Vegas Takeaways

Las Vegas is the place to gauge key trends moving into the all-important holiday season and the New Year. The diverse spectrum of brands exhibiting in the Plumb Club Pavilion, JCK Show, Mandalay Bay revealed insights into bestsellers and trendsetters for winter 2015-2016.

Proven winners: updated classics, products that can be customized, and yellow gold and two-tone styles. Other takeaways: retailers are clamoring for men’s jewelry, and there’s an imperative for jewelers to be LGBT wedding competent.

Traditional Twist
Manufacturers continue to explore different ways of reinterpreting bestsellers like solitaire and halo jewelry, stackable rings, bar necklaces, and monograms by using interesting texture and finish, different metal and gem color combinations, special details around prongs, negative space designs, and more ways of personalizing a piece.

When it comes to solitaire and halo designs, manufacturers like Frederick Goldman and its Art Carved Collection craft fresh takes with impactful details that create a big look for a great price like rope detailing in and around the shank, two-tone and with diamonds, as well as halos with bigger stones around the center, smaller ones down the sides. “We’re playing with proportions,” says Allison Goodman, director of merchandising for the New York firm. She ranks fancy diamond shapes and Art Deco inspired designs trending.

Recreating a market favorite, the Minneapolis, Minnesota manufacturer, Ostbye has taken its successful Shimmering Diamonds line and added Shimmering Diamonds Remounts in over two dozen styles that can house a .50, .75 or 1 carat total weight center solitaires. “This is a popular program to set the customer’s diamond or move the jeweler’s loose diamond inventory, especially if the make is off,” says Sheila Johnson, merchandising manager. “We’re trained to set the stone by Crossfor, the company that patented the unique hanger component, so the store sends it to us and gets it back in a few days.”

There’s strong demand for designs that are open with intersecting lines, cites Randi Bourg, public relations manager for Stuller, Lafayette, Louisiana, particularly engagement rings in updated bypass styles. She notes that the next generation of the halo incorporating two-tone metal, color stones, and looks beyond the circle to embrace swirls and floral frames. Moreover, she says demand for color diamonds continues to grow with yellow, red and blue popular.

Stackable rings are must haves, says Goodman, in bridal and fashion, and Frederick Goldman is merchandising product in a way that inspires band building. Parag Desai, vice president of merchandising and marketing for Simon Golub, a division of The Shrenuj Group, Seattle, Washington, notes that stackable diamond bands in different colors of gold and mixing stone shapes and sizes are a bit edgier, personal and customizable—setting new traditions.

Bourg also hails Stuller’s Linear Collection in geometric shapes a winner in Vegas, especially its baguettes bar motif in pendants, earrings and rings. Concurring, Laura Gladfelter, brand manager for Alison and Ivy, a division of the Chicago-based Fantasy Diamond cites simple designs with special details key. “The bar necklace trend is going strong, and we’ve evolved the design by adding cut out shapes, mini monograms, and diamond accent.”

Getting Personal
Personalized jewelry is more than just a passing phase with the reincarnation of a name necklace or popularity of wearing an initial, cites Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. “The trend started with monogram styles being reintroduced to Millennials who were very welcoming. The personalized concept has exploded beyond styles popular in years past, encompassing state pride, various shapes and textures, intricate details, and the extension of designs for family to recognize children as well as pets. As the personalized trend continues to flourish, we’re offering options with enameling, textures and handwritten messages that can be made into jewelry.”

Personalization enhances storytelling opportunities, says Desai, who notes that Simon Golub just launched its new Love Letters collection boasting a mystery setting with surprise “Love” message that resonates with Millennial brides.

Customization is a huge trend, says Bourg, who cites Stuller’s 3Cs mantra: Choose, Change and Create, the story of its new a bridal collection, Ever & Ever that focuses on popular styles with multiple customization options. “The collection features 122 prototypes—68 engagement rings and 54 bands. Shoppers can work with jewelers to choose a style, stone shape and size, and metal quality on, through our CAD/CAM Services, or in CounterSketch.”

Golden Touch
Consumers are loving yellow gold again. “People are tired of white metal,” says Colaizzi. “They spent the better part of 2010–2012 melting yellow gold and gold items in any color that they didn’t want to collect value at the higher gold prices and pay bills while unemployment was high and the country was in economic trouble. The trend has turned back to color gold, specifically 14K yellow. We’re seeing more ideas presented to us in gold and the incorporation of yellow and rose gold into development initiatives. 14K yellow gold sales noticeably improved in 2014 and we expect this trend to continue. It also helps that gold prices have been consistent, $1,100 to $1,200 for most of the year.”

Goodman notes that while rose gold continues to attract fans it’s more desired as an accent color. Desai says that with gold prices down, there’s renewed interest in bold gold and gems. “Silver is a staple, but jewelers are looking tor higher ticket items. Popular for us has been our organic, hand cut gems in contemporary designs with a emphasis on yellow and rose gold.”

Man Hunter
Men’s jewelry is hailed the fastest growth market in the jewelry category. According to Statista, men’s jewelry generated a sales value of $3.3 billion and watches $3.1 billion in the U.S. in 2014, the top two men’s accessories. “We’ve doubled our men’s assortment in Leslie’s in 14K gold and added over 300 new styles for men in our Chisel brand,” says Colaizzi, who notes that jewelers are clamoring for product. “We’re committed to giving retailers options for men in a variety of metals and prices. When it comes to the essentials, function first and form second for men with these timeless accessories bestsellers—cufflinks, tie bars and tacks, money clips, timepieces, and toolbox (aka men’s jewelry box).

Goodman hails the men’s category full of opportunity for retailers. She cites bands as the bread and butter, noting that men like styles that are clean and classic with subtle detail in texture, pattern, or color like the manufacturer’s Triton brand in tungsten carbide and carbon fiber. Tags and pendants incorporating diamond detail with pattern in metal and/or color also are popular.

LGBT Wedding Competent
Marriage equality is the law of the land. The SCOTUS has brought the freedom to marry to same-sex couples nationwide, and also a tremendous opportunity for jewelers to increase wedding jewelry sales. In the states where same sex marriage has been legalized, the local economies reported a boon to business. Same sex marriage is expected to boost the more than $50 billion wedding industry by about $10 billion a year, projected Forbes last year.

While the rings they choose may be the same as their heterosexual counterparts, how jewelers communicate to the gay community can make or break their success in courting this significant demographic. To help jewelers get it right, designer Rony Tennenbaum for EMA Jewelry New York launched at JCK the brand’s Art of Contemporary Love campaign promoting collections like LVOE: “love is love no matter how you spell it” bands, which redefine “bridal” for LGBT couples and Millennials with a focus on the modern family.

“As a gay jewelry designer I want to create inspiring jewelry that gay, lesbian, transgender, or otherwise would want to wear to make them feel special, confident, proud, and express their love to the world,” says Tennenbaum. Part of the story: use of recycled EcoGold, and made in the USA for most of its gold products. Jewelers also benefit from its “Rainbow Diamond” Seal of Tolerance and Acceptance, and the designer conducts sales training and trunk shows with a focus beyond urban areas to mainstream USA. He urges jewelers take the lead to educate themselves on the dynamics of marketing to same sex couples.