JCK Las Vegas is the place to discover top trending products, new technology and innovative ways of doing business. The ideal section to start is the Plumb Club to find key merchandise and marketing to drive consumers in store and engage them online. A diverse group of top companies, trends spied in this pavilion signal what will be important for the holiday season.
Bestsellers forecasted to lead at the show include: sentiment jewelry, new takes on bridal rings, gem and pearl fashion jewelry, lots of gold, and innovations in wearable technology. Key concepts to explore include how to attract millennials, leverage on digital technology, and make the retail experience customizable.
Corinna Bhasin, general manager of F.D. Worldwide Merchandise Group, New York, is hopeful that U.S. consumers will remain in love and relationships despite the international economic climate, movements of stock and commodity markets, and an election year. “Socially, the sentiment is to celebrate relationships–and we’re in the celebration business!”
Sentiment jewelry is booming, especially expandable bangle charm bracelets. Richline will have its Chrysalis brand, geared to the independent jeweler, exhibiting at the Plumb Club for the first time, shares Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for the New York manufacturer. “It has a lot going for it—fashionable, can stack and layer, great price points, and is a self and gift purchase that generates year round business.”
Katie Schloss, designer of Maps by A.Jaffe launched in 2015, adds that customized, personalized jewelry resonates with millennials, which is why their map-your-moment concept is appealing as a modern heirloom. Any location can be engraved on pendant, charm and cufflink, silver or gold, with diamond marking a favorite spot. The sentiment is popular for engagements/weddings, birth of a child, graduation, sorority/fraternity, travel, corporate, and more.
The trend among manufacturers is to answer the call for more-than-halo styling. Many companies at JCK plan to launch new collections and designs exploring special details, and greater use of color stones and fancy shapes.
“Bridal styles are more exciting and unique than ever,” tells Bhasin. “The beauty is in the details of the styles and execution of the ring. Even basic lines will have updated finishing. The trend is to offer wide styling details so consumers feel their ring is customized to their styles.” She also cites the popularity of diamond inserts, wraps and stackable bands as “engagement ring enhancers.”
Neil Shah of Shah Luxury, New York says his latest designs speak to a focus on form, style and function. Also important is a greater use of color stones and fancy shapes like micro marquises. The brand is launching engagement rings, too, set with white and yellow diamonds in a patented composite stone component in round and cushion shapes, and new classic designs in studs, solitaire pendants, three stone rings, tennis bracelets, and diamonds by the yard. “We’re raising the bar on value, quality and fresh designs to capture greater market share.”
The spotlight is on millennials and what makes them tick. Breuning thinks it’s found a sweet spot in style and price for the group that test markets well, cites Justin Lear for the brand in Lawrenceville, Georgia. “There’s demand for nice quality, non-bridal gold and diamond jewelry for the self-purchase female. Not big, flashy or cheap, but modern and design distinct, something special that’s wearable for young professionals willing to spend up to $900 on a smart device.”
With gold prices down, yellow gold jewelry is trending. “Gold is affordable, fashionable and wearable,” says Fox, citing updated classics as bestsellers. “We’ve seen a rise in buy in and sell through for our brand partners. Gold is an important category we’re emphasizing with our design teams and marketing initiatives. Everything from large statement pieces to light layered looks sells.”
Wendy Fox teases that Richline will have a “wearable tech section” at its booth with new offerings in smart jewelry, a great draw for millennials. While it’s known as a top manufacturer for the majors, it’s growing outreach and offerings to independents.
Color & Pearls
Richline will also show for the first time at its booth the Honora brand, says Fox, citing a focus on fashion and color in pearl jewelry. “Honora is known for color in pearls, with its latest ombré styles popular, but new designs are integrating semi-precious gems like Botswana agate.” She says the brand is launching a fresh marketing program, building on the success of last year’s “pearls go with” campaign that was youthful, stylish and fun.
The pearl category is not your grandmother’s, tells Kathy Grenier, marketing director for Imperial Pearl. In Vegas, the brand will launch collections that mix design elements like flat baroque freshwater pearls with London Blue Topaz and South Sea pearls with Balinese-inspired rondells. “We’re putting an emphasis on 14K gold and pearls too, in modern designs.” It’s also debuting an ad campaign with Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island, home of Imperial.
With digital technology rapidly changing, jewelers who want to compete today must have a compelling eCommerce platform. Many manufacturers have stepped up their digital offerings to help jewelers create a strong online presentation with virtual inventory and customizable options.
“The old business models have to change,” says Jay Gerber for the diamond jewelry manufacturer, WR Cobb Company, East Providence, Rhode Island. “The challenge today is generating traffic and offering custom options critical to millennials. In Vegas, we will showcase our online responsive platform and 24-hour shipping programs so our retailers can leverage technology, inventory and fulfillment.”
Gerber advocates jewelers look at their website like they do their showcases, keeping things fresh. “Mimic the in-store experience online (3D visuals and videos) and the online experience in store (tablets and touch screens).” He advocates videos, as a key element of engagement for sales and social media.