What Was New at The JCK Show

Jewelry Trends: ‘Fall’ in Love!

A return to color and the prettiest, most romantic jewelry imaginable were the two key jewelry newsmakers at The JCK Show. After seasons of endless white-on-white designs, fall’s shift to colored gold and colored gemstones looks fresh and appealing. The white wave has not abated, but it has become a jewelry wardrobe staple rather than a trend. The newest looks in white metal were, of course, colored gemstones set in white. The most popular romantic motifs were flowers. Bows, hearts, and insects—all ladylike classics—were also strong.

Yellow gold newsmakers were especially bright pieces using new alloys that result in a warmer yellow with less green. Surfaces are treated with delicate, discreet texturing that retains a bright finish rather than a satiny appearance. Size-wise, delicacy still dominates. Pieces are getting larger, but even the biggest jewelry is flexible and supple, not rigid. Necklaces looked especially pretty with multiple strands of delicate chain holding a single pendant, or multiple dangles of delicate diamond or gemstone accents. Meshes are also popular.

A trend to watch is the rise of pink gold, again with new alloys giving it an appealing peachy color. Though a panel of fashion editors at the Couture Collection and Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., preceding The JCK Show agreed that pink gold tops their own personal “wish lists,” most jewelry manufacturers and retailers think its appeal will remain limited to very sophisticated consumers.

Gemstones led the romantic turn toward the past. The briolette is the favorite new/old cut for both colored gemstones and diamonds. Until about a year ago, modern diamond briolette jewelry was practically unheard of. Other new/old diamond looks like the rose cut are popular. Also interesting was briolette-like faceting on the top surfaces of large gemstones set into bold rings. The single bold cabochon ring, bezel set, also continues. Diamond pavé remains fashionable, now used in delicate accents rather than the bold cocktail rings of the past. High-end looks like invisible settings are filtering down to moderate price points and are being used for varying shapes of diamonds, particularly baguettes. Diamond pendants remain favorites, and the newest diamond solitaire necklace (the “DSN”) is, of course, a briolette.

In designs using colored gemstones, much of the news was blue—aquamarine blue, that is. Aqua was everywhere, it seemed, followed closely by some of its delicate blue-hued cousins like blue topaz (in lower price points) or moonstone and iolite in artistic pieces. Also evident was blue tourmaline. Tanzanite was less prominent than in recent years. But when tanzanite was used, it was almost always a fabulous, extremely high-end stone—a deep, velvety blue and very big. Some pieces used a large tanzanite in place of sapphire.

After blue, green seemed to be the hot color, especially peridot. Green tourmaline and fine tsavorite were also seen. Pink diamond, rubellite, and pink tourmaline are still strong, and some designers used fabulous specimens of red spinel. Yellows were popular, especially in colored diamonds or sapphires or very fine specimens of citrine. In cut, the square shapes that took Vicenza by storm were also standouts here, especially bezel-set in a ring.

In pearls, the biggest news again was color. Gray, golden, and pistachio South Seas, Tahitian, and very fine freshwater varieties were the high-end favorites. Pinks and peaches abounded as well. Pearls were increasingly mixed with other gemstones or with gold and platinum chains. The DSN may see stiff competition, as pearl solitaire pendants were everywhere, frequently capped with a bit of yellow gold (for golden or white varieties) or platinum (popular for grays, greens, and whites) and often with a few tiny gemstone or diamond accents.

Platinum was more prominent than ever. New advances in technology were evident in the number of delicate platinum chains and cut-out designs on hand. Ball chains seemed to be everywhere.

A look to watch is the torsade, a thick, twisted necklace or bracelet made of strands of beads attached by a large, decorative clasp. Beads in general seem to be making a comeback. Whether it’s ropes of baroque pearls or gemstone beads wrapped around the neck or small beads or seed pearls made into a dog collar, the look showed up in a variety of price points and a range of styles from classic to rugged ethnic to totally avant-garde.—Hedda T. Schupak

Diamonds and Diversions

Diamond people weren’t just selling gemstones at this year’s JCK Show. There was also a healthy assortment of what one dealer called “gimmicks.” In this competitive arena, dealers trying to stand out from the crowd offered sales tools and other packaging extras, including loupes, videos, boxes, trays, cubes, and inscriptions.

The most popular gimmick, of course, was the millennium. It’s too early to know if De Beers can convince consumers that the new millennium is a diamond-buying occasion, but it’s sure convinced the trade. Among the companies with millennium-themed products: Premier Gem, New York (stones inscribed with “Millennium and Forever”); Global Diamonds, Chicago (inscribed 2-ct. stones in a special “Millennium” box); Lazare Kaplan International, New York (platinum-set stones inscribed with “LD 2000,” with an accompanying certificate); Hearts on Fire, Boston (a special “Millennium” edition of its “brand”); and even the fracture-filling Yehuda Diamond Co.

The highest-profile millennium product was from De Beers itself. The company’s “Millennium” branded stones made their public debut at the show. Several “Millennium” sightholders touted the new stones—including W.B. David, Leo Schachter, Rosy Blue, and Hasenfeld-Stein. Most of those companies also offered the De Beers Millennium time capsules, designed to hold loose stones and serve as an heirloom for future generations. (Some sightholders, however, were disappointed that sample capsules weren’t available for display.)

Surprisingly, even as vendors strove to be different, there were only a few new and innovative cuts this time around. Jeff Roberts of the Independent Jewelers Organization gave JCK a sneak preview of the new Spirit of Flanders cut, a revolutionary round brilliant design that was officially unveiled at IJO’s Cincinnati show in July. The new cut divides a standard diamond’s pavilion mains with two additional facet junctions, and the crown has been redesigned into a modern rose style, excluding the customary flat table facet. Royal Brilliant Co., a New York diamond manufacturer, displayed its new “Royal Brilliant 82.” This 82-facet design uses double rows of 10 bezel facets on the crown opposed by a single row of 10 pavilion mains. Company owner Mickey Ishida designed the cut and calls it a “new aesthetic of brilliance.”

There was something of a rebirth of fancy colors. A handful of vendors spotlighted jewelry with yellow stones as well as pink melee from Australia’s Argyle mine. (Argyle did its best to promote pinks by showcasing its decade-old Library Egg, a pink-studded objet d’art.) New York’s Eminent Gems showcased black diamonds, a trend seen recently in Basel.

For all this, plain round colorless and near-colorless stones were in abundance, particularly in the higher qualities. And jewelers seemed to be trading up. Allen Lipscher of Global Diamonds noted, “I’ve sold more 2-carat stones than half-carat ones.” There was a general trend toward better-quality merchandise, particularly finer cuts. In the words of one observer, “There isn’t a lot of junk around.”—Rob Bates and Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

Madagascar and More

What isn’t coming out of Madagascar these days? The island’s top eye-catchers—bright, saturated pink sapphires—abounded, and blue and blue star sapphires were also available. (It’s reported that some of the pinks and blues are heat-treated.) On the unenhanced Madagascar front, Tom Cushman of Allerton Cushman & Co., Sun Valley, Idaho, showed faceted multicolor-banded tourmalines, a rare find of liddicoatite, bright orange spessartites, a 17-ct. alexandrite, and some very saturated, medium, dark-blue aquamarines.

Arthur Groom debuted his branded Gematrat emerald. He also raised awareness of the issue of product knowledge by holding an all-day round of seminars on emerald-related topics. (Groom’s emerald can be identified easily: The patented, colorless, stable enhancement glows blue under ultraviolet light.)

A number of suppliers promoted unenhanced gemstones. Inter Commerce, a company based in Warsaw, Poland, displayed an impressive array of fine-quality, all-natural Afghan emeralds. It imports other unenhanced Afghan gems as well, including ruby, aquamarine, and lapis.

The American Gem Trade Association’s policy of promoting full disclosure of gemstone enhancement has spread beyond its membership. Small disclosure signs, particularly for rubies, were located throughout the show.—Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

Relaunches Highlight Watch Arena

The renewed importance of jewelers to the watch trade was evident in “Time Square,” The JCK Show’s watch arena. Many brands used the show to relaunch or redefine themselves, while others reported that they are working hard to build business with jewelers.

Relaunches in the U.S. market include Zodiac, the upscale Swiss sports line now owned and distributed by Genender International; Revue Thommen, the high-end Swiss line with

a new North American distributor (Exclusive Time International) and more selective distribution; and Rotary, the mid-priced British-owned Swiss line starting over with new collections, streamlined service, and new management. Fila, the mid-priced Italian fashion sports line, is back after four years, and Clyda, a popular-priced French line, returns after a three-year hiatus. Hamilton, the 107-year-old Amer- ican brand best known for its collections of classic watches, is “re-energizing” itself (according to its president) with its rugged Khaki sport watches and stylish lines like Chatham.

Meanwhile, other brands are ardently courting jewelers or seeking to boost sales to them. Anne Klein aims to create a market among jewelers with new collections ($95-$300), displays, and ad support. Skagen, the sleek Danish brand, debuted “Skagen Sapphire,” a Swiss line of precious metal watches ($250-$500) as its first-time entry into jewelry stores.

Also planning to expand business with jewelers are Rado, which adds the unique Cerix to its line of scratch-proof, ceramic watches; and Swatch, which also has new “cone” watch displays designed for smaller jewelry stores. Swiss-made Juvenia ($3,600-plus) now focuses on jewelers in the U.S. Hispanic market.

Jules Juergensen previewed its Swiss-made “Urban Juergensen” line ($395-$1,500) created for selected fine jewelers. Also seeking selected outlets is Bedat & Co. ($2,000-$24,000), a new luxury line by former partners of the upscale Raymond Weil brand. Omega unveiled Collection Joailleries, its entry into women’s upscale jewelry watches.

Jewelers seeking high-end quality design and innovation weren’t disappointed. Standouts included unique creations by Xemex; collections of popular watch designer Jorg Hysek, the first under his own name; futuristic sculptured watches of Oakley, a newcomer to the watch trade; horological delights of Swiss luxury watchmaker Franck Muller, including his new “Vegas” watch; and the contemporary styling of Bonneville watches.

As always, newcomers competed for jewelers’ attention. Among them: Stunt Titanium, a tough sports watch brand headed by U.S. watch veteran David Rahilly; Nivrel, a stylish, well-crafted German brand of automatics; Mondaine, a well-known Swiss line now entering the United States; Michele, a leading Latin American brand with watches for North American tastes; and France’s Pierre Lannier, whose under-$100 watches look much more expensive.

Among other trends evident in “Time Square”:

  • More bangle watches with links that can be sized. Among them: Rotary, Michele, Bulova, and Tissot.

  • More auto-quartz watches, combining the best of mechanical and quartz movements, from Wittenaur, Bulova, Roven Dino, Belair, and Cyma, among others.

  • Technical eyecatchers, including Stunt Titanium’s patented anti-shock design and Angular Momentum’s revolving disk system (replacing conventional hour hand and dial design).

  • More upscale brands offering pens, including Franck Muller, Swiss Army, and Jorg Hysek.

Titanium is no longer a fringe metal for U.S. watches. Among many with titanium timepieces were Festina, Jorg Hysek, Michele, Oakley, Akteo’s Boccia line, Stunt, Tissot, Citizen, and Omega.

High-profile licensing agreements made news, too. Fossil will make and distribute watches for Donna Karan International. DKNY and DKNY Active watches ($85-$250 retail) debut next spring, and the Swiss-made Donna Karan New York Collection (starting $1,000 retail) will be released in fall 2001.

The Movado Group, whose brands include Movado, Concord, ESQ, and Coach, will produce and distribute dress, casual, and “technical sport” watches for fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. The line ($75-$300 retail) debuts in spring 2001.

Suisse American Products Group of New York is making and distributing watches for Harrod’s, the renowned London retailer. The Harrod’s Collection ($200-$3,500 retail) previewed at the show and officially debuted this summer at Harrod’s. Also planned: Harrod’s pocket watches and a “connoisseur series” of one-of-a-kind designs ($20,000-$250,000 retail).

Sharp International unveiled a popular-priced collection ($30-$50) for actress and clothing designer Delta Burke.—William George Shuster