Attendance jumps at upbeat JCK/Luxury and Couture
Parties, products and plenty of sunshine greet buyers in Las Vegas during jewellery trade buying week
By Carol Besler
LAS VEGAS, June 2012 – The mood at the JCK/Luxury and Couture shows – running between May 30 and June 5 – was upbeat, with attendance and buying momentum sharply higher this year.
The JCK Show reported a 21 percent increase in attendance over two years, according to the show’s final release. Even by its third day, the 2,500 exhibitors were reporting significantly robust sales and traffic. Attendance at Couture was up 13 percent this year.
According to Rebecca Moskal, communications manager for JCK: “JCK is seeing an increase in both domestic and international attendance.”
She added that at Luxury, the higher-end aspect of the Show, “Buyer attendance has increased, and we are seeing new stores coming to both shows.
“International delegations have expanded, and we’re seeing new buyers from Australia, Malaysia, China, Russia, Brazil and India.”
The show includes several shows within the show, including the AGTA GemFair, a Hong Kong pavilion, Plumb Club, Prestige Promenade, the VICENZAORO Italian Club and other exhibitors from 22 countries.
The show was also combined with Luxury, Elite Enclave and Swiss Watch, held in the suites at Mandalay Bay.
The show’s VIP Buyer program, according to Moskal, caters to first-time JCK buyers, major retailers and loyal JCK buyers, and this group includes 2,200 buyers.
In addition, “This year we’re welcoming over 400 new exhibitors to JCK,” said Moskal.
The invitation-only Couture Show, held at the Wynn Hotel, welcomed more than 80 new exhibitors this year.
The Show’s juried Couture Design Awards ceremony honored 10 exhibitors in front of a packed audience. The atmosphere at Couture was very positive.
Although by all accounts the jewellery sector is improving, recession-proof price points have proved to be the order of the day at both JCK/Luxury and Couture shows, even among high-end brands whose price ranges previously focused on the upper market.
Today, instead of hitting a market-level niche, brands are reinforcing their identities by emphasizing signature motifs, styles or finishes and quality workmanship, while at the same time diversifying by offering similar products in smaller, lighter or less elaborate versions, at lower price points.
The same is true of brands that previously targeted low price points: retailers were surprised to see many new collections among some exhibitors at ultra-high price points.
Aida Alvarez of Birks and Mayors said, “The Show delivered for us in a big way this year. The broad categories represented from luxury to fashion and everything in between, made for a very convenient and fruitful shopping experience.
“The exhibitors really understood the market this year and presented diverse products and price points that were on trend.”
The current convention is to offer a wide range of merchandise, even within single collections, by presenting smaller, lighter pieces that have all the cachet of a brand’s heavier pieces.
Many high-end brands are introducing silver collections, finished as exquisitely as gold, and set with diamonds, and diamonds tend to be smaller – micro-pavé is still hot. These two trends are a response to the continuing high price of gold and diamonds.
“We are presenting well-made jewellery with a classic aesthetic that women of any age could afford,” says Karlee Edmonds of Ivanka Trump, an exhibitor at the JCK Luxury Show.
The brand offers Deco- and Eco-inspired pieces (they use only non-conflict, Canadian diamonds), only in precious metals, ranging from $1,200 to $50,000.
Michael B, a Luxury exhibitor who is widely regarded as the creator of the micro-pavé style, introduced a new collection called Touch, specifically aimed at budget-conscious customers.
“The reason I called it Touch is because I had feedback from a retailer that some of his customers couldn’t afford the pieces and felt they couldn’t touch them,” said owner Michael Bogosian.
“So I made some pieces with just a ‘touch’ of our signature elements – a touch of micro-pavé, or a touch of lace (bouquets of diamonds set into bands), for example – and now they can touch my jewellery and connect with it.”
In terms of style trends, the biggest story in jewellery offered this year is color, in all of the unique ways that it can be expressed.
Some brands are emphasizing certain gemstone colors and color combinations – blue gemstones are a hit this year, in varying shades, often mixed with greens.
“Mediterranean” and “Caribbean” inspired collections abound.
London Blue topaz is especially hot, and the designers who can source the best-coloured gems will be on top of the game.
Orange is another hot color: since Pantone announced “tangerine tango” as the color of the year, the fashion and jewellery industry have introduced a flurry of collections incorporating the color.
In jewellery, this means many pieces set with fire opal, carnelian, orange sapphire, citrine and orange-hued opal and coral.
JCK exhibitor Le Vian introduced a Fire Opal collection.
Couture exhibitor Mikimoto presented a collection mixing fire opal with baroque golden South Sea pearls.
Gemstones are still being frequently set organically, in random shapes and sizes, or ‘cobblestone style’ as some call it.
Slice cuts also remain popular.
Part of the reason gemstones are a hit is because of the high price of diamonds.
And silver, either hand-finished, oxidized or rhodium plated, is being used by even high-end brands in the face of the sky-high price of gold.
Earrings are a big story, and they are long.
Shoulder dusters are back, either with multiple gems hanging in vertical fashion or one gem or piece of metal in an elongated shape that is being defined as “droplet” or “baseball-bat.”
Pieces are also often convertible: pendants that detach to become brooches, chains that either double or can detach to become one shorter necklace and a bracelet, earrings with several removable extensions.
The vastness of product, at all levels and in every category at these combined shows in Las Vegas, ensured that virtually anything was available to buyers here.
As one retail buyer said, “I always come looking for something very specific, with specific customers in mind, and I always find it here.”
Exhibitors were equally pleased: Phyllis Bergman of Mercury Ring said, “We had our best show in 19 years, when we began exhibiting at JCK Las Vegas.”