The JCK Show ended yesterday with an attendance figure of over 20,000 buyers, according to a preliminary report by show management. Colored gems were the big story at the show, while dot-com companies competed for attention in an increasingly crowded field.
No doubt about it, colored gem jewelry was everywhere, and buyers responded. No one color dominated, though there were many contenders. Dark pink and red stones, such as pink tourmaline, rubellite and rhodolite, were big sellers. Spessartite garnets in great shades of orange flew out of exhibitors' booths as well. Turquoise continued its climb in popularity, as did other opaque stones like coral and jade. You still see many blue gems around, with Mohave blue chalcedony and sapphire leading the way. Sapphire continued to be strong in other colors like yellow too. Tanzanite sales were strong also, while emerald and ruby sales seemed flat, with a shortage of ruby supply brewing. Two new sources of chalcedony in California are keeping that gem in good supply.
Pearls continued their many-hued popularity as well, with lots of mixed color strands this year in pink, peach and cream combinations. A newer look was black and silver pearls mixed with platinum. The shape of choice to use in colored gem jewelry seems to be the briolette, which was everywhere. Beads were popular also, and smaller sizes and less-saturated colors dominated. Cabochons, ovals and triangular gems appeared in many designs too. Opal inlay jewelry proved popular with jewelers looking for strong color. Finally, unusual mixes of various gem colors gave jewelers a variety of looks to choose from.
With all the color capturing buyers' attention, diamond designs seemed dull by comparison. There wasn't much new, just a continuation of still-popular styles like the wave necklace, latticework in necklaces and bracelets, pavé, big solitaire stones and square diamonds. Many manufacturers took De Beers up on its new promotion challenges: the three-stone anniversary ring and the renamed tennis bracelet, now called the "line bracelet." Retailers seemed to be buying steadily, but were not talking much about their purchases despite the variety of new diamond brands introduced. There seemed to be fewer colored diamonds this year.
In platinum and gold, the prevailing look was a more sophisticated brushed finish, often accented by shiny metal. Architectural looks and free-form abstract styles were popular. Mesh, other woven looks and big links all continue to be shown, filtering down now to high-volume suppliers. While there was much more yellow gold shown, buyers still seemed to be stuck in a white metal rut, not yet sure if their customers have ended their all-white love affair. Rose gold was a popular choice among jewelers looking for something different; exhibitors said pieces containing it were among those most purchased. Mixing metals of all colors remains strong as well.
Dangling earrings, elongated hoop shapes, pins and brooches, cuff links and multiples in neckwear, bracelets and rings were popular and readily available. Antique-inspired looks also continue to be popular, especially Victorian. Pretty Art Nouveau influences and beautiful enameling gave jewelers other colorful choices.
- by Lorraine Suermann, A.J.P.; Robert Weldon, G.G.; and Peggy Jo Donahue