10 Things Rocking the Industry, September–October 2016



SHOWS

In 2019, after eight years at Mandalay Bay, JCK Las Vegas, LUXURY, and Swiss Watch will move back to where it all began—the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The Sands has undergone some changes since JCK departed, including major renovations to its escalators, lighting, air-conditioning, and lower floor, says Yancy Weinrich, senior vice president of Reed Jewelry Group. Attendees will also find a new entryway, an easier-to-navigate layout, an upgraded business center, new food options, and additional amenities. The first JCK show at the revamped Sands will take place June 2–5, 2019, with LUXURY taking place May 30–June 5, 2019.

Atmosphere pendant in two-tone 18k gold with 15.38 ct. opal, 3.72 cts. t.w. aquamarine, and 3.34 cts. t.w. diamonds; $22,005; Yael Designs, San Francisco; 415-989-9235; yaeldesigns.com

 

AWARDS

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The American Gem Trade Association may have thrown the industry a curveball with the timing of this year’s Spectrum Awards (which took place in New York City in July instead of in the fall), but the quality of the entries remained top-notch. Ricardo Basta’s convertible platinum ring earned first place in Bridal Wear and received Platinum Honors both for its technical handiwork—it features a detachable 18k gold “quilt” jacket—and its spectacular blend of turquoise, tsavorites, and diamonds. Then there was the Best in Show suite of brilliant-cut Russian demantoid garnets from Ruben Bindra at B & B Fine Gems, and Derek Katzenbach’s Best Use of Color winner, a bicolored tourmaline ring with tsavorite garnets, tourmalines, and diamonds. Talk about Christmas in July!

Ricardo Basta’s winning Royal Blue sapphire and diamond ring, with its detachable turquoise, diamond, and tsavorite jacket

 

MAJORS

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Macy’s—the self-described “world’s largest store”—is shrinking. Amid declining sales, the company announced it will close 100 branches—about one-seventh of its fleet. Wall Street applauded the move, but retail watchers called it another sign that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers—and in particular department stores—are having trouble adjusting to the new economy. In explaining the action to Bloomberg TV, CEO Terry Lundgren was blunt: “The reality is the United States is overstored.”

 

IN MEMORIAM

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Harold Tivol, who died July 6 at age 92, was the owner of Tivol, a local jeweler in Kansas City, Mo., but in the industry he was much, much more. For decades, Tivol was an influential tastemaker and occasional gadfly, particularly on the subject of GIA adding cut to its grading reports (which it did in 2005, giving Tivol part of the credit). He also became something of a local celebrity after starring in his own commercials, including one memorable spot in which he donned a series of hairpieces. But he was perhaps most admired for his strict adherence to high standards. “We will provide the best of its type,” he told JCK in 2007, “and be proud that it has the name Tivol on it.”

Harold Tivol’s father, Charles, founded Tivol in 1910; Harold joined the family business in 1946.

 

DIAMONDS

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Last November, Lucara Diamond Corp. made a splash when it discovered the 1,109 ct. Lesedi la Rona, the second-largest rough diamond ever found. In June, it hoped to make an even bigger noise when the stone (pictured) was sold at Sotheby’s—an unusual example of a piece of rough going under the hammer at a public sale. But although bidding reached an impressive $61 million, the mega-stone met neither its reserve nor its $70 million estimate—despite presale predictions that its price could top $100 million. Still, Lucara CEO William Lamb told Vanity Fair the experiment was a worthy one, and if the miner finds another big stone, it might just try it again.

 

GEMSTONES

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August babies, born in typically the hottest month, now have two hot choices for birthstone jewels: peridot, which has been the only official August jewel since 1912, and spinel—just added by the AGTA and Jewelers of America. “Spinel is an incredible gemstone that has garnered respect for centuries, and it is enjoying surging popularity because of its stunning range of colors,” says AGTA president Jeffrey Bilgore. August is now the sixth month to have more than one official birthstone. 

18k gold earrings with 5.37 cts. t.w. gray spinel and 1.05 cts. t.w. diamonds; $4,800; Ivy New York, Beverly Hills, Calif.; 310-926-7877; ivynewyork.com

 

MINERS

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There has long been demand for Canadian diamonds. But Australian stones? Rio Tinto hopes so. In the summer, the miner debuted the world’s first Australian Diamonds program, which provides an audited mine-to-polished chain of custody for stones from its Argyle mine in Western Australia; a Canadian Diamonds program—covering Rio Tinto’s share of production from the Diavik mine—will come onstream later this year. They will target two audiences, says Bruno Sané, Rio Tinto Diamonds’ general manager of marketing: the trade (many, particularly in India, remain nervous about synthetics being mixed with natural gems) and consumers, who want greater assurance about the source of their gems.

Argyle Diamonds’ champagne diamond jewelry

 

RETAILERS

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There are a lot of old stores in the U.S. jewelry industry, but none is believed to top Bixler’s Jewelers, which, at 231 years, is nearly as old as America itself. Recently, the Allentown, Pa., jeweler was purchased by Sporn Co., the Burlington, Vt.–based company that also owns Perrywinkle’s. Company president Perry Sporn plans to establish an in-store museum to spotlight its long lineage. “They have clocks from the original founders, treasure trunks of photos,” he says. “To have a store that goes back to the Revolutionary War—that to me is a cool story.”

Allentown, Pa., landmark Bixler’s, in the 1940s

 

OPENINGS

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When London Jewelers opened its sixth store—in the downtown Manhattan transportation hub known as the Oculus—its landlord challenged the retailer to do something different. London came up with a display that spotlights emerging Women’s Jewelry Association designers as a way to “give back” to the industry. The first three (Marcia Budet, Laurence Bruyninckx, and Amáli) will be featured until Christmas, then London will bring in new names every three months, so the area becomes a place of “constant discovery,” in the words of chief operating officer Tim Claire. The WJA, naturally, is thrilled: “In a very difficult retail environment, people want out-of-the-box ideas, ways to get younger people into the store,” says president Brandee Dallow. “This has all of that wrapped into one.” 

Stack with two Aura rings in 18k white gold with 0.11 ct. diamond and one Rhea ring in 18k yellow gold; $2,490 (without center stone); Laurence Bruyninckx, Antwerp; 312-372-0506; lx-antwerp.com

 

STATS

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There wasn’t a lot of good news in the Jewelers Board of Trade’s most recent set of statistics, and president and CEO Anthony Capuano expects the industry will continue to shrink for the foreseeable future. “When you look at the number of jewelry retailers compared to, say, hardware stores, it appears that consolidation will continue,” he says. Still, he adds: “Because of the uniqueness of jewelry and unique nature of the buying experience, I believe there will always be room for an independent jeweler who knows the market and sells product geared to the market. It’s harder to differentiate yourself if you’re a hardware store.”