Y-NECKLACES HOT AT PROVIDENCE SHOWS
Byline: Wendy Hessen
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Y-necklaces and color — in stones, metals or enamels — sparked the action at the latest editions of the two jewelry shows here — the United Jewelry Show (UJS) at the Davol Square showroom complex and the Jewelry Manufacturers Association Show (JMA) at the Biltmore Hotel.
Although buyers at the accessories market in New York earlier this month said they were already looking for the next hot item to replace the Y-necklace, the retailers and wholesalers shopping the shows here were still enthusiastic about the delicate necklaces that this past fall became a wardrobe staple for actresses on television series like “Friends” and “Melrose Place,” as well as other TV personalities, such as NBC’s Katie Couric.
“The trend for Y-necklaces has opened the door to many new stores that I hadn’t sold yet,” said Paulette Booker, owner of It’s Me, Crete, Ill., a wholesale operation servicing the Chicago suburbs.
She added that since most stores want earrings that work with the necklaces, she has started selling them in sets. Booker, while shopping the UJS, was also looking for basic, small stud and hoop-style earrings with cubic zirconia or semiprecious stones, in addition to fashion items.
Y-necklaces were key items as well for Beth Tom, a principal in ERT Sales of Hawaii, in Honolulu, a wholesaler with retail accounts in Hawaii and Guam, who noted she was focusing on color and finding fun, novelty items for junior customers. She was pleased with the variety she found in both color and novelties, and it was brightening her outlook for jewelry sales this year.
“We really believe in color and are adding it in everything from basics to fashion looks,” Tom said. “On the novelty side, themed key chains are among the items expected to be hot this year. We’ve done them in a variety of looks and colors, often with young motifs, like smile faces or skateboards.”
The enthusiasm of such buyers offset at least in part the impact of the weather on show attendance, stymied by remnants of the first blizzard of the year and hit by a second snow and rain storm on opening day. Both shows ran for three days through Jan. 14, and organizers of both acknowledged traffic was off.
The JMA show had a particularly tough week, since earlier it had staged a three-day edition at the DuMont Plaza Hotel in New York, where few buyers showed up for appointments during the blizzard.
Among others shopping the shows, George Dynin, president of American Foreign Trade, a wholesaler in Savannah, Ga., said nautical motifs were on his buy list. The bulk of his wholesaler business is geared to Southeastern coastal retailers, he noted. Dynin added that since some yachting events for the 1996 Olympic Games slated to take place in Savannah, Olympic motif items would be key for his customers throughout the year. Dynin said he was hoping to combine those themes with fashion silhouettes like Y-necklaces in gold or silverplated metals.
While the strong demand for Y-necklaces and color was enough to brighten his outlook for jewelry sales this year, Raj Nagrath, owner of Raga New York, a costume jewelry manufacturer exhibiting at the UJS, acknowledged that he is somewhat concerned about stores’ concentration on items.
“They really need to start thinking about what will be next and not stay with one trend for too long, expecting it to drive their businesses indefinitely,” Nagrath noted. To that end, he said his firm was adding new materials and colors to its range of delicate-looking jewelry and also starting to feature some slightly larger-scale items.
Larger-size and more upscale, status looks, as well as trendy items, were important for some buyers.
Robin Sheldon, vice president and director of merchandising for Coldwater Creek, an 11-year-old, upscale women’s apparel and accessories catalog, was focused on product development for fall and holiday 1996. She said the company exceeded its sales plan in 1995, and jewelry was a leading category.
“We’re looking for fine jewelry looks that are casual enough for day or evening. Necklaces are our strongest item, and we focus on a lot of mixes of gold and silverplate in designer and status styles,” she said.
Sheldon said she had developed, with a show exhibitor, some intaglio items for the Idaho-based catalog that will feature nature-inspired silhouettes — Aspen leaves and birds, for instance — instead of the traditional Greco-Roman heads usually seen in that type of jewelry.
Sherry Estes, owner of Estes Enterprises, Albuquerque, N.M., who wholesales costume and fine jewelry to stores in the Southwest, was looking primarily for goldplated items.
“Most of the silver I sell is real, so I come here to find great colored stone and gold combinations that look real.”
Opalescent white and denim blue simulated stones were among the colorations well received by buyers, according to Suzanne Arrelle, director of sales for Olala Inc., exhibiting at the JMA.
“The white stones are great because they can be paired with all the pastel looks quite easily, and the denim blues work especially well for stores in need of jewelry for casual and denim apparel,” said Arrelle.
She, along with several other exhibitors at the show, pointed out the need for manufacturers to emphasize to retailers and the end consumer their quality and the fact that their jewelry is made in the U.S.