Live From JCK Las Vegas: Lapping Up LUXURY

In the days leading up to JCK’s LUXURY show, Yehouda Saketkhou, owner of the 11-year-old Yael Designs, found himself in a particularly good mood. “We are booked up with over 40 appointments that we were approached for. It’s a good sign,” said Saketkhou of the annual high-end finished jewelry show that opened Tuesday, May 29, for the second consecutive year at Mandalay Bay. The San Francisco–based designer had been working for nine months on a new Lyra collection featuring colored stones such as green tourmaline in 18k gold. He was anxious, to put it mildly, to share the work with buyers: “I am in love with each piece, like a new baby being born!”

Karla Antunes of Belo Horizonte, Brazil–based Vianna demonstrated a similar optimism on LUXURY’s opening day. “We just came from the spring edition of the Vicenza fair, which is typically slow, but it was very good for us,” she said. With regard to the LUXURY show, Antunes is confident that the venue move will continue to bode well for her business. “It’s a whole new attitude for buyers and appointments,” she noted, adding that she had more booked this year than in 2011. “People are very eager to see what’s new.”

As Jirair Kiladjian, president of Supreme Jewelry in Los Angeles, said on day two: “The excitement is back!”

One first-time LUXURY exhibitor, Pravesh Nigam of Nigam for Oriental Gemco, liked the more serene environment at LUXURY—for years, his firm has been a fixture on the JCK main show floor—not to mention the additional time to spend with clients during LUXURY’s invitation-only first three days. “This will translate to more sales,” he said.

As far as what exhibitors are showing, many continue to offer lines with value: lower-cost bridal rings with big looks, and lots of colored stone pieces. Plano, Texas–based Sylvie Collection unveiled a new Petite line of complete diamond engagement rings with center stones from 0.30 ct. to 0.90 ct., including fancy yellow diamond rings, for as little as $2,100 suggested retail. “People are looking for smaller center stones and rings that aren’t too heavy,” said Sylvie co-owner Ian Levine. “And they’ll order pieces in 14 karat gold if that will bring the price down even by $100.”

Petite 18k white gold engagement ring with 0.50 ct. round brilliant center diamond and 0.31 ct. t.w. melee; Sylvie Collection

Studio City, Calif.–based Michael Bogosian of Michael B. told JCK that new offerings were “going along with the economy”—i.e., new bridal designs retailing for $3,500 and less. And New York City–based TARA debuted a freshwater pearl and Swarovski gemstone jewelry collection dubbed Atlantis (starting retail price: $735). Asked why the longtime pearl dealer was sourcing colored stones from the crystal giant, TARA CEO Sonny Sethi cited Swarovski’s great inventory, adding that the move made sense from a branding perspective. “The name Swarovski adds value to the product,” he explained.

And new lines for Ray Mastoloni, partner at Mastoloni Pearls in New York City, speak to the high and low ends of the selling spectrum. He’s showing one-offs and limited editions, as well as a new freshwater line starting at $400 suggested retail.

And though Andrea Hansen, CEO of Elite Enclave at LUXURY exhibitor Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, confided to JCK that a few of her clients were a bit uncertain of the economy going into the second half of 2012, LUXURY boasted more than its share of busy buyers: Ginger Mallory of Bichsel Jewelry in Sedalia, Mo., was shopping the show for a pink diamond for a customer’s 50th birthday. More items on her shopping list: martini-style diamond stud earrings; non-branded silver for female self-purchasers; and jewels from BH Multi, which she said are doing “phenomenally well” in store.

We also caught up with Marco Miserendino, one of the principals of Montreal-based Bijouterie Italienne on Wednesday at another big jewelry show on the Strip, but the luxury jeweler assured us of his return to Mandalay Bay. “Ninety percent of business gets done at JCK Las Vegas,” he said.

The most revealing statement of the show thus far might be a “complaint” delivered by Kirk Karaguezian, founder of Los Angeles–based bridal jewelry manufacturer Kirk Kara: “We are too busy!”

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