Rapaport Magazine

Show Size, Economy Impact Buying at JCK

U.S. July Retail Market Report

By Lara Ewen

U.S. retailers did some window shopping and product research at JCK Las Vegas, but many of them said they kept their wallets shut. Those who did spend were looking to fill niches, especially bridal, that are doing well for them. Some dealers took one look at their well-stocked store display cases and stayed home altogether.

For John Nichols, sales manager at Huntington Jewelers, the show wasn’t much of a trip since his store is located in Las Vegas. “I went to see if I could spot some new things and try to get a feel for what’s out there. But we’re not ready to spend more money yet. We’re buying from the public, so we’re recycling a lot. That doesn’t make our vendors happy, but that’s what you have to do in this economy.”

Nichols isn’t the only one recycling. Tara Silberberg, co-owner of The Clay Pot in Brooklyn, New York, said that “Customers are adjusting to the increase in the price for gold and we have less sticker shock than a year ago. We are implementing a gold recycling program for customers to scrap old pieces for credit and we are excited about that.”


The size of the show continues to pose problems for retailers. “The show seems to be bigger and I’m not real big on big shows,” noted Nichols. “The bigger they are, the less business I do. I can’t afford to spend half a day with a vendor — I’m afraid I won’t see everything I need to see. And since we’re located in Vegas, we have to get back to the store during the show.”

Debbie Berkowitz, co-owner of Glitters Fine Jewelry in Leawood, Kansas, admitted that  “Once again, this year was a learning curve. The floor plan still is overwhelming, but they really stepped up the staff and there was always someone to help navigate. Our 2012 has been very good. We are changing our inventory mix this year and enjoying our fresh look. We did not get a lot of buying in but did a lot of research.”

In addition to the show, Berkowitz is conducting research online and in trade and fashion magazines to expand her store’s inventory of “more one-of-a-kind, unique jewelry from some of the smaller, more couture artisan designers.”


Silberberg was one of the show’s spenders. “Our bridal business is stronger than ever. This may be due to our recent renovation of the room that houses the bridal collection, or maybe the legalization of gay marriage in New York, which has definitely had a positive impact on our business. So, for us, the show went very well. We picked up a few new exciting lines and connected with our current vendors.” This is her second year at the show, she said, and “while it’s certainly easier to navigate in year two, it’s still slightly confusing.”

Hy Goldberg, owner, Safian & Rudolph Jewelers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, represented the stay-at-home dealers. “I’m not going to any shows this year,” he explained. “I heard the show in Vegas was good this year, and that gives me hope for the industry as a whole. But for me personally, I just did not need anything in new inventory.”


The upcoming election is complicating an already iffy situation for retailers who are getting enough insecurity from the economy. “Usually an election year is not a good year for business,” said Nichols. “But I think 2012 is going to be our turnaround year. I have a lot of friends who work for the casinos and their tips are getting bigger, and the inventory of houses for sale has gone down, and that’s all a good thing. The jewelry business is the first one to drop off and the last one to pick up. If consumers are even considering a $5,000 jewelry item again, that’s positive news.   

Goldberg said he would be “happier if the agenda in Washington was all about making America strong. But it’s not. We don’t like to talk politics in our store, because it’s not the atmosphere for that, but you feel the impact of politics when people don’t want to spend. They don’t know what’s happening tomorrow, and they’re afraid of what might be happening down the road. They’re just very conservative in their spending.”

“Election years are always unpredictable for retail,” admitted Berkowitz. “So we will proceed with caution. Our store will remain positive and encourage our customers to do the same.” Silberberg was equally positive. “Election years are always tough — I shudder to think about November 2008 — but hopefully, the stability that we are all beginning to feel in this brave new world will continue,” she concluded.



  • Most popular cuts are round and princess and favorite clarities are SI2-SI6 and VS1-VS2.

  • Customers are choosing carat weights above 2.5 carats or below 1 carat, with some asking for .99 carat because they feel if they get under the magic 1-carat number, they will get a better deal.

  • Demand in colors is for G-I, or J if it’s cut properly.

  • Favored settings are still 14-karat white gold or platinum, but platinum has slowed. Yellow gold is returning and there is increased interest in rose gold. Some buyers are deciding to save $500 on the setting by choosing a less expensive metal and putting that money into a bigger, better diamond.

  • Price point for an engagement ring, including setting and stone, is approximately $5,000.

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

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