If you’re anything like me, you mark your years not by the passing of birthdays or Christmases, but by the number of JCK shows you’ve attended. This year marked my 18th year in Vegas (not counting family, my longest relationship ever).
While I enjoyed the years at Mandalay Bay (2011–2018), I’m thrilled that in 2019, the show is returning to the Sands Expo. My earliest memories of JCK are of wandering the always-buzzing casino at the Venetian Hotel, watching high-rolling jewelers spend their earnings at the blackjack table. I worked for a little internet start-up at the time, and they put me up across the street at Treasure Island. Crossing the pedestrian bridge to the Venetian was a ritual for so many years that I’m almost tempted to stay at TI next year just to indulge my nostalgia.
Given that JCK magazine will turn 150 years old in 2019, however, I certainly won’t be lacking in nostalgia. (Mark your calendars for the birthday bash in Vegas!)
For now, we’ve got plenty of other things to celebrate, including the five jewelers noted below, all of whom I discovered at this year’s show (all, that is, except for the Rock Hound, whom I met at JCK Tucson in February). With any luck, you’ll find them at the Sands next year, too.
Agaro Jewels (India)
I came across first-time JCK exhibitor Agaro Jewels in the Design Center, where the Mumbai-based designer presided over a case of 22k gold and enamel jewels hand-engraved by master artisans in India. I’ve always been a sucker for Indian-style jewelry, but I especially love Agaro’s enameled and gem-set initial pendants, which combine traditional meenakari work with seductively contemporary styling.
Ananta reversible earrings in 22k gold; Agaro
Lapis Maze Roya initial necklace in 22k gold; Agaro
Da Ring Maker (India)
Design Center exhibitor Vishal Agarwal hails from Surat, India, ground zero for India’s diamond trade. That proximity helps explain why his statement-making Lotus ring was recently awarded the Guinness World Record for Most Diamonds set in one ring. Loaded with 6,690 E/F VVS round brilliant-cut diamonds, the piece is valued at a whopping $4,116,787!
The Lotus ring in 18k rose gold with 16.42 cts. t.w. diamonds; Da Ring Maker
Bird ring in 18k yellow gold with 3.25 cts. t.w. round brilliant-cut diamonds and 0.92 ct. t.w. pear- and marquise-shape diamonds; $14,000; Da Ring Maker
Frey Wille (Austria)
CEO Dr. Friedrich Wille himself greeted me at the Frey Wille booth at LUXURY, where he explained that the Viennese jewelry brand founded in 1951 is making a concerted effort to build its network of independent retailers in the U.S. Known for jewels that render the masterworks of famous artists in enamel and, as of this year, 18k gold and diamonds, the brand has paid homage to everyone from Gustav Klimt to Vincent van Gogh. The latter’s Almond Blossom painting inspired Frey Wille’s newest collection (below).
L’Amandier earrings in 18k gold with diamonds and enamel; Frey Wille
L’Amandier necklace in 18k gold with diamonds and enamel; Frey Wille
The Russian jewelry tradition owes much to Peter Carl Fabergé, widely considered the best jeweler of all time. So it’s not surprising to find that many companies still operating in Russia cite his work and techniques as inspiration. Kabaróvsky, a brand based in the city of Kostroma, which sits astride the banks of the Volga River in western Russia, showed their enamel wares in the Design@LUXURY section at JCK and made clear that the hot enamel, or finift, they pair with 14k or 18k gold is the same as what Fabergé used. Aren’t the sweet tulip styles below positively charming?
Tulip pin in 18k gold with diamonds and enamel; Kabaróvsky
Tulip earrings in blackened gold with diamonds and enamel; Kabaróvsky
The Rock Hound (United Kingdom)
I met Susi Smither of London-based The Rock Hound at JCK Tucson earlier this year and immediately fell for her approach to fine jewelry, which is both elegantly playful and remarkably colorful. She showed a glimpse of a forthcoming collection of pieces set with emeralds from Colombia’s Muzo region, one of the most mythical origins that exists in the gem trade. The stones “literally drip with gold,” Smither says.
Above and top: Earrings with tumbled Muzo emeralds in 18k gold; $6,000; The Rock Hound
Ring with tumbled Muzo emerald in 18k gold; $4,000; The Rock Hound