The Best of New York Jewelry Market Week

Hit the ground running is an expression I know well. I departed Lithuania at 6 a.m. Sunday July 29, arrived in New York City 13 hours later, and (not quite literally) ran a few critical errands—hello, mani/pedi!—before heading to publisher Mark Smelzer’s fabulous Greenpoint apartment that evening to drink wine with my JCK colleagues, and admire the breathtaking view.

The jaw-dropping view from Mark’s apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

It was a fitting start to New York City’s jewelry market week, which, to this 12-year veteran, seemed more vibrant than ever.

My slew of appointments kicked off on the afternoon of Monday, July 30, when I paid a visit to the offices of Marina B, the legendary 1980s brand founded by a scion of the Bulgari jewelry family and acquired in 2010 by Paul Lubetsky, CEO of Windsor Jewelers. After getting acquainted with Lubetsky, I was reminded of why Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and any celebrity who dominated the style scene during the Reagan years gravitated to the brand’s bold gemstone designs: They’re distinctive, gorgeously crafted, and totally, well, awesome.

A Marina B emerald and diamond collar that I admired last week (no doubt Sophia Loren would approve!)

“The potential is limitless,” Lubetsky told me. “The name is great, it’s an established brand, and there’s no one who doesn’t love the style or designs.”

Later that night, visions of Marina B’s enormous emeralds still danced in my head as I prepared for one of my favorite jewelry traditions, the annual Awards for Excellence gala hosted by the Women’s Jewelry Association. All the usual suspects were there at Pier 60 on Manhattan’s West Side when I arrived on Monday night—and thus, no amount of jetlag could stop me from enjoying myself.

Did I need the nightcap that followed? Probably not. But how could I say no to drinks with Katey Brunini and friends at the rooftop lounge at Ink48, a boutique hotel in Midtown? Sure, I was a little sluggish on Tuesday morning, but those feelings dissipated when I teamed up with frequent JCK contributor Randi Molofsky to attend the Jewelry Information Center’s Fine Jewelry Editor Preview at A Voce in the Time Warner Center.

The expertly curated selection of jewels from Platinum Guild International, the Silver Promotion Service, the Cultured Pearl Association of America, and the American Gem Trade Association quite honestly blew me away. Between the vintage Beladora ruby and diamond Art Deco bangle at the PGI table to the blindingly bright lemon citrine in Slane’s architectural silver ring to the artfully arranged CPAA table, where marketing director Kathy Grenier used simple touches (like place mats from Pier 1 Imports!) to showcase the work of the organization’s top vendors, I coveted just about every single piece I saw at the event.

A simple, gorgeous (and simply gorgeous!) ruby and diamond Art Deco bracelet from Beladora

Slane’s bright lemon citrine silver ring at the JIC event’s Silver Promotion Service display 

The CPAA’s Kathy Grenier placed pearl rings on a Pier 1 Imports place mat—I love creative and resourceful thinking!

Then, Deirdre Featherstone, the designer behind the New York City–based Featherstone, showed us all how it’s done when she walked in sporting armfuls of diamond rings, bangles, and bracelets in platinum. She couldn’t have looked any cooler if she’d tried.

I’ll take style pointers from Deirdre Featherstone any day.

The rest of the day was one long jewelry-loving orgy. From the Jewelers of America show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, where Randi and I admired the stylish snake rings at YNY Jewels before moving on to the $15 dollar tables to buy handfuls of gold-plated earrings for friends and relatives, to the LUXURY Privé invitation-only event at the Pierre Hotel, where JCK Events’ Winter Wonderland did indeed evoke Christmas in July, the new creations that caught my eye were united only by their bold, brilliant coloring.

A super-stylish snake ring at YNY Jewels

Take, for example, the “tip finger” rings I spied at Nada G, a Beirut-based designer showing at Privé. She has a new take on the evil eye motif, which she calls “healing eyes.” Worn above the knuckle, the dainty blue, black, and white diamond rings were to die for.

Nada G’s Healing Eye “tip finger” rings at LUXURY Privé

So were the scrumptious gems at the Richard Krementz Gemstones booth, where exceptional specimens of Paraiba tourmaline and sphene—an extremely refractive lime-green gem sometimes described as “peridot on acid”—put their colored diamond counterparts to shame.

Sphene, a.k.a. “peridot on acid,” at the Richard Krementz Gemstones booth at Privé

I concluded my time at Privé drooling over a piece that I could actually afford, a stylish two-tone buckle bracelet from Old World Chain (the opening retail price is $375).

I’m obsessed with this new two-tone Buckle bracelet from Old World Chain.

Later that night, at the American Gem Society Circle of Distinction gala at the Plaza Hotel, where JCK senior editor Rob Bates was among the honorees, I caught up with Rob’s lovely wife, Susan Posnock of JA, a former colleague of mine. Dining and dancing with old friends as we celebrated one of our own—I couldn’t think of a better reason to prolong my jetlag.

By Wednesday, I was still sleepless but not yet ready to quit. Forevermark was staging an event at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park to familiarize editors with its new Center of My Universe campaign, which aims to do with halo rings what the Past, Present, Future campaign did with three-stone jewelry.

After seeing the designer partnerships that Forevermark has struck since its North American debut last fall—including a spectacular project with Waris Ahluwalia of House of Waris—I’m a believer.

Waris Ahluwalia’s loose interpretation of Forevermark’s Center of My Universe theme, with its 14.58 ct. center stone by Julius Klein, left me speechless. 

Last but not least, I swung by the Couture preview at the Midtown Loft & Terrace to gawk at still more jewels, coming full circle in a way: Rather than admiring the view of Manhattan, as I had at Mark Smelzer’s place four days prior, I was now squarely in it.