September 27, 2020

Cayman Islands based jewellery design house unveils new designs in Las Vegas


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The Las Vegas jewellery market is sparkling in 2012, thanks to retailer confidence and upticks in consumer sales.

Inside the Grand Canal Shoppes, the Bernard K. Passman Gallery has been quietly making travellers into repeat customers throughout the mall’s existence. Featuring a Caribbean aesthetic, the pieces inside the high-end jewellery store traditionally only have been created around black coral. It’s beautiful black coral paired with gold and diamonds, but only black coral nonetheless.

This month marks a milestone for the Cayman Islands-based design house, which is unveiling its new designs, many of which feature, for the first time, materials other than black coral.

Passman’s new creative director, Omar Torres, has introduced the other mediums — such as tagua and colored stones — to rings, bracelets and necklaces. The move, company executives, say, will attract new, younger customers to the brand while retaining Passman’s Caribbean heritage.

“It gives people more choices other than black and gold. It broadens our reach,” said the store’s general manager, Kevin Harmon.

Prices range at Passman from about $500 to “hundreds of thousands,” for a custom-designed piece. New lines include Hooked, Seven Hills and Capri.

Imagine rings with a centerpiece diamond under which a sprinkling of smaller diamonds hides where only you can see them. In another case, a diamond and blue-sapphire encrusted bracelet juxtaposes an all-gold necklace that can be worn either as a drop or horizontal pendant.

With a 90-10 tourist-to-local split on customers, Passman primarily appeals to those just passing through who are looking for a unique piece to take home, Harmon said. The Grand Canal location is the only Passman store in the contiguous states.

“Mr. Passman actually used to travel to Las Vegas and he loved Las Vegas, so historically, that’s why we’re in locations that we’re in,” Harmon said.

The jewellery is also featured in gallery stores in the Cayman Islands; St. Thomas; Maui, Hawaii; and Alaska.

“We’ve done very, very well here,” Harmon said of the Las Vegas location. “We have a tremendous repeat business. We are on a gradual uptick, seeing more and more sales on a weekly basis.”

Passman’s gradual sales increases seem to be mirroring that of the high-end jewellery as a whole, according to reports from the recently held Couture Show.

The Couture Show ran at Wynn Las Vegas from May 31-June 4, bringing with it about 250 exhibitors. The show attracts upscale retailers, designers and manufacturers of fine jewelry and timepieces.

Show spokeswoman Michelle Orman said retailers’ interest and buys were strong and people attending were upbeat.

“Across the board, it has been a fantastic show for people,” Orman said.

And retailers at the show weren’t just looking at the tried and true jewelry designers either. Many were doing business with emerging brands featured in the Design Atelier section of the show, which featured new designers.

Orman said overall, retailers seemed willing to spend, and the brands stayed busy throughout the show writing orders, which signifies an overall strength in the industry on both the retail and supplier sides.

“As far as I can tell, it really is healthy,” Orman said.

As far as the Hearts On Fire brand is concerned, the Las Vegas jewellery market is the place to be.

The brand, which features primarily diamond jewelry, opened it’s first North American company boutique inside the Forum Shops at Caesars last month, a move initiated by the company’s confidence in Las Vegas’ tourism clientele.

“Las Vegas is a wonderful market for us with an international clientele and a strong local community,” said Ellen Maloney, executive vice president and head of retail for Hearts On Fire.

The Forum Shops location is the brand’s first in its “retail expansion strategy.” By the end of 2013, Hearts On Fire plans to have 10 to 15 company stores in locations including Boston, Los Angeles, Singapore and Taiwan. To aid in store design, the company retained 8 Inc., the same architectural firm that designed and built the Apple retail stores.

The new jewellery boutique features eye-level, transparent cases instead of the more traditional, waist-level display cases. Sales staff and customers are now on the same side of the counter, which Maloney said will help in creating a warmer interaction.

“We set out to really remove the barriers with traditional heritage jewellery stores,” Maloney said. “We wanted this to be a customer-driven experience.”

Like Passman, Hearts On Fire also has a new director of design, Llaria Lanzoni, who is putting her signature stamp on the brand. The Illa Collection and the Copley Collection both feature diamond rings, pendants and earrings in yellow, rose and white gold and platinum.

The Illa Collection features star – and constellation-themed pieces, while the Copley Collection is inspired by the city of Boston’s iron-centric architecture.

Hearts On Fire is sold in 650 retailers in 34 countries. In Southern Nevada, the brand is available at both MJ Christensen Diamonds locations, The Watch Boutique at The Mirage and MGM Grand, Ca D Oro and Tesorini, in addition to the Hearts On Fire company store inside the Forum Shops.

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