December 5, 2023

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Think Shopping & Women

Beading and Jewelry Trends from Tucson 2023

3 min read
Beading and Jewelry Trends from Tucson 2023

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—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

Ocean jasper found at the Tucson Gem Shows
Ocean jasper specimens found at the Tucson Gem Shows | Photo courtesy of Julie Sanford

Stocking Up

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!” 

Aquamarine beads and a celestite crystal found at the Tucson Gem Shows
8mm round aquamarine large-hole beads and celestite crystal | Photo courtesy of Katie Hacker

Hot Gemstones

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.

Ametrine beads found at the Tucson Gem Shows
Ametrine is a combination of amethyst and citrine quartz within the same crystal. Photo courtesy of Nealay Patel, owner of SilverSilk and More.

Ametrine Delight 

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.”

Unusual bead materials found at the Tucson Gem Shows
Beads made from water buffalo horn and other natural materials. Photo courtesy of Nealay Patel, owner of SilverSilk and More.

Unusual Beads

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.

Beaded fringe earrings made by Danielle Wickes
Fringe earrings made by Danielle Wickes, Content Creator for John Bead Corp., Owner of Danielle Wickes Jewelry.

Fringe Earrings

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.

Macramé beaded earrings with a focal stone
Bead and macramé pendant made by Ukrainian artist @martajewelry. Photo courtesy of Danielle Wickes, Content Creator for John Bead Corp., Owner of Danielle Wickes Jewelry.

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
Wire-wrapped jewelry made with Wrap Maker Pliers by Jim McIntosh. Photo courtesy of The BeadSmith.

Wire Wrapping

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.

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