Rapaport Magazine

Mixed Results in Vegas

U.S. July Wholesale Market Report

By Ricci Dipshan

June’s JCK Las Vegas show provided wholesalers with a feel for where the industry is and how it will fare in the coming months. Despite the fact that they were all at the same show, wholesalers reported different experiences and assessments of its success.

“Overall, traffic at the show was very light,” worried Ed Eleasian, vice president of
Elie International, a New York City manufacturer of colored gemstone and diamond jewelry. “The exhibitors outnumbered the buyers two to one.”

Debbie Hakimian, vice president of marketing at fashion and bridal jewelry wholesaler
Dove’s Jewelry Designs in Great Neck, New York, had the opposite experience. “We had a very strong show — it improved over 2011. If I’m looking at the show as an indicator for the year, I’m thinking it’s going to be a good year to come.”

And then there were those who found the activity at the show to be steady and predictable. “JCK was pretty much like the way the business is outside of the show: some activity, yet not super busy, with buyers looking for good value,” said Moshe Salem, president of the
Los Angeles–based M.S. Diamonds and Jewelry.


Most wholesalers agreed that sales for May and June were up year on year, though they offered different reasons for the gain. “We are slightly up over 2011,” observed Oren Sofer, a partner at New York City–based loose diamond and jewelry supplier Beny Sofer. “There is a clear sense that we are working much harder, because retailers are cautious with their purchasing and inventory levels.”

Other wholesalers attributed their success to the increasing demand for bridal jewelry. “Our sales are very good — particularly, the strength of our bridal line has been terrific,” noted
Jay Gilbert, owner of the Los Angeles–based Coast Diamond, a manufacturer of fashion and bridal jewelry. “Overall, retailers who are doing the best have really figured out which bridal is selling well for them, and it’s on automatic reorder when they sell it.”

Some also reasoned that their sales increase was due to the momentum coming off a successful JCK show, as well as anticipation for the all-important end of the year. “Sales have been very strong, and this is a good time of year for us because people get ready for the holiday season and the Vegas show was great,” said Hakimian.


One thing wholesalers did not attribute their strong sales to was any decrease in diamond prices. Indeed, prices have continued their upward trend, with no sign of slowing down or reversing. “The prices overall have increased between 5 percent and 7 percent,” observed Eleasian, adding that “The price of melee dropped slightly, but it is still a lot higher than it was in 2011.”

As has been true for some months now, much of the price rise is focused on fancy shapes. “We have seen the most dramatic price increases in fancy shapes, in particular cushions and princess cuts, with the sharpest increases coming in the SI goods,” noted Sofer, adding that the reason for these increases is that there are “real shortages of these goods in the marketplace.”

Price increases, however, do not affect the market like they once did. “As far as price resistance goes, I don’t see much of that,” said Gilbert.  “If it was all about price, then the guy with the cheapest goods would always have the business, but that’s not the case. Value is something that sells — people are more quality conscious than ever.”


One dynamic in the current market is the demand for larger jewelry items that do not strain budgets. “In general trends, in terms of jewelry, people are looking for a bigger product at a lower price point,” said Hakimian. Though many buyers know what size and price they want, they expect a level of creativity from the designer and wholesaler in coming up with the product. “They are asking for new things, but they can’t tell you what, so ultimately, you have to run with what’s been successful,” noted Gilbert.

Colored diamonds are also continuing to be an in-demand item. “I see a lot of people attracted to colored diamonds, while the white diamond market has really slowed down. Two years ago, retailers would come to us looking for white diamond pieces, but not any more,” declared Hakimian.


Though many in the industry expect the coming months to be steady, they also realize that there could still be rough times ahead. “There are people doing well, but it’s not an easy business — a lot of our retailers are doing decent, and while some of them are down, they still are okay,” said Eleasian. “Everyone wants to do more, and everyone had expectations they would be doing better by now, but economies don’t always cooperate.”



  • Bridal jewelry is strong, and demand is steady for fancies, especially princesses and cushions, in sizes ranging from 1.5 carats to 3 carats.

  • Demand for rounds is strong in sizes up to 2 carats.

  • Prices are up across the board, though they are increasing faster on fancy cuts, especially cushions, princesses and emeralds, as well as SI quality stones. 

  • Colored diamonds are in high demand, especially yellow and brown stones.

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

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