JCK Show Trends

June 5, 2003

JCK Show Trends

With the backdrop of a recovering economy and jewelers feeling less threatened by war and disease, exhibitors reported overall successful results at the JCK Show-Las Vegas, held May 29 - June 3. As at other trade shows this year, the exhibitors with appealing, salable merchandise accompanied by strong marketing programs attracted the greatest number of buyers.

Diamond News & Trends
Diamond Trading Co. clients, called sightholders, continued to introduce new or improved marketing and branding programs at the show, even as news of DTC's final choice of clients for the coming year spread throughout show halls. Several U.S. sightholders will no longer be DTC clients, but it was unclear how much of a problem this would be for them and the other sightholders dropped by DTC. As sources of rough diamonds become available from Canada and elsewhere, the loss of a DTC site is no longer considered a final judgment on a company's worth. DTC itself made that clear in its formal announcement of its final client selection, which did not mention specific company names.

DTC influenced buyers with its new right-hand ring program, introduced to retailers at seminars and seen throughout the show in early versions rushed to completion by many diamond companies. Some retailers are skeptical about the potential success the campaign will have in driving diamond sales, but most are willing to buy in to some degree because of the huge promotional push the category will receive. DTC's Diamond Promotion Service continues to promote a program encouraging jewelers to better tailor sales presentations and promotions to men, appealing to them with non-emotion-driven strategies.

U.S. distributors of diamonds cut in Canada's Northwest Territories were hard at work promoting their brands, especially Canadia and Polar Bear diamonds.

Chatham, the company that has innovated in creating a variety of synthetic gemstones, introduced synthetic colored diamonds in pinks, blues, yellows and orange-yellows. Pinks elicited the greatest interest from retailers at the show, reports the company. General interest in natural and treated fancy-color diamonds ran high among buyers and many diamond and jewelry companies featured them.

Diamond styling remained firmly fixed in retro mode, with a variety of designs taking influences from periods such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Victorian and Edwardian. Vintage diamond cuts are also being introduced by a greater number of companies. Dangles, bangles, cuffs and dangle-like necklaces made up the bulk of non-ring diamond jewelry, as upswept hair, open-neck blouses and three-quarter sleeves influence the jewelry fashionable women wear. Designs that use negative space also made inroads. Solitaires appeared in a broad range of diamond shapes, once again probably driven by DTC's fancy shape diamond ad campaign. No one particular solitaire setting style stood out this year, as a wide range of existing looks gained more adherents instead.

Colored Gem & Cultured Pearl Trends
Coral, and to some degree turquoise, were still seen in many booths, especially among manufacturers late to adopt the trend. Many conservative retailers remain who are only beginning to warm to opaque stones as jewelry store merchandise, says one supplier. This may be driving the continued interest in the trend. Other blue gems are still key for many lines, with reds, pinks and oranges not far behind. Blends of different shades of the same color continue to grow, as do offbeat blends of mixed colors.

The buzz on pearls centered around Stuller and Paspaley's new program that makes it easier and more affordable for more retailers to enter the South Seas pearl category. The attention on this category added excitement at a time when prices are down. Pearls were integrated into countless numbers of designer and manufacturer lines, especially affordable Chinese freshwater pearls. Mixed color pearl strands continue to be popular.

Precious Metals
No one metal color dominates. The market has a strong interest in yellow, white and combinations of the two. Rose gold was more prominent in jewelry than ever. The interest in pink throughout the fashion industry is driving the trend. CMNY of New York City, a fashion-driven diamond jewelry company, reports its combinations of white and rose gold were particularly popular. Mixes of brushed and worked gold with shiny elements also continued to interest buyers, as did open airy designs and woven looks.

Platinum Guild International introduced its new branding campaign, built around describing platinum more specifically than as "precious." PGI USA's new chief Huw Daniel says consumer research led the group to the three words it is now using: pure, rare and eternal. All promotional materials are accompanied by a new baby-blue-and-white color theme and include water imagery, since consumers said these colors ands element most came to mind when thinking about platinum. PGI will continue to focus the bulk of its efforts on bridal jewelry, where it's had its greatest success.

Style Trends
Hearts and crosses continue their long reign, though many exhibitors are producing more offbeat styles. Silbers, Houston, TX, made toggle hearts and created unusual crosses for its line. Toggles and teardrop shapes are popular and circles are everywhere, while half-moons and spirals also captured designers' attentions. Nature styles, often abstracted, were seen in many lines. Paisley designs in both diamonds and all-metal jewelry were popular, as were other ethnic designs. Carved beads, cameos, ancient-inspired gold, gem inlay and other period jewelry that looks like merchandise common to antique shops are showing up in many lines. Sometimes the styles are given a modern twist and other times they look like reproductions. Another big trend is groovy 1960s styles, featuring everything from daisy chains to pop art. Sentimental jewelry such as charm bracelets, lockets, and family-oriented themed pieces are still hot. There's a real move toward creating jewelry that encourages buyers to return to add to their collections. Convertible and adaptable jewelry also attracted attention.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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