Retailers Love Bold Stones, Cabochons at JCK

JCK Las Vegas 2014 started with a bang Friday with 2,500 exhibitors from 32 countries crisscrossing the cavernous rooms of Mandalay Bay. “It’s like the biggest jewelry mall in the world,” said Chris Callahan, co-owner of Milford, N.H.–based pearl company Solera, who’s been attending the show for five years. “You can solicit people on the phone forever but it’s never the same as meeting them here.”

Some 23,000 buyers are expected to be shopping for everything from bridal bands and fashion jewelry to CAD software and in-store signage.

Among the standout trends seen on day one: Gobstopper-like colored gems, made even more candy-esque with domed cabochon cuts—a look with a lot of punch that meets a wide range of price points. Earrings and necklaces with cabochon-cut moonstone and brown and rose quartz were front and center at Eichhorn. “We’ve been doing this cut forever, but now you see it everywhere,” said president Michael Grant.

Opals—both the iridescent and the orangey-red fire varieties—are literally all over. “People are interested in bold stones, and really good opals are getting more rare,” said Pravesh Nigam of Oriental Gemco, which is showing spectacular rope necklaces with alternating cabochon-cut opals, emeralds, and coral.

Large colored stones lured retailer Van Alexander of Alexander’s Jewelers in Texarkana, Texas, to Vianna B.R.A.S.I.L, where he bought, on a whim, a cocktail ring with “this big beautiful, cabochon-cut aquamarine” and diamonds. “I know colored stones are a slower sell,” he said, “but they add excitement to the store. You have to get your customers excited.”

JCK publisher Mark Smelzer, Glenn Nadaner, Nancy Kelly, Prestige president Steve Mazza, JCK Events group vice president Yancy Weinrich, Bob Kagan, Doug Sills, and Doug McDowell cut the ribbon at Prestige.

On the hunt for engagement rings, Joe Needham, co-owner of S.E. Needham Jewelers in Logan, Utah, was excited about signing up for a long-term payment plan from diamond vendor Malakan. On his bridal buying list: halos. “And rose gold is booming like crazy.”

David Adwar, managing director of -Overnight Mountings, echoed the sentiment: “Double halos with a mix of white and pink gold are huge for us. We literally sell thousands of rings with those [elements] combined.”

Major bridal players Kama Schachter and Simon G. both came with a robust selection of finished jewelry featuring assembled—aka mosaic—diamonds, a technique meant to mimic the look of a huge diamond by piecing together smaller ones. “You can have a huge diamond look without the cost,” said Silvia Ghanimiam, who helped found Simon G. with her husband, Simon Ghanimiam. “You can’t even feel where they were connected.”

Another diamond leader, Le Vian, bagged the unofficial prize for coolest booth with its two-level geometric structure at LUXURY. The outsize display showcases its Store of the Future. The concept boils down to mix-and-match shop-in-shops—via cases hinged to sophisticated signage heavily branded with the Le Vian name and images. Retailers can integrate as many or as few of the displays as they wish. Minimum cost per display: $25,000.

CEO Eddie LeVian said the concept generated from the many successes its retail accounts reported after installing displays for its Chocolate Diamonds. “As retailers integrated larger-size displays, their sales grew proportionally,” he added.

There are splashy setups for Le Vian watches, bridal, and Chocolate Diamonds, along with a vignette for its Red Carpet collection—a new addition for the brand that officially debuted at LUXURY. The idea is a no-brainer: Manufacture consumer runs of Le Vian pieces that celebrities have actually worn—without altering the designs one iota. Should your TMZ-loving clients ask, saucer-size drop earrings and a spiky starburst pavé gold ring (both worn by Jennifer Lopez) and three-tier diamond danglers seen on E! personality Giuliana Rancic are now attainable. 

Forevermark is also harnessing the power of celebrity, albeit in a subtler fashion. The De Beers brand debuted a full-fledged collaboration with jewelry designer/model/actor Waris Ahluwalia. They have worked on the occasional piece in the past, but the new 20-piece 18k yellow gold and diamond House of Waris for Forevermark collection—priced $2,500–$12,500—is meant to kick off a long-term partnership. Delicate rings, hinged cuffs, and drop earrings that come to daggerlike points feel quietly luxurious—perfect everyday wear for fashion-forward consumers.