At the Toronto Gem Expo 2019

by Reema Farooqui

This past weekend, the Toronto Gem Expo took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto. Being marketed as the “Toronto’s hottest gem show,” I felt duty bound to go and check it out! I really had two objectives in mind: first to meet with vendors who might be selling pearls, and the other to judge for myself how “hot” this show really was.

So, come Friday morning, I took the train to Toronto and arrived at the venue almost as soon as it opened for the day. My first impression was that I needed sunglasses to navigate the hall, given there were so many glittering gemstones and crystals on display. Also, even ten minutes into the show, there was a reasonably large crowd in the hall (I had some difficulty finding less busy areas in the show, for taking a few photographs). Most booths had strands upon strands of emeralds, rubies, Herkimer diamonds, and other sparkling goodies and loose gemstones, while some had ready to wear jewellery as well. But I was there to look for pearls and found them only at five or so booths. I got the feeling that pearls were at the show in a supporting role, while the real stars of the show were the precious and semiprecious gemstones and jewellery.

Having said that, I had the pleasure of meeting two lovely Canadian pearl jewellery vendors, Bead It Gemstones and Bijoux Luce Gilbert.

Bead It Gemstones, based out of Montreal, Quebec, sells pearls along with other very high-quality semiprecious gemstones. Just back from the Hong Kong Jewellery Fair, Vivian at Bead It Gemstones had with her some very pretty, freshwater pearls strands. She also had some attractive dark coloured Tahitian pearls strands and lovely multicoloured bead-nucleated pearls strands, which brought a big smile to my face.

Pearls are just one part of Bead It Gemstones offering, but customers can contact them to buy to ready to wear necklaces and bracelets or choose their own pearl strands and then have them hand knotted according to their preferences. Because they ship worldwide, and have many different types of pearls, customers have a wide variety of options to choose from. At the Gem Expo, most of their pearls were in the form of strands, with just a few finished necklaces.

I also met Luce Gilbert of Bijoux Luce Gilbert, a jewellery designer based out of Senneville, Quebec, who handcrafts beautiful, delicate, and very elegant jewellery. Her pieces are made from gemstones mined within Canada, freshwater and salt water pearls, and beautiful silversmithing and metal filigree work. Luce is very passionate about her work, having successfully presented her jewellery in Canada as well as in France over the last two decades. Luce had some pretty silvery grey Tahitian pearls earrings and pendants with delicate filigree work which really caught my eye. But it was her set of 3 to 5 delicate stacking necklaces, with Rose Thulite, Muscovites, and lustrous fresh water pearls that made a real impression on me. Luce participates in many jewellery exhibitions in Ontario as well as Quebec and will be visiting France as Canadienne invitée d’honneur at the Foire Internationale De Metz this coming September.

My thoughts: My overall experience at the Toronto Gem Expo was great. There were lots of very beautiful gemstones on offer, both precious as well as semiprecious. Pearls were not a very important part of the show, but the two pearl jewellery vendors I met, more than made up for that. Hyatt Regency is a fantastic venue for the show, and being on King Street, it is very close to the characterful Theatre district of Toronto, which I love! Was this show the “hottest gem show” of Toronto? I can’t say because how do you measure the hotness of a show, but it was certainly a very happening show, given the number of people attending it Friday morning. Will I attend it again next year? Absolutely! Who knows which exciting new pearl vendor I might meet 😊

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