After 11 consecutive years attending Las Vegas Jewelry Week, I’ve finally learned that it’s best to enter its aisles with a mind as empty as an old tin can. Why? As an editor and fervent jewelry lover, it’s too easy for me to find support for my (many, many) hunches on trends that are emerging, sticking around, or on their way out.
For example, my gut’s been telling me in recent months that the popularity of the ubiquitous paperclip chain is finally faltering. But perusing the collections and talking to vendors in Vegas, I discovered that this specific hunch is basically garbage. Paperclip chains are still flying off shelves across America! And the fact that I’m tired of them—and man, I am—means absolutely nothing.
Of far greater consequence, obviously, is what’s on the floors of the shows, and what manufacturers and retailers are experiencing. Yes, as trade editors here at The Zing Report we always keep an eye on the cultural swirl—the social influencers, celebrity fashion, and hot-ticket TV and movies that nudge jewelry trends into the mainstream. But, as ever, it’s the design and merchandising mavericks in this industry who are the best trend forecasters (and yes, some of them wisely obey their guts!).
Below, check out my five takeaways from Las Vegas Jewelry Week meant to help you buy with wisdom and flair in 2023.
Men’s Jewelry is A For-Real Best-Seller
“Men’s jewelry is absolutely on fire,” said Alexis McCoy, marketing project manager at Gabriel & Co., which expanded its men’s collection this year with customizable pendants and mixed metal peices, among other styles. The sentiment was echoed by many in Las Vegas. Ippolita’s voluminous custom gems include a couple of gem-y brooches that break into necklace-brooch sets; the brooches certainly feel tailor-made to festoon suit lapels.
At pearl company Mastoloni, PR representative Fran Pennella introduced the brand’s first-ever men’s collection, which boasts intricate sterling silver-and-leather bracelets and necklaces. “Men’s jewelry is really happening,” confirmed the industry veteran. Toss in the ceaseless parade of bold jewelry worn by A-list male celebs in Hollywood this year, and I’d say consensus on that opinion is strong.
Matte and Satin Golds Are Coming On Strong
Glossy is still the gold standard in fine fashion jewelry, but warm and icy golds polished to matte and satin patinas were all over the higher-end Luxury and Couture shows, in particular. Dilamani, Jye, Mazza Company, Jacquie Aiche, Alp Sagnak, and Chris Ploof were among the designers who embraced the look, which speaks to the “Quiet Luxury” fashion trend kicked off by the much-discussed stealth-wealth costumes in HBO show “Succession.” In engagement and ceremony rings, especially, I like the added interest that satin and matte gold lends designs.
Vintage is No Longer the “Deal” Category
Looking back, I guess it should have been obvious that vintage jewelry would become more valued by consumers, and therefore more expensive. Gold is gold and diamonds are diamonds—no matter how old they are. And as jewelry lovers become more educated in the “forever” value proposition fine jewelry offers (not to mention the magic of old-world workmanship), they’re more willing to spend on vintage pieces, which often come with rich origin stories and/or design pedigrees and that “something different” that fashionable folks prize.
And creep, prices have (said Yoda). Walking around the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show at the Wynn Resort, it was impossible to ignore the sky-high prices vendors were quoting—and getting. There was no cap on the prices for designer pieces from Buccellati, Schlumberger-era Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, etc.; makes sense, considering they’re collectible and auction-ready pieces.
That consumers are seeing the value in historic jewels is an unequivically good thing. But it’s important to note that the category (at least on the higher tiers ) is now competing directly with the new jewelry market in price. Nearly gone are the days of “deals” in vintage fine jewelry.
Silver is Shedding its ‘Price-Point Jewelry’ Rep
If you think sterling silver jewelry is solely for price-point consumers, think again. Sterling has been a strong seller for a couple of years now, and I’m thrilled to see that more artistic-minded designers are embracing the white metal. Fine jewelry designer Nak Armstrong’s prescient Nakard sterling silver-and-gem collection, which he launched in 2020 because he wanted to make bigger (but not more expensive) pieces with fine jewelry aesthetics, foretold the future: this year’s shows were full of bold, interesting designs rendered in sterling.
Winged Things Are Soaring
Bees at Lord Jewelry and Harwell Godfrey, butterflies at Stuller and Lauren K., and pretty enameled dragonflies with vibrating (really!) wings at Artistry Inc. Flying creatures were absolutely everywhere at this year’s shows. “I wanted everything to be very garden,” said Lauren Harwell Godfrey, who showed gloriously bejeweled bee pendants and a chubby bee in platinum—a new metal for the designer—as part of a trio of nature-inspired brooches (see that trio at top). Flight is an age-old human obsession, and one that makes sense in our culture right now. With so many challenges and complications afoot, we all feel like flying away sometimes!