As testament to the incredibly wide variety of exhibitors hosted at the Tucson Expo Center by JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show, we found a dealer here with a gorgeous selection of tribal jewelry as well as their own line of tribal inspired jewelry. This was a delight to find among all of the gems and beads and contemporary designs which are the stock in trade of JOGS.
Cross Cultural Creations, and its two principals Ben Chaffee and Alex Zinn, are only 3 years old as a business concern, but their wares are ‘as old as the hills’ one might say. When I had a chance to chat with Mr. Chaffee, he explained to me the inspiration for their designs come from the centuries-old traditions of the Hmong peoples, as well as some of the other regional hill-tribes in Southeast Asia.
Leading me to one side of their exhibitor booth, Mr. Chaffee described trips to the hinterlands of Laos and Thailand in search of the region’s traditional jewelry, and explained the appeal the pieces hold for visitor’s at the show, “It is not only the design itself that seems to attract the attention of buyers, but the materials as well. There is a certain tone to the metal—it is 30-40 percent silver, the rest being mostly copper—that gives a timeless look that seems to have a great appeal.” The next table over abounded with Cross Cultural Creations’ own unique designs, many of which are inspired directly by traditional Hmong style; others feature the materials native to the region combined with contemporary western sensibilities.
Gesturing to an interesting necklace of silvery feathers, Mr Chaffee explained that the wholesale buyers have been buying mostly necklaces “Like this one, which is actually zinc, a nice alternative to sterling at this time when everyone is conscious of cost; it has the great look, but at much less than you’d normally expect to spend. With a price point of about $20 it has probably been our best selling piece this year. Our bracelets from the Hmong people themselves have also been great sellers, and at about $100 to $150 each, they’re really going great.”
While this is only their first time at JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show, or attending TGMS, they are already planning their return next year. “Vitaliy (Maysenberg) has really done a great job of promoting this show, and we’ve done great business, we’re definitely looking at coming back next year.”
You can find out more about this exhibitor at their website– http://culture-cross.org/ or by finding them on Facebook.