1. High Jewelry
It’s not too late to book a flight: The 26th edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires opens Sept. 14 at the Grand Palais in Paris. A venerable antique fair, the nine-day event is nevertheless a platform for modern luxury houses such as Boucheron, Cartier, and Dior to display their most exorbitant gem-set creations. This year, they’ll do so against the backdrop of fin de siècle Paris at the height of the Belle Époque, courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld, the creative force behind Chanel and Fendi. The 78-year-old designer was reportedly displeased with the staging of the last biennale and offered his scénographer services—gratis—to the organizer, Syndicat National des Antiquaires. Boasting nearly 150 exhibitors, compared with 86 in 2010, the 2012 edition promises an epic selection of the finest baubles the industry has to offer: This kaleidoscopic Dior bracelet is but one of the house’s extravagant introductions. For retailers enamored of haute joaillerie, it doesn’t get more decadent than this.
Athletes in need of good-luck charms might want to consider calling Adamas Fine Jewelry. The Newton, Mass., retailer made a pair of patriotic ruby, diamond, and sapphire studs for local girl Aly Raisman—her family is a longtime client of the store’s—and the U.S. gymnast wore them throughout the London Olympic Games: on July 31, when she and the U.S. women’s team won the all-around gold medal; on Aug. 7, when she earned a bronze on the balance beam, and again when she became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal on floor. Adamas also sent four matching sets to Raisman’s teammates and is now selling the earrings to the public. Bonus: They’re set in gold, so buyers get their own gold metal as well.
Vendôme ring in white gold with 1.16 ct. LV star-cut diamond, 0.43 ct. t.w. yellow diamonds, and 2.36 cts. t.w. white diamonds; price on request; Louis Vuitton, New York City; 866-VUITTON; louisvuitton.com
Louis Vuitton and Versace, two of the biggest names in fashion, already are jewelry manufacturers, but they’re about to become jewelers. On July 2, Louis Vuitton opened its first jewelry-only store, located on Place Vendôme in Paris, and a company rep told Reuters the brand wants to open similar shops in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Versace is also planning a line of stand-alone jewelry stores, according to the Financial Times, which noted that branded jewelry currently represents only 19 percent of the global fine jewelry market. At least one analyst told the paper that by 2020, that figure could double.
The changing of the guard at Jewelers of America has also led to a major departure at JCK. On July 29, the nation’s largest jewelry association named Dave Bonaparte, senior vice president of JCK Events, its new president and CEO. The two-decade trade show veteran starts his new gig in October, working alongside current CEO Matthew A. Runci, and fully takes the reins when Runci retires in January. Bonaparte was selected after an extensive yearlong search. “We weren’t looking for any particular individual—we were looking for the best person for the job,” says board chair and San Francisco retailer Georgie Gleim. “He kept rising to the top.” Bonaparte tells JCK he’s “really excited” about his new role, and he hopes to lure more suppliers into the group: “There is a huge opportunity to grow the organization.”
Every shopper loves a sale—but one retailer, Jos. A Bank, has found itself in court for offering too much of a good thing. A class-action suit filed in April on behalf of two customers charges that by constantly offering products “on sale,” the men’s clothier is misleading consumers. “There are no ‘final days’ to sales offered by Jos. A. Bank,” the suit reads. “The company places merchandise back ‘on sale’ immediately after a given sale ends.” In July, the 550-store chain filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that its advertising and marketing are “consistent with commercial practices of other retailers.”
Say what you will about J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson—
and given the company’s poor performance since he took over, people have said plenty—there’s no denying he has vision. At a tech conference in July, the ex–Apple store chief unveiled his latest big idea for the chain: no cash registers. “My goal…by the end of 2013 is to eliminate the cash route,” he said. The new self-checkout system will be RFID-based, he explained: “You’ll be able to check out anywhere, anytime, from anyone, including yourself.” This drew plaudits from conferencegoers, but actual Penney customers were a bit mystified. “Not everyone who shops at JCP is computer-savvy,” one wrote on jckonline.com. “My 75-year-old mother has no clue what an RFID chip is. Actually I’m not really sure myself.”
Pangaea ring in 18k white, yellow, and rose gold with 4.38 cts. t.w. pavé diamonds and opal, fire opal, citrine, and rubellite; $34,190; Kara Ross, New York City; 212-223-7272; kararossny.com
Kara Ross couldn’t attend the 2012 Women’s Jewelry Association Awards for Excellence at New York City’s Pier 60 on July 30, but her win for design in the fine jewelry and watches category was among the highlights of the yearly girl-powered ritual. Ross was one of 11 honorees, including Pilar Coin of Roberto Coin, the WJA Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and Rio Tinto Diamonds, winner of the WJA Hall of Fame Corporate Award, accepted by U.S. vice president Rebecca Foerster. Only one man received a prize this year: Thomas Andruskevich, late of Birks & Mayors, who took home the WJA Hall of Fame Ben Kaiser Award, proving that excellence in jewelry is always an equal-opportunity endeavor.
Department stores have come a long way from the days of Would Macy’s tell Gimbels? In July, two of the biggest names in U.S. retail, each catering to vastly different demographics, announced an unprecedented partnership: Target and Neiman Marcus will debut a holiday collection of 50-plus pieces from a range of designers—Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Philip Crangi, and Eddie Borgo among them—in apparel, accessories, decor, and more. (For now, both sides are mum about the actual product mix, but it most likely will include jewelry.) In one of the partnership’s many unusual aspects, both retailers will sell the same items—at the same price points: $7.99–$499.99, with most items less than $60. “Cognitive dissonance is the word that came to my mind,” said a reporter for the public radio show Marketplace. “Are we now going to see Cartier and Zales cross-promoting each other?”
Groom Chilly (in his tie-dyed best), bride Baby Hope, and officiant Triumph
Anyone suffering from sticker shock after their kid’s wedding should feel a little better after reading this: On July 12, New York City’s Essex House hotel hosted the world’s priciest pet wedding—a $158,187.26 affair to celebrate the puppy love of Baby Hope Diamond, a petite Coton de Tulear, and poodle Chilly Pasternak. Guests enjoyed hand-rolled sushi and a cake designed by TLC’s Cake Boss; a tuxedo-clad Triumph the Insult Comic Dog joined the canine couple in holy mutt-rimony. The pooches even received a bejeweled gift from designer Alexandra Moosally—rose gold and diamond paw-shape pendants, part of her Paws for a Cause collection. And speaking of causes: The vendors donated their services, and the event (hosted by Animal Fair) raised $50,000 for the Lucky Diamond Critical Care ward at the Humane Society of New York.
Jewelry crime rose in the first six months of 2012, according to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance’s annual tally. Yet while the number rose, the overall dollar value lost was the second lowest in six years. That’s because most of the increased crimes were grab-and-runs and quick burglaries that typically don’t net big hauls, says JSA president John Kennedy. In addition, there were fewer off-premise crimes and a high number of arrests. Robberies, however, are still at a high level. “It’s a mixed picture,” Kennedy says. “Crime remains extraordinarily serious.”