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Las Vegas jewelry show dazzles; buyers and sellers haggle

Updated June 10, 2022 - 7:05 pm

Luxurious displays of fine diamonds, gems and stones lined the aisles of the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show underway at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“This is a trading show where you have vendors here selling things from $20 up into the multimillions of dollars,” said Paul Lawrence, president of New York-based Spectra Fine Jewelry. “People come out here from all over the country looking for and treasure hunting for that right piece of jewelry to have in their inventory.”

For over 25 years, jewelers from across the globe have been gathering at the event to seek out the right pieces to add to their inventory. Some 4,000 attendees and 400 vendors are expected to attend the show, which opened Thursday and continues through Sunday.

At his company’s booth, Lawrence showed a diamond-encrusted necklace with a cost of around $500,000. However, not everything costs that much.

The trade show seems to fit well into the Las Vegas culture, with gems gleaming like the lights of the Strip and a willingness to bargain and accept some unusual payment types.

“It’s very Vegas in the sense that I’ve taken poker chips or blackjack chips as payment here,” Lawrence said Friday. “Sometimes we do a deal and we’re arguing over $1,000 or $2,000, and we’ll come to an agreement over a coin flip because it’s Vegas.”

The event is one of four jewelry shows going on during the Las Vegas Jewelry Week Showcase.

Vendors hold special pieces from large brand names like BVLGARI, Tiffany & Co. and Cartier but also have one-of-a-kind pieces.

“They’re all really experts in their area of expertise,” Michelle Orman, head of PR and communications for the event, said Thursday. “I use the expression, knowledge is an inch wide, but a mile deep.”

Many of the antique pieces have extravagant origins, including a tiara displayed by Morris Abramov, co-owner of Morelle Davidson from London.

The diamond tiara, acquired shortly before the show, belonging to a European royal family, has a cost of over $150,000.

“It’s the first time we exhibited here in the Las Vegas show … we acquired it in the trade,” Abramov said Friday. “I believe that there always should be some sort of element of mystery in this business, so I cannot tell you where it came from.”

Patti Esbia, owner of Patti Esbia Antique and Estate Jewelry, has displays of unique pieces, including a mesmerizing Van Cleef box encrusted with diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

“What I look for is the more unique pieces. I like one-of-a-kind things that you haven’t really seen before,” Esbia said Friday.

But on the first day of the show, Esbia parted ways with a piece of jewelry that hadn’t necessarily been up for sale — she sold her own brooch right off of her lapel.

Review-Journal business intern Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at edrewes@reviewjournal.com or via Twitter @EmersonDrewes.

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