Opinion

All Signs Point to Vegas: Designers I’m Looking Forward to Seeing at the Shows This Week

New York City, May 28, 2019. Tonight I’ll be flying to Sin City, armed with an appointment calendar, a Mophie, and comfortable shoes, among other items in my suitcase. I’m heading to the most important jewelry trade-only shows in North America—JCK Las Vegas, Couture, and Premier—and I’m ecstatic about seeing industry friends and over-the-moon excited at the prospect of eyeballing new collections.

In all the interviews I’ve conducted for the myriad trade publications I write for—including Rapaport, The Jewelry Book, and The Retail Jeweler—every subject was upbeat about business to be had this year. Thankfully, I’ve also nabbed a peek at some of the new collections that will debut and have a heads-up about artisans who’ll be exhibiting. The following is a summary of just a few of those I’m particularly pumped to see.

The Greek Jewelry Designers at JCK LUXURY & JCK Las Vegas

A contingent of about 15 Greek jewelry designers will be new exhibitors at JCK LUXURY and JCK Las Vegas. You may already be familiar with the crazy gorgeous work of Nikos Koulis at Couture, or recall seeing Christina Soubli’s work on this site last week. But this fresh crop of designers will offer another chance to see the kind of jewelry talent of which Greece’s artists are capable. Below is a snapshot of five you can find at the JCK shows. Click here to see the entire list of participants.

Bloody Panther Claws ring in 18k gold with enamel and 0.11 ct. diamonds, $910; email fran@benaliconsulting.com at Honor Omano (LUX30083F) for purchase

Catherine chandelier earrings in 18k white gold with 12.62 cts. t.w. multicolor sapphire drops, $8,400; email fran@benaliconsulting.com at FaCad’oro (LUX30083I) for purchase

Explosion collection ring in 14k rose gold with a red tourmaline center stone, rubies, pink sapphires, and 0.34 ct. t.w. diamonds, $4,200; email fran@benaliconsulting.com at Anomy (JCK Las Vegas 46058) for purchase

Windflowers bracelet in 18k yellow gold, $18,000; email fran@benaliconsulting.com at Samoli (LUX30083A) for purchase

Limited-edition Cherry Blossom necklace from the Kyoto collection is in 18k white and rose gold with 19.8 cts. t.w. colorless and brown diamonds and pink sapphires, $55,000; email fran@benaliconsulting.com at Maureen Maris (LUX30083H) for purchase

Keiko Mita fine jewelry

Designers at Premier

There are so many designers I’m eager to see at the new Premier show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but I’ll just share a couple with you for the sake of efficiency. Premier is a fantastic option for talented artists who are not quite ready for Couture but want to stand out a bit more than in the massive halls of JCK. Premier is attracting some—like the two below—who haven’t exhibited at any of the Las Vegas shows in a while, so I’m thrilled to see their return.

Drop earrings in 18k yellow gold with pink sapphires, tourmalines, and colorless diamonds, $12,350; email fernfree@aol.com at Fern Freeman (Booth #2401 Premier) for purchase

Grand Chandelier earrings in sterling silver with labradorite accents, €480; Laurent Gandini (Booth #2803)

Editor’s note: I bought this pair for myself earlier this year!

Save the life of a suffering street dog in Sarajevo. Click the link to learn how.

Designers at Couture

Couture is absolutely magical. It’s hallowed ground for jewelry talent and the No. 1 destination for stores that want to carry the most compelling jewelry designs on the market. The halls are filled with so much beauty and ingenuity that working the show almost feels like a sacred experience. Verklempt? You bet—Couture will do that to most of its visitors. Here are five of the most badass artists you can see at that fair.

Mosaic necklace in oxidized sterling silver with faceted lapis, $2,950; Nak Armstrong (#1101) at Twist

Fluid bracelet in 18k white gold with black rhodium, a marquise-shape black onyx, and 0.24 ct. t.w. colorless diamonds, $3,900; Fernando Jorge (#1203) at Quadrum Gallery

Cocktail ring in 18k rose gold with rose-cut black diamonds, $4,750; Etho Maria (#423) at Soho Gem

Earrings in 18k white gold with diamonds and translucent enamel, $4,920; Nikos Koulis (#802) at Neiman Marcus

Egg earrings in 18k white gold with 30.48 cts. t.w. blue sapphires, 2.01 cts. t.w. diamonds, and 1.07 cts. t.w. tsavorite garnet, $75,300; Arunashi (#912) at Sabbia


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Opinion

Live from SIHH: I’m at a Watch Show and It’s So Civilized That I Might Be in Love

Geneva, Jan. 17, 2019. Hello Geneva! I attended the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) Genève, held Jan. 14–17, this week to cover watches, an area I haven’t written about at length in some time. I have covered jewelry trends for 22 years, though, and one of the outlets for which I write asked me to add watches to my beat.

Not a problem, especially since it involves attending this über exclusive fair. I hear the vetting process for journalists to cover it is more restrictive than the jewelry trade fairs I attend because it features only luxury watch brands owned by Richemont, the publicly held group of lux holdings like Van Cleef & Arpels. Of course, not just any retailers can show up, either—they must be invited by brands to attend.

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Thankfully, I made the cut, and with laptop and notebook in hand, I flew to Geneva ready to work. Since it was a new show to me, I reached out to my colleague Carol Besler, a longtime watch journalist who writes for Forbes, Journal Haute Horlogerie, and Watch Journal, among others, for the lowdown. “There’s a master schedule of brand appointments—no need to run from one appointment to the next like you do at Baselworld,” she explained about the process for seeing the new watches. [For those who don’t know, Baselworld is another important watch show that happens in Basel, Switzerland.]

One of the stands at SIHH.
Photo courtesy SIHH @ NENCIOLI Gilbert & MORVAN Alain

I’ve never been much for making appointments at my jewelry shows—you inevitably get thrown off schedule after the first one because you have to stop for so many familiar faces in the hallways—so I didn’t really have an opinion. When I hit the show floor, though, and realized how this master schedule would affect my daily routine, I was wishing that every show would mandate this type of scheduling. It’s so civilized! And while there are admittedly far fewer brands to cover at this show than most others I attend, there’s no running around like a crazy person because you have one appointment an hour, giving you plenty of time in between to find your next booth or have a coffee or champagne (all flowing generously, thank you, Richemont).

A lion watch featuring hundreds of wood chips from Vacheron Constantin.
A lion watch featuring hundreds of wood chips from Vacheron Constantin.

The appointments themselves were efficient, and at times, amusing. All the journalists were escorted into large rooms with ample seating and myriad different themes, from dark movie-theatre-like environments to bright, beach cabana-esque patio-like setups with the heat of 1,000 suns pumping in. (Eventually, somebody found the a.c. unit, thank God.) There were presentations with speakers and videos, and everyone had the same opportunity to handle the pieces and snap photos for social media and get a press kit. It was a pleasant way to cover a show.

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And the amusement? Presentations from the brand representatives who unveiled new works ranged from monotone to corny to distracted—one guy enthusiastically mentioned the word “threesome” at least six times by the time I realized he was hell bent on repeating it. (At least he was talking about a watch.) Some of these folks were comfortable in front of a crowd while others awkwardly followed scripts written for them. Compared to my hurried jewelry presentations where you digest a year’s worth of an artist’s commitment in five minutes in order to race to your next appointment to try to see as many brands as you can in eight hours—whew!—this show had some quality entertainment with time to spare for bubbles. I like that.

The interior of the Richard Mille booth spoke to its
playful new collection surrounding sweets.
Photo courtesy SIHH @ NENCIOLI Gilbert & MORVAN Alain

Anyway, I’ll put these first-world issues behind me and dive into some watch coverage. Not surprisingly, this jewelry editor was most jazzed about the collections that had strong stories and/or lots of jewels. Stay tuned for some of my favorite lines in the days ahead.

 A new Bovet watch
A new Bovet watch shot by yours truly.
Drop earrings in 14k yellow gold with purple garnets and diamonds, $1,300 at K.Jon’s

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Opinion

What a Black Diamond, an Old Dog, and the WJA New York Metro Chapter Holiday Party All Have in Common

New YorkCity. Dec. 7, 2018. Early Wednesday morning, I awoke to the sound of our 15-year-old lab/shepherd mix named Beast having a seizure. It was his second one ever—and within a week’s time—and he wasn’t snapping out of this one as quickly as the first. Jeff and I got him into the car and sped over to the closest 24-hour emergency vet, who quickly assessed the cause: a brain tumor.

Fifteen is great long life for a big dog! But as pet parents know, it’s difficult nonetheless to say goodbye. The vet put Beast on a seizure med, though, which has helped stabilize him, and forbade him from doing stairs anymore. We brought him home, dragged his bed downstairs and set it up in the den, and have been living on the first floor with him 24/7. Correction, I have been living with him in the den, given that he cries for me if I’m gone for longer than a few minutes.

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This family emergency forced me to clear my schedule this week. I missed the Platinum Guild International (PGI) holiday party on Wednesday night, and last night’s board dinner of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s (WJA) New York Metro chapter, of which I’m president. PGI’s Jenny Luker and Kevin Reilly were understanding, as was the all-volunteer board with whom I work. Everyone involved has crazy busy schedules, so it seemed unfair and impractical to reschedule our board dinner, which is an opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work and commitment. I wanted them to enjoy it—and from the looks of the photos, they did!! Margaritas, I believe, were part of the reason.

The 2018 board dinner of the WJA New York Metro chapter sans yours truly (I was home on hospice duty)inner of the WJA New York Metro chapter sans myself (I was home on hospice duty)
Board dinner of the WJA New York Metro chapter sans yours truly
because I was home on hospice duty.

So, from my home base of our dog-filled den (our Golden Retriever, Emma, is serving as a therapy dog to both me and Beast), I’m working on next week’s event schedule. This includes the annual WJA New York Metro holiday party, which will happen at the Yale Club on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Tickets are still on sale (click here).

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The holiday party is super festive and upscale, with an open bar, great food, and the camaraderie of members for which our chapter is well known. The party is also an opportunity to learn about industry firms that support the mission of WJA—“to help women in the jewelry and watch industries advance and develop professionally through networking, education, leadership development, and the provision of member services.” Companies support WJA and events like the holiday party through sponsorships, which defray the costs of hosting pricey events like this one, and raffle donations, which raise money for our chapter’s scholarships and grants.

Raffle items this year are unique! First, there are non-jewelry temptations. Closet vocalist and Senior Counsel at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Sara Yood, donated two tickets to the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA)—the competition featured in the film “Pitch Perfect—on Saturday April 27 in New York City. Reed Events donated a two-night hotel stay at the Palazzo/Venetian during the JCK 2019 jewelry show, and onetime WJA National President Ann S. Arnold donated several signed copies of the book she wrote with her father, “Together: A Journey for Survival,” about a childhood spent dodging the Nazis during World War II. (Also find it on Amazon.com.) 

Together, A Journey of Survival, is the work of onetime WJA National President Ann Arnold, whose family business is Lieberfarb. Arnold wrote this book with her father, a Holocaust survivor, to tell his story.
Together, A Journey of Survival, is the work of onetime WJA National President Ann Arnold, whose family business is Lieberfarb. Arnold wrote this book with her father, a Holocaust survivor, to tell his story.

Of course, there are also plenty of jewels. Thanks to Metro chapter co-treasurer and jewelry designer Delphine Leymarie, we will have a sterling silver Etoile ring up for grabs. Member and designer Elena Kriegner is also donating a ring, but hers is called Spark and features a massive 20 carat citrine center stone. Eliko Pearl, a longtime dealer in the city and a member of the Cultured Pearl Association of America (of which this author serves as part-time executive director), is donating a pair of dark Tahitian keshi pearls, a pair of stunning pale natural-color blue akoya pearls, and an oversize baroque Tahitian pearl.

Etoile ring in sterling silver from Delphine Leymarie
Etoile ring in sterling silver from Delphine Leymarie

And there’s one final gem that’s of particular interest to me: a round black diamond from Instagem.net.

Black rose-cut diamond from Instagem.net/TBR. International Inc.
Black rose-cut diamond from Instagem.net

AsI enjoy the final days with my own black beauty of a dog, that black diamond reminds me of our Beast through its color, imperfections (it’s a rose cut), and even its size—0.9 carat and our Beasty weighs 95 pounds. I’ll buy a chance to win that stone next week after I find overnight accommodations for my furry baby who needs round-the-clock care. If I win it, I’ll set it into a necklace to keep him close; If I don’t win it, no matter—a lifetime of memories with that big, silly, and loveable dog will live on forever in my mind.

Dogs are a stinky, slobbery, sometimes destructive, and loveable gift to us all, and the joy, laughter, and peace that Beasty, once a stray from rural West Virginia, has given to our family is akin to winning a diamond a day for the rest of our lives. As much of a jewelry lover as I now am, I’d take Beast over a diamond a day every day for eternity.

I hope you will join us next week at the Yale Club to celebrate another year of blessings, even if my year end is a bit bittersweet.

Fifteen-year-old Beasty at home with his 8-year-old pal Emma at his side.
Fifteen-year-old Beasty at home with his eight-year-old pal Emma at his side.

Jennifer Heebner LLC

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Opinion

A Close Call with Knockoffs Illustrates Problems in Jewelry

New York City. Dec. 3, 2018. On Saturday morning as I sat sipping my coffee and scrolling through Facebook, I came across a request on a closed trade-only jewelry forum called Jewelers Helping Jewelers (JHJ). Would the group of more than 14,000 individuals please weigh in to help the poster, a jeweler, learn how to copy the handiwork of an established jewelry designer with a recognizable aesthetic since one of his good customers liked it? The designer was Polly Wales, a pioneer in the cast-not-set technique of wax-cast jewelry with gemstones.

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I nearly spit out my coffee—not because somebody else was yet again trying to copy the hard work of another individual but because that person had taken the request to a huge public forum to expedite the offense. By the time I saw the post, it had been online for about 16 hours, allowing ample time for others to weigh in. But instead of posts of protest à la, “That’s not ethical behavior,” they responded with ugly comments about the designer’s signature aesthetic, an organic-looking method of casting specific gemstones securely into precious metal.

A short-lived online discussion ensued before the poster, I imagine, deleted the entire thread. Perhaps he realized that time stamps and motive were present, which could provide evidence that he intended to take money out of the established designer’s pocket and put it into his own. I’m not a lawyer or a policewoman, but as a journalist with 22 years of experience writing about serious industry issues like this, it’s appropriate to point out questionable behavior for the benefit of many. Over the summer, I even helped to organize a conference for the New York Metro chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association where intellectual property (IP) lawyers offered insight into alleged claims of knockoffs—which is where I learned about time stamping and willful efforts to deceive. If the now-deleted JHJ thread became public knowledge, it could be a black eye to many in jewelry. I’m thrilled the jeweler took it down, because its presence lent a measure of authoritativeness to a request that could lead many down a dark path.

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This certainly isn’t the first time IP issues have come under scrutiny, nor will it be the last. But learning from them—quickly—and turning the situation around is always the best course of action for all parties involved.

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