2004 JA Summer Show Draws 13,000

Business at the 2004 Jewelers of America Summer Show (July 25-28, Javits Center, New York) was satisfactory but rarely outstanding, said many exhibitors. Some cited heavy buying at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas in June as a reason for the slow traffic; others speculated that the JA Show has become a regional event.

About 13,000—equal to 2003’s turnout—viewed the wares of 1,750 domestic and foreign firms (down from 1,900 last year). Most attendees were Northeasterners, though some came from other states and as far as South America and Mexico. Retailers were “more in a research mood,” noted Itchy Hershel of diamond jewelry dealer J. Kleinhaus and Sons, echoing other vendors. They were marginally upbeat, with “no real vigor or excitement, but I didn’t notice any pessimism either.”

Spots of activity included some national pavilions, such as Hong Kong’s. Business in Italy’s sector, though, was slowed by the strong euro’s effect on prices. Traffic was good the first few days in the estate/antique jewelry and diamond sections, as well as in the Concours d’Elegance watch area. Some individual vendors did well, including Super Bell Jewelry (with its Jewelry Club House program) and Sterling Possessions (primarily private-label sterling silver jewelry and gifts), whose owner Bill Callahan said he was “busy the whole show.” Diamond jewelry designer Chad Allison’s booth bustled with jewelers eyeing his new crown baskets on engagement rings and “hidden” hearts below center stones.

General jewelry design trends included the soft-woven gold of Italian designers, oversized and unusual gemstone rings, and antique- or Art Deco-inspired jewelry. Pink gold and mother-of-pearl remain designer favorites. A whimsical trend is pet-themed jewelry, like Jordan Meryl Designs’ diamond-studded charm choker for dogs.

In loose gems, interest focused on Tahitian pearls in gray, bronze, rose, and pistachio,in sizes starting at 8 mm—allpriced to sell. Sapphires remain big because of affordable prices. Beryllium-treated sapphires did well at $30 per carat, the price at which the “bulk diffusion” market seems to have settled.

Among watch vendors, the Concours d’Elegance in the Javits lobby (managed by the American Watch Guild) was busiest. Its 54 companies included many new to this market or show. Among them were Aquanautic, DeWitt, Cyclos, Vogard, Dibur, Gia Monaco, Gruvelli, Buti, Momo, designer Pippo Perez’s Pippo, Troika, TAOT, and Rapport.

Among new products were Alfex’s slinky Snaky; Bell & Ross’s military-style cuff watches; Alfred Hamel’s first pilot’s watches; Chase-Durer’s women’s Oxygen 2 and 3; and Jules Juergensen’s Contemporary line.

Education and awards. Jewelers of America’s three-day educational program covered topics from Generation X consumers to boosting profits with repair take-in procedures. An economic forecast by Steve Forbes, Forbes editor-in-chief, and a panel on the Internet’s $2 billion jewelry business drew big audiences to the JANY Couture Club. Joyce Jonas’s antique and estate jewelry seminars were a hit. However, a Jewelers Vigilance Committee session on new USA Patriot Act rules affecting jewelers attracted few showgoers.

The show’s social events included many that spotlighted trade leaders:

  • The New York State Jewelers Association hosted an awards dinner, the Women’s Jewelry Association had a dinner and silent auction, and JA New York and National Jeweler co-hosted a party at New York’s Copacabana club.

  • The Jewelry Information Center presented Hedda Schupak, JCK‘s editor-in-chief, with its inaugural Trade Press Award.

  • The 2004 Italian Jewelry Awards for excellence in journalism, sales, and marketing went to Carrie Soucy, fashion editor of JCK and Trendz and editor of Luxury International; Ed Bridge, chief executive officer of Ben Bridge Jewelers; Lauren Kulchinsky, co-vice president of Mayfair Diamonds and Fine Jewelry; and Jill Newman, a journalist specializing in fine jewelry.

  • The American Gem Society’s Circle of Distinction Dinner honored George Holmes, JCK‘s former editor-in-chief; Matthew Runci, president and CEO of Jewelers of America; and Mark and Candy Udell, CEO and president of London Jewelers, respectively. Several consumer and trade press writers received Richard T. Liddicoat journalism awards, including the authors of Gems & Gemology‘s article, “Beryllium Diffusion of Ruby and Sapphire.” Honorable mention went to Rob Bates of JCK and Victoria Gomelsky of National Jeweler.

  • JA New York’s “Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year” award went to Stuart Cathey, and its Golden Apple awards for distinctive marketing to JudeFrances Jewelry, Daniel K, and Jewelbutton-êjoque.