Rapaport Magazine

Couture 2007:Elegant Setting, Spotty Traffic

The Couture Show at the Wynn

By Nancy Pier Sindt
RAPAPORT... The exclusive Couture show at the Wynn changed course this year, extending its run to five days and accepting “qualified buyers” rather than restricting itself to invitees, as in the past. According to the exhibitors, this was both good and bad news.

Generally speaking, this year’s roster of Las Vegas shows, with four different shows overlapping each other in time and place, proved challenging for buyers and manufacturers alike. The invitational Luxury show and Premier by JCK began their three-day runs in the Venetian ballrooms on Tuesday, May 29. Couture, across the street at the Wynn, followed on May 30 through June 4, followed by the JCK show, June 1 through 5. It’s no surprise that buyers were confused.

The Couture show followed its established tradition in which appointments are made in advance and collections viewed in private salons. While this was a favorable point for regular Couture exhibitors, it was a disaster for newcomers, who either failed to make appointments or who hoped to snag some upscale accounts while they perused the show floor. There was little walk-around traffic, especially in the afternoons.

Susan Michel, New York, a first-time exhibitor, said she was terribly disappointed by the lack of show-floor traffic. “Customers are confused,” she said. “They don’t know where to go.” Robert Wander, Winc Creations, Hawaii, agreed. “It’s been a slow show and I haven’t met any new customers,” he said.

Others complained that after buyers spent their mornings visiting established vendors and enjoying a box lunch at the pool, they left the show for other activities, ranging from shopping the JCK show to relaxing at the pool. “There’s been spotty traffic at this show,” observed Myron Bikakis, principal at Bikakis & Johns, New York. “For awhile it’s busy, then it’s dead.” However, he noted, his orders were about the same as last year.

According to many exhibitors, appointments were generally kept, making it hard to judge traffic patterns, given the enclosed ballroom locations. “For me, the show has been good,” said Marya Dabrowski, Providence, Rhode Island. “It hasn’t been heavily trafficked, but there are good-quality buyers.”

Overall, exhibitors agreed that this show was far more effective when it was smaller in scale and restricted to a more private location. As opposed to its previous venues of Newport Beach and Phoenix, Las Vegas provides too many distractions, such as golf, swimming, gaming and entertainment — temptations that can lure buyers off the show floor.

Traditionally, at this ultra-high-end show, there are ample amounts of over-the-top jewelry with bold silhouettes, extravagant diamonds and gemstones and limited-edition creations. This year, there was all of that, but balanced by a nice assortment of designer collections at more moderate price levels.

Diamond jewelry was the specialty of a handful of non-U.S. firms who showed a full range of styles from huge, multicarated designs to smaller, versatile fashion pieces. Butani Jewellery, Hong Kong, showcased sparkling diamond pieces, including one showstopping four-strand, 86-carat necklace of alternating round and oval diamonds. The piece was featured in the Town & Country fashion show during one of Couture’s evening events.

“We’ve been manufacturing in Hong Kong for 35 years,” said Lachmi Butani, director. “We try to be different from the major brands such as Cartier and Bulgari.” Customers for this collection come from New York, Beverly Hills and Florida, as well as the Middle and Far East.

“We provide certificates for all diamonds over 50 points, and use G to F color stones,” said Butani. The most popular retail range for this company’s collection is $2,000 to $20,000. Bracelets and rings were the best-selling categories, and one of the strongest items at the show was a “spring bangle,” a diamond bracelet available in many widths from a single row of diamonds to several. These styles, available in either yellow or white diamonds, are easy to sell because they adjust to any wrist size, Butani said.

Bapalal Keshavlal, an Indian company, was a return exhibitor at Couture. While company president Romy Mehta termed traffic as only “fair,” he said he was pleased to see most of his regular clients as well as attracting several new ones. The company has been exhibiting at U.S. trade fairs for several years; its major markets include America and the Caribbean.

Typically, diamond qualities range from G to H color and VS to SI clarity to I to J, SI, depending upon the collection. Important at this show were larger pieces at volume price points, including stackable items and cuff bracelets. Marketing consultant Sibylle Schempf said the cutoff point for U.S. buyers is up to $6,000 wholesale.


Judith Conway, Windsor, California, added some new elements to her updated classic collection of diamond rings. Tentatively entitled “Elevations,” the newest diamond rings had elegant sculptural designs in which tapered baguettes either stood on end or flowed in fanlike designs. All were set in platinum.

Complementing the traditional motifs of flowers, flowing lines and geometrics in faceted diamonds were several collections featuring symbolic images and uncut diamonds, which resonated with a number of buyers. Temple St. Clair, New York, has built a strong following for her Galaxy amulets in rock crystal detailed with gold and diamonds. New at the show was a series of Zodiac pendants with figurative images in gold with a matte and polished finish, spheres of multicolored sapphires and the “Sorcerer” ring.

Two firms, Diamond in the Rough, New York, and Raw Diamonds by Todd Reed, Boulder, Colorado, used rough diamonds as inspiration for modern designs. New pieces from Diamond in the Rough included a five-strand bracelet, a cross necklace and oval-shaped drop earrings with two uncut diamonds accented with micropavé and set in pink gold. Reed showed neoclassical rings and bracelets in yellow gold with pyramid, triangular and free-form-shaped diamonds to highlight the “inherent beauty of nature.”

New Italian Art, Valenza, offered buyers a choice of two different collections: Mantelli, a colored gemstone and diamond collection, as well as its classical Lombardi 1943, in 18-karat gold and diamonds. Both lines are popular with American buyers, said company spokesman George Rozsahegi, in major markets as well as some smaller cities.

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

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