Show Stoppers

10 buys to make at JCK Las Vegas this year

1. THE COLORS: Blue & Green

Spring was all about flirty, carefree pastels, but come fall, ­jewelry takes a darker turn toward a bolder and richer palette. The two standout shades of the season? Here’s a hint: ­Remember Angelina Jolie’s long-sleeved green Atelier Versace dress at ­January’s Golden Globe Awards, a perfect complement to her 27 ct. emerald Robert Procop ring? No serious student of the red carpet needs to be reminded of the recent ubiquity of green, and the ­color’s reign shows no signs of abating. Blue, meanwhile, was a runway favorite among style setters such as Diane von Furstenberg, whose head-to-toe royal blue ensembles were an editorial favorite. To satisfy fans of both shades, think wide and deep in terms of gems: sapphire, sodalite, and dyed pearls for azure hues; tsavorite, tourmaline, and malachite for ­clover-colored stones.

2. THE METAL: Rose Gold

Rahaminov Diamonds rose gold and diamond earrings; $19,600;

Expect to see more pink metal in jewelry collections. Consumers are once again embracing the rosy tones, which accentuate most skin types beautifully. Plus, rose gold has ­special appeal when paired with certain other accessories. “It is especially attractive in the crisscross designs that reflect the look of the ­gladiator sandal,” observes Izidor Kamhi, president of Izi ­Creations in New York City. Plus, it’s got the backing of the Pantone Color Institute, which named the rosy-hued honeysuckle its color of the year for 2011. “Rose gold has been consistently increasing in popularity,” says Jamie L. Rianna, account management analyst for Cranston, R.I.–based watchmaker Speidel. “With that announcement, rose gold will stay on the scene for some time.”

3. THE PRICE POINT: $500 & Under

Artistry Open Leaves silver cuff bracelet; $330;

The economy is recovering, and high-end sales at spring 2011 trade shows have been promising, but entry-level merchandise will continue to grow in popularity. “At this year’s JCK show, we expect to see lots of products in every category at affordable price points,” says Laura Klemt, president of Artistry Ltd, in Skokie, Ill. She plans to supplement her usual all-silver offerings with some gold plate, starting at $75 retail. Other silver makers expect the same. San Francisco–based brand Belle Étoile, for example, is bringing 15 new collections to the JCK show—“from big and chunky to animal prints to lace,” says Carolyn Thamkul, executive vice president of merchandising and brand development. Its sterling and enamel styles start at $120 retail.

4. THE DIAMOND TREND: Black & Brown Diamond Jewelry

MK Diamonds 14k white gold earrings with black and colorless diamonds; $5,900;

When Carrie Bradshaw received a black diamond engagement ring in last spring’s Sex and the City sequel, dark diamonds earned the endorsement they needed. (Props to Le Vian and the Natural Color Diamond Association for laying the foundation for consumers.) Dark, rose-cut diamonds offer edgy, affordable appeal, particularly when set in silver—ideal for the “value-conscious, trend-setting consumer,” says Linda Garrido, marketing director for MK Diamonds & Jewelry and Natalie K in Los Angeles. The black and brown stones are also a natural fit for cooler-weather fashions. “When you think of fall, you think of neutral or dark colors like black,” says Destiny Oredina, marketing and advertising director for Norman Silverman Diamonds in Los Angeles.

5. THE BRIDAL RING: Colored Stone Engagement Rings

Ostbye 14k white gold rhodolite garnet and diamond ring; $735;

Two words: royal wedding. Thanks to the deafening hype surrounding Princess Di’s (and now Princess Kate’s) sapphire-and-diamond ring, jewelers have seen heightened demand for colored stone rings, particularly in the bridal category. Says Kathy Dayan, merchandising director for Shy Creation Inc. in Los Angeles, “Brides are looking for new ways to express their individual style, and they’re not afraid to experiment.” Adam Graham, marketing manager for the American Gem Trade Association in Dallas, is on the same page: “Consumers are being influenced by royals and celebrities, who are choosing colored gemstones. This is a great opportunity for ­retailers to ­diversify their inventory and make better margins. Trendy and ­profitable makes good business sense.” Craig MacBean, president of Ostbye in Minneapolis, concurs. “We expect to see a large increase in colored stone jewelry in both the bridal and fashion markets,” he says.

6. THE COST-EFFECTIVE CHOICE: Cheap & Cheerful Colored Stones

S&R silver earrings with charoite and diamonds; $1,000;

From cocktail rings to beaded bracelets, colored stones continue to serve as a beacon of creativity and cost-effectiveness for designers, especially “since precious-metal prices continue to be bullish,” says Helena Krodel, director of media and special events for the Jewelry Information Center and Jewelers of America. Vibrant hues can perk up an outfit—or a mood—while cabochon cuts can serve as even more affordable, and demure, jewelry options since that material tends to be less, ahem, choice, than faceted stones. “Big gemstone fashion is a hot trend right now,” adds Michael Clarke, vice president of finished jewelry for Stuller in Lafayette, La.

7. THE PHILOSOPHY: Value Above All

KC Designs 14k white, yellow, and pink gold pendant necklace with black rhodium finishing and colorless, black, and champagne diamonds; $3,125;

Effects in metal, large stones, and even contemporary metal pieces that look more expensive than price tags would suggest are inspiring consumers now. Case in point: Sparkle by Imperial pieces featuring diamond-cut silver beads, fitting “the jewelers’ need for value and well-made, beautiful jewelry,” says Kathy Grenier, director of marketing and merchandising for Imperial Deltah. Ditto for white tungsten, which “looks like white gold and feels like platinum,” according to Glenn Miller, vice president of contemporary metals for Stuller. “With very high gold prices, more and more ­jewelers are choosing to make their products in silver, explains Torry Hoover, president of Hoover & Strong in Richmond, Va. And expect textured sterling designs set with bold, natural gemstones to be widely available at JCK Las Vegas this year. Why? Consumers don’t stop shopping just because of high gold and platinum prices. “They merely change the type of precious metal they buy, according to what they can afford,” says Peter Konidas, lead designer and principal for Metalsmiths Sterling in Toronto.

8. THE ROCK: Big Diamonds

Joshua J platinum ring with 4.31 ct. colorless radiant-cut diamond, plus 1.41 cts. t.w. round and 0.76 ct. t.w. trapezoid-cut diamonds; $105,281; joshuajfinejewelry.comDon’t underestimate the appeal of large diamonds, warns David Goldstein, president of Goldstein Diamonds Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz. “They are coming back with a vengeance.” If recent sales at auction houses—an oval-shaped colorless stone from Christie’s that sold for $2.8 million, and a 10.32 ct. colorless cut-­cornered, rectangular-cut diamond and platinum ring from Bonhams, snapped up for $524,000—are any sign, the market for big stones is just warming up. “We continue to believe in diamonds as the steadier category in difficult times,” says Andrea Hansen, chief executive officer of Ivanka Trump Fine ­Jewelry in New York City. “Ivanka’s collection is focused on the reinvention of elegance, her passion for classic design, and heirloom style.”

9. THE STYLE: Long Earrings and Pendants

Yael Designs 18k black gold earrings with colorless diamonds; $3,798;

For all their groovy good times, the 1970s were a complicated period, not unlike the present one. Oil shocks? Check. Inflation? Check. A long, protracted war whose aftermath defined the Zeitgeist? Check! If it’s true that what happens on the runways merely reflects what’s happening in culture, then it should come as no surprise that fashion is still very much obsessed with the Me Decade. “There’s a kind of ’70s silhouette moving through the entire season,” says Sharon Graubard, senior vice president of trend analysis at Stylesight. “It’s a little slimmer, a little longer, with more volume toward the bottom.” The long, lean silhouette meets its fine jewelry match in the swinging pendant necklaces, shoulder-duster earrings, and extra-wide cuffs that will evolve from spring to fall in a direction that is sleek, sinewy, and big. For gold enthusiasts without a limitless supply of cash, vermeil and, dare we say, hydroplating are two options worth considering. (For more on swinging ’70s earrings, see “Disco Nights.”)

10. THE TIMEPIECES: Watch Classics

Boucheron Serpent yellow gold and diamond jewelry watch; $25,000;; Chopard L.U.C 1937 watch with porcelain dial; $8,030;

If watch manufacturers can agree on anything this year, it is their collective nostalgia for the postwar exuberance of the mid-20th century. For women, smaller, ladylike styles reminiscent of the 1950s are ideal accessories for fall’s new, more sophisticated wardrobe. Dusted with diamonds and paired with dainty, chain link bracelets, they epitomize the grace and subtlety of an earlier, less complicated time. For the gents, classic round watches featuring simple, clean dials and slender profiles are the perfect antidote to the Brobdingnagian timepieces that peaked in popularity at the height of the recent boom. At least that’s how the Swiss would have it. At the retail counter, however, the sports watch category continues to boom, so don’t count out those rugged, oversized timepieces just yet. In the hearts and minds of male consumers, status and size are still incontrovertibly linked.

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