Thursday, October 28, 2021

Hot and not so hot




Richard Alan

The 2012 holiday shopping season is off and running, and I can safely say giving a piece of jewelry as that special gift will become as popular as it once was.

Notice I said jewelry – not fine jewelry. Since early October, certain items have been selling well, and there is a reason for this. The past couple of gift giving seasons for the jewelry business can be summed up in one word… Dismal.

Even De Beers, the largest diamond conglomerate in the world that refused to spend millions of dollars on blanketing TV ads, is back. The reason was simple: purchasing fine diamond and gold jewelry that was once affordable to 75% of the public has, in my opinion, dropped to less than 10%.

Anyone in the luxury goods business has been hanging on by their fingernails and this fiscal cliff is no joke. Many in my profession have already plummeted over it just recently on this island paradise. I can blame the economy, unemployment, the real estate market, the Mayan calendar, the election, and the biggest reason: the ever still ridiculously rising prices of precious metals. No doubt, plenty of reasons the industry has to live with. Only with me, that would be a cop out.

Like it or not, silver has become the new gold. Even Italian gold jewelry manufacturers have resorted to producing tons of silver jewelry, and so much of it is gold plate on silver (commonly known as “vermeil”). Sure, I have lots of customers complaining they don’t want silver, but when they hear the price of 14 karat – or worse 18 karat – I have to bring out the smelling salts to revive them.

On my last buying spree in Europe I unconsciously discovered that the Italian manufacturers had been very busy redesigning and retooling their whole industry. Besides vermeil pieces they are gold plating bronze and creating big bold jewelry.

That is not only classy and expensive looking; each piece has a WOW appearance but doesn’t cost a lot of money. I already have to re-order because the response on the island has been joyfully unexpected.

At a recent fashion show in West Palm Beach, I discovered a new L.A. company that makes the most incredible silver and C.Z. line of jewelry that fooled even me at first.

Rings, bracelets, and pendants that appear to cost thousands and pieces in the collection start at only $75.00. Wear these pieces at holiday gatherings and I guarantee this jewelry will be the ultimate ice breaker and have them whispering to themselves as to whether or not you won the lottery.

I realize the trend is that it has to look expensive but not be expensive. No easy task in retail; let’s face it cheap is cheap! But I persevered and over the slow summer months I traveled and searched, besides creating lots of sea life jewelry with a mixture of 14 karat and sterling that is a main staple in my stores.

My ever popular Marco Angels and Marco Bracelets have been recreated; the bracelet has been the envy of most women on the island and is now a more affordable sterling and rubber design. I am also unveiling the Breast Cancer Awareness Marco Angel (no pun intended) next week. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Other hot gifts are the rebirth of initial pendants in gold or silver and simple charm bracelets.

For the men in your life, bold stainless steel jewelry has been hot all over the country and is very inexpensive. Also, money clips or key chains with classy engravings are in demand.

Expect to pay dearly for real gold jewelry for men; with gold at an all-time high, a nice 24” solid rope chain can demand over two thousand dollars. Avoid purchasing cheap lightweight hollow chains, for they too are expensive and will not hold up (besides being impossible to repair). You are better off purchasing a nice solid sterling or stainless bracelet.

Jewelry giving for the holidays has always been a tradition, and with the evolvement of alternative metals I’m confident it will now continue.

Happy Holidays to all!

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza with over forty years experience at his trade and welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters” 239-394-9275

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