The October Jewelers International Showcase (JIS show) in Miami Beach is the primary venue for jewellery and gift stores in Florida, The Caribbean, Central and South America to prepare for the all-important tourist season. This year was the largest show to date with around 1250 booths. New international pavilions representing Spain, Turkey, and Colombia joined the existing entries from Brazil and Hong Kong. The High-End Galleria was twice the size of last year.
There were some good signs of the economy getting stronger. During the recession there were dozens of booths offering to buy scrap, break-out stones and excess inventory as well as several competing refiners. This year there were a few regular refiners that have been there for years and none of the newer scrappers. That is an indication that retail jewellery stores are getting back to the business of selling instead of relying on over-the-counter buys.
Emeralds were everywhere this year and not just with the Colombian dealers. Coloured diamonds, both natural and treated, were strongly featured. While silver was still a strong seller, gold is making a good comeback, especially yellow gold. Fashion jewellery was abundant. Unstrung beads were scarce while finished beaded jewellery was plentiful.
There was a shift in buying patterns for the Caribbean retailers. In the past they shopped mostly for loose diamonds and generic mountings or finished goods. This year found them in designer’s booths. Designers offer consistent quality, advertising support, liberal stock exchange policies, exceptional customer service, favourable terms or memos and protected prices and territories. This adds up to less worry and hassle for the retailers. Generic goods have a greater margin but all of the risk and service problems fall on the retailer’s shoulders.
With a healthier economy, Caribbean jewellers seem to be backingaway from experiments with silver preferring the better cash flow associated with gold and platinum. Silver and fashion jewellery was popular with retailers from the US and The Americas.
Overall there is a gradual return to normal. Retailers are finally seeing steady sales and not falling back on scrapping. Lower gold prices are helping to raise sales of higher price-point goods. There is a move toward branded jewellery lines; any name is better than no name. Coloured diamonds and gemstones are adding spice to inventories. Business is moving forward. This season may not bring shouts of joy but for many retailers it will bring a long awaited sigh of relief.