Salt-and-pepper diamonds, Montana sapphires, and yellow gold fashion jewels are among the items topping retailer shopping lists ahead of jewelry market week in June.
“What are you shopping for in Las Vegas?” No retailer loves to tip their hand entirely when asked this question—someone else might snatch up the goods before they get their hands on them (a real concern given ongoing supply chain issues). But when JCK pressed its sources, we got some jewelers thinking—and talking—about their wants and needs at the upcoming shows.
The short answer: anything and everything. Many retailers did not attend the Las Vegas jewelry shows last year due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases in August, making the enthusiasm for the 2022 edition of the event especially robust.
As such, there is considerable appetite for fresh, undiscovered talent. Especially since what we can refer to as “pandemic culture” has engendered a new normal: placing orders after video calls with trusted suppliers, which are happening throughout the year as new collections debut. Few designers and manufactures are waiting for the big Vegas reveal, and buyers need fresh product on a constant basis, not just for the holiday season.
So for many jewelers, the shows will be a venue for exploring uncharted territory and forging new relationships. “Our strategy is to find a new partner that has a strong personality as well as an amazing collection of jewelry that’s different from the rest but very sellable,” says Melissa Geiser, jewelry buyer at Stanley Korshak in Dallas. “I would also like to find a new designer working in white gold, as I feel that white metal is underrepresented in the designer category.”
Below, a review of the styles, stones, and colors that will be guiding retailers’ daily agendas in Vegas. Read through the list, make some appointments, and you’ll be more than ready to rock in June.
Most Luxury and JCK Las Vegas shopping lists are bound to include the staples of this perennially relevant category—loose diamonds and semi-mounts. How to narrow the choices? As far as shapes, “oval diamonds have been really hot for us,” says Troy Underwood, vice president of Underwoods Jewelers in Fayetteville, Ark. “But each year we look forward to discovering new trends and styles that we may not have seen before.”
Aspen Cleveland, a bench jeweler at BVW Jewelers in Reno, Nev., says that she and other associates shopping the show each have a list with items to find for specific clients. In addition to ovals, her bridal list includes a 2 ct. cushion-cut diamond and nontraditional options such as a round gray moissanite along with kites and hexagons.
Salt and Pepper Diamonds
This alternative engagement ring stone popped up in several conversations we had with jewelers, signaling that this outlier option is stepping out of the fringe and into the mainstream.
“Selling to a salt-and-pepper customer is a little different than the traditional diamond customer,” says Tiffany Bayley, owner of Avalon Park Jewelers in Orlando, Fla. “Unique shapes like kites and hexagon are just the beginning. With a traditional diamond client, we are usually focusing on the absence of flaws, but with salt and pepper, we focus on all visible inclusions and give the customer an assortment of diamonds to select the constellation [of inclusions] that truly speaks to them.”
JCK editors and industry insiders agree: This is the year the category is going to go mainstream, forcing any holdouts to convert or get left behind. A number of retailers report plans to explore the category’s value proposition in earnest.
“For me, classics are still the reigning king of jewelry sales, but these classics are featuring larger and larger diamonds,” says diamond buyer Heather Ingraham at Hyde Park Jewelers in Denver. “During JCK, I plan to visit the lab-grown diamond booths and continue to educate myself on this growing division of our industry.”
“It is a category that is on the rise for us, and we want to cater to the different styles available,” says Mildred Marcano Abrams, sales, marketing, and buyer director at Reinhold Jewelers in Puerto Rico.
On Reinhold’s agenda: William Henry and Marco Dal Maso. Meanwhile, Bayley is focused on men’s wedding bands, specifically from the brand Heavy Stone.
“This company caught my eye with their attention to detail and amazing customer service,” she says. “I’ve tried several band companies over the past four decades, and Heavy Stone stands out to me because they are a true B2B and are not selling directly to the consumer. The wedding band is your chance to start building a relationship with your [male] client, so it’s important to get that started off with the right supplier.”
Two words: Montana sapphires. In truth, however, any sapphire in the teal and peacock color family continues to be in demand among stylish urbanites shopping on the coasts.
Meanwhile, will there be reverberations as a result of the newly famous J. Lo green diamond engagement ring? The retailer feedback is that there won’t be an actual run on peridot or mint green garnets, but smart retailers will (understandably!) be eager to see options. And everything is still coming up emeralds: Harvey Rovinsky, owner of Bernie Robbins, which has multiple locations in New Jersey, says his buyers will be focused on this stone as part of his store’s overarching strategy to invest in one-of-a-kind and high jewelry pieces.
Yellow Gold Diamond Fashion Jewelry
“We have seen so much success with everyday jewelry classics, and yellow gold is certainly the trend we are chasing,” says Anne Russell, executive vice president of Hamilton Jewelers, which has locations in New Jersey and Florida.
Think: single-earring studs and climbers for curating “earscapes,” stacking rings, statement rings, and new spins on classic styles such as tennis bracelets. Within this yellow gold-and-diamond universe, “our focus is on price-point traffic builders,” says Michelle Coon, sales associate at Alter’s Gem Jewelry in Beaumont, Texas. “We’ve had success with cluster bracelets, earrings, and necklaces that can be merchandised as sets.”
Charms and medallions are still important, but the focus is less on initials and personalization: “It’s more cosmic. It’s more about constellations, moons, and stars,” says Jennifer Curry, jewelry buyer at Marissa Collections, which has locations in Naples and Palm Beach, Fla. “I think that’s good because now everyone has all these gold chains, and you’ve got to have something to drop off of them!” (And, oh yes, the gold chain trend—paper clip, herringbone, Cuban links—is still in full swing!)
Top: 5.89 ct. emerald ring with 4.03 cts. t.w. baguette diamonds in platinum, $185,400; Cicada Jewelry