10 Things Rocking the Industry, November 2015



1. Chow Tai Fook unveiled a stunner of a necklace in Hong Kong on Sept. 3. The ornate piece, dubbed “A Heritage in Bloom” (top) and designed by master gem carver and jewelry artist Wallace Chan, showcases a 104 ct. brilliant-cut round that is at present the largest Forever-mark diamond in the world. The stone, along with 23 other diamonds in the piece, was cut from the Cullinan Heritage, a massive—and massively rare—507.55 ct. type IIa rough diamond that the jeweler acquired in 2010. In total, the necklace boasts 383.4 cts. of white and pink diamonds, plus jadeite and mutton-fat white jade. “An Inheritance in Bloom” might be more like it.

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Emma Roberts (photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images); 1.53 ct. and 1.51 ct. Tobey stud earrings with 0.57 ct. t.w. diamonds; $50,500Martin Katz, Los Angeles; 310-276-7200; martinkatz.com

2. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The red carpet is your chance to bust out the traffic-stopping bling. So why, on Sept. 20, aka Emmy night, did we again see so many naked necks, empty wrists, and lonely lobes? (We mean you, Amy Schumer. Girl, you don’t need makeup, but you do need jewelry.) Thankfully, at least a few leading ladies got on the big-earring bandwagon: onetime Miss Universe Olivia Culpo donned stiletto pearl and diamond drops by Yoko London; Modern Family’s always-stylish Sarah Hyland wowed in Lorraine Schwartz fan-style ruby shoulder-dusters; and winner Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), ahem, killed in Neil Lane diamond chandelier earrings. A bit of advice: There is only one time when it’s okay to wear studs, and that’s when you’re pretty much dripping in diamonds like Emma Roberts. Just for future reference.

 

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Necklace with boulder opals and diamonds in 18k gold; $9,065Lauren Harper Collection, Chicago; 312-543-1687; laurenharpercollection.com

3. Marsala, we hardly knew ye. Pantone has released its spring 2016 palette, 10 hues that the color authority characterizes as “vivid brights” (as opposed to last season’s “earthy neutrals”—e.g., the muddy Marsala). The saturated shades should provide plenty of inspiration for jewelers—particularly those who look to offbeat or underused gemstones. For Peach Echo, think sunstone; chalcedony for Serenity; boulder opal and lapis for Snorkel Blue; yellow aventurine for Buttercup; larimar for Limpet Shell; labradorite for Lilac Gray; red jasper for Fiesta; brown agate for Iced Coffee; peridot for Green Flash; and for Rose Quartz…that one’s pretty obvious. 

 

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4. Diamonds are tough nuts to crack. Not many people envied Embee Diamonds’ Mike Botha (above) when he cut the Arkansas-mined Esperanza diamond in front of an audience at Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in Little Rock, Ark. Botha’s stone finished out to a 4 ct. triolette—a triangular cut invented just for this stone—that he predicts will be graded D-internally flawless. The stone will now be set by Los Angeles designer Erica Courtney and graded by AGS—meaning it was found, cut, set, and graded in the United States.

 

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The webroom in Roosevelt Field mall 

5. First, Blue Nile experimented with boutiques in two Nordstroms. Then it opened its first store—a compact “webroom” in a Garden City, N.Y., mall (which doesn’t actually sell anything; associates direct customers to the website). Now, with results showing better conversions, the Seattle-based e-tailer plans to open three to four more locations in 2016. So far, its brick-and-mortar stores have been in states where Blue Nile, not coincidentally, collects sales tax (New York and Washington), but CEO Harvey Kanter hinted that the company may look beyond that. “At some point we will see the Marketplace Fairness Act maybe pass and sales tax for Internet retailers maybe happen,” he told an investment conference in September. “And we want to make sure we have a road map.” 
 

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6. Armed, dangerous—and a she. In an unusual, even unique, occurrence, a lone female armed robber garnered $1 million after robbing three Southern jewelry stores in August and September. Jewelers’ Security Alliance president John J. Kennedy said the suspect is typically “nice-looking, well-dressed, wearing designer clothes. If she walks in, you would want her as a customer.” She is also quite dangerous, and has tied up store personnel—though, so far, she’s struck only when there were female associates on the floor. The JSA has put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to her capture. “She is clearly someone who is extraordinarily bold,” Kennedy says, “and people that bold get me nervous.”  

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7. Everyone in the industry might call a six-pronged setting a Tiffany setting. But a federal judge ruled that you probably shouldn’t. On Sept. 8, Judge Laura Taylor Swain denied Costco’s motion to have Tiffany setting ruled a generic term. She also agreed with the House of the Little Blue Box on the issue that sparked the case, finding Costco guilty of counterfeiting for selling unauthorized jewelry marked Tiffany. This means Costco will have to pay damages—and eat a 24-pack of crow. But other jewelers may suffer, too. Jewelers Vigilance Committee president Cecilia Gardner says, in light of the ruling, retailers should avoid using the descriptor.
 

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The Dynasty ring, meant to honor winners of multiple fantasy titles, will be available in late December at trophyrings.com.

8. It’s a fantasy football player’s ultimate fantasy: an epic championship ring to denote the player who rules them all—for this year at least. Four friends in Rockville, Md.—Armen Thomasian, Ali Nesson, Sohrob Farudi, and Rahmeen Farudi—made the fantasy a reality with their company, TrophyRings, which they founded after the elaborate tinfoil rings they’d made to serve as trophies in their own fantasy league proved a more enticing prize than money or bragging rights. The quartet worked two years to get the design—and the price—just right, and raised money via Kickstarter. The brass rings, plated in 18k gold and hand-set with CZ, will retail for $200–$300—a small price to pay for proof of victory.

 

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Ivanka Trump (photo: Everett Collection/Alamy)

9. For three years, Ivanka Trump (you may have heard of her father) and her company’s former jewelry supplier, KGK, have battled in court following the dissolution of their supplier agreement. On Aug. 21, a New York State Supreme Court judge awarded the Indian sightholder a clear victory, ruling that Madison Avenue Diamonds, the entity behind Trump’s jewelry company, had to pay $2.4 million plus damages for breaching the two sides’ 2012 settlement agreement. The deal called for KGK to return CAD files within 45 days, but when it took 46 days, Trump’s side termed that a “material breach” and nixed the agreement. KGK disagreed, and so did the judge, though Madison Avenue is appealing. Still, Trump’s month wasn’t a total loss; shortly after the verdict, her presidential candidate father declared he wanted to put her on the $10 bill.

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10. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, sales at specialty jewelers rose 5.2 percent and 3.5 percent in June and July, respectively—a welcome change in direction following eight months of declines. The change in trajectory has cheered industry veteran Ken Gassman, who now predicts holiday jewelry sales will rise 2 to 3 percent. His reasoning: The consumer mood is better, so is the U.S. economy, and jewelers have “adequate balanced inventory.”