The JCK Las Vegas Jewelry Show is the leading jewelry event in North America open to all jewelry professionals. This year’s convention was four days, May 31st through June 3rd, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. It’s the largest jewelry tradeshow in North America. I sat down with our own Becky Heinle and Laura Barringer to get the scoop on this year’s show, new trends, and new jewelry at Ben Bridge.
How long have you been at Ben Bridge?
B: I’ve worked at Ben Bridge for 9 years, first in our Downtown Seattle store and the last 5 years in the Merchandising department at the corporate office.
L: I’ve been at Ben Bridge for 33 years. I have been in the merchandising end of our business my entire career and have been a buyer for 27 years.
What is your current role?
L: I now oversee what we call the “fashion” department which broadly means any jewelry that is not bridal related. It’s a huge category spanning gemstones, precious metals, diamonds, and pearls and it gives me many opportunities to find and follow fashion trends. There is always something new and exciting to buy!
How many years have you attended JCK in Las Vegas?
B: I’ve attended the Las Vegas shows 4 times – 2 years with our watch buyer and 2 years with our fashion buyer.
L: Since the first show moved from New York to Las Vegas – I think that was in 1992.
How many others from Ben Bridge Jeweler joined you in Vegas this year?
L: 19 in total attended this year: 5 buyers, 5 assistants, VP of Merchandising, Appraiser, 2 Marketing, 1 Visual Merchandiser, 2 Store Managers, VP Training and Education, 1 CEO.
What about the trip do you look forward to the most?
B: I love walking the shows, seeing all the beautiful jewelry, and finding new and exciting product for our stores. There are three jewelry shows we attend while in Las Vegas which makes it the largest jewelry and watch show in the world. It’s also a great opportunity to meet with our suppliers, new and old, to build and strengthen relationships. Our suppliers travel from all over the world to exhibit at this show.
What was your day-to-day schedule like?
B: The show opens at 9am and we were in the convention center until it closes at 6pm meeting with suppliers or walking the show meeting new vendors and buying new product. From the show, we usually continue to dinner with different suppliers each night. A few times in the mornings before the show opens we try to all get together as a buying team and discuss what we have seen and what other buyers may want to check out.
What is the goal of the trip?
B: When we travel to the shows, we are always looking for new and exciting jewelry to offer to our customers. Laura and I had a few big goals for the show this year – we were looking to expand our collection of men’s jewelry, Toscano (our Italian gold collection), and fashion gold and colored gemstone jewelry to feature in our fashion mailer this fall. We were successful and know our customers will love the new jewelry we’ve selected.
Can you tell us more about the jewelry you selected? What do we have to look forward to?
L: We have had a long fruitful relationship with Mikimoto. They are aware that they need to appeal more to the younger consumer. So we challenged Mikimoto to develop an introductory price point for beautiful strands of pearls. We’re excited to offer a $1850 strand this Holiday!
A recent interest in “personalizing” jewelry lead us to select a series of “engraveable” discs in 14k gold and sterling silver in varied shapes, sizes, and price points. Our customers can express themselves in any way they chose with their personal font selection.
An innovative Italian artisan introduced us to “microfusion” where threads of gold are woven around a sculpted form. When the form is removed, what remains is beautiful threads of gold in the shape of the form. The design is now hollow inside but made in such a way that it is very durable and STRONG. The necklaces and earrings caught our eye as they were light in weight, comfortable, and had a dramatic hand crafted look – each unique!
What jewelry trends did you sense are on their way in?
L: In bridal, the halo still reigns. We also saw an increase in yellow gold styling in fashion. In terms of necklaces, we’re seeing longer lengths and layers. Hoops are still the favored style of earrings, but there seems to be some interest in smaller more wearable “on the ear” earrings – great for a more active lifestyle. Jewelry pieces that are versatile seems to have a longer life – wear it long or doubled, wear it dangling or on the ear, dress up your diamond earring with a “jacket” or wear it simply. Jewelry purchases seem more justified with added versatility.
We also saw many multicolored gemstone styles. They go with anything and everything! Gemstone favorites were morganite, tanzanite, and opaque chalcedony in pastel and even bright dyed colors. Colored diamonds continue to draw attention. Like colored gemstones, this show saw many styles that mixed and matched colored diamonds within one piece.
B: Like Laura mentioned, a return to yellow gold in fashion jewelry, slice diamond and gemstone jewelry, symbolic jewelry – jewelry that has a story or meaning behind it – are definitely in. In general, it feels like jewelry is becoming more “free” and less dress up. Symbols like stars, arrows, crosses, feathers, wings, tassels, coils, and spiral shapes are in and there’s a trend toward an organic feel. There’s also less perfection in gemstone and diamond cutting styles and more “freeform” uncut, raw materials.
Was there anything else exciting you learned beyond fashion trends we should keep our eyes on?
L: We met with a supplier who informed us he is working in Washington DC to standardize the terminology used for gold jewelry worldwide. It’ll be exciting to see the developments!
Sounds like a busy week! Were you able to squeeze in any fun?
B: There was some fun during the long week! A group of suppliers organize a dinner and show one night and they invite their retailers as a thank you for our support of them. This year we had dinner and saw Michael Jackson One, a Cirque du Soleil show. Every year there is a charity dinner for Jewelers for Children raising money for the different childrens’ charities we support throughout the industry. It’s a wonderful event. JCK wraps up the show each year with a concert and this year it was Maroon 5 at the Beach at Mandalay Bay. It was so nice to get outside and put our feet in the water. It was a fantastic show to end a fantastic week!
JCK is a trusted partner connecting jewelry retailers and manufacturers/suppliers with trends, news, products, education, and partners to build business. Whether attending face-to-face events, building inventory with online and onsite sourcing or obtaining authoritative news and insights from JCK, the leading industry magazine in print & online, JCK offers a suite of tools, events, and information to deliver sound solutions, innovative opportunities, and essential information.
Next year’s show will be May 30th through June 2nd, 2014. For more information, please visit JCK online.