10 Things Rocking the Industry: March 2015

1. Gemstones

Between the JCK Tucson show, the American Gem Trade Association GemFair, and the Gem & Jewelry Exchange (aka The Tent), Tucson Gem Week’s biggest attractions drew droves of buyers to the Arizona desert—a logjam of people stopped the escalators on AGTA’s opening day. Opal continued its reign as the queen of gems, and unusual stones such as rhodochrosite and zoisite are gaining traction. But the biggest story out of Tucson is the continuing surge in prices for fine material. At Sutra’s booth at AGTA, owner Divyanshu Navlakha was unapologetic about his selection of dangly diamond earrings. Color, he says, “is becoming so expensive.”

2. Ads

Tiffany & Co.’s latest ads show the retailer is thinking outside the blue box. The print campaign features seven couples—including two men (a real-life married couple, snapped on a West Village stoop). Tiffany’s first-ever ad portraying a same-sex relationship was hailed by, among others, Miley Cyrus, who Instagrammed her approval. And that wasn’t the only nontraditional ad: Another features a pair tying the knot while their child watches, a nod to the growing number of couples having children outside marriage.

3. Trade Shows

Butterfly earrings in 18k rose gold with 0.75 ct. t.w. diamonds; $5,890; Mattioli, New Rochelle, N.Y.; 914-235-6261; mattioligioielli.it

Prosciutto and prosecco weren’t the only draws to Vicenza, Italy, this winter, as attendees at January’s VicenzaOro fair can attest. There was a redesigned layout (clearly labeled and color-coded signage, vendors grouped by size and distribution), not to ­mention the unparalleled creativity for which the show is known. Trends included leather-wrap bracelets, butterfly motifs, and mosaic effects. According to organizer Fiera di Vicenza, attendance jumped 13 percent. Intrigued? VicenzaOro Dubai takes place April 23–26.

4. Wearables

Shine Slake Bracelet with crystals on dark gray Alcantara fabric, compatible with Swarovski Shine and Misfit Shine; $69 (Shine Activity Tracking Crystal sold separately); Swarovski, Cranston, R.I.; 401-464-1179; swarovski.com

Richline Group and Swarovski visited a Vegas trade show recently, but it wasn’t a jewelry show—at least not in the traditional sense. Both made their first appearance at January’s International Consumer Electronics Show, heralding their entrance into the brave new world of wearables. Swarovski touted its partnership with Misfit for a crystal line that tracks steps, sleep, and calories; Richline announced hookups with two tech companies and hopes to display at least five ­jewelry gizmos at that other show in Vegas. “We see this as an opportunity not just for us but for the industry,” says Richline chief marketing ­officer Mark Hanna. “Let’s make this a new category for jewelry.”

5. TV

An Antiques Roadshow guest got a Texas-size surprise when the PBS series visited Austin, where a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace was appraised at 21 times its original value. Appraiser Virginia Salem estimated that the piece—­featuring a 3.91 ct. ­emerald-cut diamond, two marquise-cut ­diamonds of 0.63 ct. t.w., and one 0.15 ct. round-cut ­diamond—was worth $125,000. The owner said her father-in-law had commissioned the jewel from VCA in 1960. The price on the receipt: $5,700.

The original paperwork added to the piece’s value, said Roadshow’s Virginia Salem

6. Watches

Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication in 18k pink gold; price on request; Jaeger-LeCoultre, NYC; 800-JLC-TIME; jaeger-lecoultre.com

The Swiss franc’s sudden rise dominated the conversation at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in late January, giving short shrift to the fair’s product news. Cartier debuted a new silhouette with the Clé de Cartier, whose circular bezel sits inside a cushion-shape case. Roger Dubuis touted ­contemporary ­skeleton models. And Montblanc continued to impress ­buyers with complicated yet ­affordable timepieces. A slew of grand complications seemed to ­suggest that no amount of financial distress would stop the Swiss from ­pursuing the high end. But even more ­telling was the dearth of watches paying homage to the Year of the Sheep. Has the Swiss watch industry’s love affair with China soured? Cue the existential crisis.

7. Sorcerer’s Stones

Miranda Scott has been selling her Harry Potter–themed Golden Snitch ring on Etsy and in her Kingston, Ontario, store, Alchemy House ­Jewellery, for more than a year. But after BuzzFeed caught wind of the jewel, the Quidditch-inspired ring quickly became 90 percent of her incoming orders. Scott temporarily shut down her Etsy store to deal with demand, and posted this bit of free verse: “Allow 3–4 weeks for me to make it for you/and J.K. Rowling, if you’re reading this—please don’t sue.”


8. Acquisitions

Less than two months after designer Scott Kay’s death, his eponymous company was purchased by Frederick Goldman, its longtime rival, for an undisclosed sum. Scott Kay CEO David Minster will depart—the ­company will now be overseen by Goldman executive vice president Adam Gurian—but Goldman wants to retain most of the current staff, including the designer’s daughter Tiffany Kay, who filled in for her father when his brand premiered on QVC on Feb. 3. “The Goldman family have all been great,” she says. “We all look forward to working together to bring the brand to the next level.”

Tiffany Kay Heaven’s Gates engagement rings; $2,410–$2,445; Scott Kay, Teaneck, N.J.; 800-487-2724; scottkay.com

9. Lawsuits

Duncan Snow/Alamy

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked on Omega’s suit targeting Costco for selling gray market versions of its watches. (The final tally was 4-4. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself.) As Omega had won the last court round, many considered the Swatch-owned watchmaker the final victor in the long-running case. But in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that gray market product falls under the first-sale doctrine, which decrees that consumers who legally buy a copyrighted item have few restraints on resale. (For example, no prohibitions exist against selling secondhand books.) On Jan. 22, a three-judge panel officially ended the roller-coaster legal drama by decreeing that Omega no longer has any case against Costco. As a legal analyst told The Washington Post: “Costco can continue to sell Omega watches at a discount because, in effect, they bought them, and they own them and can dispose of them however they wish.”

10. Stats

Holiday sales generally came in at expectations, according to the National Retail Federation, with the group calling it the best season since 2011. Says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay: “Holiday retail sales results are welcome news for our industry and for our economy. There is every reason to believe that we have moved well beyond the days of consumer pessimism.” For retailers, he believes, things continue to look up.

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