Jewelry Industry News Trends Analysis | Jewelry Show and Exhibition Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:33:51 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb A Jewelry Designer Who’ll Miss His Mentor, Oscar de la Renta

On Monday, when I checked my Instagram, I saw this post from fine jewelry designer Simon Alcantara: “Rest in peace. You will be missed. Our Dominican Treasure who inspired us every day. I’m grateful and honored to have known him. Oscar de la Renta.”

That’s, actually, how I learned of the iconic fashion designer’s death. My first thought was that the passing of 82-year-old Mr. de la Renta marked the end of an era—he was the last remaining elder statesman of American fashion. But my second thought was that, indeed, it was sad news for Mr. Alcantara, who, in addition to sharing Dominican heritage with Mr. de la Renta, had collaborated with him and his design house for three years. Subsequently, I sent an e-mail to the jewelry designer, who I haven’t seen since last fall when he exhibited at a special Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) jewelry event. The following morning, this was in my Inbox:

“Thank you for your e-mail. It’s a very sad day, as you know. My countryman, my mentor, and inspiration passed away last night and I am very said. I do believe he is now back into pure, positive light. He left such a beautiful and inspiring legacy and shown a bright light on this world.”

It goes without saying that, over the next week, you’ll read a great deal about Mr. de la Renta’s career, which includes dressing first ladies, socialites, and celebrities as well as women everywhere with an appreciation for quality originality and (often) oomph. Certainly, some highly qualified journalists will fill you in on details of a designing life that’s made an undeniable mark in fashion history. So, instead, I’d like to say a few things about the work of Simon Alcantara because, as I’ve been reviewing many of Mr. de la Renta’s red carpet standouts--I really have always adored the house’s eveningwear—the basic aesthetic of the fashion designer and the jewelry designer is strikingly similar. The best way to describe it? The work of both is innovative and often opulent, yet somehow remains tasteful.

Photo of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, posted by Simon Alcantara on Oct 20, 2014, on the jewelry designer’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages, with the message: “Rest in peace. You will be missed. Our Dominican Treasure who inspired us every day. I’m grateful and honored to have known him. Oscar de la Renta.”

I put together some photos, here, to illustrate what I mean. For example, when I look at Mr. Alcantara’s “Alpha Pavonis Collection,” inspired by the peacock, I see jewelry with that same “layer-y luxury” vibe—and the pieces are, to me, every bit as memorable as various de la Rentas worn by Hollywood A-listers. Remember Amy Adams in her ruffle-upon-ruffle princess dress at last year’s Academy Awards? And Jennifer Garner’s multi-layer metallic sheath at this year’s Oscars?

There’s also the attention to detail the two artists demonstrate—one in fabric, the other in metal. The custom de la Renta wedding dress, recently worn by Amal Alamuddin when marrying George Clooney, was elegantly detailed with beads, pearls, and appliqués. On that note, I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had early last year with Beau Staley, owner of the jewelry shop, Dolce, in Telluride, Colorado, when interviewing him for an article I was writing for INDESIGN Magazine. He told me that Simon Alcantara’s signature hand-woven hoops with colored stones were the best-sellers in his store—especially the silver ones retailing between $400 and $500. “It’s amazing,” he said. “I can’t keep enough of them!” Tourists and locals, who buy from the Rocky Mountain jeweler, also like to hear about Mr. Alcantara’s past collaboration with Oscar de la Renta as well as with other fashion houses, among them, Balmain, J. Mendel, and Mary McFadden.

Nonetheless, when Mr. Alcantara’s jewelry pushes “precious boundaries” and mixes materials like bone, leather, or exotic woods, some customers who crave the classics likely find such collections a bit too adventurous. Hmmmm . . . like Mr. de la Renta’s oversized bows and fun frills that helped establish him, ultimately, to become one of fashion’s legends? Just askin’.

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 22 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Three Things I Liked This Week: The Deskside Edition

One of the great luxuries of working on INSTORE and INDESIGN is seeing new, fresh-from-the-bench pieces and meeting with their designers. The kicker is that often I don’t have to leave the office to meet with them (or their proxies); they’ll come to me. These meet-ups (“desksides” in the lingo of the editorial world) have many advantages, not least among them is the chance to talk outside a busy trade show setting. Last week my calendar was full of deskside appointments, and I’m sharing a few of my favorite things.

Todd Reed

Liz Kantner, Todd Reed’s communications maven, popped in to show me some of his latest designs. His work has long been inseparable from the use of raw diamonds and highly textured metal. Some of his new work, especially a pair of cascading marquise-cut white diamond earrings, marked an expansion of the Todd Reed aesthetic. While a bit more traditional than one might ordinarily expect from the designer, the pieces have a nonchalance that is specifically his. I love that he’s making the leap to design all-out glamorous pieces.

Madhuri Parson

Just as inspiring as seeing an established designer develop a signature style in unprecedented ways, is finding a new designer in the process of finding her own voice. Madhuri Parson dropped by with a sampling of pieces from her growing collection. After stints in the tech field and at brands like David Yurman and Liz Claiborne, she struck out on her own. Her pieces are a hybrid of techniques that reflect her Indian heritage—enamel work, rose-cut diamonds—crossed with an upbeat, contemporary and colorful mood.

Slight Jewelry

Amanda Campbell has the self-assurance of someone who’s been making jewelry for a lifetime, which is surprising since the twentysomething’s Slight Jewelry brand is under two years old. She teams elements that seem macabre and aggressive—teeth, vertebrae—with romantic materials and details. It’s a look that’s especially appealing in rings with black or grey diamonds that look like alternative engagement rings for Brooklyn dwellers.

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 22 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Angelina Is In Spring’s “It” Earring . . . Yes, Already

This fall, in my blogs, I’ve pointed to three key jewelry trends taking shape at this time, which are sure to be big for spring: big hoop earrings, modern tribal designs, and seventies inspired styles—pretty much in that order, too. Well . . . thank you, Angelina—this morning, in my e-mail inbox, I saw a photo of Ms. Jolie, at an event several weeks ago, wearing a gigantic pair of thin gold hoops, which really epitomizes all three trends.

Of course, being fashion-directional has been a signature of Angelina Jolie, for quite some time. It’s also been what we’ve come to expect from Young Hollywood A-lister Emma Stone (whose movie, “Birdman,” opens in theaters this weekend), and it seems she, too, loves the look. But for Ms. Stone, big rose gold hoops will also do just fine. Because of pink gold’s steady comeback, and since trends from past eras aren’t supposed to be exactly interpreted into contemporary designs, it’s reasonable to anticipate spring’s hoops will, at times, be in gold’s red tones.

Twenty-fifteen’s affair with hoops—slim in gauge and streamlined as I see their direction heading—will be a welcome accessory, when fabricated with original embellishments (restrained, of course) that suggest, perhaps, a primitive culture or art of ancient tribes. Steve Lagos’s Caviar bead treatment on some of his slender gold hoops is a good example of that. It’s an interesting thing about Mr. Lagos’ trademark Caviar, isn’t it, the way it can be dressy or dressed-down, depending on the particular jewelry piece?

Anyhow, at the moment, I’m also noticing jewelers creating a mood of "contemporary tribal meets modern Seventies" by mixing blackened silver with yellow gold, or by working in rich ultra-high-karat golds. Or, as in Marco Bicego’s “Cairo Collection,” by creating handcrafted textures that can, sometimes, reflect an ever-so-subtle tribal tendency. So, essentially, although spring’s ϋber hoops are shaping up to be extraordinarily simple, they’re also looking exceptionally striking.

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Thu, 16 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
From Runway to Wedding Ring

Summer has gone and taken the prime dates for weddings with it, but that only means it’s time to start planning for next year’s nuptials. Bridal runway shows for fall 2015 have been in full swing for the last week, and the latest frothy white dresses fall into categories that are likely jewelry trends, too. Don’t be surprised if couples come looking for engagement rings along the following lines.

Floral Cutouts

Graphic floral patterns, whether in lace or fabrications like organza overlay, are a newly popular design element for wedding dresses. The look feels youthful, but traditional and slightly homespun. Translated into engagement rings, the style calls for wreath shaped halos, botanical details and crisp floral designs.

Anna Maier

Mark Schneider

Anne Sportun

Sofia Kaman

Megan Thorne


Sleek shapes—including two-piece ensembles for bridal wear—have replaced ultra frilly dresses. The engagement rings that complement the attitude of a minimalist bride are just as pared down. Two-stone rings or designs with sweeping split shanks have the right sensibility.

Honor for Stone Fox Bride

Jemma Wynne

Monique Pean


Romantic Architecture

Even when new bridal gowns feature lots of detail and drama, they have an underlying silhouette with defined lines. Rings with strong architecture tempered by softer flourishes, like rose-cut stones, filigree or millegraining strike the same balance.

Badgley Mischka

Beverley K. Collection

Van Craeynest


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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 15 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Costly Engagement Rings Associated with Less Successful Marriages

A study released this week by Emory University economics professors Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon determined that men who spent between $2,000-$4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to get divorced than men who spent between $500-$2,000. (The study also showed that spending less than $500 on a ring led to higher divorce rates.)

The study, entitled “’A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration,” surveyed 3,000 American adults who had been married at some point in their lives, and also went on to correlate high wedding costs with divorce. Couples who spent $20,000 or more on their weddings were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced than those who spent between $5,000-$10,000. Spending less than $1,000 on a wedding decreased the chances of divorce even further. The average wedding cost in the U.S. is currently $30,000.

What are the takeaways from this study, which was reported widely by national media? First, I was surprised at how many reports considered $2,000-$4,000 to be “very expensive” in terms of an engagement ring. In 2012, the average engagement ring sale was $4,000 according to a Jewelers of America report, which would seem to contradict this perception. And I think that within the industry, we generally would not think of a $4,000 engagement sale as “expensive.” But, it seems evident that the average person does consider that to be expensive, and that making such an investment causes a considerable amount of stress to many customers. This seems to raise the question, “What can a jewelry retailer do to help lower the stress of making such a purchase while still working for the biggest possible sale?” Or, perhaps it is worth considering that making the largest possible sale may not be the best long-term strategy for retaining the loyalty of middle-class clients. If their marriage falls apart after what they consider to be an expensive engagement ring purchase, they may have sour feelings toward your business.

Second, the survey would seem to fly in the face of the current American mindset that a bride “deserves” an expensive wedding, which makes it necessary at any cost. In fact, spending so much money on a wedding can cause lasting stress and resentment.

Third, the silver lining of the study was that high wedding attendance and a honeymoon were positively associated with marriage duration.

As a jewelry retailer or salesperson, you work with soon-to-be engaged and newly engaged couples all the time. Reading the results of this survey made me think how much of a positive influence you can have with these couples. What if you presented each engagement ring purchaser with a book on top honeymoon destinations? What if you gave them a copy of an article that teaches them how to stay within their budget for their wedding? (This article from also includes a link to the website’s “Budgeter” app, which allows people to enter their budget and allocate money to each wedding expense… maybe something you could share with customers digitally.)

In the end, I don’t know exactly how you should respond to these survey results, but they’re definitely food for thought and probably cause for action in some shape or form.

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]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Tue, 14 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Honey, I’m Watching You

Since the Las Vegas jewelry shows, I’ve been making mental notes about new collections I’m seeing that focus on gems with honey hues—especially citrine. While citrine’s far from uncommon in mass produced lines, it’s been somewhat surprising to see it spotlighted by an exceeding number of artisanal brands. In fact, from my recollection, it’s probably more than a decade since the sunny, affordable gem has brightened so many luxe market lines.

As it happens, clothes with those same juicy honey tones burst onto the Paris ready-to-wear runways earlier this month. From Emanuel Ungaro to Elie Saab and Chloe, many big-name houses seemed pretty excited about the whole upbeat palette of yellows for spring 2015. And, obviously, wherever fashion’s color palette travels, it’s a path the jewelry industry surely needs to note.

Just to be clear, however, while I do think citrine is beginning one of its resurgences—most gems do, don’t they, eventually?—my instincts tell me that, as 2015 progresses from spring/summer, its “power” will likely be in its role as a perfect complement to Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year.

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 10 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
The Jeweler: Pizza

Catch "The Jeweler" every other Wednesday on INSTOREMAG.COM. For more cartoons from Tim Searfoss, go here.

Catch "The Jeweler" every other Wednesday on INSTOREMAG.COM. For more cartoons from Tim Searfoss, go here.

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]]> (Tim Searfoss) Guest Blogs Wed, 08 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Style’s Return to Normalcy

Each September there’s a lull in Manhattan when a phalanx of press departs for Europe to see ready-to-wear collections in London, Milan and Paris. And though the roving editors have returned to the US, the talk of trends is more muted than it’s been in a very long time. It seems that after a decade when heels couldn’t be too high or handbags too extravagantly priced, we’re in a moment of palette cleansing when it comes to style.

The shoe of choice among tastemakers is a basic white sneaker, the most wanted handbag is a (relatively) inexpensive, logo-free leather tote by a brand (Mansur Gavriel) that’s barely two years old, and Gap’s fall ad campaign—populated with pretty actresses in cozy cardigans—encourages us to “Dress Normal.”

A reprieve from the fashion cycle’s endless churn is especially good news for jewelers. With consumers less focused on a fast fashion approach to what they wear, they’re more inclined to buy less and buy better, and make an investment in pieces that have longevity in the process.

Easygoing pieces, especially designs that are charms or talismans are in keeping with the mood, whether it’s a pendant depicting a constellation, a symbol meant to bring luck or a gemstone with personal resonance. Above all, signature pieces that can be in daily rotation, like a chic hoop earring or a chunky ID bracelet will be making a comeback. Dressing normal is extraordinarily comforting.

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 08 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Holiday Hints

I talked to Greg Stopka, owner of JewelSmiths in Pleasant Hills, CA, recently, while I was working on a last-minute holiday advice article that’s scheduled to appear in the November issue of INSTORE.

Stopka had a lot of good advice I’d like to share about how to focus attention on personalized gifts that fit the demands of the holiday rush.

As a custom jewelry designer with virtual inventory, Stopka needs to be inventive when it comes to last-minute shoppers.

One strategy that’s worked for him is to offer “catalog custom.”

“A lot of small, independent jewelers are doing more custom, but then they get stuck at the end of the year when they can’t build or create a product because it’s too close to deadline,” he explains. "But if people are bringing loose stones in — that they’ve bought on vacation or on a TV shopping network — if you have the ability to focus on the shape and quality of the gemstone and look at what settings are available in a catalog (print or online), you can order and set it and it’s a quick sale. It can get turned around in days. We do a lot of that.”

Another strategy that works for drumming up interest in Christmas shopping is setting up a simple program to clean, inspect and inform clients about their jewelry, Stopka says. “It gets customers excited about possible ideas or purchases for Christmas. We call it the `clean and plant’ program.

Stopka also has pendant and earring samples on hand set with CZs, with prices displayed for good, better and best diamonds. “We tell our customers that we can select the budget that they want and create the jewelry item overnight. This allows for the feeling of having it designed in their budget and completed virtually overnight."

"From these displays, we also catch the customer that already has the diamond or gemstones to set into a pendant or earring mounting. It’s become a very quick and profitable sale,” Stopka says.

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]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 07 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Facebook Exile Week 2: Anxious, Inspired and "Spoolky"

Ignoring Facebook and Social Media is much easier than I thought it was going to be. I don’t actually miss it, and now I’m beginning to wonder how many things on my “To Do” List were left undone. (I wonder how many things were never even put on that dang list in the first place...)

It’s also given me time to think and sort of ponder what Facebook and Social Media as whole is least as I see it. There are some really great things about question. I’m sure I don’t need to list them here since they subtly beat us over the head about the benefits every damn day. (Oh...and’s really not free anymore. That would imply that your time costs nothing.)

It’s not inherently evil, which is what I felt before I started this little hiatus. Certainly there is no way to define it with a single word or concept since it seems to be morphing and evolving into something new almost every day. It is creating who we are...and of course we are creating what it becomes. That makes it cool and spooky. It’s spoolky.

Regardless, one of the things I’ve come to see it as is an anxiety-producing machine. Having a business page sometimes adds to the anxiety, especially when you’re a small business owner that doesn’t have a team of people working to make sure we look all “social” by posting 3.25 times a day at such-and-such a time ... with neat and tidy Facebook-approved feeds linked to other social networks. Whew! Just rehashing that in my head is making me tense! See? Anxiety. (And I don’t even want to talk about the hashtag craze.)

In short, the longer I stay off the Social Media scene, the more I can see that we feel pressure to be on it. There is a need to keep up — lest we fall behind. (Yes, I said “lest.” Who says “lest?!”) The thing is, I may actually be OK with that. The way I see it, relaxing a little on the Social Media front will allow me to get back to focusing on my core business — not to mention, you know, my core life.

So what am I doing instead?

I’ve come to see Facebook as an anxiety-producing machine.

I guess it’s not the sexiest of notions but I’m working on my business the way I used to. I’m looking at our internal structures, I’m talking with customers more, I’m noticing what’s playing out in my physical world instead of what’s going on in the virtual one. I’m plotting with pen and paper and (gasp!) calling people and actually talking to them! (A rebel. I am becoming a rebel.)

At this point I can’t say why I think my business and personal life will benefit from my Social Media hiatus, but somehow I know they will. I won’t stay away forever ... but for now ... it’s good to be away.

Rebel Andy, over and out.

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]]> (Andy Koehn) Guest Blogs Mon, 06 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000