Best of the West: Top Trends & Topics From JCK 2018

Our favorite stones, styles, events, and exhibits from the 27th annual JCK Las Vegas


Best Royal Trend: Aquamarine Rings

When we saw Meghan Markle riding off to her wedding reception wearing the late Princess Diana’s aquamarine cocktail ring, we knew we’d soon be seeing aqua rings everywhere. But it turns out jewelry designers were even more prescient. When we got to JCK, we were greeted by a sea of aquamarine styles—from opaque to faceted, in shades from seafoam green to deep blue to pale, almost watery blue—from brands including Simon G., Lauren K, Just Jules, and more. “I have always been fascinated by aquamarines,” says Just Jules founder and designer Julie Romanenko (see her aquamarine ring on page 75). “Maybe because I’m a beach baby and love the color, ­maybe because it’s my birthstone—who knows? But the fascination is a deep one.” —Melissa Rose Bernardo

Top: Jasmine ring with 17.99 ct. natural aquamarine and 0.48 ct. diamond pavé in 18k yellow gold; $5,500; Lauren K;;


beneficial scarab necklace

Best Show Addition: Las Vegas Estate Jewelry & Watch Pavilion

For the first time, JCK gave a select group of estate jewelry and watch dealers their own neighborhood on the show floor, allowing retailers to shop for old and new in the same venue. The selection at the Las Vegas Estate Jewelry & Watch Pavilion ranged from Victorian mourning jewels to glitzy ’80s-style gold bangles, and was especially heavy on pieces from the Art Deco and Retro periods. “We have found that mixing new and repeatable goods, branded jewelry with ­estate, allows us to ride out any of the downturns in the market,” says Scott Diament, president and CEO of the Palm Beach Show Group, which ­organized the pavilion. “In the estate category, you can still make a profit.” —Victoria Gomelsky

14k yellow gold lapis lazuli scarab beetle pendant with chain; price on requestBeneficial Estate Buyers; 800-518-1137;


Best Presentation: JCK Industry Trends Breakfast

yancy weinrich at JCK las vegas 2018
Yancy Weinrich

Jewelry is not an industry known for wallowing in optimism. But at a special breakfast on June 1, Reed Jewelry Group senior vice president Yancy Weinrich revealed something surprising: The trade is feeling pretty good. At the presentation, Weinrich unveiled a new statistic—the JCK Jewelry Industry Confidence Index (JICI)—an annual pulse of industry sentiment, based on a survey of more than 500 JCK readers and show attendees conducted earlier this year by researcher GfK. In its maiden outing, the JICI stood at an impressive 88, meaning 88 percent of respondents were feeling good about their business over the next year. “It’s clear there is a deep-seated belief in the resilience of our industry,” said Weinrich. —Rob Bates


royal chain horsebit bangle

Most Obvious Trend: Luxe for Less

At the JCK and LUXURY shows, ­myriad new collections featuring colored stones, streamlined designs, and plenty of movement underscored the ­industry’s collective target: ­younger shoppers seeking playful, affordable ­adornment. From Yael Designs’ diamond and 18k gold Yaelita line marked by celestial ­motifs and lighthearted dangling elements (opening at $1,800 ­retail) to Parade Design’s ­focus on accessibly priced colored-stone solitaires to Royal Chain’s yellow gold–heavy 40th Anniversary collection, the emphasis in Las Vegas was on jewels priced just right for ­millennials. “You don’t have to think that hard about” buying these pieces, says Parade’s Lyndsay Hirsch. “It’s more of an impulse purchase.” —VG

40th Anniversary collection Horsebit bangle in 14k gold; $3,000Royal Chain;;


Hottest Hues: Rainbow

One word: versatility. Multicolored jewelry goes with almost anything you wear. Perhaps that’s why designers and retailers have been chasing rainbows for months now, and the kaleidoscopic trend shows no sign of fading. “To me, the more color the better, so there’s nothing better than the whole spectrum,” says M. Spalten designer Melissa Spalten, who loves to mix sapphires “because of their beautiful range of color” with “a touch of tsavorite for its vivid green.” And at its annual Red Carpet Revue, Le Vian named fancy color sapphires its 2019 Gem of the Year. Also, it doesn’t hurt that rainbows are so darn cheerful, and we all need something to make us smile these days. As Spalten says: “What could be happier than a rainbow of gems?” —MRB

Le Vian bolo bracelet stack

Bolo bracelets with Mixberry Spinel, Passion Ruby, Cornflower Ceylon Sapphires, Sunny Yellow Sapphires, Bubblegum Pink Sapphires, Blueberry Sapphires, Forest Green Tsavorite, and Nude and Vanilla Diamonds in 14k Strawberry, Vanilla, and Honey Gold; $2,647–$5,897Le Vian; 877-253-8426;


Best Designer Debut: Just Jules

just jules tanzanite ring

“Old meets new” is how designer Julie Romanenko, founder of Just Jules, characterizes her jewelry. The description is spot-on: The Scottsdale, Ariz.–based brand ping-pongs between old-world elegance—many pieces boast obvious Victorian and Art Deco ­influences—and trend-driven styles that hinge on intensely colored gemstones such as opals and sapphires. “My heart is ­really with the vintage-inspired pieces,” says the designer, “but I love having the two sides.” Exhibiting at her first LUXURY show, Romanenko says she was impressed by the retailers she met—even those who didn’t end up buying. “I felt like everyone was taking the time to look at what we do and what we had. And that’s really why we do trade shows—to help people become more familiar with our brand.” —Emili Vesilind

2.32 ct. tanzanite and 0.52 ct. t.w. diamond cluster cocktail ring in 14k white gold; $5,450Just Jules;;


Best Booth: Tacori

tacori booth at JCK Las Vegas 2018Customer experience and education were top priorities at Tacori’s elegant LUXURY ballroom, where the multimedia Tacori Exposition incorporated several beautifully curated displays designed to share the brand’s story. Included in the exposition were a section on Tacori’s proprietary designs and terminology; a display on its legacy of artisanship; a video of CEO Paul Tacorian giving a tour of the brand’s design studio (showing, in the process, how a ring gets made); and a graphic, wall-size timeline meant to be “a look forward and a glance back at some of the incredible moments that have defined the DNA and heart of Tacori,” says Michelle Adorjan Chila, senior vice president of marketing and PR for Tacori. Among the timeline highlights: the birth of matriarch Gilda Tacorian in Romania in 1949 and Tacori’s founding in downtown Los Angeles 20 years later. —EV


stuller 302 sage necklace

Most Exciting Launch: Stuller’s 302

Intent on reaching self-­purchasers of any age, Stuller used JCK as a platform to roll out its first fine jewelry brand, 302, a sly reference to the company’s address (302 Rue Louis XIV, Lafayette, La.). Comprising five collections—Rebel, featuring geometric motifs; Seeker, scattered and clustered with ­diamonds; Sage, rife with celestial styles; Ruler, a line of crown-inspired pieces; and Innocent, focused on jewels that evoke mindfulness (think Buddha charms)—302 boasts an average wholesale price of $250 for 14k gold. “Retailers can easily retail pieces for $1,000 or less,” says vice president of merchandising Maren Rosen. “It’s important for us to be of value; we know the self-purchaser is looking for that.” —VG

Sage necklace in 14k white gold with 0.5 ct. t.w. diamonds; $1,749Stuller; 800-877-7777;


(Weinrich and Tacori: Photographs by Camilla Sjodin)

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