By Randi Molofsky
Each winter jewelry designers, stone dealers and rock hunters head to the desert for the world's largest gem and mineral show. From teeny-tiny precious gems that go for tens of thousands a carat to massive geodes that have to be trucked in, the annual fair in Tucson, AZ, is a favorite of American Gem Society member, Erica Courtney, a fine jewelry designer.
Although she regularly travels the globe in search of spectacular colored gems for her signature Drop Dead Gorgeous collection—recent trips include Tanzania and Hong Kong—it's this pilgrimage to the Southwest that holds a special place in her heart.
"It's just paradise for us," Erica explains. "We get to see all these types of amazing gemstones, plus we get to meet new people in the industry. What could be better than networking and keeping ourselves updated with the latest gemstones?"
Below, Erica shares her three favorite gemstone finds from the show, and why exactly she'll be bringing them home to use in upcoming collections.
Tourmaline: Tourmaline has a bunch of different colorations, and we were loving them because we saw a lot of new and exciting colors. Some of them can be so bright and beautiful, it's so hard to resist. Plus, the clarity of tourmalines is always exquisite.Csarite: Csarite is just such an interesting stone—did you know it's only found in one place in the world, in the remote Turkish Anatolian mountains? Everyone loves the way the stone changes color from from kiwi greens in sunlight to raspberry purplish-pinks in candlelight; as well as the dispersion on the stone. It's just so unique!Purple Garnets: Purple garnets were also one the highlights of the show, they had such a saturated and vivid coloration—I have never seen such beautiful garnets! So different and super sparkly, just a shade different from amethyst. Gorgeous!
One look at Erica's designs and you’ll understand why colored gemstones are so important for inspiration. Here are three brand new pieces by Erica Courtney with her signature detailed settings and bold color.
18K yellow gold “Sayeda” ring featuring a 5.49ct spinel, accented with
1.26ctw Rubelite Tourmaline and 1.21ctw diamonds.
18K yellow gold “Crossover” ring featuring a 7.42ct mint tourmaline, accented with
two 0.47ctw opals on the sides and 1.09ctw diamonds.
18K yellow gold “Cigar Band” ring featuring a 2.10ct paraiba tourmaline cabochon,
accented with 0.22ctw paraiba tourmaline and 0.65ctw diamonds.