Rapaport Magazine

Slow Traffic, Serious Buyers

At the JCK Las Vegas show, vendors got orders for immediate and holiday delivery, but caution was the operative word.

By Joyce Kauf

The 2012 JCK Las Vegas show opened on a wave of optimism. It closed on a positive note that translated into orders for immediate and holiday shipping for vendors on both the high and low ends of the market. Still, the overall mood was one of caution, especially for those in the middle.

Beny Sofer
Economic factors in the U.S. and abroad were concerns raised by both buyers and sellers. “People’s eyes haven’t changed — their wallets have,” observed Joseph Wein, chief executive officer (CEO) of Fantasy Diamond Corporation in Chicago. “There is more optimism, but economic reality always wins,” he added. “The middle is gone,” said Mike Boulos, president of MB Designs in Los Angeles, noting, “The customer for a $5,000 engagement ring has disappeared.”

Most exhibitors at the show, held
May 31 to June 4, observed that traffic was slower compared to 2011, with estimates ranging from 20 percent down to as much as 40 percent. Although some vendors remarked on “empty aisles,” buyers signaled a willingness to write orders — but with an eye on their open-to-buy.

“People are here to buy,” noted Linda Garrido, marketing director at Natalie K collection, a division of MK Diamonds & Jewelry in Los Angeles. “They want the best they can possibly afford and are willing to make up the clarity with the cut.”

Prakash Lakhi, president of Vishinda in New York City, said that while traffic was down between 20 percent and 30 percent, he booked larger orders than at the 2011 show. A seller of loose stones from 1 point to 1 carat, he identified American buyers as “serious customers” looking to replace inventory. Another vendor of loose stones, Edgard Chatila of Chatila S. Co. LLC in Los Angeles noted, “India is looking for goods.” Still, he said most buyers are “on a budget, looking for lower colors — J, K, L and M.”


Fancies were the top sellers, ranging from 1 carat to 3 carats plus. Anshul Mehta of
Arjav Diamonds in Antwerp identified pear, heart, ovals and cushions as the most popular shapes. But it was the desire to find something “unique” that motivated buyers.

“I’m looking for exciting new pieces to spark the consumer’s enthusiasm,” said Judi Moore
of Moore & More Jewelry Designs in Scottsdale, Arizona. Myra Sherman, owner of
Albarré Jewelry in St. Louis, Missouri, admitted to buying over budget “as usual,” but said she was on “a mission to find younger and youthful.”

“If you had it, they were willing to pull the trigger,” said Nick Jain of Paramount Gems in
New York City, who sold both 2-carat and larger loose fancies, in addition to .25-carat to 1-carat bridal. He noted that buyers were also looking for quality and were receptive
to heavier mounts.

“You have to separate yourself from the sea of repetitive jewelry,” said Oren Sofer of
Beny Sofer Inc. in New York City, who exhibited in the Prestige section. The company’s new line from Italian jeweler Roberto Demeglio, including designs in diamonds and ceramics, “beat all expectations,” said Amit Sofer. He added that they wrote more orders in the first two days of this year’s show than during the entire 2011 JCK show.

David Davoyan, Graduate Gemologist at Modern Concept in Los Angeles, reported, “The high end — up to 5 carats to 6 carats — is doing well.” His stock is always 18-karat gold.

“It was a very good show,” declared jewelry designer Claude Thibaudeau of Montreal, Canada, who expressed his pleasure and surprise at writing confirmed orders for bridal and fashion to Chinese buyers who promised to reorder before Christmas.


Bridal was another standout at the show, with much of the buying focused on rings with 1-carat center stones, considered the “bread and butter” of many jewelers. But buyers were also looking to purchase items in this category that had distinctive style.

Arch Kitsinian of Vanna K in Lake Balboa, California, pointed to the popularity of rose gold, especially the company’s rose gold diamond petal copyrighted design. Ian Levine, owner of Sylvie The Bridal Collection, a division of Spectrum Diamonds in Plano, Texas, explained, “Everyone wants a one-of-a-kind ring.” As a result, his customizable rings were well received and he successfully established partnerships with new retailers.

Randy Green, a regional sales representative at New York City–based Verragio, expected a 25 percent increase in orders for a new line, Parisian. Launched at the show, the line features 14-karat gold H color, SI1 to SI2 clarity Gemological Institute of America (GIA)-certed diamonds and retails for between $1,200 and $2,500.

Rajeev Pandya of Ashi in New York City cited “great business” and noted that the company’s I Do Collection “takes high-end into price points.” Independents are “looking for .50 pointers to .75 pointers,” he said.


Several vendors mentioned the escalating costs of attending the show, including travel, hotel and ancillary charges, especially given the fact that few attracted new buyers. “It’s a catch-22,” said Moshe Bezalel, vice president of sales at Variety Gem Co. Inc. in New York City. “It’s expensive and everyone is looking price point, price point.” Citing strong sales of 1.50 carats to 2 carats to existing buyers, he advised, “You have to do your homework before you come to the show.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2012. To subscribe click here.

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