Byline: Georgia Lee

ORLANDO — Buyers scouted the new JCK International Jewelry Show here last week for salable new looks, sometimes rejecting the emphasis on bolder designs at many displays and calling for more variety.
Although sponsors and exhibitors were pleased with the turnout, the event was also marked by the increasingly familiar complaint from retailers that there are too many industry shows.
Sponsored by the fine jewelry trade publication, Jewelers’ Circular Keystone, the first annual event at the Orange County Convention Center drew 4,271 buyers and 850 exhibitors, about half the size of JCK’s annual Las Vegas jewelry show, which takes place in June. The four day show closed Feb. 18.
“This gives Southeast and East Coast stores easy access to an international show,” said a JCK spokeswoman.
Juell Kadet, a JCK advisory board member and executive vice president, Rogers & Hollands, a Park Forest, Ill.-based fine jewelry chain with 50 stores in the Midwest, said the show was spawned by the success of the JCK’s annual spring show held in Las Vegas in June. She acknowledged that there are too many shows, but “we hope it will boil down to Las Vegas and Orlando.”
Trends at the show included an abundance of silver and platinum, which continue to be strong at retail, as well as two- and three-tone gold looks. Colored stones were also prevalent, in a wide range of colors and categories. Rings, both fashion and fine, were often bold, with mixed metals and large inset stones.
Neckwear appears to be searching for creative alternatives to the Y necklace, with pendants, lariats and neckwire looks as the leading options. While most exhibitors pointed to a trend toward bigger, bolder looks in general, several retailers said that classic, minimal looks were more salable.
Although the spring and summer months are traditionally a slower season for many jewelers, some were focused on trying to build that period.
“We need to build May and June, which is now only a fraction of business, compared with November and December,” said Don McKean, divisional merchandise manager, J.C. Penney Co.
McKean shopped for women’s rings with precious stones, as well as necklaces and bracelets. Penney’s is expanding fine jewelry, which is now in 900 of its 1,200 stores, and is one of the company’s strongest categories, said McKean.
“The consumer is ready to move up and pay more, but the industry has let price points get too low,” he said, adding that retail prices between $300 and $1,900 drive the business. “We’re trying to resist deep discounts and hold the line at 20 or 25 percent.”
Several retailers, such as Samuel Getz, chief executive officer of Mayor’s, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based fine jewelry chain with 24 stores in Georgia and Florida, said that they are drained by too many shows.
“Shows are expensive for the manufacturers, who then pass the costs on to us,” he said.
Getz shopped the Orlando show for newness in designer looks and balance in basic programs. “There’s too much sameness and not enough variety in varying price points,” he said. “David Yurman has had a big impact, but not everyone wants David Yurman or something that looks like David Yurman.”
Getz shopped for special items, which he said drive business emotionally for jewelry stores. “We need to talk about something besides what’s 20 and 40 percent off,” he said. “We need to focus on what’s special about the item.” He noted a void in unique design in the $200 to $5,000 retail range.
Robert Czuckowitz, owner, TreBor Inc., a Naples, Fla., specialty fashion jewelry store, liked the convenience of the location, as well as the representation of international companies.
Czuckowitz bought fashion pearls from Majorica and gold and cubic zirconia jewelry from Crislu. He also picked up minimalist, simple looks, with a new emphasis on pins and rings.
“There’s a lot of bold jewelry in the market, but I tell people that “Dynasty” is off, and “Friends” is on,” he said. “Simple looks are in.”
Czuckowitz bought the Fiore line of gold overlay jewelry from Krementz & Co., which he described as “a bridge between fashion and fine jewelry.”
He also pointed to pricing pressures due to retail prices remaining static, while wholesale prices continue to climb.
Exhibitors said they were pleased with traffic, as well as the quality of stores attending.
“We’re trying to turn around the rush to the bottom in price that’s been going on in the industry,” said Mark Markman, president Suberi Bros., Inc. a New York diamond distributor. “We’re trying to raise the average sale for retailers with new diamond cuts and additional faceting that offers style and makes the stones look bigger.”