Here’s a peek inside our friends’ shopping bags from the gem, bead, fossil, and mineral shows in Tucson. I saw some of these treasures at the show regret not buying them. (There’s always at least one that gets away!) We asked some of our fellow travelers—and contributors to Interweave.com—for their top beading and jewelry trend picks and tips for using them. Work these beauties into your beading and jewelry projects this year.
Related: Spring 2023 Beading and Jewelry Trends
Julie Sanford was excited to see that hard-to-find and highly sought-after ocean jasper was back in play this year. She admits, “It’s great news for collectors but quantities were selling out fast! Plus, Ethiopian opal did not disappoint this year! There were literally piles of dazzling prismatic rough and finished gems on tables all over town. It’s easy to get caught up digging through the raw gems, lit up by Tucson sunshine!”
Cynthia Thornton, owner of Green Girl Studios, offers that shoppers were interested in the subtler colors of semiprecious stones, such as moonstone, sunstone, moss aquamarine, and kyanite. Micro faceted stones in small sizes also seemed to be flying out, according to several stone dealers.” She says the mala trend is still going strong, with 8mm round semiprecious beads selling out.
Nealay Patel says, “It was love at first sight with the watery colors of this ametrine and I just had to have it. I love the authenticity of gemstones, especially because they really help to elevate my designs to the next level as a serious maker. I know how working with bold colors outside of our regular palette can be intimidating, so my advice is to start with ‘watered down’ colors and translucent materials to help ease your transition to working with a stronger color palette.”
It’s always fun to look for something a little bit different in Tucson. Water buffalo horn is a good example of the trend toward using sustainable materials in jewelry. Water buffalo are farm-raised, and every part of the animal is used for farming, nourishment, and other necessities—nothing goes to waste. Nealay says these matte water buffalo horn beads are rich and authentic in feeling and appearance.
Seed beaders are in their element this year with long, colorful fringe earrings. Danielle Wickes spotted many shoppers wearing them and received compliments as well as inquiries into making them. Danielle recommends getting started with Terra Intensive Colors.
Mad for Macramé
Danielle spotted a lot of macramé with gemstones on display and being worn by shoppers at the shows. She wore a macramé pendant made by Ukrainian artist @martajewelry and many folks stopped her to ask about it. Danielle also says, “I don’t have a photo of this trend, but I did notice a lot of interest in classes from folks who stopped at the John Bead Corp. booth. Visitors were asking where they can go to learn, both in person and online.”
Wire-wrapped jewelry is a beautiful way to show off your newest trendy stones. Wrap Maker pliers [affiliate link] from The BeadSmith debuted in Tucson and were invented by Jim McIntosh to make it easier to make wire wrapped and banded work. Leslie Rogalski, Creative Director for The BeadSmith and former Interweave editor, says, “With metal remaining popular in enriching our work, the right tool for the right job should be a mantra, not a trend!”
Related: Our Tucson 2023 Recap
Share Your Treasures and Trends
What did you find in Tucson this year? We’d love to hear your stories and your takes on this season’s beading and jewelry trends in the comments.