Regardless of the tough retail climate, industry executives are hopeful that the array of trends — from the colorful, drippy gypsy theme to tried-and-true vintage looks — will help stimulate jewelry departments this summer and fall.
Many retailers said they plan to place orders for late spring at the market that begins March 4, which has traditionally been a period for early fall buying.
“The trends are emerging closer to season,” said Sandra Wilson, fashion director for accessories at Neiman Marcus. “Trends and the economy are changing all the time; therefore, it’s more realistic to place orders later so we can respond to the consumer and have a fresh flow of goods.”
Designer Gerard Yosca said: “There is a huge opportunity in costume jewelry because it’s not a big investment and it’s fun, and we could all use a little extra fun right now. There isn’t one clear jewelry trend right now; it’s all about designs that look extremely individual.”
Yosca said that trends currently include drippy, swingy earrings, elaborate necklaces and colors such as combinations of jade, pink tourmaline and turquoise.
“Long chandelier earrings and layered necklaces are part of the backlash against all this overly slick and sexy apparel,” he said. Yosca and many other executives agreed that Frida Kahlo’s colorful and ethnic personal style is a source of inspiration for spring and early fall. The Kahlo-inspired trend is also timed with a new movie about the artist’s life, which stars Salma Hayek as Kahlo, planned to be released this year.
Other vendors, meanwhile, are turning to the elegant jewelry from the Edwardian, Victorian and Art Deco periods for inspiration. For instance, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s starburst design from the early 1900s has been reinterpreted by a handful of designers, including Miguel Ases.
“There is a yearning for the past and family heritage right now,” said Carolee Friedlander, president of Greenwich, Conn.-based Carolee Designs.
Friedlander pointed out that the vintage look will be important through fall. There’s also movement at Carolee toward charms, lockets and other collectibles.
“Jewelry that has a message, whether it’s specific like our Sterling Sentiments collection or ideas like lockets and charm bracelets, will be important,” said Friedlander.
An assortment of colored stones will give women another reason to buy jewelry for spring and fall, she noted. Carolee will show a range of rich wine colors from garnet to brown topaz. “Women respond to color; it’s an emotional purchase,” she said.
Robin Rotenier is also emphasizing lively colors with a focus on deep blue topaz and deep green Tsavorite. The designer will also show a range of two-tone jewelry in sterling silver and 18-karat gold.
“The two-tone look is very versatile,” he said. He predicted his key item will be a new line of sterling silver charm bracelets, featuring aquatic motifs, including a seahorse, star fish and sea turtle.
The diamond horseshoe pendant worn by Sarah Jessica Parker on HBO’s “Sex and the City” has fueled the sentimental pendant trend, many vendors noted, with favorites including charm bracelets, heart pendants and ID bracelets. Both retailers and designers predict the trend will continue into the fall season.
Janet Goldman, owner of Fragments, the New York showroom which represents several costume and bridge collections, is expecting gypsy looks to prevail.
“There will be a lot of coin jewelry that dangles and jingles, big Mexican filigree earrings, colorful stones and a handmade look for spring into fall,” Goldman said.
She added that traditional fashion basics, including star, cross and anchor pendants from designers including Tommassini, have been popular with buyers, and she expects the genre to remain important this season.
At Fantasia, known for its copies of real diamond and gemstone jewelry, basics including cubic zirconia stud earrings and tennis bracelets, as well as solitaire, pave heart and cross pendants in the $135-to-$350 price range, are expected to sell well for fall.
Edward Deserio, an owner at Fantasia, said, “Basics, along with designs that echo a vintage era, are especially strong. The dressy evening looks are not as big. People are simply not dressing up as much as they used to.”
Designer R.J. Graziano will continue to show spring merchandise next month and preview fall in May.
“This is a big change for me,” he said. “I always showed fall in March market, but the retailers are just not ready to place orders until May.”
Graziano plans to offer chandelier earrings in various sizes, shapes and colors priced from $55 to $145 at retail.
“The chandelier earring fits into the whole gypsy mood in fashion; it’s also a great way to update an outfit,” he said.
Heading into the early spring selling season, retailers are banking on ethnic and bohemian looks to drive sales.
At Henri Bendel, where jewelry ranges between $48 and $500, dominant trends for spring will be the ethnic, bohemian movement translated into shells, beading and feathers, antique-inspired looks pieces with initials.
Accessories buyer Heidi Cohen predicted top sellers will include designer Chan Luu’s embellished shell jewelry, horn jewelry from Melissa Manning, silver floral designs from Yvonne Christa, semiprecious stone pendants by Gara Danielle and personalized items such as Paige Roberts’s pendants designed to hold photographs.
Lavelle Olexa, Lord & Taylor’s senior vice president of fashion merchandising, said turquoise and elaborate gypsy earrings are a key direction for spring.
“There is a freer spirit in jewelry expressed in larger scale, fresh color and very special pieces which lends itself to individualized self expression,” she said.
At Bloomingdale’s, Joyce Packman, divisional merchandise manager of fashion accessories, said color, sentimental jewelry, and pendants — especially hearts and crosses — will be hot for spring, and will likely continue into fall. Packman said the retailer’s most popular lines include R.J. Graziano, Judith Jack, Carolee, Swarovksi, Robert Lee Morris, Chan Luu and Fantasia.
Consumers are responding to hearts and faith-based symbols at Saks Fifth Avenue, and the store will continue adding more, said Barbara Lipton, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for fashion jewelry, which includes the costume and bridge departments.
“Hearts have been a huge home run for us and we will intensify that program in both costume and bridge,” Lipton said. “Pins are also always a good seller for us and they seem especially strong with the return to the suit. I think they will be hot right through fall.”