“I will not be ignored!” joked Diane Warga-Arias upon completion of her Tuesday morning keynote speech on the opening day of LUXURY and Elite Enclave, which run May 27–June 2. She had her work cut out for her considering the number of sleepy faces in the audience (it was 8:30 a.m.). But in the traditional Warga-Arias way, she—and some caffeine, no doubt—helped everybody perk up and get ready for the first day of sales.
At H. Weiss (LUX410), the first day of sales was a tad slow according to owner Hanna Weiss, but by day two, business for her Diamond Twisties earrings in white gold and ample yellow gold had picked up. Included in her new offerings were wide split shank rings with skinny movable prong-set diamond connectors—much like ones unveiled by Norman Covan three years prior in an effort to offer customers gold with manageable price tags.
Pendant necklace in 18k gold with 17.42 cts. t.w. white topaz over charcoal-gray hematite with 0.1 ct. t.w. diamonds and black rhodium; $1,450; Doves for Doron Paloma (LUX121)
Traffic was also a bit light early on in Tacori’s new ballroom (Breakers LK), which sent a strong California cool message—speaking to the brand’s roots—with an airy space, white furnishings, reflecting pool, and stunning lifestyle campaign images plastered across the walls. New jewels included blue topaz set over hematite—a stone that Doves by Doron Paloma (LUX121) was also using—rose gold and peach moonstone, oval silhouettes, and a yellow gold bridal collection.
Alternatively, Leon G. (last name withheld for security purposes) of Nicolis Cola USA (LUX334), a maker of myriad modern gold tube chain necklaces and bracelets in Run-DMC proportions, expressed pleasure in his first day. “Sales were fantastic,” he said. “Today [day two]…not so much.”
Day two also saw a different keynote speaker—Martha Stewart Weddings’ Darcy Miller—who offered fun and inexpensive ways to merchandise and host thoughtful events, while Dine-Out options gave plenty of restaurant suggestions, and showed that attendees weren’t too tuckered out from attending Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE the previous night.
On the show floor, exhibitors like Atul Dangayach of Emsaru revealed that due to client requests he was back at LUXURY (LUX1230) after a two-year hiatus. “The ambiance in LUXURY is nicer, and it’s where my customers wanted to see me,” he explained. For Dangayach, emeralds were still selling well, as were statement pieces and turquoise styles in excess of $50,000 retail. Andrea Hansen, partner in LuxeIntelligence in the Elite Enclave (LUXEE3), felt similarly to Dangayach about the show space. “I had shown here before [with another brand], so I knew it would be the right environment for our brands,” she said. “It’s a comfortable, luxurious space that’s not arrogant, prohibitive, or exclusionary.” (LuxeIntelligence represents 15 jewelry designers, including Nicholas Liu and Parulina.)
Pattern bracelet in 18k gold with 1.1 cts. t.w. rose-cut diamonds and 0.5 ct. t.w. diamonds; $20,692; Anahita at LuxeIntelligence (LUXEE3)
In terms of product, opals are still widespread in cases, as are pieces with negative space and geometric forms. Lavender sapphire—a standout at Baselworld 2014—can still be seen, though it’s not easy to source, maintains Anil Maloo of Baggins (LUX703), who is mixing more colored gemstones with his South Sea pearl jewelry. Meanwhile, retailers are still asking for plain yellow gold pieces according to several vendors, including Cheryl McKay of Artistry Ltd. (LUX635) in Skokie, Ill. “Organic-looking pieces and gold bangles are selling well,” she said. Sadly, price-point requests have not waned. “Buyers are still looking for pieces under $2,000 wholesale,” said Rami Uziel of Rina Limor (LUX908). “Retailers complain about margins, but they’re not willing to take a chance on fashion—where the margins are. Women do, though, because they get fashion, but men, they know watches and diamonds.”
Retailers like Cindi Rottermond of Rottermond Jewelers in Milford, Mich., are looking to strengthen bridal offerings in store. “We will continue to grow our bridal sales, but we also want a company that is savvy about social media support,” she explained to JCK on the second day of the show. Another possibility: karat gold and diamond ear stud/climbers from Doves by Doron Paloma. For newer styles like these, celebrity coverage helps retailers, Rottermond maintains, because placement shows “just how to wear it,” she says. “And Doves has great celebrity placement.”