Stock Options: Orogemma 2003

This year’s Orogemma show, held Sept. 6-11 in Vicenza, Italy, was filled with buyers searching for last-minute holiday stock.

Geared toward the European market, the goods on offer differed from those seen at earlier shows in the United States; however, European shows such as this often portend trends to come. Chandelier earrings, so ubiquitous at the U.S. shows, were rare, as earrings gave way to the link: Necklaces and bracelets formed the centerpieces of most exhibitors’ displays, with rings closely following. The earrings shown were predominately button or more refined chin-length drops.

Many designers showed large cut-out medallion pendants with a combination hip-hop/’70s retro feel—most hung from long black leather cords—and a tour of the jewelry shops lining the streets of nearby Verona confirmed their popularity among Italian buyers. Case after case boasted variations of the look, and many native passersby sported them. Back at the show, eye-catchers included medallions featuring Deco motifs courtesy of Moby, Arezzo—one with an image of a setting sun surrounded by a Greek key border. And Arezzo’s BOXING by Sildor offered oversize letter pendants in steel with yellow gold highlights.

The other star of the show was mother-of-pearl, which, according to exhibitors, continues to sell in large amounts. Big, chunky, multiple-strand necklaces, large disc pendants, and more restrained bracelets featured the stone in streamlined designs. Some designers also paired it with darker abalone shell pieces or colored it to match wide leather wristbands.

Link necklaces were everywhere, with many variations seemingly influenced by Mattioli’s popular “Puzzle” necklace. Versions were seen in silver and gold, some boasting an occasional stone link. Coral, turquoise, and onyx all made appearances, and Mattioli added pink and gray mother-of-pearl to the company’s link designs.

One trend that did echo the American shows was the use of rose gold. Roberto Coin’s “Magnifica” collection featured woven collars and wide bracelets of rose gold, some with pavé links thrown in to add sparkle and light. And the “Tuscany” collection from Arezzo’s La Pepita offered link chains in red, yellow, and white gold with diamonds.

Among gemstones, both coral and turquoise maintain their European popularity, and drusy also made an appearance in some designs, including the avant-garde creations of Extreme Gioielli, Valenza.

Nontraditional materials appeared as well, many in designs for men. Vicenza’s Fraboso Argento and CometeUomo both showed sterling jewelry set with wood inserts in chunky yet streamlined shapes, and Alessandro Fanfani, Florence, offered men’s and women’s jewelry collections in bronze with yellow gold, diamond, and leather accents.

For whatever reason—timing, trends, or simply stocking up—Orogemma fit the bill for American buyers. As always, the show was an excellent source for chains and other jewelry staples. The buyers for Ross-Simons attended for just that reason. “It’s a good show for basics,” said Sharon Berger, senior buyer of catalog jewelry. She noted that while there really isn’t much new on offer in September, it’s still an excellent opportunity to stock up on staple items for the holidays.

For a retailer like Virginia DiLeo, however, the show’s timing is perfect. Her store, Le Petit Musèe d’Art—a combination art gallery/jewelry shop that stocks “all the best of everything,” she says—is located in Palm Beach, Fla., where winter is the prime shopping season. From December through March, escapees from the chilly North head to Florida with checkbooks in hand, so stocking the shop pre-Christmas and beyond is key. Leaving her busy store to attend the January Vicenza show is not an option.

DiLeo was on the hunt for big diamond pieces and anything else that caught her eye. “I bought a beautiful mother-of-pearl and diamond necklace that is double-sided, with onyx on the other side,” she said. “It’s gorgeous.”

“We came here looking for new things,” said David Rhodes, a jewelry retailer based in the Germantown area of Philadelphia. He and his wife, Pearl, were shopping Italy for new looks to bring back home and had just attended the MACEF show in Milan, where they bought some silver medallions and mother-of-pearl pieces. Overall, however, they felt that there was more costume jewelry at MACEF, so they continued their search in Vicenza.

“We’re primarily looking for silver—more funky, interesting designs—so we came here to find something new, something different, something more funky to bring back to Philadelphia,” said Rhodes. The couple’s interest in the funk factor stems from the possibility of a move to Center City Philadelphia. (Their store, Elegant Expressions, recently was damaged by fire and is closed while they decide.) They feel there’s a niche to be filled with jewelry geared toward a younger, more urban customer, and the timing of Orogemma, combined with the European looks on offer, provided options aplenty.

The show also featured “Platinum: The Jewels of the Blue Rush,” an exhibition organized by Platinum Guild International Italia that sought to evoke the cool clarity of pure water. Designers and manufacturers were encouraged to pair their choice of blue stones with platinum, and most—including Damiani and Paolo Piovan Gioielli—chose to use the light shades of aquamarine and blue diamonds in their pieces. Other designs included pieces fashioned of woven platinum wire (Orlando Orlandini), and textured and polished wrap-around platinum rings, by UnoAerre.