By  on January 30, 2006

NEW YORK — Fine jewelry is having a spring fling.

At the JA New York Winter Show, jewelers featured bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings with pastel stones, pearls in updated interpretations and plenty of yellow gold. The show, held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here last week, was the first presentation of new merchandise following a holiday season that saw many vendors reporting double-digit sales gains.

"This season people are holding true to who they are and what they are all about," said Lauren Kulchinsky, buyer and vice president of Mayfair, which has four retail locations on Long Island in New York.

For many designers that meant color. Temple St. Clair's new collection revolved around turquoise, one of the designer's favorite stones.

"Turquoise is a perennial spring-summer stone," said designer Temple St. Clair Carr. "It's so vivid coming out of winter."

For spring she reconfigured her trademark rock crystal egg pendant with gold filigree and turquoise beads.

Irene Neuwirth created a feminine collection using various pink stones, including polished rose quartz and pink cabochons set in brushed rose gold. The collection is Neuwirth's largest to date, the success of which was reflected in her sales, she said.

"It has been an amazing show for me," said Neuwirth. "I opened a lot of new accounts and the reception to the new collection has been phenomenal."

Other prevalent stones used in innovative ways this season were morganite, a pink stone; prehnite, a blue-green stone, and amethyst.

Spring will also be a strong season for pearls, though not in the traditional cultured strand necklaces. Keshi pearls made an appearance on simple gold French hook earrings at Gurhan, while Colette Steckel showed a gold brooch in the shape of a dragon, with its claws holding a weighty Baroque pearl.

"Pearls are great because they neutralize the colors [of other gemstones in a piece of jewelry]," said Steckel. "It makes the skin glow."

Howard Levine, sales manager of London-based Euro Pearls, reported an increase in colored pearl sales at the show. Pastel-colored pearl strands from Australia and Tahiti are a new trend, according to Levine.Companies that typically hold off until Baselworld, the watch and jewelry show to be held in Switzerland in March, and the JCK show in Las Vegas in late May, met and tested out new products with regional stores at JA. The show had a decrease in exhibitors from last year, to 965 from 1,010.

"There was a buzz on the floor," said Drew Lawsky, show director for JA New York. "A lot of [exhibitors use JA] to gauge how product sold over the holiday season. It gives them the opportunity to test new product in the first 90 days of the year."

Janice Winter, president of Judith Ripka, said: "JA is a good time to regroup and meet with clients. We have a lot of strategic conversations with our clients, but this time people are coming in and restocking, which is rare in January. JA is a great tool for spiking early spring business."

Local retailers benefited the most from the show by getting a head start on the season ahead.

"We're putting out our feelers here before [the trade shows in] Europe," said Lourdes Zeik-Chivi, owner of Leonardo Jewelers in Red Bank, N.J.

Candy Udell, president of London Jewelers, is bullish about the coming year, but didn't make any huge purchases.

"We're coming off a very strong season in which we had double-digit growth. Our focus is exclusive designers, with one-of-a-kind designs. There are still opportunities there," she said. "This time of year is for freshening up and we start planning our year and [we're waiting]," she said, noting Marco Bicego Pomellato and Stephen Webster as best-selling brands.

Jamie Camche, co-owner of J.L. Rocks in Greenwich, Conn., which sells jewelry by Anthony Nak, Scott Colee and Mizuki, among others, said she went to JA to do a lot of housekeeping.

"The vendors we were shopping didn't have a lot of newness," she said. "It's a money issue. A lot of the smaller designers don't have the money to make a new collection every three months."

Although Camche said that she had a robust holiday season, she intends to have a conservative buy this year."[This spring] we are looking for more playful [items]," she said. "That's the way we position the buy. Our customers gear toward accessory-type fine jewelry."

  • Color: Cabochons stones, like morganite, prehnite and amethyst, in feminine pastels at Claude Monet, Irene Neuwirth and S. Aufrichtig Sacred Object.
  • Pearls: Keshi and colored pearls combined with colored stones and gold at Marco Bicego and Collete Steckel
  • Hoops: Medium to large hoops with intricate gold work and diamond accents at Julie Baker and Yossi Harari.
  • Cuffs and Bangles: Solid gold cuff bracelets to be worn as a pair or individually at Gurhan and Judith Ripka.
  • Updated Femininity: Sophisticated renditions of bow, heart and flower motifs at Casato and K di Kuorre.

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