Luxury 2023: Uncertain Times Yet Plenty of Excitement on Day 1


Fine jewelry sales have fallen from their peak in 2022, but you wouldn’t know it based on anecdotal reports from the first day of the Luxury show, which opened to invited guests on Wednesday, May 31, at the Venetian Expo in Las Vegas.

“We went in cautiously optimistic, but so far it’s been very steady and we’ve seen big orders—very much like last year,” said Brecken Farnsworth, creative director and vice president of Parlé, a Luxury exhibitor based in Pocatello, Idaho. “In the overall business, we are seeing a pullback, but we’re not seeing it here.”

That sentiment held true among a cohort of exhibitors polled by JCK, and doubly so among those targeting the high end.

“So far we’ve had great success with the Vela collection,” said Rebecca Foerster, president of Hearts on Fire North America, referring to the brand’s new bridal collection.

In the ballroom where Le Vian showed its 2023 collections, half of the space was occupied by private clients trying on the brand’s trademark colored stone jewels, while a back room buzzed with retailers, press, and clients who’d come to see Le Vian’s expanded showcase of high jewelry, which it defines as pieces retailing for $20,000 and above.

Omi black rhodium blue sapphire earrings
Platinum and black rhodium earrings with 6.5 cts. t.w. emerald-cut royal blue sapphires, 0.61 ct. t.w. round royal blue sapphires, and 0.16 ct. t.w. round diamonds, $56,000; Omi Privé

The collection included a wide ­assortment of paraiba tourmaline ­jewels, “unicorn” gems set in platinum, and large yellow diamonds. The most expensive piece Le Vian offered was a layout of loose diamonds centered on a 15 ct. fancy yellow stone on a matching parure of white diamonds totaling 42 cts. Retail price? $3.7 million.

“We made a $100 million investment in our high jewelry,” designer and CEO Eddie LeVian told JCK. “We believe that segment of the market is still very vibrant.

“It’s our biggest showing of high jewelry ever,” he added. “It’s the largest investment we’ve made to help stores capture high-ticket sales.”

While business at Luxury was brisk, it did not exist in a vacuum, devoid of concerns about persistent inflation or the erratic stock market.

At Omi Privé, owner and designer Niveet Nagpal said that unlike the last couple of years, when retailers were desperate to replenish their sold-out showcases (“ ‘I need inventory, I’ll take it!’ ” he recalled), the buyers who visited his booth this year were more cautious.

“Everyone seems to be quite conservative in their total spend,” he said. “We’re not seeing lower price points, but overall they’re more picky. There’s a lot of uncertainty, but still a lot of excitement.”

In addition to showing its familiar ­selection of high-value gems—such as ­alexandrite, spinel, rubies, and opals—Omi Privé highlighted pieces featuring blue sapphires set in 18k gold with a striking blue-colored rhodium finish.

Nigaam emerald rhodium white gold ring
Serpens emerald and black rhodium ring in 18k white gold, $3,000; Nigaam

New York City–based Nigaam, another Luxury exhibitor, took the monochromatic rhodium theme and ran with it across its collection, pairing rubies, sapphires, and emeralds with their respective shades of colored rhodium in a diverse range of styles, from serpent-style cuffs to sapphire-and-­diamond rivière necklaces.

Founder Prateek Nigam said that along with validating the bold unicolor ­approach, buyers endorsed another enduring style: “Heart shapes are trending.”

Also rising in popularity: figurative jewels representing animals, insects, even natural phenomena. Farnsworth described the growing category as “dopamine jewelry” and pointed to a line of free-form opal cloud pendants complete with golden bolts of lightning and sapphire drops of rain.

“It’s jewelry that just makes you happy,” she said. “And the clouds do that.”

Butterflies have long provided that ­symbolic punch, and their ubiquity on the show floor proved they’re not fluttering away anytime soon. Lauren Kessler of New York City–based Lauren K showed what remained of a range of one-of-a-kind butterfly pendants set with wings of opal or paraiba tourmaline. Available with or without diamonds, the pieces retail from $6,000 to $12,000.

“We have very few left,” Kessler said.

She paused to contemplate the day’s buying mood. “For opening day in a year when you didn’t know what to expect, it’s been fantastic,” she said.

Top: One-of-a-kind necklace with 5.18 ct. free-form Australian black opal, 0.41 ct. briolette sapphire, and 0.03 ct. t.w. diamonds in 14k yellow gold, $8,345; Parlé 

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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