Rapaport Magazine

Looks to love in Las Vegas

Some like it loud, others opt for understated. Here, we take a peek at the trends we can expect from two of the major categories at the JCK show.

By Rachel Taylor

Image: JCK events

Fine jewelry: From colorful to conservative

Some fine-jewelry sections of JCK Las Vegas have sold out months before the event — a clear indicator that jewelers are primed and ready to showcase newness after a difficult couple of years for trade fairs. Along with many of the well-known names that frequent the show, there are some new brands exhibiting for the first time.

One such vendor is Laura Gallon, who will travel from France to participate, taking with her a colorful selection of jewels.

“I think the biggest trend in fine jewelry at the moment is electric, vibrant colors,” she says. “Jewelry has always been an emotional purchase, but I feel like now more than ever, getting out of the pandemic and the isolation that came with it, people are craving jewelry that communicates who they are or how they feel.”

To deliver her own version of “jewelry therapy” through color, Gallon will present her new Alice collection. She based the Art Deco-inspired, fan-shaped, diamond- and gem-studded jewels on a pair of earrings her great-grandfather created for his wife in the 1920s.

Fellow first-time exhibitor Terzihan will also be exploring the rainbow with the brand’s one-of-a-kind Kameleona rings, featuring gemstones such as apatite, coral and green amethyst. “We expect to see more maximalistic and colorful jewelry this year,” says cofounder and creative director Cem Terzihan.

Italian jeweler Picchiotti, too, will be bringing pieces that “fall into this light-hearted trend,” updating its popular Xpandable collection of stretchable diamond jewels with strips of colored gems, and playing swathes of hardstones off of diamond pavé in its yin-yang-style Perfect Harmony cocktail rings.

Adventurous retail buyers will find more experimental fine jewels in the halls of JCK as well. New York brand Studio Baharra is focusing on “out-of-the-box” bridal designs and men’s fine jewelry. “It’s a bit niche, but I feel there is huge potential for this,” says company designer Baha Alphan.

Of course, not everything will be big, bold and daring. A key focus for Gallon — and for many of the brands exhibiting at JCK — is designing for a younger clientele. To that end, Gallon has created a line of “dainty and minimalistic” jewels in 14-karat gold that are ideal for layering.

Exhibitor Brenda Smith, a metalsmith from Atlanta, Georgia, agrees that more muted collections will be crucial to retailers’ inventories. “Because of the current economic situation, I predict that clients will continue to prefer minimalist looks for the younger generation,” she says. Her new Simply line answers this demand.

It also lets her be agile on pricing, a sensitive topic that will likely be at the forefront of jewelry buyers’ minds. Her collection uses less gold and substitutes colored gemstones for diamonds in many cases. She’s also noted a rise in demand for lab-grown diamonds, which are less expensive.

Other brands are tackling the pricing issue in different ways. In addition to focusing on safe havens like tennis bracelets and chains, and introducing lower-price-point lines that incorporate leather, New York designer Alp Sagnak has gotten smart with his supply chain. “We made a conscious decision to produce more than we used to, to bring the prices down,” he says.

Bridal: Single-stone elegance

While show attendees can expect an exuberant atmosphere as JCK rips up the budget to celebrate its 30th anniversary in lavish style, one jewelry segment that’s taking a pass on excess is bridal.

“Everything is simple right now — solitaires all the way,” says Paula Kogan, senior bridal and fine-jewelry buyer at Watches of Switzerland, which owns US retail chains Mayors and Betteridge. Core styles with round brilliant and princess-cut diamonds — particularly in platinum — are selling well at Watches of Switzerland Group stores.

With this in mind, Kogan plans to use JCK to source classic bridal jewelry, as well as other evergreen categories such as diamond tennis bracelets, rivière necklaces, and diamond stud earrings. Since her focus is on single-stone rings, she’s experimenting with different cuts.

“Ovals launched two years ago and are seeing a lot of success, and now we are moving into other shapes such as emeralds and marquise, and are getting a lot of inquiries from clients for these,” she says. “Cushions are popular again. I think this is likely the result of celebrity trends trickling down.”

One style she won’t be seeking out, however, is halo engagement rings — the seemingly bulletproof offering of the past decade. “Sales are declining,” she explains.

Some JCK exhibitors are prepared for this shift. “I’ve been getting a lot more requests for single-stone engagement rings lately,” says Chris Ploof, a Massachusetts jeweler who sells to more than 50 retail stores across the US. “I think we will be seeing a trend away from the halo style back to solitaires.”

That’s not to say consumers will be spending less. While the number of diamonds per design might be decreasing, the quality and carat count are likely going up, believes Ploof. “Our bridal is trending [upward,] with finer materials and higher prices. We have several new bridal offerings combining our Damascus steel with precious metals and diamonds.”

The trend is also feeding into men’s wedding rings, he adds: “We are finally seeing men’s precious ring sales start to gain importance again. For quite a while, it was titanium this and tungsten that, but I think customers are finally realizing there is little to no craft or soul in rings like that, and that there is really no value to it at all.”

With the diamond industry in flux due to the Ukraine war, the resulting scarcities could have an impact on buying at JCK. Though the price of diamonds is rising, retailers with pockets deep enough to compete are expected to do so vigorously.

“Due to inflation, stores will be buying larger diamonds and fancy colors, as we’re already feeling the shortage in supply of more exceptional and rare diamonds,” says Melanie Goldfiner Goldberg, director of business development at Los Angeles-based diamond brand Rahaminov. As for how designers are planning to present those big stones, her money is on yellow gold. It has been in demand for Rahaminov’s popular line of engagement rings with moval-cut diamonds in simple bezel settings, she reports.

This collection is perhaps a good overview of what we can expect in the bridal halls of JCK this year: simple designs, luxuriously executed.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2022. To subscribe click here.

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