LAS VEGAS – Fine jewelry brands have a new mantra: Focus on the woman buying for herself.
That was the key takeaway from the JCK and Couture shows, which ended their five-day runs here Monday. Whether she’s a Millennial getting her first taste of fine jewelry or a career woman looking to reward herself, brands are now chasing the customer looking to make a self purchase, rather than the husband or boyfriend aiming to give a present.
At Couture, while major new trends weren’t as abundant this year, some popular pieces included chokers and collars; thin, linear earrings; signet rings, and mixed-cut diamond settings. Colored gemstones enjoying a moment in the spotlight included aquamarine, lapis, morganite and tanzanite. Among the trends continuing from last year (and infiltrating the mass market): ear climbers, ear jackets and fancy-back earrings, double- and triple-finger rings, negative space silhouettes and bar necklaces.
After getting off to a slow start at the New York, Basel and Hong Kong trade shows, business appeared to gather steam in Vegas.
At the JCK show at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, De Beers opened the show by unveiling the revival this fall of its iconic “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan to market its Forevermark diamond brand. “When we started Forevermark we wanted to keep the focus on the brand separate from the De Beers marketing. But we’re now keen to fuse it with the brand, and it’s hard to think of a better slogan,” said Stephen Lussier, chief executive officer of Forevermark. “Retailers all said, ‘What took you so long?’”
Lussier noted that “the pendulum has swung too far” in the direction of consumers shopping for diamonds based on the four C’s (cut, clarity, color and carat). “They just want a beautiful diamond they can afford and there’s a simple emotional connection with this campaign,” he said.
Elsewhere on the show floor, Effy launched a new, higher-end line priced from $5,000 to $25,000 retail called Effy Hematian, after its founder. “Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s didn’t accept what I was doing so I thought after 37 years, it was time to bring a different level to the brand and put my full name on it,” said Hematian of the color-driven collections featuring rose quartz, morganite, aquamarine and tanzanite. “When these stores saw the merchandise, they said it’s exactly what was missing.”
In the collectible charm bracelet space, Jesper Nielsen, a former Pandora executive, is seeking to establish a new player, Endless Jewelry, with help from Jennifer Lopez, who has signed on to design a signature collection through 2018. Since launching at retail last November, the brand has already established itself in 3,600 doors in 21 countries, including 1,100 stores in the U.S. The demand has been so great that it’s already doubling the size of its production facilities in Asia. At the show, the company introduced silver bracelet and necklace styles on top of its core colorful leather bracelets, and plans to introduce rings next year. With more than 600 charm stockkeeping units as inspiration, the expansion into rings will hardly be a stretch. Endless plans to build its U.S. business with more wholesale, but it’s already gained enough market share to open stores in Europe and Asia this summer.
Also dipping its toe into the retail pool is LeVian, which opened its first branded store with jewelry retailer Jared on May 22 at Roosevelt Field Mall. The shop also carries the brand’s first handbag and scarf collection. The company plans to open five more stores this year and 25 to 50 next year nationwide.
Tennessee-based leather and pearl specialist Vincent Peach will also open its first store, in Nashville, with Four Seasons Resorts retailer Seaside Luxe. The chain recently received $100 million in venture capital to expand its operations worldwide.
Los Angeles boutique and jewelry brand Roseark, which recently opened a wholesale showroom by the same name, made its JCK debut in the Design Center section, where it showcased local, handcrafted brands such as James Banks and Stormie.
Meanwhile, New York-based showroom and brand consultancy Luxe Intelligence more than tripled the size of its booth in the Elite Enclave section, bringing a cross section of brands from couture-level to fashion jewelry. There, L’Dezen designer Payal Shah revealed she was launching a business-to-business jewelry app called Instajewel, where users can search for pieces by category and retailers can contact brands directly.
At the Couture show at the Wynn resort, Hearts on Fire and Stephen Webster revealed they are collaborating on Stephen Webster for Hearts of Fire fashion and bridal collections that would elevate the design quotient of the diamond brand and broaden Webster’s retail reach significantly in the American and Asian markets. The retail range of the collections will be from $10,000 to $1 million, with the first product to debut this fall.
Rio Tinto colored diamonds debuted its Diamonds With a Story initiative, a partnership with jewelers Suzanne Kalan, Sandy Leong, MLC by Matthew Campbell Laurenza and Jennifer Dawes. Aimed at creating fashion-forward jewelry with diamonds from the Argyle mines in Australia, the program aims to create collections retailing for under $5,000 for the aspirational fine jewelry customer. For instance, Kalan created a $2,300 engagement ring and $1,950 eternity band and Leong designed stacking rings starting at $800.
Ivanka Trump, who started her line for young career women looking to purchase fine jewelry for themselves, has seen other brands home in on the coveted “self purchaser.” Trump added an introductory price point group of pendants called Les Petites this season for Millennials buying their first piece of jewelry. “It’s important to create value at every price point. For that Millennial purchaser, we want to make sure they are getting a lot of design and weight,” she said.
Colorado-based jeweler Todd Reed said he’s been working with a merchandiser to identify gaps in his collection. “This is a wholesale show, and retailers are looking for what they can sweep together with consistent pricing. I always made a piece and sold a piece, and that served me for the first 24 years to get to X million, but now I’m looking at how to get to Y million the next 24 years.” In addition to editing out redundancies, it’s helped him focus on three tiers of business. “The top tiers just want more weird sh-t, but for the middle tier, the idea of price points, weights and silhouettes just makes sense. So it influences what materials I buy and what I draw.”
Said Anita Ko, “We’re all trying to design smarter. Ten years ago you could make one thing and sell it for 20 years. Now there’s so much pressure to move forward because we’re all wired in so naturally we get bored easier. I have clientele that once they’ve worn it for a month, they want something new.”
Apparel brands aren’t the only luxury players to come calling in California. Coomi jewels will sponsor the Diane Keaton exhibit at Los Angeles County Museum of Art October 14, where it will also hold an exhibit of its high jewelry collection. On Tuesday, London-based Astley Clarke will sponsor a charity event with Sarah Brown for Theirworld at the British Consulate of Los Angeles’ home, and the next day, Webster will bring the young designers from his Rock Vault showroom to his Rodeo Drive boutique for a party.