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

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.



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

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.

“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.

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)


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

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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, 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)


Newest Jewelry designs

I wanted to share some of my newest designs some of which I created while working at El Pedregal Gallery in Cave Creek/Scottsdale. How very exciting to be able to work on your jewelry while working at the gallery. I hope you enjoy them.

seaside melody #2974
Oriental Autumn


Copper Forest
Pearl Dancer
Pearl Dancer
Quail Flight
Quail Flight

A newsy note about Friday Art Walks

Don’t forget the Friday Art Walks at El Pedregal Gallery in Scottsdale/Cave Creek from 4:00 – 7:00. You can also stop down to the Spotted Donkey for a drink and happy hour before you head on down to the galleries. All the galleries will be open for you to browse through and there will be demonstrations from one or two artists as well. This is an opportunity for you to see the work of a variety of artists who represent the 400 artists within the Sonoran Arts League. We hope to see you there.