By Lenore Fedow
A display of enamel necklaces at Tasty Peach Studios’ booth at New York Comic Con, featuring characters created by head artist Ryan Zanfei.
I am the resident nerd here at National Jeweler, so when New York Comic Con rolled around, I was first in line to cover the event.

For those unfamiliar with Comic Con, it’s not like the nerd conventions of yesteryear with the collapsible card tables and a few Trekkies slinging comic books.

New York Comic Con is a massive, four-day event, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans each year.

The show floor is packed with exhibitors, selling everything your little nerd heart could ever want, from books and T-shirts to posters and other collectibles.

Downstairs is Artist Alley, where some of the most talented comic book and graphic novel artists gather to showcase their work, which is available for purchase.

The list of scheduled events includes educational panels, celebrity meet-and-greets, early movie screenings and cosplay (costume) contests.

Excitedly, I hopped on the uptown 7 train Thursday afternoon and headed over to the Javits Center for day one of the annual pop culture convention.

My main objective was to visit Citizen, which invited National Jeweler to check out its new collaboration with Marvel. You can read the full story here.

The watch company unveiled two new, limited-edition Marvel watches in celebration of the comic company’s 80th anniversary.

20191008 Spider Man WatchThe Spider-Man watch is limited to 1,962 pieces, a reference to the year Spider-Man was introduced ($450).I tried on both during my visit to the booth, and, while I liked the Marvel 80th Anniversary watch, the Spider-Man watch stole the show for me.

It photographs really well, but it’s even better up close. The full-color Spider-Man really pops against the gray comic book panel background.

After my stop at Citizen, I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the show floor.

When I say walking, I mean very slowly inching my way through a massive crowd, breaking free from the pack here and there to stop at booths that caught my eye, including a list of jewelry booths I wanted to visit.

I ran into some fellow nerdy friends along the way, which made my quest much easier; they’d spot the jewelry booth I was looking for and together we’d strong-arm our way over there, dodging foam axes and full backpacks.

My first stop was at Tiny Top Hats, a North Carolina-based company specializing in handmade hats.

The hats, ranging in price from $40 to $50, are works of arts, but the pocket watches are what grabbed my attention.

The pocket watches, a nod to the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland, retail for $20, but are complimentary when buying a tiny top hat.

Though the hats are crafted by hand, the pocket watches are from an outside supplier, said a worker behind the booth.

20191008 Pocket WatchesTiny Top Hats had a wide selection of pocket watches on display, including some with a steampunk flair.
My next stop was at Tasty Peach Studios, a bright and colorful booth lined with adorable plush figures.

Based in Mishawaka, Indiana, the boutique started as an Etsy shop in 2007 and now sets up shop at more than 70 conventions a year, according to its website.

Head artist Ryan Zanfei brings a touch of anime and nerdiness to the enamel trend through her cute and cuddly drawings.

Zanfei designs the characters herself, giving each its own personality, then sends the drawings to an outside company that turns them into pins and necklaces.

20191008 Tasty Peach Enamel NecklacesThese enamel necklaces feature Tofusagi, a cuddly tofu bunny, swinging from a hibiscus flower, and Udon Kitten, a ramen-loving cat, paws-deep in a bowl of ramen.
The necklaces retail for $12 while the pins sell for $6 to $12.

Next, I headed over to RockLove Jewelry’s booth, where I was greeted by a life-size gargoyle chair with a line of people waiting to take a photo sitting on it.

The line to see its jewelry was twice as long, wrapping through the booth and back onto the show floor.

Founder Allison Cimino started the company in 2008, after spending time learning about accessory design in Florence, Italy and sharpening her business acumen in New York’s Diamond District.

The company inked licensing deals with Disney, Marvel and Star Wars to create jewelry featuring iconic characters and motifs.
20191008 Boba Fett RockLove Ring copyThis limited-edition Boba Fett ring even features the recognizable dent in the character’s helmet ($135).
Its booth featured Disney princess jewelry, from Sleeping Beauty to The Little Mermaid, as well as characters from Alice in Wonderland, Frozen, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Aladdin and Winnie the Pooh.

I found an opening in the crowd and approached the showcase with the brand’s new, limited-edition Star Wars jewelry. Only 1,000 pieces of each design will be made.

The pieces come in a signature Star Wars collector’s box with metallic silkscreen art inside, made to look like a theatrical movie screen.

Boba Fett, a fierce bounty hunter, was brought to life, Mandalorian armor and all, in this sterling silver, hand-painted enamel ring.
This Wicket the Ewok necklace made me smile as soon as I saw it. Something about his fuzzy little paws grasping that big spear tugged at my heart strings.

The Wicket pendant is three-dimensional, made of solid sterling silver with faceted black crystal eyes.

20191008 RockLove Wicket the Ewok NecklaceThis Wicket the Ewok necklace shows the warm and cuddly side of the brave warrior who joined the Rebellion to fight against the Empire ($135). (Photo courtesy of RockLove Jewelry)
My last stop was at Pearl Odyssey, a Connecticut-based company with a booth selling handmade pearl jewelry beside a large fish tank, complete with its own castle inside.

The jewelry buying experience here was an interactive one, complete with a pair of tongs and an oyster shucker.

Interested attendees could pick an oyster straight from the tank and open it to reveal the pearl inside. The pearl was then cleaned, measured and placed in a setting of your choice.

The simple pearl jewelry ranges in price from $45 to $125.

During my time with National Jeweler, I’ve been to a handful of trade shows and events, and I’ve seen my fair share of breathtakingly beautiful gems and jewelry.

Whether I’m looking at a six-figure ring or a $10 costume piece, I love to see how self-expression manifests itself through jewelry.

If you can tell me a story or give me an experience to remember, you can sell me almost anything.

The jewelry sellers at New York Comic Con didn’t bring all the fancy-shmancy bling I’m used to seeing, but they brought the fun and excitement in spades.

Until next year, live long and prosper!

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