What were the top-trending products on buyers’ shopping lists in Sin City? We investigate.
At this year’s JCK Las Vegas and Luxury shows, retailers were seeking jewels that have performed well for the past few seasons, and especially during the 2022 holiday. They also went big for products that fall into a trending category—think enamel, genderless design, and Montana sapphire engagement rings.
Overall, alternative bridal was still a priority for buyers, especially those hoping to draw in Gen Z customers, who strenuously try to avoid anything cookie-cutter. One increasingly popular choice, according to a retailer we spoke with: rings with a center gemstone, from moss agate to tourmaline.
Exceptional loose stones for custom projects were on almost everyone’s shopping agenda. In terms of color, emeralds and sapphires appeared among the most desirable. As JCK reported this spring, green—especially brighter and mintier hues such as peridot and chrysoprase—is still going strong.
More must-haves for fall and holiday 2023 are updated diamond classics and the eternal “unicorn” buy: an attractively priced diamond fashion line that feels fresh and current, that no other store carries, and that is ethically and sustainably produced.
And many retailers were shopping with certain price points in mind. “I believe it’s important to introduce lines that can fit within many price ranges right now, ultimately allowing the language of each designer to sway the client’s purchase,” says Brianne Chavarin, a buyer at Robbins Brothers, which has multiple locations in Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington.
More on that below, plus other trends and styles retailers are looking at this year.
While the inflationary environment has not deterred consumer spending on jewelry, today’s economy has prompted some retailers to stock up on collections that offer lower thresholds for buyers. That means different things to different stores.
For Camille Zarsky at the Seven in New York City, the focus is on “really fun, special pieces of jewelry that are one-of-a-kind that fit into a $10,000-and-under price point,” she tells JCK. “We have to acknowledge the consumer is not hesitant, but a little bit more conscientious right now. I think you need to adapt to that as a retailer but still give people that special piece without making them feel like they’re making any sacrifices or compromises.”
In Chicago, Melissa Quick, president of Steve Quick Jeweler, is also being circumspect about her purchases. “We need to make sure that we have some pieces that we can sell for under $2,000,” she says. “We always cherry-pick pieces, and we start with the people that we have long-term relationships with to see if we find the things that excite us there.”
In Petal, Miss., Chae Carter, owner of Carter’s Collective, is responding to an increased demand for price-point fine fashion jewelry by trying to stock pieces in the $200 to $800 range. “We’re always looking for styles that we can easily sell online and promote on social media,” she says. “Shy Creation has a great selection, and their pieces tend to be spot-on as far as current trends.”
Great, giftable finds
Elizabeth Campbell, another buyer at Robbins Brothers, says she’s looking for fashion-forward “gifts that wow, especially bracelets and earrings,” in the under-$10,000 retail price bracket, featuring either lab-grown or natural diamonds.
Plenty of suppliers are promoting holiday jewelry gifts, but Tiffany Bayley, owner of Avalon Park Jewelers, near Orlando, Fla., says she is focused on the bridal party. “COVID is over and the weddings are back in grand style, so I [am] stocking up on bridesmaid gifts, items you can engrave, mother-of-the-bride jewelry, and more.”
One jeweler Bayley favors: fellow Floridian Anna Zuckerman. “She has amazing designs that are red carpet–worthy at gift-giving prices.”
“Our customer gravitates toward elegant everyday pieces, and we always look for a new take on diamond tennis bracelets and necklaces, yellow gold chains, as well as an expanded offering for men’s jewelry,” says Anne Russell, executive vice president at Hamilton Jewelers, with locations in New Jersey and southern Florida.
Laura Kitsos, owner of Gem Jewelry Boutique in Oak Park, Ill., says she restocked her best-selling basics at Luxury and JCK. “I usually buy gold chains, diamond huggies and rings, and charms,” she says.
And Rosena Sammi, who heads the Jewelry Edit, an online boutique specializing in emerging designers, was on an “exploratory mission” to find a new diamond collection to add to her lineup—something with “the classic sparkle and allure of diamonds, but with a twist,” she says.
Expanded charm options
After selling so many charms—zodiac, spiritual, and otherwise— in recent seasons, retailers have a sense that the charm customer needs jewelry she can layer in with the pendants, medallions, and other neck accoutrements she already owns.
Zarsky says she asks herself, “What else does that same woman like?” and tries to offer alternative styles that “are easy for women to wear and pair with her existing collections.”
Carter has a similar mission but slightly more specific: “We are really into the clips that can connect existing pendants and charms to any necklace or bracelet chain,” she says. “We love to make each customer feel like their piece, or the way they style it, is unique.”
In theory, retailers come to Las Vegas Jewelry Week to discover new lines and unsung voices. The problem is, they rarely find time to do so. This year, however, the retailers JCK spoke to were determined to create space in their schedules for wandering and discovery.
Carol Ferguson, owner of Element 79 in Denver, says she and her team were hunting for “emerging lines that other stores aren’t chasing, in the more easily affordable $300 to $3,000 retail price range.”
Steve Quick Jeweler brings on only “one or potentially two new designers each year,” says Melissa Quick, but “we are always looking for small-batch creators, makers, and designers.” In Vegas she planned to set aside “a day, if not a day and a half, where I’m not committing to anything so we can potentially find something new,” she says.
Non-basic bridal for men
Genderless/men’s jewelry has recently become a lucrative category for jewelers. Many retailers in Vegas were stocking up on curb-link chains, signet rings, and even pearls.
The interest in men’s jewelry means that “when it comes time for men to select their wedding bands, it is no longer just an alternative metal $500 ring,” Bayley says. “They are spending far more than ever before. But it’s not time to bring out that old tray of men’s channel-set bands—the guys want custom, too. Meteorite inlay, dinosaur bone, and turquoise have been popular choices paired with yellow gold. It’s the metal of choice for my grooms this year.”
Top: 14k yellow gold fluted diamond and gold pendant, $1,219, 14k yellow gold heart diamond scattered pendant, $4,192, 14k yellow gold Polaris mother-of-pearl diamond pendant, $1,085; Mondrian Collection