Behind the Scenes: Gem Shows

Janice Stiles

About twice a year, I attend gem shows to replenish my gems & pearls. While this process is intensive because I want to be thorough, it is also a lot of fun! Sometimes it's hard to pick just a few—there are so many different displays and so many truly beautiful and unique options to choose from. Ultimately though, I am rigorous about picking the elements that will continue to deliver head-turning, one-of-a-kind Tres Elegante Designs.


I am always on the lookout for high-quality pearls at an affordable price. This means, I scour the gem show, take lots of notes and then buy from the best suppliers at the very end. I have several suppliers that I've bought from for years, as they have consistently had the best pearls. Good quality gray, black, and peacock pearls are the hardest to find, so I am always excited when I am able to score them!

assortment of pearls


I have one primary supplier for gemstones, as their quality is always high and the gemstones are calibrated. This means they are exactly the size they say they are! Other suppliers' stones can vary, which makes them more difficult to use. Gemstones are like pearls in that I sometimes can't find the size or type I want for a reasonable price. Because they come from all over the world, shipping, mining, and lab issues dictate what is available, when, and for what price.

I'm also always looking for nice opals for pendants, pink tourmaline for earrings, and all types of topaz for both.

pearl and hammered silver stick earrings
At the show I attended this past summer, I purchased these tiny raw diamonds and made two pairs of earrings with them. One pair has a hammered sterling back and the other is hammered gold fill. These styles are an experimental iteration of the collector favorite Turquoise and Sterling Earrings style, the Lapis and Sterling Earrings style, and the Sterling Silver Rectangle Earrings style, all of which are available for purchase at 

three pairs of hammered silver stick earrings, one with turquoise, one with lapis, and one plain

What special elements would you like me to seek out at the next show? Send me an email at with your ideas, and we can work on a fun custom piece together!

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