10 Things Rocking the Jewelry Industry: April 2013



1. Media

The Super Bowl has always been considered the, um, Super Bowl of ad placements. And yet viewers were surely taken aback when, amid the beer and corn chip commercials, local stations aired a high-toned ad for jewelry chain Alex and Ani during the Feb. 3 game. The commercial ran only in select markets, but cost the Providence, R.I.–based up-and-comer $2 million to produce and broadcast. “With Valentine’s Day sitting there 12 days out, to me it was a no-brainer,” says company CEO Giovanni Feroce, who’s already planning a repeat performance. Alex and Ani’s Web ­traffic spiked 550 percent the following day, with a 243 percent jump immediately after the ad ran.

2. Oscars

It’s official: Diamonds are a Holly­wood star’s best friend. After a colorful showing at January’s Golden Globes, jewelry at the Feb. 24 Oscars went almost completely colorless, with an endless train of women traipsing down the red carpet in diamonds even whiter than their smiles. At least one bona fide trend emerged that evening: the backlace, which was donned by both Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway (a Tiffany & Co. Blue Book platinum and diamond corsage necklace) and—even more dramatically—Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence (a Chopard long white gold necklace set with diamond beads and brilliants). Of course, this isn’t the backlace’s first time at the party. In 2011, nominee Nicole Kidman turned a 150 ct. Fred Leighton 19th-century opera-length necklace into a choker with a trail of old mine-cut diamonds running down her back. But this year, it proved to be a winning look—in more ways than one.

3. Celebrities

Courtesy of Mario Sorrenti

Actress Mila Kunis is the new face of emeralds. London-based colored stone producer Gemfields has debuted a print campaign featuring Kunis, its new global ambassador, wearing one-of-a-kind emerald and ruby designs by six of Gemfields’ jewelry partners: Alexandra Mor; Shaun Leane; Dominic Jones; Gem Palace; Sutra; and Fabergé, the storied Russian brand acquired by Gemfields late last year. Yet for all Kunis’ ­thespian experience, the role is uncharted territory. “I can’t say I was a jewelry lover,” she admits. “I’ve been learning to appreciate fashion over the past few years and I’m now learning to appreciate jewelry. All I can say is I was never really into diamonds.”

4. Lawsuits

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In November 2012, a customer told Tiffany & Co. that a Huntington Beach, Calif., Costco was selling “Tiffany” diamond rings. But Tiffany had nothing to do with it. So the home of the Blue Box has taken the home of the 24-pack of toilet paper to court, claiming Costco has been selling counterfeit Tiffany products. A Tiffany statement sniffed that it would never sell “its fine jewelry through an off-price warehouse retailer.” At press time, Costco hadn’t responded—in court or to JCK.


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5. Crime

It was a daring, meticulously planned robbery that even seasoned security experts called “spectacular.” On Feb. 18, eight hooded men drove two vehicles through a precut hole in a fence at the Brussels airport. From there, they pulled submachine guns on a pilot and baggage carrier, stole $50 million in diamonds from a Zurich-bound flight, and disappeared in a flash. Given that this went like clockwork—the actual robbery took about three minutes and no one was hurt—many suspect it was an inside job carried out by professionals. ­Investigators “will have to look at people who were trained in the military or police officers,” says Anthony Roman of Roman & Associates investigations. “This is how commandos work—with precision and speed.”

6. Color

Feeling Mykonos Blue? This sapphire ring is just the thing. ($495; Steven Douglas Co.; stevendouglasonline.com)

You may have heard us mention Emerald, the 2013 Color of the Year, once or twice or 22 times. But there are nine other colors in Pantone’s fall 2013 palette. Start shopping for complementary jewelry for these shades: Mykonos Blue (to match tanzanite and sapphires); Linden Green (perfect with peridot and citrine); Acai (deep purple gems like amethyst); Samba (bright red rubies and ­garnets); Koi (think autumnal orange spessartite garnets and topaz); Deep Lichen Green (great with green diamonds or tourmaline); Vivacious (for this fuchsia, go with pink spinel or rubellite); Turbulence (a bluish gray to accent moonstones and anything oxidized); and Carafe (brown diamonds, smoky quartz). And who says you have to wait to sell fall 2013–hued jewels? Go ahead—get your Linden Green on!

7. Retailers

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Home furnishing giant Bed Bath & Beyond has begun carrying fine jewelry—an item that certainly fits into the “beyond” category. A check of the 1,400-store chain’s site shows it sells such brands as Badgley Mischka, J. Goodman, STEL, and Trollbeads. Naturally, JCKonline.com commenters were aghast: “Anybody else want to throw up over the idea of getting an engagement ring from the same place you buy your bathroom trash cans?” wrote one. But consider this: BB&B boasts one of the largest bridal registries in the United States.

8. Metals

Has gold finally seen its day? That’s what two Credit Suisse analysts claim in “Gold: The ­Beginning of the End of an Era,” a new report. “Against any sensible benchmark, gold still appears significantly overvalued,” write Tom Kendall and Ric Deverell, stating that the “extreme fear” that animated gold’s rise has now largely faded. The report doesn’t foresee a collapse in the gold price—more of a slow slide. And while the authors admit an economic collapse would again make investors seek shelter in the yellow metal, they believe, for the time being, history is on their side: “In trend terms,” they say, “gold has never been this high, for this long.”

9. Technology

Not so long ago, watches were used to tell time. With the rise of smartphones, however, they’re now marketed more as status symbols and fashion statements. And if reports are true, Apple may be developing a timepiece that does more than just look smart. The rumored iWatch would fit the new trend of “wearable technology” currently best exemplified by Google’s experimental computerized glasses. Is the world ready for a voice-powered smartwatch that can adjust a room’s temperature and TV volume? At least one blogger thinks Apple already has tested the waters. “The square iPod Nano was essentially a watch,” writes aBlogtoWatch.com. “The first thing many people wanted to do was strap it to their wrist.”

10. Stats

This year is shaping up as a relatively soft one for retail, says the National Retail Federation. The association predicts 2013 retail sales will jump only 3.4 percent this year, below the 4.2 percent growth in 2012. “Consumers read troubling economic headlines every day and look at their bottom lines at the end of the month, and they don’t like what they see,” said NRF president-CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. Dot-com sales will fare a little better, the group said; its soothsayers predict 9 to 12 percent growth.