LUXURY at JCK is off to a promising start
Considering the election-year mind-set (read: cautious spending) and the ongoing battle of fine jewelry against competing accessory categories (e.g., purses and shoes), LUXURY at JCK is off to a promising start. Exhibitors at the show, which opened May 31 and runs through June 6, brought plenty of updated classics, one-of-a-kinds, and get-it-done attitudes.
For Lika Behar, business is brisk so long as inventory remains new and fresh. “It’s a good thing I get bored easily,” she muses about her quickly changing inventory. On opening day of the show, a client who insisted she wouldn’t be buying anything new changed her mind once she caught sight of Behar’s new labradorite and silver lariat necklaces, which can be wrapped around the neck or the waist.
Tom Heyman of Oscar Heyman is cautiously optimistic as well, explaining that his firm’s strategy of late is to help retailers tell better stories in order to develop collectors. “We are selling stories,” he says about elevating sales techniques to experiential ones. Client collections in progress include blue stones such as sapphires and opal. Heyman brought five new opal bracelets to market as well as a bevy of one-of-a-kinds such as an akoya pearl and gemstone collar necklace. “Higher-quality unique pieces are selling,” he adds.
Brandon Benilevi of Setaré/David Mor agrees. “In today’s market, people want what others don’t have,” he says, referring to one-offs featuring obscene sizes of natural-color diamonds.
Other exhibitors brought classics with modern twists—for instance, stacking bands with rose-cut diamonds instead of faceted pavé and Indian heritage pieces with black rhodium.
“Classics are propelling industry forward,” explains Sam Gevisenheit of IGC Brand Services, a diamantaire that works with newer jewelry designer (and wedding ring specialist) Laurence Bruyninckx. Not surprisingly, stacking rings are still strong, a point reinforced by Bruyninckx’s line of mix-and-match sets and expansions of Timeless Designs’ My Story line of layerable styles.
“Bridal is the gift that keeps on giving,” says retailer Ellen Hertz of Style by Max in Minneapolis. Though her year started a little more slowly than she would have liked, the majority of her customers—female self-purchasers—are buying more karat gold jewels now that the price has stabilized a bit. “Anything with gold and diamonds moves,” she says. “And there’s no sticker shock—it’s gone—with retail prices below $950.”
Meanwhile, Mazza Co. has seen choppy sales in 2016—with some retailers even canceling show trips at the last minute due to inventory issues—but the company insists that sales can be had with hard work and creativity. “It’s like walking through deep snow right now; you just have to get through it,” says Steven Mazza.
Also top-of-mind at LUXURY: technology and ways to improve shopping experiences. Within the Luxe Intelligence space (organized by founder Andrea Hansen) in Elite Enclave space is Intervision, a marriage of jewelry and technology that gives a peek at what high-end jewelry stores of the future could offer shoppers to drive more interest and relevance.
“Stores need to embrace the consumer through in-store experiences or wherever the customers are shopping,” points out Hansen. “Industry now is a matter of survival, and we have to do better.”
One way to bring change is the virtual reality technology of Ceek—just one of several tech firms on site—which can help transport a consumer to the far-away places where raw jewelry materials originate. Ceek technology can also help tell the story behind detailed lines such as Wendy Brandes’ Maneater ring series; you can view a collaboration between the brands at Elite Enclave. Or you can “follow Erica Courtney on her latest trip to Thailand,” adds Hansen. “This will allow the consumer to discover a love of jewelry found through storytelling.”
Necklace in platinum and 18k gold with akoya pearls, rubies, sapphires, pink tourmalines, amethyst, pink sapphires, diamonds, citrines, fancy-color diamonds, and emeralds; price on request; Oscar Heyman (LUXURY P-51)
Earrings in 18k gold with 7.35 cts. t.w. red spinels, 6.3 cts. t.w. opals, and 0.15 ct. t.w. diamonds; $16,000; Campbellian Collection (LUXURY EE29C)