JCK Las Vegas: Best in Show 2015



From rubies to runways, 15 of the most memorable moments from JCK Las Vegas

As keen observers of the jewelry marketplace, we’re ­committed to ensuring that what happens at JCK Las Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. That’s why we put our heads together to determine the best of this year’s market week. From a profusion of collar necklaces to a touching tribute to one of the industry’s gone-but-not-forgotten pioneers, the show ­generated more than enough intriguing news to keep us on our toes. Now it’s your turn: Go to facebook.com/­jckmagazine or tweet us at @JCKmagazine to tell us your Vegas bests.

MOST FITTING TRIBUTE: SCOTT KAY

Scott Kay’s booth had a more intimate feel this year thanks to a pared-down display of ­jewelry—“We’re culling back our assortment to five families,” explained president Michael Benavente—as well as a tasteful retrospective featuring giant folding screens bearing images of Kay and his signature aphorisms, like Smile in the face of fear and Never ­compromise. Vitrines housed his earliest jewels and sketches, the mold of the first ring he ever made, and photos of a youthful Kay looking happy and a touch mischievous. “I wanted to bring light and happiness to the space,” said Tiffany Kay, the designer’s eldest daughter, who ­spearheaded the memorial. “We know everything is going to be okay.” —Jennifer Heebner

MOST FASHIONABLE NEW NEIGHBORHOOD: NOW/NEXT

Max Cuff with CZ and labradorite in gold-plated brass; $248; Melinda Maria, Los Angeles; 323-937-4591; melindamaria.com

One of the many happy byproducts of JCK’s new neighborhood layout: Now/Next, the renamed (and much better located) fashion jewelry section that featured a massive range of styles and price points, from Chan Luu’s colorful leather wrap bracelets to United Gemco’s antique-inspired diamond-and-gemstone designs. “It’s just a fantastic group of elevated buyers at JCK,” says Melinda Maria designer Melinda Spigel, who was showing organic-feeling gold-plated brass pieces with labradorite, moonstone, hematite, and chrysoprase. “And it’s very global. We’re expanding a lot overseas, so it’s really nice to see the reaction from the international buyers.” —Melissa Rose Bernardo

BEST ALL-IN-ONE DISPLAY: ITALIAN TREND CARPET

As much as we love the painstakingly crafted displays in booths all over the show floor, let’s face it—jewelry is meant to be worn. Case in point: the ­Italian Trend Carpet fashion show. VicenzaOro and the Italian Trade Agency corralled 49 Italian companies, from A(nnamaria Cammilli ­Gioielli) to Z(ydo), to represent a series of trends: Airy Perspective, highlighting openwork and negative space; Digital(east), drawing on modern, Far East–inspired motifs; Dramatic Poetry, full of romantic detail and embellishment; and Global Delights, which featured such exotic detail as flora and fauna. Bonus: video cameras, which provided big-screen close-ups of the statuesque models and the runway-bound bling. —MRB

MOST CUT-THROAT CONTEST: SHARK TANK

The winners: Ring Cam CEO Sam Tzou and chief technology officer Scott Brandonisio

JCK’s 2015 Shark Tank competition was a showcase of the breadth of innovation in the industry today. The five finalists, pre-chosen by a JCK committee, ran the gamut from BlingGuard’s disposable band—an aid to support wobbly rings ($14.99 for 30)—to Cooksongold’s $250,000 precious-metals 3-D printer. Other contestants included Jewelrywash, a self-serve cleaning kiosk; Clearly-You’s tablet-based in-store jewelry display; and the winner, Ring Cam, a simple black ring box equipped to capture HD video footage and audio recording of a proposal. What happens beyond the tank is anyone’s guess. —Logan Sachon

BEST COMEBACK: LUXURY RETAILER OF THE YEAR

JCK Talks coordinator Diane Warga-Arias (far l.) and LUXURY’s Sarin Bachmann (far r.) with J.R. Dunn’s Sean Dunn and his mom, Ann Marie Dunn

JCK’s second annual LUXURY Retailer of the Year award went to J.R. Dunn Jewelers in Lighthouse Point, Fla. (Finalists also included Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, La.; G. Thrapp ­Jewelers in Indianapolis; Roberson’s Fine Jewelry in Little Rock, Ark.; and Borsheims in Omaha, Neb.) Ann Marie Dunn, J.R. Dunn’s 71-year-old cofounder, said she and her family were “totally, totally ­overwhelmed, in the best way.” ­LUXURY event director Sarin ­Bachmann said the store was the hands-down winner, adding, “This is a true representation of their fan following and marketing strategy.” —Emili Vesilind

TREND THAT WAS ALL AROUND US: COLLAR NECKLACES

Open choker in 18k gold with 11 cts. t.w. moonstones and 0.09 ct. t.w. diamonds; $7,060; Anahita at Luxe Intelligence, NYC; 212-398-9700; anahitajewelry.com

There was no shortage of stylish necklaces to covet at this year’s show, with neck adornment emerging as Las Vegas jewelry market week’s undeniable must-have trend. Offerings included simple metal-only collars, slinky Y styles, and open chokers capped with diamonds or gems at their finial ends. Gabriel & Co. and Anahita showed grass blade–thin chokers (some accented with colored stones), Sophia by Design was heavy on lariats, and Larkspur & Hawk featured myriad slimmer styles, but you won’t have to look far for other examples. All the more reason not to—to paraphrase Nora Ephron—feel bad about your neck! —JH

MOST POPULAR REQUEST: ENTRY PRICES

Entry-priced gold and diamond jewels sprouted like mushrooms on the show floor. Retailers have been asking for collections with pieces that retail for less than $5,000—and under $3,000, if ­possible—and vendors scrambled to oblige. Look to Doves by Doron Paloma, Trésor Collection, and Tacori, among others, to meet the need for “affordable luxury” with minimalist pavé styles, ­jewels with negative space, and pieces peppered with icy diamonds—highly included stones that appear milky white, gray, or brown but boast the same sparkle as their pricier cousins. —JH

 
Pendant necklace in 18k rose gold with 0.35 ct. t.w. diamonds; $1,500; Doves by Doron Paloma, Great Neck, N.Y.; 888-663-6837; dovesjewelry.com

Doves by Doron Paloma bangle in 18k white gold with 0.65 ct. t.w. diamonds; $2,800

BEST REVIVAL: “A DIAMOND IS FOREVER”

The brilliantly pithy slogan that formed the backbone of De Beers’ advertising for 50 years is being taken out of mothballs to advertise the Forevermark brand. Given the hiatus, the company will have to reintroduce the tagline—particularly to younger consumers. Said Forevermark CEO Stephen Lussier, “You need people to really think about what it means.” —Rob Bates

BEST GIVEAWAY: APPLE WATCH

In exchange for booking a five-minute appointment with Charles Garnier, which touted its new Mesh line of silver jewels featuring ideal-cut hearts and arrows diamonds, retailers were entered into a drawing for one of three Apple Watches, including a $10,000 18k gold Apple Watch Edition. Out of the nearly 150 retailers that stopped by, Elizabeth Oliver, sales manager at Steel’s Jewelry in Valdosta, Ga., was shocked to learn she’d won the grand prize: “It was,” she said, “a completely awesome bonus.” —Victoria Gomelsky

BEST GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE: WORLD OF WEARABLES EXHIBIT

The solar-powered violet Swarovski Shine, with the Misfit activity tracker; misfit.com

Retailers and vendors alike flocked to Richline Group’s World of Wearables, which showcased such tech-meets-fashion devices as the Misfit notifier, June UV detector bracelet, and Ear-O-Smart (an activity tracker hidden inside rhinestone earrings). Post-exhibit, a discussion with four cutting-edge wearable developers played to a standing-room-only crowd. Manufacture New York’s Amanda Parkes encouraged jewelers to develop their own smart designs: “You are all perfectly positioned to take a stab at wearables.” —EV

BEST COSTUME DRAMA: “HOLLYWOOD TAKES JCK”

The bejeweled models

TV, film, and jewelry collided at the lively panel “Holly­wood Takes JCK”: Costume designers Lou Eyrich (American Horror Story), Meredith Markworth-Pollack (Reign), and Ellen Mirojnick (Behind the Candelabra) revealed how they source jewelry and their methods for outfitting characters, which they demonstrated by adorning models in pieces from the show floor. Eyrich said she uses jewelry to “totally transform” a look; Mirojnick likes picking at least one piece “that will always be signature.” Markworth-Pollack cited Instagram as a great new way to find jewelry, adding that the social site has “really changed the game.” —EV

MOST VALUABLE GEMSTONE PLAYER: RUBY

Bracelet in 22k and 18k yellow gold with 340 cts. t.w. ruby slices; $15,000; Petra Class Jewelry, San Francisco; 415-648-6337; petraclass.net

Naming ruby the MVP of gemstones at JCK is stating the obvious: Prices for the legendary stone, particularly on unheated specimens from Burma, have reached stratospheric heights as of late. But the MVP label applies in its more colloquial sense, too. Rubies popped up all over the place in Las Vegas, thanks to a rich find in Mozambique, whose supply is changing the face of the gemstone business. With Pantone’s naming of brownish-red Marsala as color of the year, the gem has steadily gained traction among designers such as Petra Class, who showed a 22k and 18k gold bracelet distinguished by its large Tanzanian ruby slices, cut in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Even jewelry featuring rubies from Greenland surfaced at JCK—on the ears of True North Gems vice president of marketing and development Hayley Henning. Red state, indeed. —VG

BEST NEWCOMER: ROSEARK

Rock earrings in 18k gold with black rhodium and 20.6 cts. t.w. sunstones and 1.54 cts. t.w. black diamonds; $8,050; Karma El Khalil, Beverly Hills, Calif.; 310-550-7200; karmaelkhalil.com

Kathy Rose of Roseark took her retail show on the road this year to JCK Las Vegas. The West Hollywood, Calif., lifestyle merchant created a mini ­jewelry showroom in the Design Center featuring her own collection along with the works of Karma el Khalil, Elisabeth Bell, James Banks, and more. Her wholesale debut ushers the seasoned retailer into the showroom business, where she joins the likes of New York City’s Luxe Intelligence and Muse, helping fill the void left by the now-shuttered Fragments. Rose, lauded for her eye for emerging talent, knows a trend when she sees one. —JH

MOST UNLIKELY NIGHT OF COMEDY: IDCA GALA

“Doyenne” Yancy Weinrich with IDCA execs

The Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association celebrated its 31st annual gala May 29 at the Four Seasons Las Vegas with an impressive lineup of honorees: Russia’s Alrosa was named diamond mining company of the year, Shane Co. was honored as retailer of the year, ABN AMRO took the award for business banker of the year, and JCK Events’ own Yancy Weinrich earned the title “doyenne of the year.” But it was emcee Anish Shah, a wickedly funny stand-up comic, who brought the house down with his quips about Indian culture. “There are 2 million Indians in America,” Shah said. “We are a rounding error. It’s incredible what the people in that rounding error are doing.” —VG

COOLEST COLLABORATIONS: BEJEWELED GUITARS

The Fender Stratocaster

Near the entrance to the LUXURY show, a $2 million 18k gold Gibson guitar bedecked in more than 400 cts. of diamonds proved irresistible to selfie-obsessed showgoers. The product of a ­partnership between the Aaron Shum Jewelry–owned Coronet brand, jeweler Chow Tai Fook, and Gibson, the instrument—certified by Guinness as the world’s most valuable guitar—wasn’t the only snazzy music-maker at the show. At the Guertin Brothers booth in Prestige, a one-of-a-kind $1 million Fender Stratocaster featuring the hand-engraved pattern of the Fabergé Pine Cone Easter egg beckoned aspiring axe men and women. Who knew jewelry and guitars made such beautiful music together? —VG