Orange Crush: In Love with Color, Gems, and Tucson

What are tenterhooks? I’m not sure, but I’d been on them ever since October when I learned that one of Pantone’s 2019 Spring/Summer Fashion Forecast Colors was a brilliant shade of orange. Would it make it to the very top as Color of the Year?

ABOVE: Worn against brilliant colors or neutrals, a blackened steel cuff splashed with gold and holding a shimmering pale pearl will always look terrific. Bette Barnett provides the bracelet how-to plus tips for making jewelry with steel, and talks about one of her favorite tools, all in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2019. Photo: Jim Lawson

Pantone Color Crush

I might be exaggerating. I do love intense oranges, and it would have pleased me to see this year’s honor go to Fiesta Orange. But I’d still be drawn to it and its kissing cousins, whether any of them were number one color kitten or not. What’s always jazzed me about the event is simply Pantone’s big, splashy celebration of color itself. Waking up every morning to an infinite and irrepressible spectrum adds zest to my entire day.


As a medium for color, gemstones are without peer, and nothing rivals the Tucson “gem show” for opportunities to add interest to your designs. With its wide-angle focus, global draw, and rich history, the Tucson show experience is breathtaking. From jewelry to earth science, for professionals, amateurs, and the trade, the city’s 40ish venues are augmented by rafts of hands-on classes, seminars, exhibits, and socials. The air vibrates with anticipation: which new treasure, old favorite, or long-time friend will pop up next?

Yes, orange crushes it for me, but not just orange. Color crushes it, and Tucson crushes color and a lot else besides. I can’t wait — and hope to see you there!


Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

This post is adapted from her column, “Orange Crush,” in the January/February 2019 issue.

P.S. I looked it up. A tenter is a framework used to stretch milled cloth, secured in place by tenterhooks. Think of canvas pulled taut on a tent, so suggesting great tension. I did exaggerate.

P.P.S. Pantone typically announces its ultimate color in December. Writing about the forecast in November for the January/February Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, I was still in suspense, but now I know. The 2019 Pantone Color of the Year is Living Coral — not quite as intense as Fiesta Orange, but definitely in the family. I already feel the warmth of spring coming.

Tucson Show Guide 2019

P.P.P.S. The 2019 Tucson shows run January 30 – February 17. Heading out for this year’s displays of gems, beads, jewelry, minerals, fossils, tools, supplies, equipment, and more? Don’t forget your 2019 Tucson Show Guide.

P.P.P.P.S. Check out “Color Power” in Trends in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2019 to see gemstone examples of all this year’s hot colors, both warm and cool.

And remember, you don’t have to use coral or coral-colored stones to look good on coral-colored clothing. Contrast is a good thing. Other good things are that the complete Pantone annual list includes shades of everything, and that there’s always a gemstone to suit any trend. Here are some other super stones you’ll see and learn to use in the January/February 2019 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist — the Gem Issue!

Warm Colored Stones

Callahan Hargrave Truth North pendant. Photo: Jim Lawson

Photo: Jim Lawson

With or without spangles, warmly colored labradorite feldspar from Oregon, better known as Oregon sunstone, is a standout. Learn about the collaborative effort behind Robin Callahan’s True North pendant featuring an Oregon sunstone cut by Dalan Hargrave in his own Nautical Star cut.

And by the way, Dalan also designed and cut that amazing ametrine on the cover of the 2019 Tucson Show Guide!

jim perkins ruby heart Photo: Jim Lawson

Photo: Jim Lawson

What could be a better Valentine than a heart-shaped faceted ruby, I ask you — but it is a cutting challenge. Jim Perkins cuts his heart-shaped facet design in a way that makes it more approachable for faceters and still look the part. This example is cut in manmade material.

Noel Yovovich sugilitie Photo: Jim Lawson

Photo: Jim Lawson

Hung from a necklace of garnet beads, this pendant’s main stone is a cabochon of reddish-purple sugilite incorporated with other materials, giving it that interesting patterning. In her project “Prongs Illustrated,” Noël Yovovich teaches you prong setting and more. Learn how to set the sugilite by building a partial bezel and two prongs, how to use a tube set for the little round rhodolite garnet accent, and how to build the prong setting for the contrasting touch of blue iolite at the top.

Cooler Colors

Kylie Jones iolite chain maille bracelet. Photo: Jim Lawson

Photo: Jim Lawson

Depending on how it’s oriented when cut and worn, iolite can be a lovely violet blue. For this chain maille bracelet with iolite beads, Kylie Jones chose faceted drops precisely to show the different colors iolite displays when seen at different angles. You can also learn more about iolite in Smokin’ Stones.

Noel Yovovich sapphire and silver hair barrette. Photo: Jim Lawson

Photo: Jim Lawson

Here, tiny faceted synthetic blue sapphires add a touch of sparkle to a handmade silver barrette by Noël Yovovich. It suggests the prettiest part of winter, and will stay clean and pristine because Noël has chosen to use low-tarnish Argentium Sterling Silver® for it. Also learn her secret to making slippery silver hold onto slippery hair.

Michael Anthony Cheatham turquoise pendant. Photo: Jim Lawson

Photo: Jim Lawson

Although this demo by Michael Anthony Cheatham focuses on building big, dramatic, statement-making bezels and bails, it also walks you through making the finished pendant, too. It’s set with a beautiful turquoise cabochon tending toward green.

Start Practicing

Whether you’re heading to the Tucson shows this year or not, be sure to check out our feature on what to look for when buying gems. And don’t miss our suggested starter stones. But here’s a tip right now: like anything else, to become a good gem shopper, you need to practice!

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