Brisk business for traditional goods at JA’s New York Show

Retailers who attended the Jewelers of America Show in New York City Feb. 3-5 weren’t shy about buying. In line with recent consumer “nesting” trends, silver giftware and classic jewelry were the best sellers, according to exhibitors.

“Jewelers are buying 18 of this, 20 of that . and yesterday we sold 70 of our newly designed sterling silver picture frames and eight pairs of sterling candlesticks,” Sterling Possessions chairman Bill Callahan told JCK on the second day of the show. Callahan also noted that he and his manufacturers had lowered prices.

Among jewelry sales, bread-and-butter best sellers such as pearl strands were much sought after. Imperial Deltah unveiled a new collection of top-quality freshwater and akoya pearls. The Providence, R.I., company is betting that its Crown Collection will make it a player in the high-end pearl business. Just a handful of Japanese pearl harvesters are capable of consistently producing the round freshwaters (to 10 mm) and lustrous akoyas (to 9 mm) that the company wants to offer customers, according to a spokesman. The new collection aims to offer consistent high quality from year to year.

Vendors generally were satisfied with traffic and sales. John Blackinton, New England Sterling’s vice president of sales and marketing, noted a strong interest in baby goods, one of his firm’s specialties. A spokesman for Tara & Sons Inc., New York City, said business for Tahitian pearls was strong because prices continue to drop. Even opal-inlaid and tanzanite gold jewelry got some attention: By the show’s halfway point, Tony Deves, director of sales and marketing for Albuquerque, N.M.-based Kabana, said sales were “pretty good.”

Most jewelers were looking for high-quality classics. “Five years ago, consumers would spend $5,000 on an item that matched one outfit,” said Diane Vunic, director of sales and marketing for Suna Brothers, New York City, whose pink diamonds and classic styles in platinum and 18k gold attracted keen interest. “Now, they want something-a look-that will last, like hearts and crosses.”