Best in Show



From Ivanka to Varda, what wowed us at JCK Las Vegas 2010. Plus: Say cheese! Retailer pics and inside scoop from the JCK photo booth.

Best Big Stone

The 60+ Carat Yellow

Sure, there were plenty of diamonds strewn around the Venetian, but only one reached jawbreaker proportions. Amir Goldfiner, owner of Rahaminov Diamonds in Los Angeles, proudly presented his diamond—
a radiant-cut, 60-plus ct. fancy vivid yellow—for the first time at JCK Las Vegas. “A stone like that is crazy,” he says. The rough responsible for the rock weighed several hundred carats; one of Goldfiner’s cutters spent nearly a year whittling down the original mass to its current size and shape. (The stone is now set in an 18k gold ring.) Yet Goldfiner is reluctant to divulge much else, like grade or exact weight. “I want to maintain the mystique,” he tells JCK, alluding to a possible auction sale. “There are very few stones like it in the world.” And the price for that kind of ice? If you have to ask… —Jennifer Heebner


Best Spokesrobot

Millennia


Jacob Kepler

To attract the attention of passersby, GemFind recruited a robot named Millennia who entertained and worked as a sales rep. “We’re known as a high-tech, cutting-edge company with our range of website services and our Ringbuilder,” says GemFind president Alex Fetanat. “The robot reinforced that quality.” Many visitors danced, talked, and even posed for photos with the mechanical meet-and-greeter. Millennia also schmoozed up a storm, gathering some 400 business cards from showgoers. —Paul Holewa

Best First-Timers (Exhibitors)

Ivanka Trump and Lush

Tassel necklace with 361 cts. t.w. rough diamonds, $72,000, Ivanka Trump, New York City, 888-756-9912; emerald and blue topaz triple-strand necklace with 18k gold clasp, $11,000, Lush, New York City, 212-937-9727, lushjewels.com

With more than 1,500 exhibitors, it’s easy for newcomers to get lost on the JCK Las Vegas floor. But two dazzling designers worked the crowd like trade-show veterans. Ivanka Trump launched her eponymous jewelry line in 2007, but began wholesaling only last spring. At JCK, she exhibited her collection—heavy on the 18k gold, diamonds, colorless rock crystal, and her signature oval motifs—in a suite at the Palazzo (adjacent to Luxury by JCK) for select upscale retailers. Her pieces start at $550. The New York City–based Lush, meanwhile, has been handcrafting one-of-a-kind pieces with yummy, rainbow-hued gems and platinum and 18k gold settings for four years now. And the Jain family has been in the stone-dealing biz for four decades! But Luxury by JCK was Lush’s first show appearance, and the collection (which starts at $800) made quite an impression—so much so that we selected a Lush carved emerald ring for our cover. —JH

Best Tech Tool

ZeroShrink Starter Kit

Jewelers have been long intrigued by RFID (radio frequency identification) as a way to guard against shoplifting and do quick case counts. (See “New Frontiers in Jewelry Retailing: RFID, the Super-Scanner,” JCK, October 2009, p. 98.) But track-and-trace software can be super-pricey, with initial costs running as high as $15,000. So Boston-based TJS caused a stir in Vegas with its ZeroShrink Starter Kit. For less than $500, jewelers get software, a scanner, and 200 transparent tags that can be applied to jewelry barcode labels. —Rob Bates

Best First-Timer (Executive)

Varda Shine

DTC’s Varda Shine

For many years, De Beers bigwigs never visited JCK Las Vegas. (The company had been barred from conducting business in the United States due to antitrust issues.) Now, its execs seem to be popping up more and more—like Varda Shine, Diamond Trading Company managing director and one of De Beers’ biggest guns. Shine said she simply wanted to “see Vegas” for herself, but she was all over JCK, touring the show floor and speaking at an Everlon cocktail party. Could the long-talked-about official U.S. presence for De Beers be far behind? —RB

 


Best Promotional Vehicle

(commissioned by JCK)

JCK Cover Models


Jacob Kepler

What better way to get the word out about the relaunch of JCK magazine than with models parading across the show floor ­wearing dresses crafted from the actual June cover? Adam Selman, a New York City–based designer who has worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Amy Sedaris, was the mind behind the custom creations. He began with 92 pages, whittled them down to 80, and, eight days later, the three frocks were born. Selman included embellishments such as fringe, bows, and what he described as “a wild tornado of paper.” Asked about other pulp-based possibilities, Selman sees several sartorial options, including—what else?—accessories: “Hats would be hysterical.” —JH

Best Promotional Vehicle

(not commissioned by JCK)

Peggy Rainbow, Worthmore Jewelers

JCK aims to inspire its readers with new products and business solutions, but we were blown away by the idea we inspired in one particular fan: Peggy Rainbow, vice president of Atlanta-based Worthmore Jewelers. Rainbow, who had been searching for an image for a third tattoo, came upon the new JCK show logo and knew our peacock was the one for her. Her friends fondly call her Peacock “because they say I strut around,” she explains, so Rainbow committed the proud bird to her wrist, and we at JCK salute her decision. —JH

Best Online Retail Training

TheJewelryCoach.com

After more than a year in development, Pat Henneberry and Anne Long have launched an online training platform that provides store owners and their staff with 24/7 access to training modules and sales support. Experts inside and outside the industry offer information and answer questions on a wide range of sales training topics. The website caught our attention because of its use of instructional design accented by new-media features, which takes essential training out of printed manuals and translates it into interactive lessons such as Rookie Camp (an online jewelry boot camp), My Scorecard (a program that benchmarks a participant’s performance in training modules), and Ask a Coach (a Q&A service). —PH

Best International Section

Brazil


Jacob Kepler
Sissi earrings in 18k white gold with diamonds, aquamarine, and peridot; $6,700; Brumani, São Paulo, Brazil; 55-11-3083-0507; www.brumani.com

JCK’s international vendors offer a veritable smorgasbord of special buys: We love the Italians for gold designs, Israelis for significant diamonds, Turkish for vintage detailing, Scandinavians for cheap chic, and the Brazilians for, well, a little bit of everything. South America’s largest country boasts colored stones, gold, a strong aesthetic, reasonable labor costs, and a diverse landscape awash with good food, beautiful and warm people, and lots of fun history (one word: Carnaval). No wonder JCK editors spend so much time in the Brazilian section of the World’s Fair pavilion. —JH

Best Design Collaboration

Stars of Africa Royal Asscher Jewelry Collection

5.25 cts. t.w. diamonds in 18k white gold; $24,000; Royal Asscher, New York City; 212-922-1908; royalasscher.com

Reena Ahluwalia teamed up with Royal Asscher to produce a stunning snow-globe-like collection featuring diamonds immersed in a special fluid. “It took two years just to develop a liquid with the right viscosity to make each piece in the new collection visually interesting,” says Toronto-based designer Ahluwalia. “The free-floating diamonds represent the shining spirit of this planet’s people,” she added. The line, which already launched a line of rings last year, now includes necklaces, earrings, and even men’s cufflinks, and will be available this fall in time for the holiday season. Royal Asscher will donate $150 from every purchase to its Stars of Africa charitable fund, named after the famed 3,105 ct. diamond (the largest ever found) that the family cut in 1908. Items are priced from $6,690 to $49,500. —PH

Best Forum on an Undercovered Topic

The Rapaport Conference on Certification

A gem grader at work

There are gemstone-grading labs the trade views as reliable—and others that are, shall we say, not as reliable. But no industry forum really examined what to do about the issue until this year’s Rapaport Conference on Certification. For two hours, attendees debated ways to put diamond grading on an even playing field—from having an independent auditing agency (basically, “certifying” the certifiers) to printing a “lab index” that would explain to consumers how the jewelers and wholesalers view different reports. And while few concrete solutions emerged, most conferencegoers were simply grateful the topic was brought to the table. As Rapaport put it, “With lots of laboratories operating at different standards, certification is an accident waiting to happen.” —RB

Best New Software

MaxiTurn

Dick Abbott and Joe Shapiro’s new software works in conjunction with The Edge Retail POS system, allowing retailers to automatically reorder fast sellers from authorized vendors: Whenever an item runs low, the systems can order new product with minimal human intervention. By creating a virtuous circle, the store’s shelves will never be empty, and best-selling products will always be available to consumers. With this built-in quick response system, MaxiTurn helps put independent jewelry retailers on the same level as large chains and department stores. —PH

Best Coming of Age

The Diamond Empowerment Fund

When Russell Simmons founded the Diamond Empowerment Fund in 2006, many doubted the hip-hop mogul would attain his goal of establishing a major industry organization that gives back to Africa. Now, three and a half years later, the DEF was seemingly everywhere in Vegas. First, it made a splash with its Stars of Africa line (see Best Design Collaboration). Its Beach Gazebo at the JCK welcome reception gave show attendees the chance to shoot hoops with the ­Memphis Grizzlies’ Hasheem Thabeet and meet the DEF’s new Africa’s Angel, former Miss Tanzania Flaviana Matata. And while its June 4 breakfast presentation was relatively sedate by Vegas standards, it still managed to attract an impressive group of industry movers and shakers, like Zale’s Gil Hollander and Jewelers of America CEO Matt Runci, proving this organization has matured enough to play with the big boys. —RB

Best Use of Color

Christian Tse’s Chronometer Watch Collection

Stainless-steel chronometer watch with amethyst and diamond; $22,000; Christian Tse, Pasadena, Calif.; 888-688-1988; christiantse.com

Sure, high-end retailers are accustomed to seeing baguette-studded diamond-, ruby-, ­emerald-, and sapphire-set timepieces, but a new line featuring the same cuts in semiprecious stones may be one of the most refreshing looks yet. Christian Tse’s new Chronometer collection comprises 20 styles with a minimum of 8.5 cts. t.w. amethyst, peridot, blue topaz, and more, plus 5 cts. t.w. diamonds on a mother-of-pearl face and bezel. The 48 mm stainless-steel case is water-resistant­ up to 50 meters and features a scratch-proof synthetic-sapphire crystal cover and a quartz movement made in Switzerland. “Colored stones are available in a consistent quality and supply, and provide a vibrant look at a cost-effective price,” says Tse. Watches (on alligator straps) retail for $22,000 each. —JH

 

Best Showdown

Martin Rapaport vs. Cecilia Gardner

Martin Rapaport

Cecilia Gardner

Martin Rapaport should have known ­jewelry associations wouldn’t be pleased when, during his speech on “The New Diamond Decade” on June 6, he proclaimed they “didn’t have the guts to say the Kimberley Process is full of it”—only he didn’t use the words guts or it. Later that day, at a panel at his Fair Trade Jewelry Conference, Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the ­Jewelers Vigilance Committee, confronted the price-sheet ­publisher on his choice of words, arguing her group and others are working hard to improve the KP and resolve its current standoff with Zimbabwe. And while neither side conceded much in the ensuing debate (Rapaport went on to stage a three-day hunger strike outside the KP meeting in Tel Aviv at the end of June), the fireworks showed that the topic has become an increasingly bitter source of contention within the industry. —RB

Best Vending Machine

Gold Rush


Courtesy of Hon Co., Ltd.
The Gold Rush Kiosk

Everyone was a winner at the Gold Rush Kiosk, a 42-inch touch-screen machine that sells solid bars of 24k gold in six weights, ranging from 0.5 grams to 10 grams. The Hon Group, which had already launched the Kiosk in Korea, is planning to peddle the machines in consumer-friendly areas like airports, cruise lines, department stores, and malls. Buyers can get their gold right there or send it to an address of their choice. (The bars ship out one to two days after purchase.) They can even choose their own card designs and add personalized messages. We predict lots of “Happy Golden Anniversary” gifts. —PH