By  on August 3, 2009

Companies showcasing their lines at the JA NY Summer show that took place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan said sales have been down for the year, but things seem to be improving.

The industry has been shaken up by the recent closing or bankruptcies of bedrock brands such as Henry Dunay, David Webb and Doris Panos. Now, many companies are keen on thinking outside the box, whether that means working in lesser-priced silver instead of gold or experimenting with new kinds of materials and styles.

Retailers said classic isn’t cutting it, and that to facilitate sales, the product must be special and top quality.

“My clients are willing to spend money if it’s something different and unique,” said Marie Helene Morrow, owner of Reinhold in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which sells independent jewelers as well as brands like David Yurman, Robert Lee Morris and John Hardy. “They’re not splurging, they’re not spur of the moment, but if they see something that is different, they will buy it.”

Morrow did most of her buying in the spring at the JCK and Couture trade shows in Las Vegas, but picked up one-of-a-kind pieces at JA NY, which took place for four days ending last Wednesday, from the likes of Alex Sepkus and Michael Bondanza. She said items under $1,500 are the hot tickets now, but believes come November her clients will be open to spending more.

“The designers have realized that we’re in a completely new era and they are changing their ways,” added Morrow.

Boulder, Colo.-based designer Todd Reed, who has been working with rough diamonds in his jewelry for the past two decades, said he “is navigating the new topography.” He offered darkened silver bangles inlaid with rough diamonds and gold that wholesale for $1,000. Reed’s typical bangles sell upward of $15,000.

Jim Rosenheim, president and chief executive officer of the Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, sought new designers for 2010 at JA and named Manya & Roumen, Tschetter Studios and Alejandra Jewels as standouts.

Tiny Jewel Box is doing well with Robert Lee Morris’ looks in silver and gold, and Stephen Webster’s silver line.

Amrita Singh, who has fine and costume jewelry lines, said retailers were interested in the costume pieces at JA. The gold-plated crystal shoulder duster earrings, which retail from about $40 to $60 sold well.

Carla Amorim, a São Paulo, Brazil-based jeweler, was another firm that retailers lauded. The company showed styles such as feminine gold filigree and chalcedony pendant earrings, bold cocktail rings with white and black agate, and shake rings in gold. Rosana Otani-Warner, a representative for Amorim, said the top-selling prices are either between $2,000 and $3,000 at retail or $20,000.

Alex Soldier’s pavé diamond and gemstone pieces were some of the most distinctive at the show in shapes such as a $28,500 sunflower ring and other amorphous figures sold.

Wendy Handler, founder of the seven-year-old Boston firm Estate Treasures, which buys and sells jewelry for clients on a private basis, bought several pieces from Soldier.

“My clients want to see the best and this is the most exciting thing I’ve seen at this show,” said Handler.

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