Rapaport Magazine

JCK Show Plays to a Divided Audience

The JCK Las Vegas Show June 2007

By Nancy Pier Sindt
RAPAPORT... Divide and conquer may be a valid military strategy, but it doesn’t work well for trade shows, as proved by the recent JCK Las Vegas show.

Manufacturers on the waiting list for this year’s JCK LasVegas show — June 1 through 5 — at the Sands Expo & Convention Center were given booth space in the Las Vegas Convention Center, together with a number of nonjewelry vendors. Even the inspirational keynote address by actress and entrepreneur Suzanne Somers, however, wasn’t enough to entice buyers to linger at the alternate address.

At the Sands exhibition space, there was a buzz of traffic during the opening days and many exhibitors said the show was going fairly well for them. However, there were many who maintained that traffic was slower than in previous years and some of their major accounts opted to stay home. Steve Wayne, principal of Kurt Wayne, New York, recounted a telling anecdote: “One of my accounts said he not only has no open-to-buy, he doesn’t even have an ‘open-to-look.’ He didn’t come to the show because he didn’t want to be tempted.”

Versions of that story were echoed by many other exhibitors, who said that overall, business has been soft in most areas of the country and retailers are sitting with enough inventory to support the traditionally slow summer season. Some retailers told their vendors they were not coming to the show; others came, made appointments and never showed up.

On the suppliers’ side, it appeared that most manufacturers and designers did not go out of their way to create new and revolutionary designs to capture attention. After a slow spring selling period and a disappointing Basel show, they simply expanded their assortments of proven winners, sometimes spicing them up with new sales incentives, such as customized designs, display packages and merchandising aids.

James L. Bellinger, owner of Art Nouveau Antiques and K.I.M. International Trading, Brooklyn, New York, said he came to the show with his buyer to “see what’s new and to look for good diamond sources.” He only had two days at the show, but he said he thought the trip was worthwhile.


Diamonds and diamond jewelry were essential elements for the majority of exhibitors and styles ran the gamut from simple, diamond-accented designs to elaborate, megacarated ensembles. Generally, jewelry adorned with micropavé continued to perform well, as did many different categories of engagement and diamond fashion rings.

The much-touted Journey program backed by De Beers is expected to sell throughout the holidays, but it has met with varying degrees of acceptance around the country. For example, observed Sung Tae Park, managing director of Fantasy Diamonds, Chicago, Illinois: “For us, the three-stone ring was great, but the right-hand ring was not strong. The Journey diamond has been good with certain segments, but about 30 percent of our customers say it’s not for them, especially at the high end of the market.”

Fancy-cut and -color diamonds continued to make inroads into the market, and rings and earrings with fancy yellow, pink and brown center stones were more prevalent than at past shows. In all types of jewelry, rings continued to be top sellers, followed by earrings and the emerging category of cuff bracelets. Earring styles remained fairly bold, with drops leading the pack, but there was more innovation in classics such as hoops, with fancy shapes such as ovals or asymmetrical hearts as well as thin, but oversized silhouettes.

Italian-based Mattioli captured buyer attention by accenting its best-selling openwork link necklaces, earrings and bracelets with pavé diamonds. Most designs feature detachable elements that can change the look from day to evening. The newest collection includes a fascinating four-row brown diamond ring in which the two center shanks revolve around the finger, adding sparkle and novelty to the design. Another new introduction was brown gold, achieved using a PVD coating pioneered by the watch industry. The soft brown color made a subtle statement when contrasted with while diamonds, yellow and rose-colored gold.

Leenet, Wayne, New Jersey, introduced novelty to its Designs By H’ratch jewelry collection by partnering with G.S. Diamonds, an Israeli cutter of fancy matched diamond pairs. Beginning at a half-carat total weight, and including everything from fancies to D colors, shapes as varied as calf heads, kites, bullets, half-moons and trapezoids are being used in three-stone rings and earrings. According to company owner Hratch Massoyan, after retailers select the stones, he can create a custom piece with a two-week turnaround, using computer graphics to make the model.


Adding romance and merchandising strategies into their mix yielded increased sales for some companies. Stardust Collections, Los Angeles, which participated at Luxury for JCK as well as the regular show, reported strong success with its Activ collection of diamond rings with easier-to-wear, lower settings, a choice of four different pavé techniques and its enlarged men’s jewelry collection.

Dangler Studios, Sarasota, Florida, added a fresh face to the classical Journey jewelry by including romance cards that explain the names and significance of each piece. Diamonds used are top SI and G-plus in color; necklaces and earrings wholesale from $400 to $1,400. Collections with fanciful titles such as “Waves of Love” and “The Two of Us” are popular with male gift-givers, who love the idea of the written sentiment that comes with each piece.

MaeVona showed its Scottish Collection of bridal rings, each named for a different Scottish island, many fashioned of pink gold with platinum heads. According to designer Maeve Gillies, her goal is to create a nontraditional showcase for a single diamond that can be enhanced with a collection of dedicated bands. Specifically designed to frame each ring, the bands are a way to help retailers get customers back after they purchase the engagement rings, the designer says. Aimed at the female self-purchaser, a series of “goddess rings” are perfect for use as right-hand rings.

Regardless of the price or style of the merchandise exhibited, however, it was changing times and shifting markets that were the strongest trends at JCK Las Vegas. While trade shows have their place as a valuable tool for gauging the pulse of the market, establishing connections and seeing what’s new, neither manufacturers nor retailers can depend on them to supply the major part of their sales or purchases.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2007. To subscribe click here.

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