Jeweler compiled a list of trends seen in Tucson during the 2014 gem shows, looking at both specific stones and colors that were popular with buyers and sellers and are likely to start popping up in finished pieces. 

Dan Frye of Jewelry Television, Elizabeth Anne Bonanno of The EAB Project, Amanda Gizzi of the Jewelry Information Center and Soraya Cayen of Cayen Collection aided in identifying these trends.

-- Rainbow of sapphires. Sapphires of all colors seemed to be in high demand this year, running the spectrum of the rainbow, especially as the price of the classic blue continues to climb.

-- Radiant orchid. After Pantone named it the 2014 color of the year, this shade, as well as various other hues of purple, stole the scene in Tucson. In addition to sapphires, stones such as tanzanite, amethyst, kunzite and spinels were showing the depth of the color.

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-- Greens, of all kinds. The popularity of emerald green, which was Pantone’s 2013 color of the year, has carried over to 2014 and made all shades of green more desirable. While classic stones like emeralds continued to get a lot of love, it’s also opened the market to the likes of peridot and even greener shades of turquoise. 

-- Tourmaline. There was a wide variety of colored tourmalines in Tucson, even if there wasn’t necessarily a “depth” of them, as Frye notes. Additionally, a lot more people were looking for finer Paraiba tourmaline.

Frye, who is vice president of merchandising at JTV, notes that prices for gemstones across the board were up this year, as increasing demand from the Chinese market especially pushes them higher.

He said the supply chain for colored gemstones has slowed, and buyers aren’t getting the same depth, saturation or clarity for the price they’re paying.

Stones like Tanzanite and rubellite, or others where supply is increasingly limited, have increased by multiple times their original price per carat over the last decade.

Still, Frye said he feels bullish about the colored gemstone market for the future.

“I did feel like there was a better mood in Tucson this year,” he said. “There were more people attending the events open to the public, and there were more serious buyers at the private events. The overall demeanor seemed upbeat and promising.”  

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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.