Newest Religious Jewelry Creations from Absolutely Unique LLC

 The Marbles from the Four Regions of Ireland 

Ireland has been divided into four provinces which started with the four great Irish families, the O’Neill-Ulster; the O’Brien-Munster; the OConnor-Connaught; and the Mac Murraigh-Kavanagh-Leinster.   The four marbles are a true representation of the entire island of Ireland, with each Province having their own distinctive marble – Red Cork-Munster;  Green Connemarra-West Connaught; Black Kilkenny-Leinster;  White Ulster-Derry-Ulster

Since 1950 “Connemara Marble By Gerard” has specialised in the manufacture of hand-carved souvenirs and jewellery from Connemara marble with a site readily available to all. 

 

 

 

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Articles of Interest

JCK — My 5 Biggest Jewelry Trends From 2017

December 27, 2017 by BRITTANY SIMINITZ

Another year gone, another look at the biggest aesthetic currents of the year. While the styles referred to on this list aren’t really new, that’s what makes them so great—they’ve proven strong enough to stand the test of time, showing up on trends lists for a good number of years.

But each of these styles, from the not-so-humble pearl to the alternate take on engagement rings, keeps growing in ways that are both unexpected and exciting. For this is an industry that never fails to keep creating, innovating, and celebrating the beauty of gemstones and design, and that is the best part.

Pearls Done Differently

Little h Luxe collection pearl earrings | JCK On Your Market

Luxe collection earrings in 14k white gold with blue baroque akoya and white South Sea pearls and 1.5 cts. t.w. blue diamonds, $4,050; Little h

Read My Kind of Pearl: Geodes by Designer Hisano Shepherd

A classic strand of pearls, or a pair of stud earrings, is a staple of any retail store and perhaps even jewelry box, but pearls are so much more than just the prim-and-proper necessity these days. From the irresistible designs of Little h‘s Hisano Shepherd to the luxurious, red carpet–ready styles encrusted in diamonds, pearls were a big topic of interest this year—and will continue to be as the years pass.

Doryn Wallach Signature collection pearl necklace | JCK On Your Market

Signature collection necklace in 18k yellow gold with black marbled agate, South Sea pearl, and 0.8 ct. t.w. diamonds, $11,870; Doryn Wallach

Read 13 Pearls for the New Year

Erica Courtney Perola batoque pearl ring | JCK On Your Market

Perola ring in platinum with baroque pearl, 0.69 ct. t.w. Paraiba tourmaline, and 0.58 ct. t.w. diamonds, $24,000; Erica Courtney

Read Clever Pearls

Alternative Bridal

Beverley K morganite engagement ring | JCK On Your Market

Halo ring in 14k rose gold with 1.18 ct. morganite and 0.13 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,485; Beverley K

Read JCK Las Vegas 2017 Trend: Pink Engagement Rings

Call it what you want—alternative, nontraditional, or simply, different—a departure from the classic diamond engagement ring was strong in 2017, and I imagine, will only continue to strengthen. Artisan styles and colored gemstones, natural diamonds and pretty-in-pink: There’s a pretty wide range of what’s considered suitable for an engagement ring these days. It’s rather exciting, I think!

Audrius Krulis Breakwater engagement set | JCK On Your Market

Breakwater engagement set in 18k rose gold and yellow gold with 0.95 ct. rough-cut diamond center and 0.18 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,400–$2,600; Audrius Krulis

Read Get This: The Bridal Collection From Audrius Krulis

Leibish and Co. fancy pink diamond engagement ring | JCK On Your Market

Three-stone ring in 18k white and rose gold with 0.55 ct. t.w. Argyle fancy pink diamonds and 0.31 ct. t.w. round brilliant diamonds, $29,950; Leibish & Co.

Read Pink Diamond Paradise

Abby Sparks Molly engagement ring | JCK On Your Market

Molly engagement ring in palladium with 0.75 ct. t.w. diamonds, $7,500; Abby Sparks

Read 9 Alternative Engagement Ring Ideas From Abby Sparks

In Bloom

Evocateur Palm Desert necklace | JCK On Your Market

Palm Desert necklace in 22k gold leaf, $298; Évocateur

Read Rihanna Just Made Bold Florals Even Cooler

An ever-present icon, flowers are always in favor, but 2017 saw them brighter and bigger than ever. It was Rihanna’s 2017 Met Gala ensemble—a fluttering, superfluous creation by Comme des Garçons—that remains the most memorable iteration of floral this year, and I appreciate blooming jewelry even more because of it.

Andreoli cascading flower earrings | JCK On Your Market

Cascading flower earrings in titanium and 18k white gold with 23.45 cts. t.w. pink and yellow sapphires and 5.51 cts. t.w. diamonds, price on request; Andreoli

Read Stop and Smell the Flowers

Pasquale Bruni Giardini Segreti collar necklace | JCK On Your Market

Giardini Segreti Haute Couture collection collar necklace with amethyst and diamonds, price on request; Pasquale Bruni

Read Blooming Beauties

Opal (Obviously)

Rock and Gems Pea Pod opal ring | JCK On Your Market

Pea Pod ring in 18k rose gold with 3.3 cts. t.w. opal and 1.59 cts. t.w. diamonds, $6,300; Rock & Gems Jewelry

Read The Everlasting Appeal of Opal

Okay, the presence of opal does not a trend make. But it’s a common thread year after year, and it just keeps getting better. No stone has come along—yet—that I find myself writing about (and coveting) more.

Omi Prive opal rings | JCK On Your Market

Assorted opal and gemstone rings; Omi Privé

Read The Remarkable Opals of JCK Las Vegas 2017

Oscar Heyman opal and diamond ring | JCK On Your Market

Ring in platinum with 8.1. ct. black opal and 1.53 cts. t.w. diamonds, $45,000; Oscar Heyman

Read Opal Season

All About Earrings

Yoko London Calypso drop earrings | JCK On Your Market

Calypso earrings in 18k rose gold with 12 mm–13 mm South Sea pearls, 3.07 cts. t.w. pink, yellow, and blue sapphires, and 2.35 cts. t.w. diamonds, price on request; Yoko London

Read Walk the Line: Tiered Drop Earrings

Earrings were big this year—and I don’t just mean in popularity. Sizeable drops, generously circumferenced hoops, and long, shoulder-dusting lines of gems were everywhere from red carpet to retail. Like everything else on this list, I think these styles will still be going strong into the new year.

Nina Nguyen Adorn hoop earrings | JCK On Your Market

Adorn earring charms in 14k yellow gold with champagne diamonds, $500 (hoops sold separately, $150); Nina Nguyen

Read The Very Charming Hoop Earring

Jane Taylor multicolor earring jackets | JCK On Your Market

Earring jackets in 14k rose gold with pearls, yellow beryl, citrines, pink tourmaline, red garnets, and 0.13 ct. t.w. diamonds, $3,575; Jane Taylor Jewelry

Read Chandelier Earrings

Jacquie Aiche double pyramid hoop earrings | JCK On Your Market

Double Pyramid hoop earrings in rose gold with pink tourmaline, $4,500; Jacquie Aiche

Read And Yet Even More Hoop Earrings

Sutra sapphire earrings | JCK On Your Market

Earrings in 18k black gold with 22 cts. t.w. tanzanite, 13 cts. t.w. sapphire, and 0.5 ct. t.w. diamonds, $15,000; Sutra (also at top)

Articles of Interest

 

Loren Nicole      Susan Crow      Justin Brown        Diane Dorsey

 

JCK — Gilded Rage: 5 Jewelry Designers Who Are Lighting Up the Gold Scene
November 27, 2017 by VENESSA LAU

When it comes to precious metals, gold is king. It’s not for nothing that the word is shorthand for top of the tops: gold standard, go for the gold, heart of gold, and so on. Many jewelry designers, including the ones here, begin with silver but eventually build their way up to gold. “It’s so rich,” says Diane Dorsey, “and not just because it’s expensive. The color is so beautiful.” Asked about the gravitational pull to the metal, Loren Nicole responds with a tale from the pre-Incan culture of Moche. A priest, the Lord of Sipán, stood atop a pyramid, dressed entirely in gold. “He’s reflecting so much, he looks like the sun,” she observes. “That’s such a powerful image, and it always stayed with me.”

Here are five talents, each bringing that storied element to new heights with their own alloys and their own takes on good design. They’ve got the—what’s the phrase?—golden touch.

Loriann Jewelry

jewelry designer Loriann Friedman of Loriann JewelryAs the daughter of an antique collector, Connecticut native Lori Friedman got an early education in Jewelry 101. “I’d call it treasure ­hunting,” says Friedman of the childhood trips to Vermont and Massachusetts and their numerous antique shops. “I loved it, and it was through that experience that I became attracted to vintage jewelry.” Her early designs often incorporated these finds—pre-ban carved ivory pendants on a bejeweled chain, for instance.

After introducing Loriann Jewelry in 2001, the former graphic designer is making her first foray into a full-blown gold line ($800 to $5,000). “I’m self-funded, so I had to wait until I was at a point where I could afford to do this,” explains Friedman, whose collections range from Organique and Mediterranean, both of which find ­inspiration in Mother Nature, to Amuleto (talismanic pieces like horns) and Moderne (linear and Art Deco–like). Still, it’s the stones that take center stage in her oeuvre: opals, amethysts, lapis, and diamonds, which she ­layers to alluring and breathtaking effect. Friedman—who’s also a watercolor artist—treats her gems not unlike paints, creating beautiful color combinations. She dabs a fire opal here, brushes a stroke of pavé diamonds there. “There’s a lot of fluidity to my designs as well as my watercolors,” she says. “I think of it as organic elegance.”

Loriann Jewelry stick shape gold earrings

Provence collection stick-shape earrings with diamonds, moonstones, and tanzanites in 14k yellow gold; $1,550; Loriann Jewelry; loriannjewelry@gmail.com; loriannjewelry.com

Diane Dorsey

jewelry designer Diane DorseyNature looms large in Diane Dorsey’s collection, and it all traces back to personal moments in her life. The clover motif, for example, stems from her childhood in Ohio—“there are fields of grass everywhere and, as a little girl, I would search for clovers,” she recalls—while the thick cross shapes hark back to her days living in New Mexico and the ­staurolites she ­uncovered while hiking. Her latest rose designs, which feature petal pendants and gems in calyx-like settings, take their inspiration from the roses outside her new home in Santa Barbara, Calif. And also from her grandmother, “who had spectacular rosebushes,” she adds.

Dorsey’s interest in jewelry began five years ago, when she designed a clothing line with her husband, Ronald Helman, called Dorsey Helman, and created a few accompanying jewelry pieces. After they sold the company, Dorsey forged ahead with her own line ($120 to $7,650), which uses recycled metals and ethically sourced gems, in 2015. Her training with Santa Fe artists gives her work a decidedly sculptural feel, so much so that her tag line is “sculpted adornment.” Of her serene artisanal ­sensibility, Dorsey explains that she subscribes to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi: “I don’t like things too perfect. That’s not who I am.”

diamond rose ring in gold by Diane Dorsey

Diamond Rose ring in 18k matte yellow gold with natural brown diamond; $3,620; Diane Dorsey; info@dianedorsey.com; dianedorsey.com

Loren Nicole

jewelry designer Loren NicoleWhen Loren Nicole took her first metalsmithing class, she had no intention of becoming a jeweler. She was working at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as a conservator and simply wanted to better understand metal ­antiquities and how they were constructed. “I’m very hands-on,” explains the New Jersey native, who made the career switch when she realized the curators were spending their days glued to their desks. “That wasn’t my vision of archaeology and, fortunately, jewelry popped into the picture.” So Nicole bid adieu to New York—and a University of Cambridge Ph.D. program, into which she’d just been accepted—and moved to Southern California. She debuted her line in 2016.

Nicole’s love for the archaeological continues in her streamlined designs, priced from $800 to upward of $20,000, averaging in the $2,000 to $6,000 range. Her latest collection takes on a motif popular with the Greeks, the teardrop-shape beechnut, while her next offerings will highlight the Korean kingdom of Silla. “My goal is to educate people and get them excited about these cultures,” Nicole says. She works by daylight—sans electricity—and does everything by hand, even creating her own alloys and most of her tools. An exception to the latter? Her recent purchase of an ancient Roman hammer.

gold beechnut bangle by Loren Nicole

Double-sided Beechnut bangle in 22k yellow gold; $8,800; Loren Nicole; wholesale@loren-nicole.com; loren-nicole.com

East Fourth Street

Jewelry designer Susan Crow of East Fourth StreetSusan Crow of East Fourth Street likes to note that she often gets mistaken for being Danish. She’s not (she’s French-Irish), but the story highlights her ­particular design sensibility, which skews thoroughly modern and minimal. “I grew up in a town that was very Scandinavian,” explains the Minnesotan, whose collection is named for her childhood address. “The whole essence of Danish design, where enough is enough, is very relaxing and comforting to me.” So her surfaces are smooth and her lines pure—from bar earrings to simple leaf rings. Retail prices run from $80 to $5,000.

Still, design is only part of the equation to success here. For Crow, sustainability and transparency are essential. She’s passionate about using Fairmined metals and has her license from the Alliance for Responsible Mining. “It just made sense to me to have as clean a supply chain as ­possible,” says Crow, a ­member of the Ethical Fashion Forum and Fair Jewelry Action. She also serves on the board of Ethical Metalsmiths, where she’s chairing the Responsible Sourcing Committee, now focusing on ethically sourced gemstones. “I strive to do total mine-to-market traceability,” she says. “I want to offer my clients a piece of jewelry that I’m proud of not only in design, but also its backstory.”

leaf bracelet by East Fourth Street

Leaf bracelet in recycled 18k yellow gold; $2,236; East Fourth Street; info@eastfourthstreet.com; eastfourthstreet.com

Justin Brown Jewelry

jewelry designer Justin BrownJustin Brown’s entrée into jewelry design? Believe it or not, it came courtesy of a high school gig at a medical manufacturing company. “I did a lot of laser welding,” he says. “I found I loved working with metals and discovered a jewelry program [at the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth] where I could take that to an artistic level.” The Boston-based Brown debuted his collection in 2015 after working for jeweler Andrea Williams and serving as website and social media photographer for Quadrum Gallery (which he continues to do).

Brown anchors his handcrafted designs, priced $150 to $3,000, in a Deco sensibility—think graphic geometry, bold gemstones, and a certain Roaring ’20s glamour. But he goes one modern step further with a play between positive and negative space—also the theme of his senior thesis. So he takes, for instance, a center stone and partially edges it with gems. “A lot of jewelry features a complete halo, and what I like about Art Deco is that it terminates at a certain point,” says Brown, who uses recycled metals and diamonds. “I like a ‘broken’ halo and imagining the in-between space.” As for the pavé work throughout his collection, he considers it his Valium of sorts: “I know a lot of people find it tedious, but pavé-­setting is one of my passions. It’s how I relax.”

Justin Brown pink tourmaline pendant

Diamond Crown pink tourmaline pendant necklace with recycled diamonds in recycled 14k yellow gold; $1,495; Justin Brown Jewelry; justinbrownjewelry@gmail.com; justinbrownjewelry.com

(Diamond rose ring: bradleyottoposey.com; Dorsey: luciakielportraits.com)

Another Jewelry Book Review

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Venetian Glass Beads– Kathy Fox

ISBN: 978-0-87116-415-5                 21.95

This interesting book is more about the history of Venetia and Venetian beads. I am usually more interested in bead making ideas but this book gave me some historical insights about the variety of Venetian beads and how to tell real Venetian beads from fakes. It has lovely photography of places around the world and especially Venice, Italy. “Venetian Glass Beads-24 colorful jewelry projects.” is the title of this book, however it is a bit misleading as projects use Venetian beads but the construction of Venetian beads is not mentioned in this book. I had hoped that I would learn the techniques to make these age-old beads and was disappointed when this did not happen. I did enjoy the lovely pictures of the sites and kept the book due to the travel log and descriptions of the sites.

My Favorite Jewelry Books

 

DSC03724

Indian Jewelry Making – Oscar T. Branson

ISBN: 13: 978-1-887896-03-0                     Rio Nuevo Publishers 1977

This is a wonderful book of Native American designs and creativity. It delves into the creation of designs, tools, and the manner of making them. Several pages were devoted to hair ornaments and ponytail cones and these were of particular value to me as we don’t often see these ornaments in jewelry books. Another section was devoted to Bolo Ties and even pages on canteens. I was delighted to find a page on making, hardening, and tempering steel stamps. Thimbles, Silver whistles, cigarette cases, varied silver boxes, silver bells, goblets, sterling Kachina’s, and even filigree jewelry creations. A marvelous one-of-a-kind story bracelet or ring is shown and the design process and completion is revealed. A lovely couple of pages are devoted silver sandcasting, which gives a bas relief effect. Cuddlebone casting is also described. The last page shows a do-it-yourself jeweler’s notebook.

Gems & Minerals – Biotite

 Biotite

Description – Biotite is not a valuable mineral but the mica and luster make the stone quite unique. The crystals are transparent to translucent with a vitreous or pearly luster with distinctive qualities of Mica. Smaller crystals may have the luster of schists or gneiss with thin sheets or flakes of magnesium aluminum silicate sheets.  The color is generally black or dark brown with silver gray mica flakes or specks.

Location – Biotite is found in Bancroft and Sudbury, Ontario; Sicily; and Russia.

History – Biotite is named after French Physicist, J. B. Biot

Folklore/Metaphysical – Biotite is said to reduce tension, stimulate the metabolism, and purify the body of concerns like rheumatism,  gout, and in shrinking growths.

Care – It is a very soft mineral and should be handled carefully and stored separately.

Gems & Minerals – Beryl

Types of Beryl : Pastel Pink Beryl-Morganite; Blue Beryl-Aquamarine; Red Beryl-Bixbite; Yellow or Brown Beryl- Heliodor; Green Beryl- Emerald; Colorless Beryl-Goshenite; Golden Yellow Beryl- Golden Yellow; Pure Beryl – Colorless

General Description – Beryl is a 6 sided individual crystal.  It is most highly prized for it’s green form of Emerald.  Manganese impurities in flat tabular crystals in pink form Morganite.

General Location – The different varieties of Beryl are found in various localities around the world and are often named for the regions or people who found them.  Morganite is often found in alluvial deposits in California and Madagascar.  Emerald’s are most prevalent in Africa and rich deposits of Aquamarine are found in Brazil, Persia, and Africa.  Goshenite is found in the United States and other forms of Beryl have been discovered in Brazil, Columbia, S. Africa, Tanzania, Australia, Austria, India and in the USA.

General History – Beryl is one of the oldest recorded stones with mines in Egypt producing Emeralds for Cleopatra. Clear Goshenite Beryl was used for spectacles for Roman Emperor Nero.  The name Beryl comes from the ancient Greek “beryllos” a word referring to the blue-green of sea water.  In other references it is also noted that the name may have originated from the ancient trading city of Belur.  Still other sources refer to the German word “Brille”.

General Folklore & Metaphysical Qualities – Beryl is said to promote energy and is used for the healing of breathing disorders and throat problems.  It is noted to increase retention of information and as a study aide. Some feel it can be used to bring rain.

Care – Beryls are sensitive to heat and chemicals.

Articles of Interest: The Most Shocking Piece of Jewelry Ever!!!

http://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/the-most-shocking-piece-of-jewelry-ever/?utm_source=JCK+News+Daily&utm_campaign=32549a5e03-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_10&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a126c3c313-32549a5e03-334303413

The Most Shocking Piece of Jewelry Ever!
August 10, 2017 by ROB BATES

In 2012, Maneesh Sethi was, like so many writers, having trouble sitting down to work. So he came up with an idea: He hired someone, via Craigslist, to follow him around and slap him on the face every time he didn’t write.

“I got five months of writing done in five days,” he says now. His post about this experiment went viral, and he began to think about how to turn that concept, based on “aversion therapy,” into a business.

The result: Pavlok, a bracelet that helps users break bad habits by giving them a slight electric shock every time they engage in the prohibited activity. Named after Ivan Pavlov, the famed Russian behavioral scientist and inadvertent dog trainer, Pavlok currently claims 5,000 to 6,000 daily users, with 35,000 bracelets sold. The most popular habit it’s used for is waking up early (Pavlok also has a shock alarm clock), followed by wasting time online, smoking, and unhealthy eating.

The concept sounds like something out of bad sci-fi, and it raises a lot of questions. For one, how painful are these zaps?

“You ever touch a doorknob and you get jarred awake?” Sethi says. “It’s like that. We wanted to make it very simple and safe. The charge rapidly hits you. It’s like a surprise. It makes you aware and in the moment. It’s not very painful.”

Second, how does a bracelet monitor your habits? It’s easy to see how it could, say, track your addiction to Facebook by monitoring your smartphone. And using location tracking, it can see if you stop into McDonald’s.

But harder-to-track habits—like quitting drinking—require a five- to 10-day course with accompanying audio.

The course “forces you to keep doing the behavior with our audio and the zaps,” Sethi says. “The best metaphor I can think of is, if you have too much tequila, it takes on a negative association—it makes you feel sick to look at it. When you are done, [the bad habit] creates that gross feeling.”

That’s in theory, of course. The most important question is whether the Pavlok actually works. Sethi claims a success rate of over 50 percent, and says the Pavlok is particularly successful for ending smoking and nail-biting.

But anecdotal evidence is mixed. One journalist said the shocks didn’t break her nail-biting habit. Another thought it helped him curb overeating on Thanksgiving.

The Pavlok has received tons of publicity; Stephen Colbert even made fun of it. Sethi admits that he’s still living down an off-the-rails appearance on Shark Tank; when he turned down a panelist’s offer for financing, he was cursed and called a “con artist.”

“That really destroyed our image,” he says now, noting it led to a flood of one-star ratings on Amazon.

Since then, Sethi has kept a lower profile, and he now hopes to broaden Pavlok’s concept.

“The shocks are what everyone focuses on,” he says. But he wants to build a behavior-modifying ecosystem, which will, in addition to punishing bad habits, offer reminders and rewards for the good ones. He is also developing a Pavlok necklace.

And while this product may never be sold in most jewelry stores—Money magazine said it looks like a “house-arrest bracelet”—it shows the increasing effect of Silicon Valley on our industry.

For a long time, the jewelry industry has acknowledged—sometimes it’s even boasted—that our products serve no practical purpose, aside from looking beautiful. Yet, inventors of wearables are increasingly looking at jewelry that also has a function—whether it’s monitoring your bodily functions, or reminding you of something, or, well, this.

It’s an entirely new way of looking at our product. And in a way, it’s kind of shocking.

ROB BATES
JCK NEWS DIRECTOR

Articles of interest:4-areas-jewelry-retailers-should-focus-on-to-stay-competitive/?

http://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/utm_source=JCK+News+Daily&utm_campaign=b82d7128a6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a126c3c313-b82d7128a6-334303413
INDUSTRY / MARKETING / OPERATIONS / RETAIL
4 Areas Jewelry Retailers Should Focus On to Stay Competitive
August 7, 2017 by EMILI VESILIND

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Froeschle, senior sales director for Stuller and former Stuller Interiors executive, recently for an article about how small jewelry retailers can maintain their competitive edge in the face of increasing competition.

I wasn’t able to fit all his smart ideas into the article (out in the September–October issue!), so I wanted to share this short list—a rundown of crucial retail areas he advises his clients to zero in on.

“These are four areas where jewelry retailers can do it better and faster than the big-box stores and online retailers,” he notes, adding, “and they can do them with a personal touch, which makes all the difference.”

Bridal
Blue Nile is certainly a tempting option for consumers shopping for wedding jewelry. But studies show that brides and grooms overwhelming want to browse in person for what, in many cases, is their first major fine jewelry purchase. Which is why savvy indie retailers including Catbird in New York City, Esqueleto in California, and Art + Soul in Boulder, Colo., have made stocking a wide selection of trendy-but-traditional and “alternative” bridal styles the focal point of their businesses.

Social Media
Tiffany & Co. and Pandora maintain slick social feeds—but independents have the ability to align themselves with their region, town, and community on social media in a way that the big guys just can’t.

Customization
“Something like 60-some percent of bridal customers want to make at least one change to the ring they’re looking at,” says Froeschle. “To me, a retailer has to have resource on their floor where they are showing customers they can change or make changes to a style.” He adds that the resource doesn’t have to be a full-blown CAD program. Stuller, for one, offers retailers the ability to put their digital “skin” on the company’s inventory showcase—so retailers can sit down with clients and show that they can swap in a bigger diamond or choose a different metal.

Repairs
Having an in-house repairs shop, staffed with skilled and creative pros, is a fail-proof way to maintain a competitive edge. Undoubtedly, jewelry repair businesses will increasingly emerge online. But, as with buying bridal, consumers have expressed a strong desire to discuss their repairs in person.

(Photo courtesy of @thecaratclub)

EMILI VESILIND
JCK MAGAZINE EDITOR

Articles of Interest: Are Shoppers Turning Away From Expensive Jewelry?

Site location: http://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/are-shoppers-turning-away-from-expensive-jewelry/

August 4, 2017 by ROB BATES

Slate’s advice columnist, Dear Prudence, recently fielded the following question from a woman who was embarrassed by the engagement ring bought by her fiancé:

The diamond is so big, and the setting so flashy, it’s completely unlike the kind of rings most of my friends got….I’ve gotten so much unwanted attention, with people asking to see “the rock” and calling me celebrity nicknames. My mom has used every synonym for tacky in the book, and friends have asked if I know whether or not it’s a blood diamond. It’s humiliating.

My fiancé is so proud that he was able to get me such a nice ring since he comes from a working-class background. I just don’t know how to tell him that I want him to take it back and get a semi-precious stone or something more to my taste…
For many in the industry, this comment seems absurd. Who complains about jewelry being too big?

But societal tastes are changing. To many, flashy has become synonymous with excessive, and wasteful.

This brings to mind a recent Facebook thread on the industry’s woes. On it, Patrick Slavenburg, the chief commercial officer of Farlang.com, said he’s noticed a sea change in consumer attitudes.

“When we interviewed Gen X women in 2006 before launching Farlang the most frequent comment was: ‘Why buy expensive jewelry when so much great looking cheap jewelry is available?’” he said.

He recently questioned an affluent jewelry-loving friend about what she considered a reasonable price point for jewelry.

“For something nonessential like jewelry, probably $200,” she replied. “More than that, I would have to really love it. And give it lots of consideration.”

This doesn’t mean that the market for fine jewelry is dead, of course. Many stores still sell plenty of high-end watches and diamonds. There are many jewelry markets; there always have been.

But we are seeing something of a societal shift. America has become more casual. More offices have adopted informal dress codes; $5,000 jewelry doesn’t always fit with jeans and a sweater. Marc Zuckerberg is considered the epitome of the dot-com billionaire. And what is he known for wearing? A hoodie.

“We all have an increasingly casual lifestyle,” noted industry analyst and editor of the Centurion newsletter Hedda Schupak on the same Facebook thread. “It’s hard to sell a lot of heavy gemstone pieces to customers that wear Lululemon most of the time, and they can’t justify the cost for something they might wear a few times a year.”

Which brings up the cost issue. American consumers are squeezed these days; they have been since the recession. Not that many have the ability to buy a $3,000 piece on a whim.

“The designers we support are amazingly creative and talented,” says Slavenburg. “[They] make masterpieces. But the price points are not affordable outside the one percent.”

A recent survey by Cashelorette found that most millennials only wanted to spend one month’s salary on an engagement ring.

“Older millennials could still be saddled with student loan debt, and many are trying to save for a down payment on a house,” the site’s Sarah Berger told CNBC, adding those most millennials prefer spending on experiences, rather than things.

On top of this, the industry hasn’t always made the case for why its products cost so much. And now that shoppers have the ability to buy virtually anything, it’s not surprising that some will opt for the cheaper alternative.

“There still room for jewelry,” says Slavenburg, “but it’s ‘great, original design’ for up to $300, $400 retail.”

So it’s quite likely we will see a continuing shift towards affordable product. In some ways, this has already happened: The most successful jewelry brands of the last ten years are Pandora, Alex and Ani, and now, Kendra Scott.

But this won’t be easy. Jewelry has always been low-turn but high-profit. Selling cheaper items—even lots of low-end items—won’t always support high retail rents.

Still, this seems to be where the market is going. As one New England jeweler lamented on the Facebook thread:

People around here just don’t really like jewelry that much anymore. I find that I have to ambush people at unlikely events with jewelry that easily translates into a tangible meaning for them, is made of sterling, and is handmade. And costs less than $100.00.

This will only get worse as the current generational wave continues. The concept of spending one week’s pay in a piece of jewelry is ridiculous to anyone under 30.
(Illustration: Getty Images)

ROB BATES
JCK NEWS DIRECTOR