Solitaires, sapphires, and statement earrings top jewelers’ Vegas shopping lists. Plus: Prepare for a chain reaction, and get ready to drop some serious coin.
Photography by Joel Stans
Prop stylist Alex Brannian
Jewelry editor Rima Suqi
Fine jewelers headed to JCK Las Vegas at the end of May can feel heartened by a strong economy, an upswing in sales for 2018, and the continuing trend toward self-purchasing. Keeping one eye on the U.S. trade tiff with China, jewelry buyers are nevertheless optimistic about this year’s prospects and report that they are poised to write orders.
But what will they buy? Branded jewelry is on the rise but still represents only 30 to 40 percent of global sales, with unbranded jewelry accounting for 60 to 70 percent, according to McKinsey & Co. No wonder buyers see an opportunity in discovering smaller artisans and emerging talents who provide unique takes on this year’s must-have pieces while offering greater margins.
Here are five trends retailers and forecasters are betting will drive sales in 2019.
Big, bold earrings made a strong showing on the runways and during awards season this year. Crescent-style hoops, gem-laden chandeliers, shoulder dusters, heavy metal chains, and links with pearls are driving avant-garde fashion jewelry. How does that translate to the fine jewelry world? Any variation on traditional shapes—hammered hoops or oversize pendants, for example—will work. In conservative Washington, D.C., Jim Rosenheim, chairman of Tiny Jewel Box, says you can play with traditional shapes, provided you give consumers something to support their lifestyle: “People want beautiful things they can wear when they’re dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts.” For Joanne Teichman, co-owner of Ylang23, with stores in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, statement earrings can be as simple as piling baby hoops and studs on one ear. “If you don’t have enough ear real estate, get pierced!” she says. “And then get pierced again!”
18k yellow gold earrings with 49.11 cts. t.w. malachite, 4.29 cts. t.w. black onyx, and 1.32 cts. t.w. diamonds; $6,600; Doves by Doron Paloma; 888-663-6837; dovesjewelry.com
COINS & MEDALLIONS
These throwback pieces—think chunky chains and Chanel belts of the 1990s reworked as necklaces—made appearances on every designer runway from New York (pearl-embellished gold coins at Oscar de la Renta) to London (edgy coins adorning body jewelry at Alexander McQueen). Picking up on the continuing popularity of charms, coins and medallions add another twist on the theme in the fine jewelry market. Kathy Rose, co-owner and co-CEO of Roseark in Los Angeles, can’t keep the line Stones of Character in stock. Designer Dani Michail takes coins from Italy and infuses them with images and gems, such as a design that juxtaposes Lady Liberty with a handful of diamonds. (Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Charlize Theron are fans.) Coins and medallions also lend themselves to personalization, representing the wearer’s values or aesthetic. For Teichman, Foundrae’s Strength and Dream designs, spotted on Gwyneth Paltrow, have struck a chord. Customers, she says, will spring for “a piece that captures your heart and defines you.”
Pompei collection medallion pendant in 14k yellow and white gold with 0.41 ct. t.w. diamonds; $3,395; The Mazza Co.; 800-654-3400; mazzajewelry.com
The classic solitaire topped jewelers’ must-have lists in 2018 and 2019—representing a significant shift away from the stranglehold that halo settings seemed to have on the bridal category. Scott Udell, vice president of London Jewelers and Two by London in Manhasset, N.Y., said his open-to-buy this year has been buoyed by record sales last year. As a result, London is looking to restock core basics like diamond studs and tennis bracelets—versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down. With engagement rings, “We’re seeing brides go back to traditional, clean solitaires,” Udell says. “Maybe there are diamonds down the sides of the ring, but nothing too over-the-top. Just clean basics.”
Platinum ring with 10.05 ct. pear-shape diamond and 0.23 ct. t.w. diamond melee; price on request; Rahaminov Diamonds; 213-622-9866; rahaminov.com
Last year, emeralds joined the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and enjoyed an uptick in sales after stars accessorized black dresses with green gems at the Golden Globe Awards. The trend appeared to ignite a renewed interest in precious gemstones in a rainbow of hues. “A bright piece of color—whether pendant, charm, or earring—is hot and will make you happy,” says Teichman. Rosenheim also foresees a surge in color. Sapphires in yellows, pinks, and greens are a good bet, but if forced to choose one hue, he says a navy sapphire will forever be the classic go-to. “One truism is that blue always works,” Rosenheim says. “We sold everything.”
Infinity bangle in sterling silver with 23.6 cts. t.w. sapphires; $4,200; Dilamani; 516-466-6767; dilamani.com
The demand for chain-link necklaces has reached a fevered pitch, with fashion designers delivering the news in an exaggerated way. (See “Fall Fashion Faves,” page 128.) What that means to fine jewelry retailers is a demand for rectangular links, oval links, and a combination of sizes and shapes on one piece—the more asymmetrical and nonuniform, the better. TwistOnline and Twist stores in Portland, Ore., and Seattle are doing well with handmade gold chains by Rosanne Pugliese, Pascale Monvoisin, and Jane Diaz, while the Tiffany HardWear collection—in particular, edgy gold graduated link necklaces and bracelets—has been selling well at Net-a-Porter. Gemologist Stephen Silver, founder and CEO of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry in Northern California’s Silicon Valley, advises his fellow jewelers to turn to the fashion runways for trend advice. “Clothing and jewelry designers have to look at each other pretty closely in the modern era,” he says. “Our industry would be making a big mistake if we weren’t paying attention to that.”
14k yellow gold chain; starting at $2,672 (depending on length); Herco; 415-543-1580; herco.com