NEW YORK — The fine jewelry sector was tarnished by the economic downturn, but designers and retailers are seeing a sparkle at the end of the tunnel.
That said, they know they have to work hard to get there, and at the JA New York Summer Show, vendors offered a slew of retailer-friendly strategies, including faster deliveries, lower opening price points and versatile pieces that can be worn from day into evening.
The show ended its four-day run at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Wednesday.
With the volatile stock market and dampened consumer confidence, some jewelry retailers kept their inventory levels lean during the year and came to JA scrambling for immediate merchandise. Others came to the show to round out their merchandise mix for the fourth quarter.
"We had a good July, but the year has not been fabulous," said Olivia Cornell, vice president of Cornell’s Jewelers in Rochester, N.Y. "Now, I am just filling in a few holes, but I am cautious because of the stock market."
Cornell added that she was looking for versatile pieces that can be worn for multiple occasions from day into evening.
Marta Nowakowski, fine jewelry and watch buyer at Bergdorf Goodman, noted that consumers’ purchasing patterns have changed.
"People are looking for timeless rather than trendy jewelry because they see it as investment and emotional pieces," she said. "And that’s what I was looking for too: pieces that can pass on to the next generation."
Carol Fasseas, owner of Fasseas Jeweler in Livingston, N.J., noted: "We made immediate orders, especially in turquoise. A lot of designers still use turquoise and coral, and for fall, they added black onyx and blackened gold, which makes it more suitable for the season."
Fasseas added that consumers are still buying bigger pieces for special occasions.
"With the red gold and yellow gold trend coming into play and lightweight chains like the ones at Mattioli, everything is a little more whimsical and decorative," she said.
Many vendors said caution continues to permeate the sector, with retailers buying closer to ship to assess the economy and minimize any excess inventory."A lot of retailers are writing Christmas orders," said Michael J. Miarecki, director of global marketing at Michele Watches. "Usually, they start writing orders earlier, but many waited because they were apprehensive about how deep they can go."
"Retailers are buying closer to the season, and many were looking for September deliveries," said Wolfgang Möckel, president of KWM Exclusives Inc., which handles the U.S. sales and marketing for European jewelry firms such as Mattioli and Tamara Comolli.
Möckel said the better price points steered the mood at JA, and many retailers were looking for merchandise from $1,000 to $2,000 wholesale.
"Business is tough, and stores are focusing more on price points," said Allison Serwatien, national sales director for jewelry designer Penny Preville. "People want good value, and the retail customer is more concerned about disposable income."
To that end, several firms lowered their opening price points by adding new pieces that are either smaller in scale or use fewer precious stones.
Mattioli, for instance, introduced a smaller version of its existing Puzzle collection, which features geometric 18-karat yellow gold links interspersed with semiprecious stones such as coral, turquoise and black onyx.
"It’s about 30 percent smaller in scale, and subsequently, the price point is about 30 percent lower, from $600 wholesale in comparison to $1,000 for the bigger pieces," Möckel at KWM said.
Myriam Gumuchian Schreiber, a principal at jewelry firm Gumuchian Fils, agreed that stores are looking for lower opening price points. The company introduced Oasis, a jewelry group featuring diamonds set in curved platinum, which by leaving space to two sides of the stone, gives the illusion of a bigger size. Oasis is priced from $1,150 to $23,000 retail.
"Everybody seems to be more price conscious," said designer Paul Morelli. "We are trying to fill in the lower end of the market with black diamonds, coral beads and ruby beads."
At the show, Robert Lee Morris presented the Toy collection, which features signature shapes from the designer, such as a teardrop, curved tear, disc or heart for link necklaces, bracelets and drop earrings. The group is available in silver and 18-karat yellow gold, wholesaling for $34 to $1,125.Edward Deutsch, the company’s president, said: "We have brought down the price points in all areas and have developed products at lower price points between 15 to 20 percent from previous years, including more links and smaller pieces."
Among the newcomers at JA was Vhernier, which presented tonneau-shaped ebony rings set in 18-karat gold and chalcedony and rose gold link bracelets. The company currently has 12 retail accounts in the U.S., including Fred Leighton and Silver Horn Jewelers in Santa Barbara, Calif., and is looking to increase that number to about 20, said Emanuele Aliotti Visdomini, vice president of sales and marketing.
"Since fewer clients came to Basel, we decided to come here to see them," he said.
Top-booking items included a turquoise or lapis stone carved into a ring with gold accents, and dragonfly brooches. Vhernier’s wholesale prices range from $1,000 to $20,000.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over the top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty