Jew­elry Ex­ecs Talk Op­por­tu­ni­ties, Hur­dles From Cou­ture Show Floor

WWD Digital Daily - - The Reviews - BY KARI HAMANAKA

LAS VE­GAS — There was plenty of eye candy for buy­ers to parse through as they made their an­nual trek to the Cou­ture jew­elry show here, as busi­ness hummed along.

The trends were largely con­tin­u­a­tions of what's al­ready in the mar­ket: more color, as seen with the Gem­fields x Muse col­lab­o­ra­tions, enamel at Retrou­vaí and Sarah Hendler; lots of whimsy via charms and ref­er­ences to pop cul­ture at ven­dors such as Foundrae and Ali­son Lou; Art Deco at Do­ryn Wal­lach Jew­elry; tas­sels at Gu­muchian; con­vert­ible pieces, and stack­a­bil­ity.

Lay­er­ing is help­ing drive the band busi­ness at Hearts on Fire as clients make pur­chases for a va­ri­ety of oc­ca­sions, driven by the self-pur­chase and stack­ing move­ments. Skinny bands are pro­pel­ling the di­a­mond busi­ness in ways the com­pany has not seen, said Hearts on Fire pres­i­dent Caryl Capeci.

“I don't know if it's younger [clients driv­ing the trend] as much as the price points be­cause you can get beau­ti­ful, well-de­signed bands for $1,200, $1,500, and I think you have women who are buy­ing those price points in their ap­parel, their hand­bags and their shoes. So it's not a $5,000 piece of jew­elry; it's three [pieces]. And it all feels much more man­age­able and ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Else­where on the show floor, Ker­ing pres­i­dent for jew­elry in the Amer­i­cas Nathalie Dia­man­tis went through key pieces from the Pomel­lato line, while also talk­ing about the com­pany's whim­si­cal Dodo brand in the midst of a re-brand­ing. A re­launch for Dodo is ex­pected by the end of the year in the

U.S. Dia­man­tis dubbed the repo­si­tion­ing “fun lux­ury and there's no age to it.”

“There's just mas­sive po­ten­tial we feel with Dodo,” she said. “It's easy. Most peo­ple have to think a lit­tle bit more [with other pur­chases]. It's a feel-good kind of brand.”

Pomel­lato is set to re­open a store in Bev­erly Hills some­time in Au­gust. The jewel box space will be in­fused with pops of red and Mi­lanese-in­spired de­signs.

“That for us will be fan­tas­tic to recapture our clien­tele,” Dia­man­tis said.

Kwiat just last month opened its own store at the Wynn Las Ve­gas, neigh­bor­ing brands such as Louis Vuit­ton in the ho­tel's Wynn Plaza row of bou­tiques.

The re­tail busi­ness is chang­ing, but it's a shift that's call­ing for the in­dus­try to go back to its roots, Kwiat and Fred Leighton chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Greg Kwiat said.

“Over the last few years, re­tail stores are look­ing to con­sol­i­date their com­mit­ments to their most im­por­tant ven­dors and brands,” he said. “I think there's a lit­tle bit more of a ‘less is more' men­tal­ity be­cause stores re­al­ize there's only so many mes­sages they can put in a store and only so many brands they can ef­fec­tively sell. In our busi­ness and in any busi­ness, re­ally you want to be im­por­tant to the peo­ple you're do­ing busi­ness with. So in a world where there's a lot of choice, you have to fig­ure out a way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate.”

That could mean deeper buys, shop-in­shops or ex­pe­ri­ences, and that's the con­ver­sa­tion be­ing had cur­rently, he said.

Kwiat noted from the Cou­ture show floor a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment and a gen­eral sense of op­ti­mism as the in­dus­try heads into fall and hol­i­day. That's in spite of what some have been call­ing a gen­eral fa­tigue in the trade-show cal­en­dar — no mat­ter if it's the jew­elry busi­ness or ap­parel.

“It's a re­ally topi­cal dis­cus­sion in the in­dus­try right now be­cause, in gen­eral, you step back and look at the cal­en­dar for the year, there are too many trade shows,” Kwiat said. “At the same time, trade shows for the jew­elry in­dus­try do stim­u­late busi­ness in that they do bring peo­ple to­gether to buy and sell. You get peo­ple in a room, and busi­ness will hap­pen. So there's def­i­nitely a place for trade shows.”

Still, they will have to move with the times.

“Th­ese days, you've got to work out how you can en­gage with your own client,” said Stephen Web­ster, founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor of Lon­don-based Stephen Web­ster Ltd. “Now more than ever, with new brands com­ing up and ev­ery­one just try­ing to main­tain their busi­ness, they have to work that out. You can do that through your re­tail­ers, but I think it's prob­a­bly the re­tail­ers that are em­brac­ing the change if you like. Some of the models, like the depart­ment store model in Amer­ica, have changed be­yond recog­ni­tion. So we used to sit here and see one right af­ter another of man­agers from all the dif­fer­ent depart­ment stores. Now there's a lot less of that.”

The next step for the trade shows could very well be some­thing akin to the art world, Web­ster said, where ev­ery­one from gal­leries, pri­vate clients and other points of dis­tri­bu­tion all co­ex­ist.

Web­ster pointed to last year's ac­qui­si­tion of ex­hi­bi­tion cen­ter Olympia Lon­don by a group of in­vestors led by Deutsche Fi­nance and Yoo Cap­i­tal as one point of pos­si­ble in­spi­ra­tion for trade shows. The com­plex, built in Vic­to­rian Times, is now in the midst of a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion that aims to spin it into an arts and en­ter­tain­ment destination.

“This mas­sive lump that was just about exhibitions will en­gage and you'll have lots of rea­sons to go and the de­sign is so beau­ti­ful,” Web­ster said. “I think that then be­comes a gate­way to the city. It's not like we say that's ex­actly what we're go­ing to do [with trade shows], but it's a bit more ex­cit­ing than just hav­ing to have your badge and wan­der around a trade show.”

In some cases, the in­dus­try is ripe for a ma­jor wave of change and it's slowly hap­pen­ing with a new gen­er­a­tion. Web­ster brought his daugh­ter Amy on­board re­cently and will slowly give the 27-year-old more re­spon­si­bil­ity for what he said would be a cat­e­gory ded­i­cated to the Mil­len­nial con­sumer.

“I want new ideas and new ways of look­ing at things that can come from her,” he said. “The next gen­er­a­tion's com­ing in and, re­ally, not just tak­ing over where you left off, but com­ing in with a new vi­sion. I don't mind a bit of a rev­o­lu­tion. It won't hap­pen in one go, but I quite like the idea of another rev­o­lu­tion within the family.”

Enamel, con­vert­ible pieces and color were as much the talk of the show as were the con­tin­u­ing shifts in the busi­ness.

Signet ring by Retrou­vaí.

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