Tagged: jewelry

The Not-So-Obvious Way that Fashion Has Impacted the Jewelry Industry

Whenever I see a company buck the status quo and take a calculated risk that actually makes sense in the context of the current market, my belief in mankind is reinforced and I thank goodness for Darwinian instincts. Burberry just announced that it is veering away from the insane Fashion Week schedule and instead combining men and women’s runway shows together into two annual events. This is streamlined approach is a reaction to the unsustainable fashion week schedule that has resulted in the burnout of brilliant creative minds such as Raf Simmons, John Galliano and Alber Elbaz. I believe that other fashion houses will quickly follow suit because this non-seasonal approach both reflects current consumer behavior and relieves quite a bit of financial strain and waste in the industry. I am cautiously optimistic that this sudden wash of sanity over the fashion industry will have a positive affect on jewelry designers and the jewelry industry as well.

In recent years, due to the prevalence of e-commerce and digital media, the jewelry industry has realized that branding is crucial to a company’s survival. In this new and exciting digital world we live in no one will find you without a brand presence. As the jewelry industry is moving away from the unbranded mom and pop model to one where brands rule, jewelry designers now have to show during fashion weeks in addition to the traditional jewelry show circuit and their own trunk shows for their private clients twice a year. Is it any wonder that more and more jewelry companies are finding this landscape unmanageable and struggling to survive?

In addition to the physical and mental strain designers are facing, the pressure from multi-category fashion retailers to create collections on the fashion schedule are placing a huge financial burden on jewelry designers as well. I’ve always been quite vocal about my disagreement with this approach. Fine jewelry is much more capital-intensive than fashion and it is absolutely absurd to expect jewelry designers to come up with two or three collections a year. It puts a huge financial strain on designers and when the pieces don’t sell because of their higher price points it is the designers who suffer. Fashion retailers bear none of the financial risk because they take all the jewelry on consignment need only return the jewelry to the designers to wash their hand of the inventory.

The designers on the other hand are caught in a vicious downward spiral because they are now stuck with “last season’s” inventory that no one thinks is relevant anymore. They then have to offload the inventory somewhere either by discounting or selling to a secondary market like Gilt or outlet malls. Once a brand’s discounted jewelry floods the market its brand equity will suffer and it is unlikely that the brand will ever be able to regain the luxury cache it once had. In order to maintain margins and survive they have no choice but to start cutting costs, using lower quality materials and manufacturing and before long brand is a shell of its former self with little integrity or pride in its product remaining.

What is the solution then? Taking cue from Burberry’s brave decision to do the sensical thing is a step in the right direction. Designers should review their business models and retail relationships and ask whether those arrangements make sense for their business after reviewing the long-term financial costs of working with certain retailers. Seek out partners who are willing to have aligned interests, have shared values and are structured in ways that will support growth and build brand equity.

This has been our mission at Swoonery and the designers who work with us agree. There is no feeling like hearing from our brands that they finally feel that a retailer is on their side and building with them rather than at their expense. It is my hope that by lifting much of the financial risk off our brands’ shoulders and creating win-win situations for everyone at each stage we will recreate the jewelry industry into one that is beautifully efficient–one where unique aesthetics abound, quality and integrity in craftsmanship can shine and people can once again discover and develop personal connections to fine jewelry in a meaningful way.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Jewelry Designer Hates Valentines Day?

 

I stood silent on Valentine’s day because I hate to be anyone’s buzz kill. But now that the day is over, here comes the catharsis:

I’d like to think I’m not the bah humbug type–I love Christmas, Chanukah, Chinese New Year, Passover, Thanksgiving and birthdays; but that’s where I draw the line. Halloween, New Years Eve, Valentine’s Day–in my opinion, are all for amateurs. Sure, I will don a costume on Halloween for friend’s party but if you think I’m going anywhere near a parade or club you’ve clearly mistaken me for someone with a death wish. Avoiding Times Square on NYE for fear of a bombing might sound very Woody Allen but I think it’s just good common sense. God forbid something should happen, but if it does, Woody and I will be shaking our heads over a pastrami sandwich murmuring the dreaded “we told you so.”

Which brings me to Valentine’s Day–a jewelry designer’s dream right? Not so much. I have no idea what turned me off of Valentine’s Day. Jewelry Tyrant Father used to give me jewelry every year on the day and I loved it! Now that I’m in the jewelry industry myself I think people are terrified to gift me jewelry–but that’s a whole other issue and has nothing to do with why I dislike the holiday. I think my distaste comes from it being a day of forced affection and gifting. As a result, every store has pink and red paper hearts in the window and we are bombarded with clichéd advertisement after lame advertisement. All the amateurs go out in full force hawking cheap jewelry, generic roses, boxers with hearts on them and every other kitschy thing you can possibly associate with love. Restaurants all have set menus that fall short of their normal fare and one can hardly ever get a decent meal on the day. Not to mention the fact that if you’ve been one 2 dates with someone, one of you is expecting to spend Valentine’s Day together and the other thinks it’s too soon and then it’s just awkward tidings from that point forward. Valentine’s Day is Kmart’s dream and my nightmare.

This is the part where I contradict myself: I love the fact that Jewelry Tyrant Father still gives Tiger Bobby jewelry for Valentine’s day. He spent months sourcing the perfect stones, designing the ring and having our artisans perfect it. That is how to give a Valentine’s Day gift–it’s never an after thought with him. Unfortunately, Tiger Bobby left dinner reservations until last-minute and so they ended up ordering take out at home but that is so typical of my dysfunctional parents and super charming in its own way.

Jewelry Designer Hates Valentines Day?Jean & Alex, yellow and white diamond bespoke ring.

As for me, last year I came home on January 14th and found a gorgeous bouquet of flowers waiting for me with a note saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day” from my Immigrant Husband. He had gotten the dates confused–I guess they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in Italy. As a result, I had a perfectly lovely surprise in the middle of January. This year, IH gave me my V-day pressie 4 days early because he couldn’t wait until the day and told me that I was getting flowers on the 15th because he came to pick me up at the airport straight from work. Again, super cute and I could care less if I get a necklace on the actual day or a few days earlier. Last week, I got a package in the mail from Bestie with 3 rings spelling out “JZP” and a note, “Happy Whatever Day.” Awesome, I felt super loved. Then it dawned on me–I don’t like enforced celebrations of love and affection because people do things out of obligation. A random expression of love is a joy and means so much to the giver and the receiver; whereas nothing feels more contrived and generic to me than the masses going through the synchronized expressions of love on Valentines Day. However, the one thing I absolutely adore seeing is women buying things (specifically jewelry) for themselves on Valentine’s Day. That is hardly ever contrived or generic. It says to me that she doesn’t care whether she is single or not–she loves herself. Let other people slather you with random acts of love the other days of the year, on Valentine’s Day love yourself.

Jewelry Designer Hates Valentines Day?

Tataborello earrings; similar ones here, necklace here.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

 

hoop earrings

Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?

 

Have you ever seen a woman whose hoop earrings make her look suspiciously like a swashbuckler?  Hoop earrings are a precarious piece of jewelry–it’s very easy to get it wrong and look dated or trashy.  When hoops are too small or too large they can really impact a look for the worse.  So how can one determine what size and type of hoop earrings look best?

Size

I don’t see the point in mini-hoop earrings; they are so meek, I often wonder why the wearer doesn’t just opt for studs.  The only thing worse than the mini-hoop is the non-committal hoop–it’s as if the wearer set out to make a statement and then couldn’t muster up the courage at the last-minute to see it through.  Furthermore, non-committal hoops are the most unflattering thing one can wear.  They hit at the widest part of one’s face and makes everyone look like they have the jaw line of Conan O’Brian as a result.  I must also mention the shoulder-grazing hoop in the list of blunders–I have yet to see a sophisticated rendition.  The following are examples of how not to wear hoops:

Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?All examples of less than perfect execution of the hoop earring–they are all either totally underwhelming or alarmingly obnoxious.  Note how the non-committal size of the hoops in the photo in the top left corner accentuate the squareness of her jaw.

So what is the ideal size then for hoops?  It depends on the size of your face, angle of your jaw and the length of your neck.  A good guideline to follow is: longer than your jaw line; and no bigger than your fist, or at least two inches from your shoulder.  Hoops within that size range are the most flattering and give you ample leeway to experiment.  When worn correctly, a good hoop earring should highlight your jaw line without making it look like the widest part of your face.  Here are some examples of hoop earrings executed properly:

Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?

On Hoops and Chins

Because hoops draw the most attention to the space within the circle, if you have a less than taught neck, I would avoid fist-size hoops and go for ones that hit just below your jaw.  If Alfred Hitchcock asked me what kind of hoops he should wear, I would probably try to steer him clear of them altogether–if one does not have a jaw line to speak of, hoops are terribly unflattering.

The traditional large round hoop earring is quite a young look but I think women of any age can get away with it them as long as their chins are holding up.  Younger girls can experiment with embellishments and edgier styles whereas women of a certain age should experiment with non-circular shapes.  Keep in mind that hoops are not very corporate so if you work in a buttoned-up environment, you may want to rethink before you wear them to work.

Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?

Michael Kors, rose gold-tone earrings; available here.Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?

Finn, 18k Gatsby earrings; available here.

If your chin(s) leaves something to be desired, fret not–you don’t have to settle for a life of boring earrings.  Round hoops might not be a good choice but other hoops might still work!  The roundness of the hoops draws attention to roundness and makes everything look slack but angular shapes taper and helps one’s jowls defy gravity (or at least look that way).  The trick is to look for angular or pointed shapes–triangles are your best friend.

Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?

Lana Blake, 14k gold earrings; available here.

Hoop Earrings: Friend or Foe?

Rachel Roy, triangle hoop earrings; available here.

Point of clarification with respect to size–My comments above are limited only to hoop earrings.  I do not take issue with small pendant earrings–the ones that have a small loop of some sort with a dangling pendant hooked onto the loop–those are ear pendants and are thus, exempt from my disdain.  Furthermore, the addition of the pendant adds length and thus detracts from the unflattering qualities of small or non-committal hoops.  Similarly, huge shoulder grazing earrings (not hoops) can be fabulous and make a grand gesture on older women regardless of the state of their chins but all that is fodder for another post. . .

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

 

 

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

 

I pity the fool who has never experienced a bout of jewelry-induced arthritis.  Fortunately for us all, jewelry is one thing we can supersize guilt-free.  Massive hunks of gold chains have been keeping wispy little things grounded at Fashion Weeks the world over this year and have provided proof that the appeal of a gold chain necklace extends much further than the Jersey Shore.  Methinks it’s time to revive the gold chain necklace.

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

Celine gold chain necklace.  Photo: Harpers Bazaar

 Under $5,000Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

David Yurman, hammered chain necklace, available here.  Photo: David Yurman

Under $700

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

St. John Collection, crystal encrusted chain necklace, available here.  Photo: Nordstrom

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

Aurelie Bidermann, braided chain necklace, available here.  Photo: Barneys.com

Under $300

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

Baublebar, soleil stripe chains, available here.  Photo: Baublebar

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

Janis Savitt, gold crystal chain necklace, available here.  Photo: Thomas Laine

Under $200

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

Fallon, gold double chain necklace with pyramind, available here.  Photo: Barneys.com

Under $100

Highbrow Lowbrow: The Gold Chain Necklace

Baublebar, single roll strand, available here.  Photo: Baublebar

Fool-proofing note:  when attempting the gold chain necklace, go for dramatic sizes; added embellishments and pops of color.  This look is meant to be exaggerated, anything less and the irony is lost.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Accessorizing a Collared Shirt

Collared shirts present a necklace conundrum. Yes, the status quo of a dainty gold necklace or strand of pears will always work, but once we wander into the territory of bib necklaces, statement necklaces and their ilk, it becomes murky territory indeed. I often find that necklaces that work with collared shirts need to be short and close against the neck (14 inches roughly), any longer and it clutters the neckline (see photo 1).

What to do then if you have a longer necklace that you absolutely adore and want to pair with a collared shirt? Wear it under the collar rather than against your skin (see photo 2) to achieve desired embellishment without sacrificing clean lines.

Accessorizing a Collared Shirt

Accessorizing a Collared Shirt
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
JZP