By  on February 2, 2009

NEW YORK — Fine jewelry isn’t the hot ticket it was a year ago.

Buyers and new styles were scarce at the JA NY Winter Show that ended a three-day run at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Jan. 20.

Brands didn’t offer much freshness in their lines, seeking to avoid building up more inventory of gold, diamonds and other materials in the troubled economy. However, that didn’t stop some new designers, such as Ana Cavalheiro and Kir, from exhibiting.

Camille Hull, a buyer and merchandiser at London Jewelers, said her presence at the show was more for research than to place orders.

“I didn’t do any buying,” Hull said. “Without knowing where we’re headed in 2009, we feel like we have enough inventory to get us through these quiet months.”

But she said the retailer is still hopeful and plans several initiatives.

“We’re hoping when the weather breaks, people will be ready to shop again,” Hull said.

Janet Goldman, founder and chairman of Fragments, which has a showroom and two stores in New York, lamented that show traffic was slow.

“Customers that did attend the show were nervous about spending,” Goldman said. “They have inventory from the holidays and are extremely cautious about committing to dollars. Notes were taken and paper was barely left. Price was the big issue.”

Some of the brands at the Fragments booth offered lower-priced options or silver selections to appeal to buyers. Emily & Ashley did silver disks with engraving starting at $45, and Margaret Ellis showed hand-forged silver pieces with touches of gold at $120. Outside the Fragments booth, Gurhan expanded on its silver collection that launched last year.

Dana David, a seven-year-old brand based in Middletown, N.J., offered charm jewelry at competitive prices. Initial necklaces retail from $170 to $360 and the firm started a 14-karat gold collection.

“People are really into personal expression jewelry,” said Dana Melnick, owner and designer of Dana David.

Ana Cavalheiro, whose namesake firm is based in Santa Monica, Calif., offered architectural-inspired gold pieces with color-saturated gemstones such as tourmalines at her first trade show. Prices start at $45 at wholesale for a small silver piece and climb into the tens of thousands of dollars for a gold and diamond piece.

Kir, a new line founded by designer Kirsten Boedecker, was focused on silver jewelry with gold details. Prices range from $200 to $1,600 and all production is done in Bali.

“For Kir, the show was mostly about developing relationships,” said Boedecker, who picked up several independent boutiques as customers, such as Gilded Lily in Woodbury, Conn., and Jems Jewels & Gold in North Wales, Pa. “Our goal is to build a brand, so we are in it for the long haul. We’re taking things slowly and anticipating the future.”

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