One of the absolute highlights of my year, apart from COUTURE, of course, is heading west in the winter for the annual Tucson Gem Shows. Not only is the trip a fabulous escape from New York City Winter Blues, it’s such a great time to see so many people in our community “in their element.” Among the throngs of stone-worshipers from across the globe, you’ll glimpse, strolling down the aisles of GJX or AGTA, or slipping in and out of stands at Pueblo, some of the biggest names in COUTURE design. And what’s even more exciting than getting first hand knowledge of what these creative geniuses are buying so that we can know what we can expect to see in a few months at COUTURE, is seeing how they get creative together.
Within the jewelry industry at large, I’ve seen so much competitiveness and secrecy over the years. It can stop a conversation in its tracks, and it’s intimidating for any young talent aspiring to break into this world. COUTURE is unique in the industry in that there is a definite spirit of collaboration among designers and brands. I’ve been strolling with (or, more accurately, tagging along with) a designer in Tucson when they saw a particular gemstone and said, “So and so was just telling me she’s on the hunt for these….” and then put down the cash to buy the stones for their fellow designer.
Days of shopping are usually followed by evenings of information exchanges over tacos and tequila. Not only are designers making recommendations for where to go to get the best of whatever’s being coveted, or sharing their personal experiences working with a particular stone, they also share with one another the spark of a design idea, or the inexplicable draw towards a particular color or gemstone. For COUTURE designers, the gem market is the root of so much of the creativity that is showcased at COUTURE, and it’s a joy to attend, and witness the magic in progress, year after year!