The sun is finally shining on jewelers, and it’s not just because this week’s shows are in Las Vegas. Initial reports from LUXURY at JCK Las Vegas 2015 reveal some sizable purchases and lots of interest from retailers in the market for “something new,” according to various vendors with whom JCK spoke. Merchants came early and in force.
“Yesterday we had 170 retailers walking through,” said Andrea Hansen of Luxe Intelligence, whose multi-booth space in Elite Enclave (LUXEE11) houses 24 jewelry designers. And that was just opening day. By Wednesday she’d simply lost count. “They’re coming because they want something that can’t be found in every other store in the market.”
Tanya Farah (LUX700) is hearing similar things. Visitors to her booth are seeking out special pieces for the woman who already has big diamonds. To satiate those desires, Farah is offering cameos and styles with convertible clasps loaded with gemstones. By day two of the show, she had already written four large orders totaling well into the thousands.
Yehouda Saketkhou of Yael Designs (LUX401), like many, is moving one-of-a-kinds that range widely in terms of materials and aesthetics. “One person buys a pearl and another person buys a fire opal,” he said. The common denominator? No duplicates.
Ditto for shoppers at Andreoli USA (LUXEE2), which has had luck with unique pieces featuring pearls, gemstones, and movement. “Our flower ring with petals that move had a lot of attention,” explained vice president Caroline Hadjibay.
Of course, price-point-driven lines are still of paramount importance. Craig Husar of Lyle Husar Designs in Brookfield, Wis., was touting the merits of his Pandora and Alex and Ani lines. “The number of customers coming into our store for those lines has transformed our business,” he said. “They have opened up the possibility of showing shoppers higher-end pieces.”
LUXURY vendors are also helping to appeal to entry-level buyers. Kirk Kara (LUX1120) debuted entry-priced styles of its most popular looks to appeal to retail-savvy first-time brides. “They’ve done all their research digitally,” said family patriarch Kirk Karaguezian. In fashion, Puja Bordia of Trésor (LUX701) increased offerings of price-sensitive karat gold stackables like adjustable gemstone bands. “Retailers like my work for the price points,” she said of her 18k gold inventory, which is rich in under-$5,000 retail prices. Doves by Doron Paloma (LUX121) also stocked up on these ticket prices due to customer demand. “I have at least six people a day asking us for price points under $3,000,” said vice president of marketing Debbie Hakimian.
Rio Tinto’s Diamonds With a Story initiative and product line was designed with this range in mind—a move that has not gone unnoticed by show attendees. “Retailers love the price points [$500 to $5,000] and want to learn more about the lines because they’re looking for something different,” said Brandee Dallow, director of diamond sales and marketing for North America. “If we can’t give our consumers products they can afford, then we’re not doing our jobs.”
Jim Rosenheim of the Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, D.C., was walking the show floor with family on Tuesday looking for plain yellow gold numbers with diamonds. “There’s a market for it,” he said. “If you look in the fashion magazines you see a lot of boho styles, so the jewelry has to be simple to go with the clothes.”
Granted, the business climate leading up to LUXURY has been inconsistent. (“Retailers had an off March through Mother’s Day,” said Doves’ Hakimian.) By now, we’ve all heard about—and discussed—the decreased foot traffic at spring’s Baselworld and Hong Kong International Jewellery Show—trends that followed some U.S. retailers home. “Business has been up and down all spring,” observed Rosenheim. Yet currently, he’s in the process of expanding his store to 6,000 square feet. How’s that for a sign of optimism?
Stacking bands in 18k gold with 0.13 ct. diamonds; $880; Sethi Couture (LUX607)
Necklace in 18k gold with 60.82 cts. t.w. turquoise, 33.94 cts. t.w. sapphires, and 3.45 cts. t.w. diamonds; $150,000; Andreoli USA (LUXEE2)
Diva collection bracelet in 18k gold with 0.35 ct. t.w. diamonds; $3,000; Eleuterio at Luxe Intelligence (LUXEE11)