Byline: Wendy Hessen

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The return of glamour and color helped give a lift to the two key jewelry shows held here this month.
The retailers and wholesalers who shop the two shows — the United Jewelry Show and Jewelry Manufacturers Association event — were busy writing orders for rhinestones, crystals and cubic zirconia for both holiday and spring. Sets as well as individual items were big. Novelty pins in sea life and gambling motifs, and textured or mixed metals were other top ideas.
The action had exhibitors in a brighter mood than usual, some saying the shows were turning out to be the best they’d seen in recent seasons.
Both shows ended their 10-day runs Sept. 18. Here, a closeup look at each.

United Jewelry Show
“This is the best show we’ve ever had,” said Henry D’Alessio, president and chief executive officer of 11-year-old Robert Enterprises, a veteran Providence exhibitor.
“Our figures are beyond anything we could have projected, which should put us ahead by about 30 percent compared to this time last year,” he said.
While his enthusiasm wasn’t matched in every showroom, it did reflect the feelings of a lot of the vendors, who were showing at the event at Davol Square.
Robert Enterprises is known for its two lines of crystal bracelets and cubic zirconia jewelry, selling primarily to mass to moderate-priced chains.
D’Alessio added that he received a substantial first order from a large Canadian chain that purchased merchandise for 350 of its stores. A lot of the appeal of his lines is due to attractive prices and quick turnover, the result of an automated manufacturing process, he said.
While cubic zirconia had been hottest in clear looks, he said, the company’s new colored gemstone line was also well received.
Dennis Paul of Dennis Paul Associates, a manufacturers’ representative, was upbeat about an increase in traffic and the buyers’ freer hand in writing orders. While bookings were still smaller in dollars than they were years ago, they were still heftier than they had been in some time.
He said buyers are continuing to focus on items and pointed to goldtone cobra necklaces with charm slides, and celestial, sea life and gambling motifs as leading the way. The gambling motifs are the latest in the novelty area, becoming popular with the rise of riverboat gambling in some parts of the country, according to Paul.
Among those shopping Davol Square was Allan Robin, a buyer for Houston-based wholesaler Cine Corp. Robin said he was looking for larger statements in earrings and necklaces and was focusing on color as well. “Our business is about the same as this time last year,” he said, “but I’m optimistic that the return of so much color in ready-to-wear will only help the industry.”
Dick Upson, executive director of the UJS, said that attendance surpassed last year’s figures by about 200 to 250, with a total of 800 companies shopping the show.

Jewelry Mfrs. Association
“Color has definitely made a comeback,” said Gerri Coppola, sales manager at Christine Creations, another Providence regular, concentrating on rhinestones and colored crystal stones. Holiday and prom are key times for the firm, and this was reflected in its bookings this time around. While casual walk-in traffic was down, her firm was busy with scheduled appointments.
Matching earring and necklace sets were the strongest looks, she said.
Among retailers looking for color at JMA — held at the Omni Biltmore Hotel — was Jean Smith, owner of Accente, a Houston-based accessories specialty store chain. Smith said that looks that have a shot or accent of color — particularly red or turquoise — are some of the freshest ideas she had seen to date for holiday and spring. She said she also felt strongly about colored rhinestones for holiday.
Smith also gave a nod to the bold, modernistic shapes — as opposed to vintage looks — in rhinestones and crystal lines.
Maria Baccari Sr., an owner of Darlene Jewelry Co., cited cobra collars as strong items for spring as well as for immediate business, with animal, floral and sea life themes strongest. In general, Baccari said buyers focused on the look of fine jewelry with two-tone metals, colored enamels and white beads emerging as strong sellers for spring.
Baccari concurred with several others that both business and traffic were higher than they were last year.
Nick Marella, general manager at Gem Craft, who sells primarily to wholesalers, noted that many of the overseas customers he usually sees during the show were scheduled to come into Providence later this month. Nevertheless, he noted, show orders were running equal with a year ago.
Marrella, who emphasizes fine jewelry looks in goldtone pieces, said price continues to be a key concern to buyers. Gem Craft, he noted, has downsized the scale of many pieces to keep prices accessible while maintaining fashion appeal.
Known until last March as Jewelers Showroom Associates, the JMA show attracted more than 500 buyers, up 10 to 15 percent from last year, according to Sean Reidy, administrator at the JMA.