INSTOREMAG.COM - News and advice for the American jewelry store owner Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:02:49 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb I Got My Hands On Jade Trau's Latest Collection (and Didn't Want To Give It Back)

The first time I laid eyes on jewelry designed by Jade Trau was three years ago during a meeting with Forevermark's PR team. As I learned about the brand's traceable, ethical diamond practices at a conference table loaded down with jewelry from its crew of collaborating designers — engagement rings with jawbreaker-sized solitaires, delicate stacking bands — my eye kept landing on a trio of perfectly proportioned yellow gold bangles dotted with diamonds created by the aforementioned Ms. Trau. They were crisp, delicate, elegant and barely wrested from my wrist at the end of the meeting. I instantly took note of their designer's name. In the intervening years she's become one of designers I look to for personal diamond jewelry that's both fashion conscious and broad in its appeal. Her collaboration with Forevermark continues (she designs engagement jewelry and high-end items for the label) and she has her own more accessible namesake collection, too.

At the preview of her latest collection she showed a combination of familiar ultra-contemporary pieces, plus new designs that derived influences from the Victorian era. The meaningful element of the period's jewelry was a big draw, especially lockets and charms, which she interpreted in rings that unscrew to reveal compartments for concealing messages and a locket with a powdery finish and topped with diamond-studded lovebirds. "I wanted to marry the sentiment with the aesthetic and used some classic Victorian silhouettes as part of my inspiration for that. The bird motif came from there. It was such a mainstay from that era."

The collection has a more dressed-up feeling than her earlier work. It's easy to see new earrings that quickly transform from buttons to a dangling triple drop becoming a staple for any woman, especially one familiar with the shuffle from office to after-work events. And a web-like ear jacket that arcs along the edge of the ear adds maximum drama to a simple stud. True to form, it was no easy task to get me to hand it over as our meeting came to an end.

Forget-Me-Not Ring in 14K yellow gold with white diamonds. MSRP: $6,050

Scrollbox Ring in 14K yellow gold with white diamonds. MSRP: $11,550

Suspended Nightingale Slide in 14K yellow gold with white diamonds. MSRP: $3,300

Threepence earrings in 14K yellow gold with white diamonds. MSRP: $8,500

Victoria earrings from Jade Trau Victoria earrings in 14K yellow gold with white diamonds. MSRP: $6,450

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Celebrating Women’s Equality Day, 5 Female-Focused Jewels

Over the weekend, when I realized that today we’d be recognizing annual Women’s Equality Day, I reached out to some designers, asking about pieces they make that celebrate our 19th amendment. In my request, I didn’t feel the pendants, rings, bracelets, etc., had to specifically commemorate the actual 1920 constitutional revision giving American women the right to vote. Instead, I wanted to see pieces that broadly observe the rights and strength of women—and applaud that early Seventies’ presidential proclamation, which, once a year, recognizes a day like today.

Indeed, none who read this will be surprised at the originality of many of the creative forces in jewelry. And, while the thought crossed my mind to simply show you some of their distinguishing pieces, I kept jumping back to one word: storytelling. Obviously, I love storytelling — but, as jewelry sales prove, time and time again, so do customers. So here are five meaningful jewels that salute this day and which, at the end of the day, will delight many who hear the tale of what inspired it.

1. From Paul Klecka Designs:

As you know, the standard female gender symbol is derived from the astrological symbol for the planet, Venus. Just recently, when designer Paul Klecka was working on a rose gold and diamond version of one of his ribbon rings in the form of a crown for a woman fighting ovarian cancer, he realized that with a tweak or two (as you see here), the ring celebrates women in general. This band is clever—it has the kind of inventiveness I typically see from the California designer and specialist in redesign/remount, who makes a lot of custom jewelry.

2. From EnA Fine Jewelry/Elements and Alloys:

Although I’ve been a fan of the oft-architectural work of EnA Fine Jewelry, since the company premiered as Elements and Alloys in the JA-New York Show’s New Designer Gallery in 2009, not until this week, in doing my research for this article, did I realize the company’s strong commitment to the continued empowerment of women. The Philly-based firm, in fact, appears to make “smart jewelry for smart women” part of its mission statement. The name EnA, which the design firm interchangeably goes by, is so called because EnA in Greek means one. “Discover what makes you unique,” they say. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about its various commitments to women’s causes. Certainly, this pendant, here, is an example. In 14K gold, it was designed by EnA for Women’s Way, a Philadelphia organization that supports grant making, public policy, and advocacy for women and girls in the greater Philadelphia region. The theme for which it was designed was “Empowerment.” Unveiled last fall for an annual fundraising gala, the thoughtful design incorporates “WW,” the initials of the organization, as well as the Venus female gender symbol. Photo: Tom Lovelund Photography

3. From Jane Bohan Jewelry:

Certainly, something that’s caught my attention is Jane Bohan’s one-of-a-kind “Modern Antiquities Collection,” with jewelry embodying a silver Greek or Roman coin set in 18K yellow or white gold and mixing freshwater pearls and/or diamonds. Admittedly, what I hadn’t known until writing this week’s “Women’s Equality Day” blog, is that Ms. Bohan intentionally searches for antique coins featuring women. “When sourcing them, I look for female images,” she said. “For this pendant, Julia Domna was a very intelligent and powerful woman in the Roman Empire during the period from A.D. 193 to 217. She was the second wife of Emperor Semtimius Severus and very influential during his reign. As a significant figure in ancient Rome and a model of feminine achievement, Julia Domna’s portrait was featured on imperial coinage.” Photo: Sabine Scheckel

4. From Paul Klecka Designs:

Here again, Mr. Klecka offers a fresh perspective on something not so new: special occasion jewelry. With this sterling silver/rolo chain piece, he told me—“My ‘Hey 19’ birthday pendant also aptly celebrates national Women’s Equality Day and the passing of the nation’s 19th amendment.” Indeed, it does, Mr. Klecka. And it’s a shining idea.

5. From Erica Molinari Designs:

Without a doubt, some of my favorite pendants are from designer Erica Molinari. For one thing, they’re so everyday wearable. But on this date, as we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, I’m thinking about the new designs she consistently premieres, which bear short phrases referring to female strength. As does the inscription on this oxidized sterling silver/18K gold raised flower shield charm that reads: “Lvceat Lvx Vestra.” Yes, our talented design community often refers to wisdom of past ages and, in this case, the English translation of the Latin phrase means: “Let your light shine.”  Hmmmm . . . and on that note, I can’t think of a better way to wish our readers a happy Women’s Equality Day.

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 26 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Design Your Store With Your Community in Mind

Ruth Mellergaard, a principal with Grid 3/International, is a designer of note in two stores that took America’s Coolest Stores honors this year.

The stores have something in common besides the cool factor.

Both have themes that complement their communities.

Kevin Seele worked with Mellergaard as well as with Regina Kay to come up with a comfortably elegant Tuscan store design that reflects the community of Totowa, NJ, which has a large Italian-American population.

Kevin’s Fine Jewelry store, built in 2009, will be featured in the February 2016 issue of INSTORE.

Kevin’s Fine Jewelry

Starting with a blank slate – a concrete slab in a strip mall -- the design team researched a photo of the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s famous bridge for inspiration. Seele found the artist who painted a mural of the bridge to create a feature wall. The artist also painted clouds on the ceiling over the center island, and a wall finish that looks like Venetian plaster.

Around the center island, Mellergaard’s plans specified wood columns that set off the whole focal point, creating a separate area from the rest of the store’s more open floor plan.

Mellergaard says it was fun to work with Seele, who she describes as a very visual person. “That makes a designer’s life easier – if they have a sense of who they are and what they want and how they are creating a brand,” she says. “Rarely do people want an interior that is as theatrical as Kevin’s is.”

Both Mellergaard and Seele credit general contractor Robert Dykman of RED Construction for the speed and ease of the project. “He pulled it together so professionally and so quickly that it made my life very easy,” Seele says.

Mellergaard was also instrumental in the design of Goldsmith Gallery of Billings, MT, owned by Scott and Kelly Wickam, which opened in 2010, and was featured in the August 2015 issue of INSTORE.

Scott Wickam wanted a store that had an elegant Montana lodge feeling that would reflect the outdoor life of its customers: miners, cattle ranchers, oilmen, visiting skiers from nearby Red Lodge Mountain Resort.

Goldsmith Gallery of Billings, MT

Two-story expanses of glass and cedar-framed oversize windows flood the store with sunlight, showing off the “Big Sky” of the state’s nickname and the nearby Beartooth Mountains. The center of the showroom is atrium height, with a suspended mahogany framework of lights that doesn’t interfere with its open-space feel. Almost all the building materials came from local resources, with sustainability a priority.

Mellergaard consulted with A&E Architects of Billings to make sure the interior and exterior space meshed.

“So we knew to find materials that had a casual vibe,” she says. “And we decided that we should have the stone on the inside as well as on the outside of the building. For cases, we had them in two colors so they looked a little more casual.”

“When you walk in, there’s a very high ceiling. So we needed to bring the lighting down and so we designed a floating soffit in wood, with a Frank Lloyd Wright feeling. We were able to bring the light down toward the cases without interfering with the vision of the fireplace beyond.”

In addition, Scott wanted the POS, repair station, etc., to look like a reservations desk at a hotel, with two lamps on either end.

“That hospitality, residential feeling is a real big deal right now,” Mellergaard says. “It’s a trend that is growing in interior design. And Scott is one of the first people who verbalized it.”

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]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 25 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Humor Breaks Through with Customers, Says Phibbs

Happy Monday! I have to admit, what I’m sharing with you today is borrowed insight, but it IS incredibly useful information – at least, if you want to close more shoppers who would otherwise not buy from you.

Bob Phibbs, otherwise known as The Retail Doctor, has a blog post out this week that’s spot on when it comes to connecting with customers who are wrapped in a protective “cocoon.”  He talks about the fact that because of the choices available to us in social media and online, we’ve all begun creating our own little worlds that show us only what we care about and agree with, while keeping out anything that may shake up our world.  How do you connect with a customer like that?

Answer: Humor.  More specifically, humor with natural banter.  As Phibbs points out, it’s why Siri has the funny banter that he/she does when you ask your iPhone questions.

But how do you use humor without seeming awkward or forced?  Phibbs has several great strategies, but I feel terrible giving them away here.  Instead, I’m going to point you toward his blog post, and hope you’ll read it – and use it in your next selling opportunity.

You can read Bob Phibbs’ blog post here.   And if you’d like to read his thoughts on the best way to run a jewelry store and break down barriers with customers, go here.

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]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Mon, 24 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Fall’s Hero Piece: The Power Ring

Summer’s nearly done (at least, unofficially) and my sadness over dwindling beach days is outweighed by the excitement over the chance to pair the season’s new clothes with jewelry to match.  We’ve already seen stacking rings explode in popularity. It was an easily understandable, versatile trend thanks to the endless possibilities that come from combining loads of miniature rings all at once.

Those delicate pieces don’t make as much sense paired with fall’s weightier fabrics, though. And once the gloves come out of storage it’s much easier to slip them on over one (or two) sleek, sculptural rings than a whole host of teeny baubles. Look for rings with pared down, geometric shapes that match the contours of the hand to be winners in the new season. Gemstones will make an appearance, but in sparing servings. The style is a match for the seventies-inspired fashion that’s just hitting stores and makes fall’s new, frothy Victorian-inflected designs feel contemporary.  And in silver the look is a very affordable way for shoppers to get an affordable statement piece that will carry them though the season.

Georg Jensen, Archive Collection sterling silver ring, MSRP: $250


Monique Péan, 18K recycled gold ring, MSRP: $6,655


Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry, Birdhelm ring in sterling silver, MSRP: $660


Melissa Kaye, Zoe Marie ring in 18K blackened gold, $3,630

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 21 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
The Jeweler: Inclusions

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 Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
8 Exceptional Rings from the NY NOW Show

Rings really stood out this year at the NY NOW show at Javits — fashion rings especially. The prevalence of unexpected shapes (in gems and metals) was exciting, particularly because exhibitors didn’t seem confined to any one silhouette or size or, for that matter, any singular past-era aesthetic.

Because the jewelers who show at NY NOW are of the handcrafted genre, textured ring surfaces were the norm, rather than the exception. Speaking of . . . every time I see Anne Sportun’s signature Stardust surfaces, I think I get starry-eyed all over again. Her new “Celestial Collection” in gold is out-of-this-world. Yes, fashion rings included.

When I attended the show this past weekend, I realized there was a pervasive constant in the ring collections: Although they were extreme in execution — technique, materials, craftsmanship — still, the final pieces were nonchalant. In a word, wearable. Or, to put it another way, notably non-ostentatious.

These new everyday rings are huge departures from cocktail rings, which big names, especially, have been trying to bring back for awhile. I sometimes wonder why many deep-pocketed jewelry brands haven’t quite caught up with the public’s consistently increasing appetite for precious pieces with a slightly punk attitude. Well, a show like NY NOW, with so much original jewelry talent, has the potential to remind them.

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 19 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Eichhorn Jewelry Celebrates 50 Years with ‘60s Flair

I recently received this story from Heather Eichhorn Cruse, granddaughter of John Eichhorn, who founded Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, 50 years ago. The business is now run by Heather’s aunt, Eileen Eichhorn. Heather, marketing director for the family business, is happy to report that 50 years later the business is still thriving.

Eichhorn Jewelry celebrated its 50th anniversary in ‘60s style on Aug. 5. Not only did the employees dress as if it were 1965, but the store also displayed a 1965 Christmas catalog and put out ashtrays on all the counters, to re-create the period vibe.

When John Eichhorn left his previous employment to found Eichhorn Jewelers, his boss, Ferris Bower, gave him a 1964 Bulova Accutron “Spaceview” watch. Bower was proud that his certified master watchmaker of 17 years, known as “Ike” was venturing out to launch his own business, and wished him well. Ferris and Ike remained close friends and friendly business competitors.

Eileen Eichhorn, who inherited the “Spaceview” from her father, John, presented it to her nephew, Matt Dyer, as a token of legacy before they opened their doors for their 50th anniversary celebration, which drew a crowd of over 500 people.

Each visitor received a gift of jade because Eileen’s first piece of fine jewelry was a nephrite jade gold ring given to her by a traveling salesman. He told her to wear the ring for luck, love, and happiness, always.

Other give-aways included 50 $50 Eichhorn Jewelry gift certificates and 50 champagne diamonds valued at about $100 each. Jennifer Mitchell of Decatur, purchased a surprise package for just $5 and received a $500 tanzanite, a surprise indeed.

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]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 18 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Hearts on Fire Shakes up the Traditional with New Campaign

A new generation is getting engaged and starting their jewelry collections – yes, it’s those Millennials again – and so it’s time for a different kind of ad campaign.  Hearts on Fire, which proclaims its product The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond, is going full steam ahead by unleashing a multimedia campaign next month in top fashion and bridal magazines, TV, digital and social media that says something much different about diamonds than has traditionally been said in the past.

Like most diamond jewelry ads, Hearts on Fire’s past campaigns have involved a model looking into the camera wearing diamond jewelry, or product-as-hero images.  But the new campaign by TBWA\Chiat\Day, financed by new owner Chow Tai Fook Jewellry Group, features young people through a voyeuristic lens that captures them in moments that are, for lack of a better word, enjoyable and real, and associates Hearts on Fire diamonds with those moments.  The tagline is “Ignite Something,” which leaves the door open for consumers to imagine a variety of possible celebrations using diamonds, tapping the Millennial zeitgeist of putting their own spin on tradition.

The first of the two ads we’ve seen so far involves a young couple in a tight embrace, apparently taking a break from Chinese food at sunset in an apartment after unpacking boxes.  While the young lady’s left-hand ring shines brightest, she wears a variety of jewelry, including bracelets and earrings, and the shot is much more “real life” than past ads.  The second ad is even more of a departure from traditional diamond ads: It features a young woman standing up through the sun roof of a moving vehicle and raising her arms above her head with a jubilant grin and closed eyes – and, of course, two armfuls of glistening bracelets.  The close-up image of the bracelets at the top features smaller diamonds in rose, white and yellow gold, a much more fashion-heavy statement than most diamond companies have made in the past.  The best thing about these ads is that they feature moments in life that the viewer doesn’t expect to see – moments that diamonds can (apparently) make more special.

I like the direction that Hearts on Fire has taken with these ads, but I feel like they’re still showing too much restraint.  I would love to see the company go all out in this new direction to show young consumers that this really is a different kind of diamond company, even more so than it already has.  That said, I feel sure that these ads will help Hearts on Fire retailers to connect more effectively with Millennial shoppers.

Hearts on Fire new Ignite Something advertising campaign

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]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Mon, 17 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Now's the Time for NY NOW

Even in the supposedly sleepy days of August the merry-go-round of shows keeps turning. The next stop is NY NOW, which starts this weekend here in New York and continues until August 19.  Even if it happens in a standard issue convention space, NY NOW’s aisles of jewelry alongside gifts and home goods and personal accessories feels more like shopping a (very big) boutique than your average trade show. And, increasingly, it’s become a useful place to visit designers who don’t attend the Vegas shows to find out what they’re most excited about for the holiday season. There are a few designers whose work I haven’t had the chance to see so far this year that are among the first I’ll track down at NY NOW, and I’m always open to suggestions.

Marian Maurer

Brooklyn-based Marian Maurer creates exquisite handmade pieces that feel both precisely geometric and organic in 18K white, yellow, rose and green gold and platinum. Her rings are the perfect alternative wedding and engagement jewelry.


Tap by Todd Pownell

With his frequent use of inverted diamonds and darkened silver with gold, Todd Pownell’s jewelry feels a little punk, in the most elegant way conceivable. He received last year’s Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award at JA in 2014 and is a designer to keep tabs on.


Ruth Tomlinson

Tomlinson’s pieces don’t shy away from the reality that the raw materials of jewelry are derived from the earth. Her designs usually incorporate rough diamonds and asymmetrical, gnarled silhouettes. They have a rustic, naturalistic quality that will win over customers who think fine jewelry is too prissy for their lives.

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 14 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000