What will high-end retailers be looking for at the Las Vegas jewelry shows after all this time away from the action? These are the categories, colors, and stones on their luxury lists.
You may be feeling giddy with excitement, or even a little anxious, but there’s no question: After a long hiatus, Luxury and JCK are opening Aug. 24 and Aug. 27, respectively, and they’re sure to be historic in every way.
Do you have a shopping strategy in place? When we asked this question of jewelers and retail buyers, we found that many had no agenda other than to walk the show floors with an open mind. Others had a strict checklist of specific colors, stones, and categories.
Quite a few retailers told us they will be using the show as a stock-up opportunity for “pantry staples” such as tennis bracelets and diamond studs. With miles of booths to cover at Luxury and JCK alone, the tunnel-vision approach might be the most efficient use of your time and budget, but do try to set aside at least half a day to explore unfamiliar territory. Otherwise, you might miss the product that becomes your next runaway success story.
If you have no idea where to begin, or fear falling prey to a Supermarket Sweep–style shopping frenzy, consult the notes in these pages before you start hunting.
FRESH, UNTAPPED TALENT
Trade shows have always been ground zero for discovering emerging jewelry artists or collections debuting in the United States. And with in-person trade show platforms all but dormant since the pandemic hit last spring, retailer appetite for picking up new lines is at an all-time high.
“We’ll go over the directory beforehand to see if we can find some things we didn’t know about,” says Paul Schneider, owner of Twist and Twistonline.com in Portland, Ore., and Seattle. “We research the designers, look at their websites and Instagrams, see where they sell, and then sometimes we will make an appointment to see their collection in person. We have a whole separate category of ‘Let’s go look anonymously before we introduce ourselves’ and a third category that is ‘Let’s see it if we have time.’ ”
Laura Kitsos, owner of Gem Jewelry Boutique in Oak Park, Ill., which carries Liven, Majolie Collections, Gasia, and other fine fashion jewelry lines that tend to exhibit at the JCK show, says she plans to buy “a mix of designers that are typically not overly saturated such as jewelry that is handmade in Istanbul.”
And Melissa Quick, president of Steve Quick Jeweler in Chicago, is similarly on the hunt for new faces. “We really try to avoid tennis bracelets and rivière necklaces and stick with more unusual or fun pieces that aren’t easily shopped around and small-batch, artisanal collections.”
Pro tip: Hit the Design Collective neighborhood and the Greek Pavilion at JCK for newbies galore.
BRIDAL OR BUST
Most of the retailers we consulted are hot on the trail for engagement rings and wedding bands. Sales of these categories have skyrocketed since the holiday season of 2020, prompting a demand for everything from hefty diamond eternity bands and fancy shapes to new-to-market designer lines.
“Our plan is to first get our basic bridal, but we also want the latest and greatest bridal for our millennial clients,” says Michelle Coon, a sales associate at Alter’s Gem Jewelry in Beaumont, Texas. “We’d love to find a designer that does a ballerina-style halo engagement ring with baguettes.”
For diamond buyer Heather Ingraham at Omaha, Neb.–based Borsheims, it’s all about loose ovals and finished round solitaire styles. “I always need more solitaire options,” she says. “They need to be simple and classic but also have a minor detail that makes them different.”
EARRINGS, EARRINGS, EARRINGS
As long as Zoom remains the meeting venue of choice, above-the-neck jewelry will be a hot ticket. As such, this year many retailer shopping lists continue to place mix-and-match single stud earrings, bolder studs or midi-length styles, and ear cuffs in the priority column. Meanwhile, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 means having the freedom to step out and socialize. For many buyers, statement earring styles are in order.
Which hues are coming in first on buyers’ lists? Suppliers are championing the charms of gray spinel, and jewelers are paying attention. “That stone is fire,” says Tiffany Bayley, owner of Avalon Park Jewelers in Orlando, Fla. “This year’s Pantone color, Ultimate Gray, is everywhere we look, from furniture to fashion. I will definitely be on the hunt for some gray spinel in every shade, shape, and size.”
Bayley also has shades of blue on the brain, from sapphires to aquas and turquoise. “The royal family has dominated the news recently, and so has their jewelry,” she says. “Everything blue is back. And the 18-to-30 age group seems mesmerized by opals. Small oval opals have been huge sellers, so I will definitely be stocking up on these beauties.”
Top: Rough black opal charms with diamond bails in 14k gold, $1,200 each, Just Jules, firstname.lastname@example.org, justjules.com
JCK editors will keep you abreast of emerging trends year-round, but which ones should you be investing in at this precise moment? A buyer’s perspective is the best barometer (and ask your customers what they’re craving). Here are five trending styles we heard a lot about in our reporting.
“We’re definitely noticing a boosted sentimentality among shoppers, many of whom love giving pearls,” says Camile Hannoush, president of Connecticut-based Michaels Jewelers. (Secret Date earrings with black South Sea pearls and green amethysts in 18k rose gold; €2,725 [$3,336]; Alessandra Donà; 914-289-0206; alessandradona.com)
2. Protective Talismans
“Now, more than ever, the idea surrounding an overall protection of health, family, and community resonates deeply while shopping for something as personal as fine jewelry,” says Michelle Pendleton, owner of Pendleton Jewelry in Kansas City, Kan. (Ceres pendant with diamonds in 18k yellow gold; $5,050; Dorian & Rose; email@example.com)
3. Petite Rivière Necklaces
“We like a messy stack with a shorter, 16- to 18-inch necklace that could be with diamonds or with precious and semiprecious stones,” says Amy Lane, jewelry buyer at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. (Necklace with 1.28 cts. t.w. diamonds in 14k white gold; $3,390; Shy Creation; firstname.lastname@example.org; shycreation.com)
4. Bright Colors
“We’re seeing a lot more colors—vivid, clean colors like enamels,” Paul Schneider, owner of Twist and Twistonline.com, told JCK earlier this year. “People are not afraid to buy gold with enamel. That’s huge.” (3-Diamond Stack rings in enamel with 0.05 ct. t.w. diamonds in 14k gold; $595 each; EF Collection; 323-952-6065; efcollection.com)
5. Bold Gold
“I am seeing a resurgence in yellow gold—I think the rose gold moment has passed,” says Paula Kogan, senior buyer of bridal and fine jewelry for Watches of Switzerland Group, which owns Mayors. (14k matte-finished yellow gold leaf earrings with 0.44 ct. t.w. diamonds; $3,050; Marika Desert Gold; 216-759-7569; marikadesertgold.com)