8 Aug 2017
Wonder Woman's Legacy Proves All-Conquering at US Jewellery Show
As well as demolishing this summer's box-office records, Wonder Woman, the Amazonian comic-book heroine, proved hard to beat at this year's JCK Las Vegas, with jewellery designers only too keen to pay homage to her winning style.
From golden cuffs to risqué chokers to secret ingredients, JCK Las Vegas, the annual trade event for the North American jewellery sector, offered plenty to explore and admire. This year, its array of timeless pieces and unique designs found buyers emboldened by a growing willingness to spend on the part of customers across the US. In one new development for 2017, many categories featured lines inspired by Wonder Woman, the summer box-office smash that has proved a particular hit with female moviegoers across the US. After all, who wouldn't want their own magical Bracelets of Submission?
Discussing the lineup of Wonder Woman-inspired armour-like pieces, Brittany Siminitz, the editor of JCK Magazine, the publication behind the show, said: "Jewellery has the power to make people feel things – whether that is that they are loved, beautiful, bad-ass… There's definitely something to be said about just how powerful you feel when you're wearing a regal, armour-like item on your wrist. It's a trend I look forward to seeing grow and grow."
Similarly empowering was a new line from De Beers, the Johannesburg-headquartered diamond giant, which, according to Stephen Lussier, the company's Marketing Director, "celebrates a woman for her inner character and qualities". Avoiding citing Wonder Woman as a direct inspiration, Lussier, instead, highlighted the company's research into the growing self-purchase market, which now accounts for 31% of the women's diamond-jewellery sector, up 7% in the past nine years. Acknowledging the significance of this, he said: "While gift-giving remains the foundation of our sales, there's a clear trend for economically empowered women to buy diamond jewellery for themselves."
According to Lussier, designer "stackable" diamond rings are among the drivers of this new self-purchase category. Offering one possible explanation for this, he said: "It's very hard for men to buy design-oriented jewellery, as they tend to get it wrong."
Overall, Lussier was largely positive as to the prospects for the world diamond market over the next 12 months. He credited this likely upturn to rising sales in China and India's recovery from both a jewellers' strike and a series of disincentives on the part of its government.
More willing to directly acknowledge the Wonder Woman effect was Erica Cloud, the Hollywood stylist best known for dressing Mandy Moore, the US singer-songwriter and actress. Highlighting a resurgence in double-cuff bracelets and the emerging wave of artifact-like Alexander Calder-inspired jewellery, she said: "It clearly helps if your piece has a story and if you feel special just wearing it."
Maintaining that her own perfect item of jewellery would look like a work of art, complete with a combination of metals for easy pairing, she said: "It would have to be something a little messy, like the result of some kind of explosion – or something left hanging that looks about to break."
Asked about red-carpet looks for the coming season, Cloud championed coloured stones, particularly those with blue hues, saying: "They are the most flattering colour, regardless of skin tone. You can put them on anyone and the colour just works."
Among her current go-tos for her clients are statement pieces, particularly those with something of an avant-garde flair. She also maintained that chokers are very much on trend, whether classic pearl, gold or something more contemporary, while cameos are making a comeback, as are earrings with a high statement potential.
Expanding on this, she said: "You don't have to choose just one pair of earrings – you can opt for two different earrings, both with different coloured stones. Among my favourites are a set of earrings that combine yellow gold and different sized pearls, as well as a number of wooden pieces that subtly incorporate gems.
"As to what is generally hot in and around Los Angeles, well everyone is layering everything, which really allows you to express your own identity. For my part, I often go for enamel jewellery in a range of different colours. I find that even if I wear it with a t-shirt and jeans, it gives me a real individual look. Overall, right now, more is definitely more."
On the showfloor, it was again chokers that seemed a clear favourite among many buyers. In the case of Cristina Sabatini, the New York-based designer-jewellery brand, more than half of its range of chokers was new for the show, including several variations on many of the company's classic styles.
Introducing the new range, Ann Christian, a Brand Representative for the company, said: "Our new range of chokers has gone down very well. They add a dash of colour to everyday pieces, while pairing well with fine jewellery.
"For those wanting a more elegant look, we have introduced a rope scroll choker in a variety of colours, complete with gold plating and a selection of natural gemstones. We also have a corset choker that can be laced at the front or back, offering something of an edgier look. Our most expensive item – the Rope Three Cord Choker – retails for US$478 and comes in 18k gold, with stingray and python leather flourishes."
For Connecticut-based Evocateur, the idea of jewellery as true works of art has long been its key selling point. Following a career in corporate finance, Barbara Ross-Innamorati, the company's Founder, started working with gold leaf. Taking her inspiration from a range of artistic themes and her own travel experiences, she delivered her own distinct take on earrings, necklaces and cuffs. Looking back at her initial venture into the jewellery space, she said: "It was when I saw The Kiss, Klimt's masterwork, that my vision really came together."
More recently, her company has debuted the Erté Collection, a range of bracelets and necklaces inspired by the cover art of Harper's Bazaar, the legendary US women's fashion magazine. It has also made a successful foray into the world of cuffs, all featuring digitised silk paintings. Overall, Ross-Innamorati maintains there is an abiding interest in unique pieces with strong backstories, a combination that inevitably appeals to customers unafraid of a hefty price tag.
For Lauren G Adams, the Florida-based women's jewellery designer, its more recent successes have been down to its range of stackable rings and bracelets. For the coming season, it has introduced a selection of decidedly whimsical coral and turquoise pieces, together with a line of stackable "all roses" bracelets.
Emphasising the wide appeal of its range, Orly Ovadia, the company's Creative Director, said: "Our jewellery is stackable and collectable and mixes well with gold or sterling silver. It can be preppy or delicate, but always comes with a punch of colour. At the design stage, we usually have a young professional woman in mind, although their moms quite often love our products too."
Arguably the biggest surprise at this year's event, though, was one that was technically impossible to wear – gem-infused water. This saw a range of personal bottles and decanters under the VitaJuwel brand, all infused with a selection of gems, promising everything from beauty (amethyst, aventurine quartz and rouse quartz) to passion (carnelian, halite salt) to balance (sodalite and clear quartz).
According to Anjanette Sinesio, the Founder of California-based Gem-water, VitaJuwel's North American distributors, the jewel-infused mixes make water "healthier by restructuring it to its natural spring state". A former jewellery maker, a chance encounter with VitaJuwel inspired her to take a different approach to stones and to doing business. Reflecting on her change of tack, she said: "I'd been adorning women from the outside for many years, but decided I really wanted to adorn them from the inside using the power of gems."
JCK Las Vegas 2017 took place from 2-8 June at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Co-located with the LUXURY show, the combined events welcomed a total of 21,800 attendees and 2,426 jewellery, gemstone, equipment and retail security exhibitors.
Anna Huddleston, Special Correspondent, Las Vegas