High-end business flexes muscle at Centurion

Tucson, Ariz. — High-end retailers here gave the industry a much-needed boost of optimism in what became a buying blitz at the Centurion show.

According to show manager Howard Hauben, attendance at the two-year-old invitation-only show was up significantly from last year and, according to the Centurion exhibitors, jewelers were not just shopping, but buying.

While fashion trends continue to fall under the radar for the most part, sales at Centurion were not merely restocking orders. Mattioli, Mark Patterson, and Robert Wander were among those who reported opening nearly 10 new accounts each in the first two days of the show.

Along with bridal—the hands-down favorite among jewelers gearing up for the spring selling season—hot items included unusual use of color, like Wander’s collection of rough gems set dripping with pave diamonds and precious stones, and interesting infusions of non-traditional materials, like Chris Correia’s expanded rubber line.

Though the global economic and political uncertainty reined in fashion trends, retailers were responding to both celebrity and fashion news. In what is being attributed to a reaction to Jennifer Lopez’s dazzling and much-publicized pink diamond engagement ring, for example, colored diamonds were a surprise hit at the show, according to many vendors here. Pink diamond guru Alan Friedman responded with a fresh collection of lower-priced fashion jewelry using pink diamond pave and small faceted stones. Bergio, meanwhile, said the trend for all colored diamonds is on the rise and has created versatile necklaces and other pieces featuring fancy yellow diamonds.

Mimicking fashion designers’ runway collections, meanwhile, jewelry designers are emphasizing whimsical motifs. Aaron Basha expanded upon its famous baby shoe concept, for example, with such other fun and colorful motifs as ladybugs, horseshoes, and sea dragons. Roberto Coin responded with small new pendants in such forms as sunglasses.