Next Stop JCK Las Vegas 2013: What Retailers Have on Their Wish Lists

They’ve made their lists and checked them twice! ­Retailers are ready to shop at JCK. Here’s what they’ll be bringing back from Mandalay Bay.

Rose gold, yellow gold, colored gems, and sliced diamonds and stones are topping to-buy lists of retailers heading to JCK Las Vegas, coming to the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino from May 31 through June 3. Jewelers in cities from Seattle to Atlanta enjoyed a robust holiday season in 2012 and are reporting solid initial returns for the first quarter of 2013. As a result, buyers appear confident for the remainder of the year and many say they are planning to maintain or increase inventory.

Colored gems were extremely successful last year at many stores—and most owners don’t anticipate a slowdown in the months to come. “Color is very strong so I think we’ll be looking for a lot of it,” says Marni Mulvey, a sales professional and buyer for Eiseman ­Jewels in Dallas, Texas. “Emeralds were absolutely gangbusters, as were rubies, sapphires, aquamarines, and citrines.”

Jamie Lossie, a buyer at Solomon Brothers Fine Jewelry in Atlanta, agrees: “I’m anticipating blue and green stones to be big, from sapphires to aquamarine blues. And black and white diamonds are still going to be popular.”

18K classic cabochon amulet with 11 mm oval rock crystal and emerald; $1,950 (chain sold separately); Temple St. Clair, NYC; 212-219-8664; templestclair.com

Customers also have been drawn to a more pastel color palette lately. “I think more yellow and definitely pink,” says Elva Valentine, owner of Valentine’s Jewelry in Dallas, Pa. “I was shy about pink, but I purchased pink gold and pink vermeil over silver and every piece of it sold throughout the holidays. In bridal, there’s a lot of pink—touches of pink, pink sapphires—and green as in emeralds and green onyx.”

In fact, color has been so popular across the board that some retailers have been caught off guard by requests for rare and price-prohibitive gemstones. Elizabeth Mandros, owner and designer of Mystique Jewelers in Alexandria, Va., recently received a call for a Paraiba tourmaline, a bright blue gem that can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 per carat. Other clients have been asking for blue chalcedony pieces. “Actually, I was thinking of [buying] opals with a great color pop,” says Mandros, whose store has been maintaining sales growth thanks to a few customers going after bigger-ticket items ranging from $10,000 to $35,000.

Lilipad Ring in 14k gold alternating high-polish and matte-finish petals with 0.25 ct. t.w. diamonds; $2,125; I. Reiss, Great Neck, N.Y.; 516-482-7900; ireiss.com

The strength of color appears to be reaching beyond gemstones and affecting consumers’ diamond and metal choices as well. Brown and black diamonds and rose gold—once popular in metropolitan areas only—now are being sought after in more off-the-beaten path locales. Valentine’s Jewelry has been selling fancy yellow and champagne diamonds; while Zoe Herrington, owner and buyer of Noble House Jewelry in Overland Park, Kan., has been doing well with champagne and black diamonds and “a lot of rose gold” in addition to sapphires.

Earrings in 18k rose gold with 14.26 cts. t.w. diamonds; $8,000; Khushboo, NYC; 212-944-7575

Rose gold is reaching its zenith at Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler in ­Bellevue, Wash., according to president Steven Goldfarb. “We’ve been counting on rose gold and it’s really taken off,” he says. “We’ve had it for six or seven years and it’s hot and getting hotter.”

And at Continental Diamond in Minneapolis, “I’ll probably have more rose gold in 2013 than I’ve ever had,” says owner Helain Pesis,  adding that she’ll also fill in with rubies, colored diamonds, and ­yellow gold for earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. To keep gold prices manageable, Pesis plans to look for cutout and lace designs—and she vows to stay away from plated goods. “You can still do it with a finer silver line with a touch of gold and diamonds,” she says. “There’s a real market for that.”

Abbraccio engagement mounting in 18k rose gold with 0.5 ct. t.w. diamonds; $3,620 (also available in 14k gold and platinum); Danhov, Los Angeles; 213-627-0454; danhov.com

Of course, there’s still plenty of talk among jewelers about slices. The rustic, rough, and earthy look is proving—for a few years running—to be every bit as coveted as highly polished and elaborately cut stones. “It’s just amazing how designers that have been using cabochons or other faceted stones have turned to this,” ­Mandros marvels.  

Goldfarb is seeing more of his customers shell out for sliced ­gemstones and sliced diamonds as well—a trend that began roughly three years ago, he says. As slices get more popular, he adds, demand for micropavé seems to fade.

The development coincides with his city’s rebound from the ­recession. “We’re seeing exactly what we hoped to see,” says ­Goldfarb. “The economy is getting better. It’s just a natural cycle: Booms are followed by busts and busts are followed by booms.”

Earrings with 3.9 cts. t.w. diamonds and 31.38 cts. t.w. emeralds in 18k white gold; $493,269; Takat Gems, NYC; 646-728-0151; takat.com

Yellow gold is a favorite among fashion-forward and traditional customers alike. “We are, always have been, and have never left the world of yellow gold,” says Kimberly La Du, buyer at Henry C. Reid & Son in Fairfield, Conn., a store she describes as “very classic.”

Elsewhere, there are signs yellow gold finally is beginning to unseat the years-long reign of white and platinum. Pounder’s ­Jewelry in Spokane, Wash., is seeing traction with the material, beginning with a movement toward two-tone metals. “It’s just a start,” says owner and buyer C.J. Pounder III, who also notices “a touch” of interest in rose gold as women gravitate toward big, “more ­fashion-y” pieces in smoky quartz, citrine, and tanzanite as opposed to pricey diamond pendants.

Circle pendant in blackened sterling silver with 1.43 cts. t.w. diamond slivers and 0.54 ct. t.w. yellow diamond frame; $2,600; S&R Designs, Marlton, N.J.; 856-985-0303; srdesign.com

As for styles, the most talked-about item may be the necklace. Anticipating a trend that likely began (and has been reinforced) by celebs—consider the $5.8 million Mrs. Winston diamond necklace by Harry Winston that Jessica Alba wore to the Golden Globes and the “backlaces” donned by ­Jennifer ­Lawrence and Anne Hathaway at this year’s Oscars—buyers are planning to snap up diamond-by-the-yard–style necklaces with colored gemstones and/or diamonds.

Perceived value is important to customers, therefore buyers are seeking pieces with versatility and durability. Retailers feel they must walk the tightrope between keeping price points reasonable and offering the customer an investment product. “A piece that feels solid and heavy is going to fetch a higher price,” explains La Du. “I would rather err on the side of quality—perhaps a $7,000 to $10,000 ticket item—than sell a more tinny product at $2,000.”

Earrings with 0.85 ct. t.w. diamond, 0.6 ct. t.w. sapphire, and 10.66 cts. t.w. blue moonstone; price on request; Spark Creations, NYC; 212-575-8385; sparkcreations.com

Maintaining relationships is also crucial prior to the shows. Many retailers say they are scheduling face-to-face meetings with vendors they’ve done business with for years. Those that are entertaining new vendors plan to scope out new product. “I really take my time, do my field work, see, and think about it for a while,” says Becky Whelan, owner of Cecil’s Fine Jewelry in Little Rock, Ark. “Then I can take on some new lines.” 

Pounder also intends to track down things his customers haven’t seen before. “We have influence on the consumer,” he says. “We’re professionals that they look to. We’re advising them. Follow along with whatever’s popular, but you also have to be unique. Otherwise, you’re just another player.”