There’s a new kid in Tucson.
Best known for its annual confluence of gem and mineral shows, the Arizona city welcomed a new buying fair this week. Organized by JCK Events, the inaugural JCK Tucson show opened Feb. 3 and runs through Feb. 8 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa.
JCK Events announced last May that it had taken over the B2B GLDA Tucson show at the Starr Pass property and planned to transform it into a fine jewelry–centered event. The show is home to 129 exhibitors representing a mix of designers, bridal manufacturers, and fine fashion jewelers.
“JCK Tucson has been very successful,” says Yancy Weinrich, group vice president of JCK Events. “With 129 designers and brands and more than double the attendance of last year’s show, our exhibitors have done business with new buyers and have seen the luxury and major retail stores in attendance—stores like Ben Bridge, Louis Anthony, Reeds, and Western Stone.”
The fair kicked off with a JCK Super Bowl party on Sunday that included a surprise appearance by former NFL star Glenn Parker. On opening day, Diane Warga-Arias, aka the Jewelry Activist, gave a keynote address in which she examined the boundaries between fine and fashion jewelry.
“Gemological advances and retailers who know how to quickly capitalize on changing consumer lifestyles and tastes have pushed the boundaries between fashion and fine jewelry,” Warga-Arias told the audience.
“Just as technology continues to change our daily lives, it also continues to change how our industry separates fine jewelry from fashion jewelry,” she said. “Computer-aided design—CAD—and new gemstone-cutting technologies are just two examples of how technology facilitates new points of view and challenges some of our industry’s traditional boundaries.”
True to her words, JCK Tucson featured plenty of designers whose work relies on CAD software—like award-winning designer Erik Stewart’s three-dimensional pieces.
Earrings by Erik Stewart, a JCK Tucson exhibitor (photo courtesy of Erik Stewart)
In keeping with Tucson’s focus, the show also featured an overriding emphasis on color.
Designer Sarah Graham, for example, unveiled her first foray into color, a collection of stacking rings featuring bezel-set tsavorites and multicolor sapphires. “I don’t know why it took me so long to incorporate color into my line,” she says.
Stacking rings by Sarah Graham Metalsmithing, a JCK Tucson exhibitor (photo courtesy of Sarah Graham)
Elsewhere at the show, a number of exhibitors described the event as “fruitful.”
“I picked up a few new accounts—one from Atlanta with two stores that do very well with men’s jewelry and one local in Tucson,” said David Heston, owner of Heston Designs in San Rafael, Calif. “I also had a visit from a store in Iceland that sells a lot of men’s jewelry as well as a reorder from an existing account.”
Buyers appeared to be in the market for unique items, entry-priced pieces, and fashionable color styles.
“We sold three one-of-a-kinds, including a $10,000 retail aquamarine pendant and a $6,000 morganite pendant,” said Alex Reubel, a salesperson with Frank Reubel Designs in South Daytona, Fla. “Bigger pendant necklaces and color have done well for us at this show, not silver or bridal. And we expect it to pick up even more on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.”
Additional reporting by Jennifer Heebner