By  on August 6, 2007

NEW YORK — Distinctive, fashion-forward styles are driving fine jewelry sales.

At the JA New York summer show and in company showrooms last week, brands offered prismatic colors in gemstones and detailed gold jewelry.

Fine jewelry sales for holiday are looking up, following on from the past two years of double-digit increases. Jewelers credit the growth in the category to the expanding group of self-purchasing women for whom the sweet spot is between $2,000 and $15,000 — not far-fetched when the prices of designer handbags are considered. The average price for a designer handbag is about $1,500.

Also, consumer tastes have gotten more specific in jewelry. They want styles to coordinate with their wardrobes to work with the colors and silhouettes of the season.

Jim Rosenheim, chief executive officer of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, said due to the current ladylike and metallic trends, it should be a strong year for pearls and gold.

"On the fashion side, I see that as a strong look," said Rosenheim. "We're starting to see a lot of fashion that's like Audrey Hepburn. Things are becoming more ladylike. Jewelry has always been an accessory and I think it needs to relate to fashion."

Coomi Bhasin, designer of Coomi, based here, said, "Retailers have come to me for gold with texture. People are tired of the hammered look."

Coomi offers gold filigree jewelry and other detailed gold styles. She added that pieces with rose-cut diamonds were big sellers.

"People didn't understand them," she said. "Now they are asking for them."

In other trends, button earrings such as those at S. Aufrichtig, were new, and embellished hoops at Suzanne Kalan and Anu and pendants from the likes of Julie Baker and Gurhan were bestsellers.

Narrow cuffs continue to be important, whether they are set with rubies and sapphires like those at Annie Fensterstock or the wooden styles set with pavé diamonds at La Reina.

The oversize cocktail ring has given way to a slightly smaller, more ladylike look, such as those at Arunashi and Gadi. Stacking bangles and sautoir necklaces with gemstones like those at Marco Bicego were prevalent as well. Earth tones continue to be a strong trend, with stones such as smoky quartz and cognac diamonds.Slane & Slane LLC, a company that launched a silver and gold jewelry line at the Couture trade show in Las Vegas this spring, said it more than doubled its expectations.

Janet Mavec, whose organic jewelry is inspired by various vegetables, fruits and flora, said she had a great show, selling many pendants, namely those in the shapes of pears, flowers and doves.

"[Retailers] are looking for newness," said Janet Goldman, chairman of Fragments, which represents Fensterstock among other brands such as Erica Molinari, Arman, Ray Griffiths and Bylu.

Business also is robust for J.L. Rocks, which has two stores in Connecticut, according to co-owner Jamie Camche. The store continued to invest heavily in hoops in addition to creating its own private label micro pavé diamond hoops in several sizes.

"The micro pavé sells like cotton candy," said Camche, adding rose gold is still hot. "Rose gold is the new yellow, 100 percent. It's here to stay and it's going to be bigger for fall."

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