Saturday, May 31, 2008

JCK Las Vegas - The Show Around The Show!!!!

The JCK Las Vegas Show is in it’s 17th year and like the Tucson Show it has attracted the independent Gem & Jewelry shows we all know from the desert event. Wholesale and Retail shows are popping up at most of the hotels surrounding the Sands and Venetian Resorts.

A friend and Artisan Laura Roberts of Lorelilee Creations ( is in Las Vegas and will be our eyes & ears at the wholesale shows here reports on the G.L.D.A., To Bead True Blue and G&LW shows are excellent and give us an insight into the trends to come. Her report follows...

Photo by Webbaliah

G.L.D.A and To Bead True Blue @ The Mirage 5/26-5/29/08

Tuesday 5/27—went to walk the show for the first time. I was very excited because this was the first time that To Bead True Blue was there. Although I had been to Tucson, I had never managed to make it to the Manning House show and this was meant to be a version of it.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how empty it was. I had been to the G.L.D.A in 2007 and it had been crowded. There appeared to be the same amount of vendors as in ’07, but not nearly the same number of people shopping. As I walked the show, and spoke with various vendors, they concurred. Definitely fewer people, but it was only the second day and the vendors were hoping it would pick up.

On this day, my only goal was to walk the show, visit with vendors I already knew, check out news ones and of course check out the vendors from the Manning House show. I noticed on Tuesday that in the Grand Ballroom, there was about the same proportion of finished jewelry to beads as in ’07 (about 50/50). In the Grand Elegance Pavilion (a separate area) it was 99% finished jewelry and only 1 bead vendor. The Grand Elegance Pavilion has all the high end jewelers predominantly from Hong Kong. Really lovely things, but definitely for retail stores and not for a jewelry designer like me. The big trend I noticed in their finished pieces was multi-colored sapphires. Otherwise I didn’t really see any trends, unless you count the “Y” necklace coming back. (And for myself, I’d rather not!)

The To Bead True Blue show (Lalibella Blu Las Vegas) was in a small section of the large ballroom where the G.L.D.A main show is. There were some really wonderful vendors there, but like the other ones, it was also slow.

I left the show after a few hours, ready to shop on Wednesday!

Wed 5/28—the show was just as empty. And the all the vendors were unhappy, the traffic was way down and the spending was too. Bad news for the vendors, but good news for me and Neva (who was with me) because we got some smoking' deals.

As this was now the 3rd day of the show, with slow traffic, the vendors started to basically grab us as we walked by. Everyone wanted us to look at their items. And everyone was willing to deal.

The Most Seen Stones:
Kyanite--gorgeous deep blue faceted briolette and rondelles (same color as Ceylon sapphire) and quite expensive--slate to royal blue squares, circles, ovals, polished and on strands and much less expensive. In 2006 you couldn't find ANY Kyanite, now it's at nearly every gemstone booth. I'm thinking there must have been some new deposits of it found because I've never seen so much of it so cheap!

Apatite--possibly my favorite gemstone in the universe--lots of it in faceted rondelles, in all of the colors from pale green to deep dark blue. Also in LOTS of polished forms, nuggets, ovals, etc. The prices for anything that wasn't faceted were good, faceted stones were still pricey.

Round faceted jaspers and agates--I did not expect to see Poppy Jasper sparkle, but it does!

Tiny donuts and go-go donuts (4-5mm) CENTER DRILLED and strung on strands. Also kind of pricey, but cute.

Tiny briolette (1-3mm) of the usual suspects (topaz, ruby, etc) BUT also in Jaspers and Agates.

Red Tiger Eye from China with the most chatonancy of any tiger eye I've ever seen. That stuff glows! (I didn't buy any, I'm not sure why.)

Pearls--all kinds, all prices higher than I expected--the natural disasters in Asia are taking a toll on the pearl market.

Silver--Very high--Turkish Silver was 85 cents per gram. Bali Silver 80 cents per gram and Thai Silver was $1 or more per gram. Very painful!

Really HOT stones: Ammonite, Boulder Opal, Turquoise. Someone had a new Turquoise find from AZ, which was a pale light blue, almost like Larimar. I was tempted (it was fairly cheap) but I decided against it because no one would believe it was really Turquoise.

What I didn't see:
Pietersite--only one vendor claimed to have some Chinese Red but it had no chatonancy so I think they had it mislabeled.
Fluorite--there was some and a decent quality, but none faceted, just nuggets and rounds.
Moonstone--I didn't see to many faceted rondelles and the ones I did see were about twice as high as 2006.

What I saw too much of:
Aquamarine, blue and multi-colored--wide range of quality—also wide range of prices
Prehnite--wide range of color and quality—also wide range of prices

One last thing—there were several vendors I spoke to who were clearly upset by the attendance at the G.L.D.A. I suspect in ’09 it will be a very different show, especially if the economy doesn’t pick up.

Photo: Sarah Heston

5/30—G&LW—Bally’s Hotel
First day of the show and once again, slow. But vendor and attitude wise, a world of difference from the G.L.D.A. Some vendors from the G.L.D.A.—S.I.I. Findings, Pearl Concepts, Realm of the Goddess, and a few others. The GL&W show is about half the size of the GLDA, but its 80-90% beads with the rest being finished jewelry.

Some vendors that I remembered from last year weren’t at this show, according to Colored Stone they were either at the Whole Bead Show (also new to Vegas this year) or at the Bead Renaissance Show at Palace Station. Since as a rule I don’t go to mainly retail shows (unless I am desperate!) I won’t be reporting on those.

I’m guessing the vendors all had a chat about the G.L.D.A, because from the moment we (or any other shopper) walked in, the vendors immediately stopped you, tried to show you their wares and then started dropping their prices like crazy. Clearly, an air of desperation was here. I had a long chat with a vendor I know well (I won’t name names, because of what was discussed) and he basically told me that business was off 50% year to year at the G.L.D.A and that it almost wasn’t worth it to have done one show, let alone both. Then he proceeded to drop his prices significantly for silver by the gram to almost ’07 levels. Again, great for me, not so great for him.

Again, a world of difference from G.L.D.A. In ’07 the GL&W had 5 or 6 faceted gemstone vendors with A grade product or better. This year there were only 2. Last year there were lots of people selling Jaspers and Agates as well as other items, this year there were only 2 big “rock” vendors. Most of the vendors had a smattering of everything, pearls, C grade gemstones, jaspers, etc.

Again, I saw a lot of Kyanite, Aquamarine and Prehnite. Lots of Turquoise as well, however, unlike the G.L.D.A, where the vendors knew where their Turquoise came from, most of this was “Chinese” (not Hubei or Manshann, just “Chinese” Turquoise) and more likely the bulk of it was dyed howlite. Nothing wrong with that, but it ain’t Turquoise.

Again, I only found one vendor with Fluorite (why is this getting so hard to find?) and it was expensive. I absolutely refuse to pay $15 a strand for blue nuggets that are only polished. It’s Fluorite!

I did however find one vendor with gorgeous Pietersite. Absolutely breathtaking in rounds, ovals, chicklets, and fat teardrop cuts. Bought a bunch of it.

Another stone that I saw at this show that I hadn’t seen at the other was Brazilian Blue Opal. I’m still not convinced it’s a real gemstone (Robyn—yes or no?) but it was pretty and fairly inexpensive. The vendor also had Peruvian blue opals, so clearly he did know the difference. But I saw a lot of this in many cuts.

There was one “rock” vendor who had tables of $3 strands and while over there I ran into the woman who owns my local bead store. She and I chatted for bit, especially as some of the $3 strands I was buying where the exact same strands I had bought from her, 5 years ago (when this was still a hobby, rather than a business) and I had paid $18 per strand! We both had a sense of humor about it—hey she should make a living and it’s not my hobby anymore! And I have to say, she gives me a 50% discount when I go in now, so . . .

Pearls—not as many pearl vendors as in ’07, but much better prices than the G.L.D.A. I saw some new styles (at least new to me) my favorite being a coin/keshi combination that was just gorgeous. However, the one color of pearl that was impossible to find (at both shows) was chocolate. I think the big companies (QVC/HSN/JTV) bought them all up, because no one had any. I was able to get copper, bronze, and champagne though. There was a large preponderance of “fashion” colors, which seemed to be selling really well, though I still can’t wrap my head around hot pink, orange, and neon blue pearls.

Thanks for listening! I’m sure there’s a lot of other information trapped in my mind. I just can’t dig it out right now!

Laura Roberts
Lorelilee Creations
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