LAS VEGAS — There was plenty of action at the recent Couture Jewellery Collection & Conference in Phoenix and the JCK Show in Las Vegas, as companies of all stripes bustled to find their place in the crowded world of baubles and gems.

Here, some of the new and established players looking to gain a bigger foothold in the jewelry scene.

  • Two fashion brands not usually associated with jewelry made their Couture debut. Upscale handbag company Judith Leiber and Vera Wang, best known for bridal dresses, came to the Couture show to give jewelers a look at their new offerings. Leiber, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, sells its jeweled creations in only a handful of jewelry stores, and new president and chief executive officer Margaret Siegel believes this channel is ripe for the company.“We have a strong brand name that we think can work well at independent jewelry stores,” Siegel said. Among the offerings on display was the new gilded cage handbags, including a one-of-a-kind style in 18-karat white gold with diamonds and semiprecious stones, as well as more widely available versions in four color variations. A range of the firm’s handcrafted minaudières and other styles were also being shown. Diamond firm Rosy Blue was at Couture to present the new Vera Wang jewelry collection, which it is producing under license. While few details of the collection were revealed and merchandise wasn’t even at the show, Vera Wang jewelry is slated to bow this fall and will include plenty of platinum, gold and diamonds and both bridal and fashion elements, according to a company spokeswoman.The Vera Wang jewelry business is overseen by Koichi Takahashi, the former chief operating officer at Mikimoto who is now president of Rosy Blue Fine Inc., a new luxury-brand division of the giant Antwerp-based diamond concern. Takahashi declined to give prices or sales information for the Vera Wang line.

  • Among those checking out the new offerings at JCK was Samuel Getz, the former president and chief executive officer at Mayors Jewelers, who has now opened a salon in Coral Gables, Fla., under the name Samuel Getz Private Jewelers & Designers.“It’s all about the stones,” Getz said of his new business, which sells upscale gemstone and diamond jewelry. Prices start around $500 and can range up to $1 million. First-year sales are estimated at around $3 million. The 2,100-square-foot salon is designed to evoke feelings of comfort and serenity, he said.
  • Designer Scott Kay, best known for his upscale platinum bridal jewelry, introduced his new silver division at JCK. The line includes rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, many of which have a basketweave theme. Retail prices range from $300 to $1,000, and some pieces have 18-karat gold and diamonds, as well as gemstones. Kay, who has been in business for 20 years, wanted to reach out to a wider audience, said a company spokeswoman, who declined to give sales projections for the line. Two former David Yurman executives are overseeing the Scott Kay Sterling division: Dawn Pearson is president of sales, while Janet Hayward is president of corporate affairs.

  • Among the new watch offerings was brand Philip Stein Teslar, which is distributed and marketed out of ViewPoint Showroom. Retail prices range from about $595 to $1,995 for the watches, which feature a special chip designed to shield the body against electromagnetic fields that come from computers, cell phones and other electrical sources.“This watch brings a new technology to the watch industry and it also combines fashion elements,” said Jim DeMattei, president of ViewPoint. Both ladies and men’s styles are available and come with interchangeable straps in leather and high tech fabrics. Some are available with diamond treatments. Distribution is aimed at independent jewelers and better departments stores, and first-year sales are projected to reach about $5 million, DeMattei said.

  • At Couture, accessories and jewelry designer Barry Kieselstein-Cord showed diamond jewelry from his new joint-venture company called Kieselstein-Cord Premier, which is a collaboration between Cord and New York diamond firm Premier Gem Co. Set to debut this fall, the collection includes bold gold and diamond jewelry, including cuff bracelets with flower motifs.“This is an opportunity for me to showcase the designs we are famous for and incorporate high-quality gems,” said Kieselstein-Cord, who made his first appearance at the show, although this was the third time his company has exhibited. He said later collections will include diamond-only pieces. Wholesale prices start at around $700 and range up to $250,000, and Cord projected that first-year sales could reach about $10 million.

  • At Couture, the winners of the annual 2003 Couture Design Awards were announced at the annual gala event. Harold Tivol, the longtime industry executive and chairman of Kansas City-based Tivol Jewels, received the Gerald Goldwyn Couture Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the industry and to his community. Also recognized were Mark and Robin Levinson of Levinson’s Jewelers, who received the new award for Retail Marketer of the Year. There were two other award categories introduced at this year’s gala: Henry Dunay received an award for Outstanding Public Relations, while Jewelry firm David Yurman was honored as Outstanding Advertiser/Marketer. The Editor’s Choice Award went to Marilisa Zen, who exhibited as part of the Design Atelier. The Best of Design Awards honor jewelers in a number of categories. Here are the winners of the event, which is sponsored by Town & Country magazine:
  • Colored Gemstones: Rodney Raynor, Siegelson (tied)

  • Diamonds: Vista International

  • Gold: Christina Termine

  • Pearls: Schoeffel

  • Platinum: Michael Bondanza

  • Bridal: Michael B.

  • Haute Couture: Favero

  • Timepieces: Delaneau

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