JCK Show Jewelry Trends

June 6, 2001

JCK Show Jewelry Trends

Small is big. That's the new message exhibitors and retailers exchanged during the five-day JCK Show in Las Vegas. Call it caution in the face of a mellow year, as millennium mania peters out. Jewelry designers, manufacturers and distributors noted the change by offering jewelry either small in size or price, but still big on imagination. Here are the details:

Out are the 4-ct. rocks; in are smaller diamonds presented in new ways, as necessity becomes the mother of invention. Patterns are popular, especially diamonds set artfully to look like checkerboards or basket weaves. Rows of diamonds line up in new ways, sometimes at unusual angles. The modest version of a diamond line bracelet features engraved or brushed metal spacers separating fewer diamonds and bringing elegance at a lower price point. Prongs get an update, with a style some call "chopped-head prongs." Picture the usually rounded prong with the rounded part sliced off, leaving the prong flat and flush with the diamond. It's a cool look that brings busy women a snag-free alternative to bezel-set diamonds. Black diamonds are still all over the place, used in yin-and-yang patterns with white diamonds. Its a reflection of the fashion world's renewed interest in black and white clothing, though these jewelry styles also look smashing with bright primary colored clothes as a backdrop.

Colored Gemstones & Pearls
A continued strong showing by orange gems was joined by a growing interest in brown shades. Green and blue gems were also ubiquitous. Color combinations seen at spring shows drew imitators, with blue topaz joining rhodolite garnet, for example. Iolite and amethysts were popular, as the color purple stays strong in clothing. Beads remain but look fresher in diminutive versions. Bold saturated gems are replacing pastels in the color palettes of designers and manufacturers. Gems cut so the surfaces look like shimmering clear water also looked fresh, especially in peridot, blue topaz and pink tourmaline. In pearls, fewer pastels are seen and black and white predominate. Coin and faceted pearls also made strong appearances.

Precious Metals
Enamel is more apparent as manufacturers look for less-expensive ways to display color. Two-tone styles look a bit dated as designers move toward either all-white or all-yellow metal. Manufacturers and retailers say the latest yellow gold craze had taken the shine off white metal, but it isn't a rout. White metals are here to stay, especially in parts of the country where consumers are just beginning to adapt to it. The big exception, of course, is in diamond and wedding jewelry, where the white craze continues. Metal finishes, contrasted in one piece, are back, perhaps as a way to ease consumers out of two-tone styles. Different finishes are also used artfully to create depth – high points are polished to a bright shine, while low points are brushed or coarsely finished. Gold continues to appear more and more in 18k, especially for jewelers looking to distinguish themselves from high-volume retailers.

Style Trends
Jewelry still looks refined and adult in style, even as designs are sized down. Free-form loops, ribbons and swirls are evident, reminiscent of anticlastic styles. The hoops and lariats of spring are still strong, albeit with imaginative variations. There are more double hoop earrings, where the hoops align in parallel. Lariats include variations on the straight tie, and scarf-style looping of chain is even stronger. Chain lengths have risen a bit, as women find the longer chains cumbersome. The new length ends just below the bustline. Crosses continue to have amazing strength, as do star, moon and other celestial motifs. Multiple strands, mesh and oval links still look fresh too. Open space got the nod from manufacturers taking part in the Platinum Guild's new heart promotion. The style uses less metal and takes advantage of negative space to produce a big look at a good price. Earrings continue to be linear rather than rounded, with dangles still hot.

- by Lorraine M. O'Donnell, A.J.P.