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Buyer’s Choice: Best of Show

The new collections that excited retailers at the shows this year meet two criteria: fresh looks and affordable price points. Retailer after retailer we talked to scoured the recent shows for new jewelry that is value priced at every level of the market.

Particularly strong are interesting new silver collections. Other retailers are looking to attract new customers to their stores by launching or expanding their men’s jewelry departments. High-end style is still selling of course, but retailers are looking for wearable versatile pieces that provide customers with dramatic looks.

In times of increasing competition, finding collections that are unusual and unique is also increasingly important. Retailers looking to stand out from the crowd need to have jewelry you don’t see everywhere. Jewelers and their customers both have a growing appreciation for creating their own individual style statement.

18k gold, bone, and fire opal lizard king necklace
Limited edition intricately carved sculpture to wear: 18k gold, bone, and fire opal lizard king necklace from the “Spirit Animals” collection by K. Brunini Jewels, (858) 259-8779.
Bronze necklace with citrines

“We recently began selling gold-plated jewelry from Rebecca, an Italian firm. It was a leap of faith for us—actually, a paradigm shift. We’re a traditional store that sells fine jewelry, and if you’d told me a year ago that we’d be selling something that’s not fine jewelry, I would have thought you were crazy. But that was six weeks ago and we have been selling Rebecca like hotcakes ever since. The finish and quality of their craftsmanship is superb, and the jewelry is right for this day and age. With gold approaching $1,000 an ounce, big jewelry pieces are getting very expensive. People are looking for fashion forward pieces that they can buy in quantity but not have to regret buying two years down the road if their tastes change. Rebecca is the only design line to make such an impression on me in the past year.”
— Jay Mednikow, J.H. Mednikow & Co., Memphis, Tennessee

Bronze necklace with citrines by Rebecca, suggested retail $1,060, (310) 490-7189.

Bimetal earrings in blackened sterling silver and 18k gold

“We’re selling silver pieces by Rebecca Overmann that have a great appeal to our clients. She takes basic silver jewelry and puts a fresh interpretation on it, with unusual shapes, such as wider earrings and lily pads, and delivers lots of look for a price point that’s easy for people to pick up on. People seem almost shocked at what she gives for the price we ask. We have a new relationship with Overmann, and what we like best about her is that she’s a real jeweler—she understands how to deliver affordable good looks.”
— Dawn Hendricks, Peridot Fine Jewelry, Greenwich, Connecticut

Bimetal earrings in blackened sterling silver and 18k gold by Rebecca Overmann, suggested retail $268, (415) 505-7043.

pendants in hammered 14k gold plated with 24k gold

“We recently ordered some of Dana-David’s ‘Graffiti’ line of charms for affordable pendants. She plates them with 24k gold to give them a rich look, and you can build on it piece by piece. Each shape has a word to go with it—the heart says ‘passion,’ the cross says ‘faith.’ What’s nice is that clients can personalize the pendants with the initials of a parent, child, spouse, or pet. Dana is a graphic artist by training, and she gets it in the sense that she knows how to translate her vision into actual wearable jewelry. The first time we met her was six years ago at a show that highlights new designers.”
— Pamela Rosin, Philip David Jewelers, West Hartford, Connecticut

Chain letters pendants in hammered 14k gold plated with 24k gold from the “Graffiti” collection by Dana-David, suggested retail $420 each with the collection range from $265-$525, (800) 837-1570.

Necklace in 18k gold and fluorite

“We’re a fashion-forward gallery store for and about women that features new designers and lots of color, precious and semiprecious gemstones. Our clients are accomplished women who are confident self-purchasers, and want fine, wearable jewelry. Alexandra Essex’s designs fit beautifully with my customer base. She creates stunning yet understated pieces. I just sold an $8,000 piece of hers, a yellow 18k gold necklace adorned with big, beautiful coral pieces. The workmanship was fantastic. She made the gold look antique and mounted the coral with a dramatic three-dimensional look. We didn’t know about Alexandra until she mailed us a card. I called her up and we’ve been working together ever since.”
— Irene Barbieri, Mia Gemma Jewelry Boutiques, Washington, D.C.

Necklace in 18k gold and fluorite from the “Tierra” collection by Alexandra Essex Exquisite Jewels, suggested retail $15,000, (805) 884-1845.

Mix and match charm earrings

“We’re a 60-year old store in a conservative area where women don’t make large self-purchases. So we took on Pandora, which is at a lower price point than our usual ticket, to encourage more self-purchasing and generate more traffic. Other jewelers had told us that Pandora drives traffic in and we agree. That said, we generally don’t do brands—it’s not in our culture to sell by vendor, although we carry goods by Rolex and Mikimoto. It offers us more flexibility and options to sell jewelry without the name attached so that customers can genuinely respond to what they see. Here people are used to what they think of as ‘Colonial’ jewelry.”
— Sarah Hurwitz, Colonial Jewelers, Frederick, Maryland

Mix and match charm earrings from Pandora, (410) 309-0200.

Sterling silver and fang necklace

“We were looking for a designer with a Latin flavor and were introduced to Mauricio Serrano. He is a fifth-generation Mexican silversmith. About 30 percent of Serrano’s collection is men’s jewelry, which is about 20 to 25 percent of our market. For men who are not afraid to step out a bit, he offers a look that I call metropolitan meets organic. He does the same with his women’s jewelry, and often adds unexpected manipulations to his creations by combining unusual materials like leather, ribbons, bone and shell, wood, crystal beads, and agate. At first we were wondering if he was going to be too edgy and progressive, but we realized that no matter where you are, there are customers who like distinctive jewelry that they can wear to their social occasions and talk about.”
— Monica Cirone, Encanto Jewelry, Fresno, California

Sterling silver and fang necklace by Mauricio Serrano, (52) (55) 5203-3520.

Pendant by Arena Copenhagen

“We went to Inhorgenta in Munich this year and picked up a line called Arena from Copenhagen. It’s vermeil, simple, yet very fashionable with tumbled gems like pink coral, blue chalcedony, and smoky quartz. They have great transition pieces. We’re in downtown Manhattan so our customers are businesswomen, who are a little conservative. I’m looking for things that can complement a suit but can go with a flowered dress or jeans and a white shirt on weekends.”
— Jennifer Gandia, Greenwich Jewelers, New York

Pendant by Arena Copenhagen, (45) 3332-0129.

Silver devil ring

“We sell Stephen Webster very well. His prices are very good, they’re reasonable for a designer collection. The collection sells through beautifully. It’s one of my favorite collections overall. The men’s collection is particularly strong. We sell more Stephen Webster to men than any other collection. I also do well with Soho bangles, especially the silver collection. Charles Krypell is fantastic, too, it’s beautifully made.”
— Mindy Wolfson, Expressions in Gold & Silver, Boca Raton, Florida

Silver devil ring from the men’s collection by Stephen Webster, suggested retail $300, (212) 226-6160.

square hearts and arrows cut diamond ring

“At the Las Vegas show, what struck me were the innovations in diamond cutting. There’s a renaissance in cutting going on now, with so many proprietary cuts in the market. I really liked the ‘Princess of Hearts’ cut by SunDiamond; a bridal line is distributed by M&L. It has two things to hang a hat on—a hearts and arrows look and an AGS ideal grade. I’m planning to bring a few into the store to test customer and staff reaction. My basic approach to buying is that I’m style driven, not vendor driven. If I see, for instance, a watch manufacturer with five gorgeous styles and 500 so-so styles, I’ll buy just those five.”
— Richard Wilson, Wilson Diamonds, Provo, Utah

Ring with “Princess of Hearts” ideal square hearts and arrows cut diamond by SunDiamond. A bridal collection is designed and distributed by M&L Jewelry, (800) 886-2635.