Las Vegas Jewelry Week, the biggest annual buying event for jewelry, gems, and watches in the U.S., wrapped up its 2021 events yesterday.
But though the history of jewelry trade shows in the American desert’s flashiest playground dates back to 1992, the 2021 shows were unlike any other. With COVID-19 Delta variant infections spreading across the country, every show had a mask mandate; and while group dinners and parties happened, attendance at after-show events was sparser than in years past.
Fortunately, that reality was tempered for many by the thrill of seeing business partners and industry friends in person for the first time in over two years. And business was brisk: several vendors reported that they were having banner shows, and that the retailers who showed up this year came to buy, not casually browse. “It’s nice that the show’s a little more cleared-out, without all the lookiloos,” noted designer Lauren Kessler, who showed her Lauren K collection at LUXURY.
The week, headlined by LUXURY, JCK Las Vegas, and the Couture Show, also gave retailers the opportunity to cherry pick from scads of jewelry that wasn’t only gorgeous and shelf-ready, but also deeply creative. Given a surplus of time to create during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, many designers and design teams experimented with ideas, materials, and techniques they might have formerly considered flights of fancy—or evolved existing pieces and collections in new and interesting ways. Ingenuity and playfulness bloomed in so many booths.
Below are a handful of styles we snapped that align with current trends, both new and emerging. We’re thinking these treasures will captivate consumers for many seasons to come.
Lika Behar’s Chains
Chunky chain necklaces and bracelets were all over the shows (and are all the rage wth influencers and celebrities on Instagram and TikTok). But no one did them quite like designer Lika Behar, whose gorgeous, hand-forged link necklaces incorporated 22k and 24k carat gold, sterling silver, and diamond-pave (mainly peppering chubby clasps). “They are flying out of the booth,” reported a representative at the brand’s LUXURY booth. “Retailers are loving that they’re a little different and more special because the links are handmade.”
Frederic Sage’s Two-Toned Rings and Levian’s Colorful Borders
Mashing two or more brightly colored stones into a single artful piece isn’t a new idea, but the look as a trend is still ascending (and vivid color is popular all-around right now). Brands at the shows experimented with nontraditional color combinations in gems, to stunning effect. Colored gem veteran Levian offered up an array of pieces featuring giant cabochon-cut opals bordered by bright green Paraiba tourmaline, deep pink tourmaline, and other hotly hued gems. Frederic Sage, meanwhile, paired deep pink and blue emerald-cult tourmalines in a single, profoundly perfect, ring style.
Rosa Van Parys’ Good Vibes
Jewelry with positive messaging was also popular, and Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Rosa Van Parys reported that retailers were loving her upbeat- and personal-feeling pieces, including a double-finger ring that teamed a spiky metal heart with a Tahitian pearl, Gothic-script gold letter charms (to represent love or yourself or a special loved one), and a spectacular one-of-a-kind necklace peppered in a rainbow of gem pave that spells out “LOVE” (see it above). “People want to feel good,” she said. “It’s been hard lately, and they are celebrating love and connection.”
Moonstones from Omi Privé and Lauren K
The mystical-feeling moonstone is trending hard right now. On the high end, Omi Privé’s decadent rings feature giant, cabochon-cut moonstone center stones framed by multi-colored tourmaline pave. More accessible (but no less stunning) was Lauren K’s latest moonstone series, which includes drop earrings, flower-motif necklaces, and diamond-bordered cocktail rings. “Moonstone’s such a great neutral, it goes with everything,” said brand designer Kessler, summing up its appeal.
Pearls at Mateo New York and Assael
Speaking of neutrals! Pearls are still selling strongly, but after a few years of intense popularity, we’re still talking about pearls used in innovative-feeling designs, not your classic strand (though the basic strand could be coming for the guys, thanks to pearl necklace lovers Harry Styles and Justin Beiber). Our favorite styles at the show came from a modern brand, Mateo New York, and a venerable one, Assael. Matteo New York designer Matthew Harris wrapped waves of pearls around simple strands of diamonds to create a pair of earrings that looked ready to take flight (and walk the Met Ball carpet). While Assael—the firm that first introduced Tahitian pearls to the jewelry market—iterated on its luxe branch-motif earrings and Bubble pieces that bunch lustrous pearls into grape vine-like configurations. And like the fruit they resemble, they’re absolutely delicious.
Top photo: Vram gold and sapphire earrings