A trio of retailers talked with National Jeweler about what they are buying at the Couture show, which continues through Tuesday at the Wynn Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Sandro de Carvalho, Sandro-Photo.com)

Las Vegas--According to some of the industry’s top retailers, the biggest trend in fine jewelry at this year’s Couture show is that there is no novel, buzzy trend, and this is a good thing.

Instead, there’s a continuation of several trends seen at previous years’ shows, which are showing real staying power and helping the fine jewelry category to maintain a healthy, anti-fast-fashion pace.

Ylang 23’s Vice President of Business Development Alysa Teichman said that cool studs and statement earrings, meant to be worn mismatched and in multiple piercings, are still one of her store’s top priorities.

“We’re doing really amazing business right now in earrings so we’re still investing in a lot of ear stories,” she said. “We’re crazy about Irene Neuwirth’s single earrings.”

Teichman also cited Celine D’Aoust, the Belgian brand that debuted at Couture this year, as well as Sydney Evan as two other go-to designers for earrings popular with the Ylang 23 client.

 Necklaces have also been selling well at the Dallas-based company.

“We love set-free diamonds,” Teichman explained. “We bought really heavy in that at Kataoka.”

Teichman was impressed with what she saw at Selim Mouzannar, whose one-of-a-kind emerald necklace that debuted at Couture she described as “just delicious,” as well as the new offerings on view at Melissa Joy Manning.

She also said she was excited to be adding Jacquie Aiche to her store’s roster.

Teichman noted that a thread that ties many of Ylang 23’s designers together is an emphasis on symbolism and meaning, which isn’t at all trendy, she explained, but extremely relevant to today’s consumer.

“We’ve been selling a lot of Foundrae’s necklaces and Andrea Fohrman’s celestial pieces and things that you can really engrave and make your own,” said Teichman, who noted that Retrouvai’s new enamel pieces also fit the bill for pieces that were either customizable to the wearer or imparted meaning through various words and symbols.  
“We’re not really that interested in trends; we’re looking for things that we fall in love with, that are moving to us. What makes something right is not necessarily measurable.” -- Twist owner Paul Schneider
Twist owner Paul Schneider also placed emphasis on the meaning behind pieces, albeit in a more abstract sense.

The most impressive designs, in Schneider’s eyes, are impactful in a way that often defies of-the-moment trends.

“We’re not really that interested in trends; we’re looking for things that we fall in love with, that are moving to us,” he explained. “What makes something right is not necessarily measurable.”  

His buying strategy is unorthodox, focusing on a selection based on design merit, rather than profitability. But through it, he’s managed to carve out a strong foothold in Portland, Seattle and beyond with Twist’s e-commerce store.  

“We’re not looking for what the customers are necessarily looking for, but we look for what we really like,” Schneider admitted. “And that’s worked for us.”

Schneider found no shortage of pieces that moved him at the show.

“Sevan Bicaki’s (new collection) is something that we wait all year for,” he said. “We see him first, we save money for it and we spend it. It’s great.”

Schneider was happy to see a continued interest in color from designers, a trend that has grown over recent years.

He mentioned the “clean, bright colors” he saw from Page Sargisson, a Couture first-timer; Suzanne Kalan, who typically focuses on diamonds; and Spinelli Kilcollin, who continuously brings new color combinations into his collection.

“It used to be that precious jewelry really had to be diamonds. Now, there’s a lightness and a brightness that’s definitely showing up that’s really nice,” Schneider said.

In the Design Atelier, Schneider was impressed with Taru and Elie Top.

Of the latter he explained: “Elie Top’s work was just extraordinary and it had nothing to do with trend. The skill, the vision and the complexity really moved us. It’s so great to see something new that shows that much commitment to craftsmanship.”

Schneider’s only concern about Couture is the gap between the opportunity the Design Atelier affords young brands, and the financial responsibility that comes with procuring a regular show booth.

“The Design Atelier is fantastic because it really allows people who are emerging or small-scale (to participate). It keeps the show vital, and limiting it to three years is good,” said Schenider. “It’s the people who leave the Design Atelier and move into the salons whom I just hope can keep affording to do this.”
“Designers have incorporated pieces (into their collections) that are either convertible or have add-ons that transform a piece from casual to something more formal. You feel like you’re getting two looks in one.” -- Swoonery buyer Geraldine Salcedo
E-commerce fine jewelry store Swoonery’s buyers, Sara Fadel and Geraldine Salcedo, were impressed with the staying power of trends that could easily have fizzled out.

Chokers in particular, which emerged as a major trend at the Couture show last year, were still in abundance, but with a more elevated and luxurious look.

“It’s surprising how many designers have gone into making more chokers and collars,” Salcedo said.

“Chokers have now become a new necklace category and they can be really sexy and refined,” said Fadel, noting that the upscale versions she saw at the show were appropriate for all age demographics.

Salcedo and Fadel said that Hueb and Marli stood out for their chokers, which were edgy and glamorous.

They also noted that unusual, “not your grandmother’s pearls” designs were still going strong at several of the brands they visited, including Colette.

“She’s edgy but also timeless,” said Salcedo. “I really admire her designs.”

“Modern pearls have this elegant-but-edgy look that we personally love and we want to expose our customers to that,” said Fadel.

Convertible jewelry was also a hot item at the show.

“Designers have incorporated pieces (into their collections) that are either convertible or have add-ons that transform a piece from casual to something more formal,” said Salcedo. “You feel like you’re getting two looks in one. Carol Kauffmann has a choker that becomes a bracelet.”  

“I think it’s important to have such versatility in your pieces because you can go from day to night and Carol did that really phenomenally,” Fadel agreed.

Salcedo saw several strong Brazilian brands, including Yael Sonia, whom she called “architectural and playful,” the aforementioned Hueb and Carol Kauffmann, and Fernando Jorge.

Some of Fadel’s favorites were Karma El Khalil, for the way she buys rough gemstones and has them custom-cut, Nadine Ghosn for capturing a current moment in pop culture, and Akillis, who provided an update to the typical fine jewelry love story.

“They presented a new collection representing the more tumultuous nature of love,” Fadel explained. “There was a cuff that looked like a bear trap, where the design didn’t fit perfectly together because no relationship is perfectly fit together--there’s always a power struggle and this passionate dynamic.

“I fell in love with the story.”

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