Despite challenging and uncertain economic times, jewelry is managing to hold its own.
At the upcoming JCK jewelry show in Las Vegas, organizers are expanding and reorganizing the 24th annual trade fair to capitalize on interest across broader market segments.
U.S. sales of fine jewelry grew, although modestly, by 1.1 percent in 2015 to a total $66.5 billion, according to Edahn Golan, who heads his namesake Diamond Research and Data consultancy. The stability of the category is a good marker, especially as consumers have tended to spend disposable income in other ways — travel, dining and experiences, for example. But the majority of these jewelry sales, Golan wrote in a recent study, hit around the $500 mark.
JCK has restructured its layout this year, stretching its reach across the convention hall’s first floor. Organizers are taking advantage of the hall’s recent renovation by clustering an expanded luxury segment on the second floor, with 85 percent of its vendors, representing more accessibly priced categories, housed on the first floor, up from 65 percent at the last edition. The behemoth show expects to draw more than 23,000 retailers to see some 2,400 vendors at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, June 3 to 6.
“The merchandising has drastically changed,” said Katie Dominesey, industry vice president for JCK Events. “That allows us to expand our luxury show,] and [present] a more curated collection from global brands.”
The show’s second floor, with luxury labels, opens early on May 31.
There, the Accessories Council will make its JCK debut, hosting 10 labels. Among the featured designers are Eriness, Elyse Ryan, Carolyn Pollack Jewelry, American West Jewelry, Ela Rae, Judith Leiber Couture, Sarah Magid Jewelry, Sardeira, So Pretty Cara Cotter and Tashka by Beatrice.
“It’s a safe way to sample the show,” Accessories Council president Karen Giberson said of the inaugural effort. “It’s really for members that haven’t shown in that environment to see if it’s a good match before they take on the expense of an entire booth.
“We are hoping to incubate a group of future JCK exhibitors.”
Because the majority of JCK is now unfolding on the convention hall’s first floor, the show’s entryways have been updated. The show will have two entrances, rather than one.
Off its “grand new entrance,” will be the “JCK Showcase” — spotlighting top collections in a condensed space, Dominesey said.
The main floor will house many of the show’s long-standing brands.
Christopher Slowinski, founder of Christopher Designs, said his firm has booked more than 30 percent additional appointments this year compared to last year’s show. Among its introductions at JCK will be a proprietary L’Amour Crosscut stone, which looks “50 percent larger,” than its actual carat weight, said Slowinski. “It gives you a lot of fire,” he said.
Another longtime JCK exhibitor, Effy, will increase its presence with two booths, one on each floor. The brand’s second-floor booth will feature luxury designs from its elevated Effy Himasian line.
“It’s all 18-karat gold, one-of-a-kind pieces, made with large stones so we can only create one,” said director of visual merchandising Whitney Fox. “It’s very important to us because this is our debut at the luxury show.”
Pandora will have a strong presence on the first floor, where it will look to “have our retailers experience product in a different way,” said the brand’s U.S. general manager, Laurie McDonald. “This show is a really key moment to meet with our retail partners because of timing — it’s a great opportunity to share with them a holiday plan.”
Swarovski will mount an exhibition at the show titled “World Jewelry Facets,” featuring commercial and one-of-a-kind pieces for fall 2017 using Swarovski crystals. More than 30 international labels, including Colette Malouf and Dannijo, have contributed designs to the display.
A swath of labels will also make their show debuts at this edition. Sterling silver jeweler BB Becker has been in business since 2001, but will mount his inaugural JCK booth.
“I’ve been doing the gift mart for a long time and have noticed that I’m picking up a lot of jewelry stores, so it’s time for me to do [the JCK] show,” Becker said.
His product offerings — with wholesale prices ranging from $40 to $120 — will expand this season to include gemstones.
Kyboe Watches will make its North American trade show debut at JCK. The Dutch firm only began its U.S. retail presence two months ago, and is stocked at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
The brand plans to use JCK as an opportunity to find “high-quality specialty-based retailers. It’s the quality that we want, not the quantity,” said Marc Bell, executive chairman of Kyboe. The firm offers three sizes of a light-up watch in 350 colors, all retailing for under $400.
Another newcomer, Doryn Wallach, will participate in JCK’s Rising Stars pavilion in the design center. This June marks her brand’s first anniversary. Her label retails from $800 to approximately $18,000. Wallach said while gold prices have sharply risen and fallen in the last year, “[the price fluctuations] haven’t really affected my business. I think gold is very popular right now, and I think people are still buying it — especially with the [continued] resurgence of yellow gold.”