On the scene at Mandalay Bay with newcomers, veterans, and JCK lifers
Cyril Magne, a correspondent for the French fashion site Guide Joailliers, was at JCK to explore the U.S. market. “The customers in the U.S. are not afraid of big rings, big pins, and big necklaces on a daily basis,” he observed. “You don’t see that in France.”
Sandi Paccione (l.), of Torrance, Calif.–based Tutima, was excited to “meet some of our peers,” and coworker Kristin Buettgenbach loved “putting so many faces to names of people we work with on the phone.”
Andrew Puddifoot, general manager of Portland, Ore.–based MiaDonna, was enjoying his second year at JCK. “Coming here is really about building relationships and enjoying the scene,” he said.
Westley Jewelers’ buyer Mia Kiemele said the Bismarck, N.D., store does the majority of its shopping for the year at JCK Las Vegas: “It’s a great place to find new vendors.”
Pointing to his white lace-ups, Pearse Curran, designer for first-time JCK exhibitor Oscar Graves, joked that he was wearing his “Simon Le Bon” shoes. Curran was glad the Dublin-based men’s brand was “attracting the kind of buyers we hoped it would.”
Nancy Robey, owner of Nancy Robey Partnership, was hosting guided tours at the show for TrendVision, and said she loved JCK’s new neighborhood layout: “The whole concept is great. It’s so easy to find what I’m looking for.”
Designers and sisters Maria and Paula Simon were on a mission to find manufacturers. “It’s so amazing to have them all in one place,” said Maria, a recent Parsons School of Design graduate.
“Restaurants, business, and fun” is why Los Angeles manufacturer Youssef Malekan of Wedding Rings Unlimited comes to JCK. “I’m out all night,” he said. “They basically have to put me to sleep with a shot.”
“I’m looking to incorporate semiprecious and precious stones in my designs,” said JCK first-timer Deepa Seneviratne, the San Francisco– and Sri Lanka–based designer of Dekonti. “A friend in the business told me this was the place to come.”
Brenda Gansbourg (r.), co-owner of the Delmar collection, said she loves the “energy, feeling, and excitement” of JCK. “There’s a really good energy this year,” agreed Julianna B designer Claire Vesset.
GIA student Vadim Ostapovich hopes to debut his own line of jewelry in the coming months. “My goal is to immerse myself in what is current,” he said. “stones, finishes, styles, metals—I want to see it all.”
How long has Belle Étoile’s Carolyn Thamkul been coming to JCK? “Practically since I was born!” she laughed. “It’s like meeting up with old friends. And that’s what it is. Our customers are our friends.”
Sunny Aiya, manufacturer and designer for collections Aiya Designs, Piyaro, and Lustour, has been coming to JCK Las Vegas for 15 years—for the love of jewelry and the town. “Vegas is Vegas,” he said. “It’s beautiful and sunny and it has a really special vibe. It’s so vibrant and full of life.”
Theresa Kiemele, co-owner of Westley Jewelers in Bismarck, N.D., was shopping for “bridal and great fashion” from brands including Sara Blaine and Vincent Peach. But she was also finding time for “eating, shopping, and going to the spa!” while in town.
Linda Worral-Poole, designer for Bend, Ore.–based fine silver collection Whorlsphere, was basking in the “exposure to so many cultures and different people” at the show. “We’re having such a good time and absorbing all the good energy.”
M’Kyle Rigby was wide-eyed and overwhelmed at his first JCK, which he was attending with his mother, the owner of JK Jewellery & Accessories in Nassau, Bahamas. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so international,” he said. “It’s cool how many countries and cultures are here.”
Retailers Alan King and Kayse Muratori of King Jewelers in Alpine, Texas, were hunting for colorful gemstones at the AGTA show to use in their custom design shop. “Turquoise, blue topaz, diamonds, and rubies” were the priority for Muratori. “And we’re always looking for stones for the big, high-dollar stuff.”
Kuulei Garcia, Rose Abbot, and Emily Carl Tom were shopping for their Maui Divers Jewelry retail stores in Hawaii. “We are especially looking for unique and one-of-a-kind pieces,” Garcia said. “We want the ‘wow’ pieces, like big colored-stone rings, that will set us apart from other jewelers.”
Andy Lucas and Holly Bradford of Klamath Falls, Ore., were celebrating Lucas’ first-place win in the silver category for the Rio Tinto–sponsored Saul Bell Design Award Competition. The designing duo (Bradford is a beadwork artist) were looking forward to meeting suppliers. “The show is an opportunity to try new tools and meet the people behind the tools and supplies we use,” Lucas said.
Ashley Davis Sigman, vice president of Davis Jewelers in Louisville, Ky., comes to the show with a “grocery shopping list” of holes to fill in her store. She also uses social media to get feedback on trends and styles from clients in real time. “I posted a photo of an ear climber on my personal Facebook and asked, ‘Is this a yes or a no?’” she said. “I got over 40 comments—it was a definite yes.”
Photographs by Beverly Poppe