JCK Las Vegas: JCK’s New Venue, New Attitude

The Strip view is a little different this year for attendees of JCK Las Vegas, now relocated to Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. It marks the first time many show-goers will spend any length of time on a section of Las Vegas Boulevard that doesn’t overlook faux -Venetian canals, pirate ships docked in landlocked lagoons, or exploding man-made volcanoes. Instead, new neighbors like the Four Seasons and THEhotel lend an air of Manhattan-meets-Beverly Hills chic…although the nearby pyramid-shaped Luxor Hotel reminds everyone that they are, still, in Las Vegas.

Location notwithstanding, attendees during the invitation-only period of LUXURY at JCK were an enthusiastic bunch: Vendors liked their new floor positions; retailers liked the abundant signage and show ambassadors—outfitted in “Ask Me” T-shirts—available to give directions and answer questions; and everyone liked the food. (“It’s much better than last year,” commented one retailer during lunch.)

The enthusiasm was equally palpable on the show floor. Armed with a shopping list and a little extra cash, Jo Rosenblum King of Houston’s Rosenblum Fine Jewelers bought an 18k yellow gold ring with unique cuts of amethyst and citrine for herself. For others, she shopped for pearl strands, coral, and a red diamond. “I have a customer who’s always wanted one,” she explained while making her purchase at vendor Denny Wong’s booth.

Meanwhile, Don and Dorothy Vodicka of the Gem Collection in Tallahassee, Fla., shopped for gold pendants with diamond accents at KC Designs on Wednesday. “We’re looking for any pieces that will sell in the $1,000 to $3,500 range,” said Dorothy while inspecting a circular-motif pendant with colorless diamonds. “We want lacy, pretty, and fun—for a price point,” added Don. And while fashion plays a role in purchasing, it’s not the overriding factor. “We’re more concerned about what gold and diamond prices are going to do in the coming months,” said Dorothy.

A number of LUXURY vendors reported brisk sales early on. On May 31, opening day, Sutra Jewels’ Arpita Parikh had sold multiple pairs of earrings from her new silver and topaz line and was frantically tidying up the booth after lunch in preparation for a visit from London Jewelers. By day two, Rahaminov Diamonds had nearly sold out of its one-off diamond creations, including a 6.89 ct. t.w. colorless diamond ring in 18k rose gold (suggested retail: $36,000), purchased by a California store owner. “People are tired of being shopped, so they’re buying unique pieces,” said Rahaminov co-owner Tamara Goldfiner. Sonny Sethi of TARA said business is “up 20 percent” from last year, with sale pieces exhibiting price tags in the extremes—“under $300 retail and over $10,000. It’s all newfound money in China,” he added, noting that a 58 ct. conch pearl went to a buyer in Hong Kong in the past two months.

Some took advantage of JCK’s move to Mandalay Bay to make a move of their own. A number of exhibitors—including diamond jeweler iZi Creations, pearl vendor Yoko By Europe, and -Brazilian brand Vianna—are making their LUXURY debuts; both iZi and Vianna were longtime fixtures on the main JCK show floor. Karla Antunes of Vianna claimed her customers had been asking to see them in LUXURY, so the company obliged. To appeal to the high-end shopper, Vianna brought finer selections of imperial topaz, beryl, and lots of different colors of Paraiba tourmaline—not just the ubiquitous electric blue. “Special gemstones are in our DNA,” explained Antunes. “The economic crisis was important for colored gemstones; they have a value different than diamonds and now have a chance to be represented.”

In the next few days, at the main JCK show, look for even more changes, including touch-screen maps and new categorization for exhibitors. Floor layouts feature new sections highlighting vendors of fashion jewelry, silver, pearls, and bridal. And in the Prestige Promenade—a 69-vendor group of high-end exhibitors—expect lots of refreshments: a morning juice bar; the first-ever Starbucks Café (at two spots within the pavilion); lunches from Wolfgang Puck’s Lupo, Spago, and Postrio from Friday to Sunday; an afternoon smoothie bar; and after-hours cocktail hours in THElounge Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

And jewelers do enjoy their cocktails, especially when the clock strikes 6. As the show wound down on Wednesday and caterers dispensed red and white to the weary exhibitors, a clearly thirsty Richard Krementz raced outside his booth to grab a glass. “Wine man!” shouted the designer. Note: Never stand between a show-goer and his end-of-day libation.