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Ideas for Jewelry & Accessory Businesses

Archive for June, 2009...

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Things might be tough in the fine jewelry field, but that didn’t keep manufacturers, designers and buyers away from the exciting jewelry trade shows recently held in Las Vegas, including Couture, at the Wynn Resort and JCK at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

   —And, even though fine jewelry is taking a bad hit in the marketplace, this message came through loud and clear: designers are still actively creating new and exciting pieces with exquisite gemstones and rich 14 or 18 karat gold

 

Here, too, was a luxury repository of fabulous diamonds.  All kinds of diamonds.  Colored and white diamonds. Big and little diamonds. For a moment, you might even forget the recession! 

 

Joanne Teichman, of the Yiang 23 boutique in Dallas expected to be conservative shopping the shows, but says, instead, she spent a lot. As she put it: “When the merchandise is spectacular and irresistible, there will be someone to buy it.”

 

Marketing of these fine jewelry pieces is certainly quieter than usual, however, and wearing these fine pieces is definitely less flashy than usual, but you still can’t count fine jewelry out.  Think of people who never knew Madoff.  Think of Brazilians anxious to find a place to unload their millions.  Think of the Saudis.  Oh, yes, there is still plenty of money out there.  It just isn’t kosher to flaunt it.   

 

 

                                     Circumventing Criticism

 

ONE WAY TO AVOID THE APPEARANCE of being self indulgent is to let other people buy your jewelry for you instead of buying it yourself.  That means gifts.  And right now, more and more husbands and lovers, children and (very good) friends are spending on jewelry gifts for anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays such as Christmas and Mother’s Day. Capitalizing on the trend, the industry is smartly promoting such “giftable” holidays to the utmost.  What a great idea!  

 

 

PROMOTING JEWELRY FOR SPECIAL GIFT GIVING CAN INCREASE YOUR SALES SIGNIFICANTLY.  HERE ARE A FEW GREAT GIFT PIECES: 

 

  • Graceful brooch combines faux pearls in ribbon design of silver-plated metal work. What woman wouldn’t love to receive it?

 

 

 

 

  • Large crystal butterfly brooch with open design comes in choice of colors.  Charming and suitable for all ages!

 

                                                   Hot Trends

 

What is big in the fine jewelry field?  Let’s start with statement jewelry, which has been in the limelight for about a year now.  That means big pieces, rich pieces, individual one-of-a-kind looking pieces.  Yossi Harari’s Mexican fire opal suites, shown at the Las Vegas expositions, included a fabulous necklace with orange-toned opals and black diamond covered beads.  Breath-taking!

 

Another company showed very big bibs with turquoise, onyx, and moonstones. Aquamarine, emeralds and diamonds were also featured in big necklaces, while baroque pearl cocktail rings with diamonds gave plenty of restrained flash to other vendors’ offerings.

 

Prices for many of the jewelry pieces shown were unquestionably on the “more affordable” list, despite their extravagant content.  The idea here was to sell, and it was obvious in the marketing strategies.  Nobody cut prices too heavily.  Nobody undercut the basic value of their lines.  But, there were concessions…

   –Also working to improve sales were more diversified assortments at mixed price points. 

 

                                            Blackened Gold

 

BLACK OR WHITE DIAMONDS set into blackened gold were seen at several vendors, suggesting this could develop into a hot new trend. Another big number was oxidized silver.  Rose gold continued to be popular, as it has been for the last year or so.   

 

 

Rings were in the spotlight throughout the show.  Marco Bicego showed a gorgeous heavy gold ring with a single, large intricately faceted ruby.  Judith Ripka showed a stunning silver ring with big turquoise cabochon.  These were rich, bold, and dramatic, but they didn’t have all the glitz and glitter we’ve seen in rings in former seasons.  Big stones tended to stand alone, for example, without diamond embellishment. 

 

SHAPES ALSO PLAYED a significant role at the Vegas shows.  Circles were everywhere!  So were stretched-out circles, or ovals.  Sasha Primak featured a pair of stunning hoop earrings made up of circles and ovals within circles and ovals. Each of the circles and ovals was a thin strip of alternating white and black diamonds.  Whew!

 

CHOOSING JEWELRY WITH RICH, CLASSIC SHAPES UPDATED TO A 2010 MODE CAN GIVE YOUR COLLECTIONS A NEW JEWELRY LOOK WITHOUT THE PRICE.  HERE ARE SOME IDEAS:

 

 

 

 

  • Crystal brooch with ribbons of metal filled with pave crystals form interlocking ovals.  Modern and timeless at once!

 

                                                    Different

 

Nothing at the Las Vegas Shows was commonplace.  Even the most popular styles, like thick bangle bracelets, had something special added to make them different.  Like David Yurman’s gemstone encrusted bangle, or his heavy silver bangle with heavy diagonal ribbing.  These were not glitzy, though, but more expensively simple.

 

The pieces were also individualized to the point that you could practically name the designer just by looking at them.  This was all very classy, to say the least, and if we weren’t in the midst of a serious recession, prices would unquestionably be through the ceiling!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

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SILVER IS AGAIN RIDING a high road of popularity with jewelers and consumers.  It has a great look, it is undeniably sophisticated, and it offers a fine jewelry value at a small fraction of the price of gold. 

 

Translate that to costume jewelry, and the benefits are even greater.  Silver plate is indistinguishable from real silver.  It is shiny or matte, good looking, remarkably design flexible, and is the epitome of “smart merchandising” when it comes to a good value-to-price ratio.  

 

In fine jewelry – which is always a trend forerunner of fashion or costume jewelry – silver is increasingly the metal of choice for designers looking to keep prices down. 

 

                                         The Recession Is On

 

“CONSUMERS WANT MAXIMUM quality and value for something different,” declared jewelry designer Roberto Coin, who has jumped onto the silver bandwagon with his first-ever silver collection called Capri.  The jewelry grouping features gun-metal coated bangles encrusted with semiprecious gem stones.  As Coin says, “The recession is on.” 

 

Expressing the same sentiment is jewelry designer David Yurman, who is offering larger silver assortments, and again mixing silver with gold (his original forte) for an updated take on his rich, two-metal look  Brian Ripka of Judith Ripka Creations says his firm is seeing a definite increase in silver sales as well.

 

Webster CEO Terri Eagle also reports a continuing growth in silver sales and says that a number of exclusive venues, such as Saks and Neiman Marcus, have requested exclusives from their collection.  The super-trendy John Hardy is another silver brand making big sales waves in the new silver environment. Like we said:  Silver is hot!

 

DON’T MISS OUT ON THE SALES POTENTIAL SILVER NOW OFFERS. HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC PIECES TO CONSIDER:

 

  • Wide cuff bracelet in open design with geometric diamond shapes.  In silver tone flat wire with hammered finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                 Buying Psychology                            

 

APPARENTLY, THE RECESSION has restructured the buying psychology of the nation and, no doubt, the world.  Whereas conspicuous consumption was the “status thing” not that many months ago, it is now OUT.  Very OUT.  In its place is a more refined economic sensibility that seems to recognize that many people are hurting financially, and that this is no time for extravagance or materialistic posturing. 

 

—Enter:  Costume jewelry.  It allows for beauty, pleasure, art, and indulgence without being splashy or in questionable taste.  No “Let them eat cake,” psychology here!

 

EVEN IN THE VERY FINE jewelry field, moderate price points that ran into double digit thousands just a year or so ago are now down to $500 to $2,000 for many manufacturers.  One big way this is being done is by using silver as the basic metal of choice. Even when silver is set with diamonds and other fine gemstones, the price is still relatively reasonable.  “More  affordable,” is how jewelers are referring to their new collections.  “Casual.” “Young.” 

 

                                           The Power of Pearls

                                                

Of course, silver is not the only price-conscious avenue open to jewelers. Freshwater pearls are especially popular.  Many suppliers are also extending themselves into more classic pearls, saying Michelle Obama, with her traditional, two-row pearl necklaces, is their inspiration. 

 

PEARLS ARE ALWAYS POPULAR, ALWAYS A GOOD CHOICE FOR ALMOST ANY JEWELRY COLLECTION OR INDIVIDUAL APPAREL OUTFIT.  HERE ARE SOME BEAUTIES:

 

  • Genuine freshwater pearls with beautiful iridescent crystals make up this handsome, double-strand bracelet joined together with satin ribbon.

 

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, June 29th, 2009

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A NUMBER OF EXCITING ideas came out of the Piper Jaffray retail conference in New York City recently where new ways of coping with the continuing recession uncovered a number of creative solutions to sagging sales. While many retailers recounted their experiences with cutting costs and inventories in order to improve their profit and loss statements, others gave encouraging examples of how they are fine-tuning marketing strategies and taking advantage of new opportunities for expansion and growth.  

 

Using the internet and examining secondary markets came up high on the list of workable business techniques for now and the future.   

 

According to Nordstrom’s vice president and treasurer Rob Campbell, “The upscale retailer’s focus remains on providing a compelling merchandise offering to meet the evolving needs of the customer.”  One way the firm is doing this is by expanding private label offerings.

 

                                                    Extended Reach

 

EXTENDING THE COMPANY’S retail reach is still another strategy for improving sales figures.  Adrian Kowalewski, chief financial officer of American Apparel, Inc. pointed out that there are many under-penetrated urban markets in the United States, Canada and  abroad.  “We believe there’s an opportunity to reach beyond young metropolitan adults,” Kowalewski asserted. 

 

The financial executive also discussed the advantages of keeping the firm’s wholesale business viable, saying.  “It allows us to keep costs down while building our retail business.”  In-house production means faster inventory turns, and faster turns mean higher revenue potential. 

 

CHOOSING MERCHANDISE WITH A HIGH VALUE-TO-PRICE RATIO IS JUST ONE OF SEVERAL SUCCESSFUL RETAIL STRATEGIES.  GETTING IT DELIVERED WHEN YOU WANT IT IS ANOTHER.  HERE ARE SOME PRODUCTS THAT FIT THE BILL:

 

  • Good-looking church hat with brim down.  This classy hat has a beautiful, squared crown and is decorated with a spray of horsehair loops and tiny crystals.  Very sophisticated!

 

 

 

 

                                     Manufacturing Abroad?

 

AMERICAN APPAREL DOES FACE a double-sworded problem, however, with its local manufacturing system. On one hand, manufacturing abroad could mean lower costs. On the other, it would mean compromising the company’s reputation for “Made in America.”  As Kowalewski put it:  “That could erode the brand.”

 

Other important strategies discussed at the meeting included:

 

   —Exclusivity.  “If you own anything others own, you are vulnerable to the competition selling it at a lower price,” declared J. Crew Group chairman and CEO Millard “Mickey” Drexler.

 

   —Inventory streamlining.  “It is critical to our fast-fashion business to stay lean and to turn inventory as quickly as possible,” said Wet Seal executive vice president and CFO Steven Benrubi.

 

                                  Hi-Tech or Slow-Growth

 

INTERNET MARKETING is another increasingly important avenue for retail operations. J. Crew’s Drexler has said that his company will shortly launch e-commerce for its Madewell unit.  “We want to keep growing,” he asserted.  “The world is going where it’s going.  We’re not going to fight it.”

 

J. C. Penney’s senior vice president of corporate strategy, Jim Kenney, perhaps said it best when discussing how his company is articulating its value proposition, not reinventing its basic identity.

 

“We don’t want to be the slowest turtle,” he declared, “but the fact is, if you are the fastest turtle, you are still a turtle.”

 

KNOWING WHO YOU ARE, AND WHO YOUR CUSTOMER IS, CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN SUCCESSFULLY RIDING OUT THE RECESSION.  HERE ARE SOME PRODUCTS THAT CAN HELP KEEP YOU GROUNDED IN YOUR OWN IDENTITY:

 

So…you’re a costume jewelry retailer?  Here’s a product that will fit your business: 

 

 

Teens make up a significant part of your customer base?  Cater to them with this:

 

  • An ankle bracelet with dangling heart and lock charms comes carded with a title “Love” and a verse by George Sand:

                                        “There is only one happiness in life,

                                           To love and be loved.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, June 27th, 2009

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WELCOME, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, to the new theater of 3-D jewelry.  What you’ll see here is like nothing you’ve seen before:  jewelry that is usually big (or huge, or even gigantic) and which, moreover, has been taken to a third dimension. These are pieces that not only sit on the skin, they stand away from the body.  They make “statement jewelry” look conventional! 

 

Imagine taking a tennis ball and hanging it around your neck from a heavy metal chain.  Then gold-plate the ball for a little glitz and glamour and…voila!…you’ve got the beginning of 3-D jewelry.  A flower isn’t just a flower etched onto a flat material, nor is it even silver or gold, say, fashioned to look like a flower.  No…!  This is a crafted flower, with numerous petals and inner pieces, all rounded out like a flower grows, in 3-D.  Wild!

 

ANOTHER PARTICULARLY FASCINATING thing about most 3-D jewelry is that it has taken normal balance and, you might say, thrown it out the window.  The pieces just don’t fit the size of the outfit.  They overwhelm it.  So, get used to this new balance, which at first looks peculiar, even gross.  It is the new directive!  The strange thing is, the more you see it, the more natural it starts to look.  Well, almost.

 

                                                  Vera Wang

 

A recent photo of designer Vera Wang shows her wearing a huge necklace that falls just short of the waist. But is made up of multiple layers of heavy chain with big (very big) 3-D cameos (6 in all) dropping off, so as to create a bib of remarkable jewelry.  Wang says the necklace, made of very oversized resin crystal cameos, was inspired by her set of antique cameos…greatly enlarged and enhanced! 

 

Costume jewelry, she says, “is something you can enjoy with a T-shirt and not feel like you’re in something grand.” 

–Well, we’d have to question that, because if this necklace isn’t grand, what is?

 

YOU CAN GET THE BIG 3-D LOOK WITH SOME CAREFUL PERUSING OF THE ACCESSORIES MARKET.  TRY THESE PIECES FOR STARTERS:

 

  • Agate and jasper chunky jewelry.  These one-of-a-kind pieces are each a mix of shapes of semi-precious stones.  Made of banded agate, striped onyx, intricate ocean jasper and opaque faceted jasper, in neutral colors, each offers its own dazzling 3-D effect.

 

 

 

  • Big, hot, and very 3-D:  This Baroque beaded necklace adjusts to 20″ in length and is offered in a very trendy choice of bright colors.

 

                                            Solar-System Effect

 

MARC JACOBS SHOWED some spectacular earrings in his recent runway show, most notably huge earrings with a single ball dropping down from thin interlaced chains on each ear, creating a 3-D solar-system effect.  He also showed big hoop earrings that looked like large black and gold bangle bracelets attached to the ears. Again, 3-D. 

 

The cover of the July issue of Vogue Magazine shows a large choker (worn by celebrity-model-actress Sienna Miller).  On one hand, the piece is truly gorgeous but, on the other, it also looks remarkably like a handful of sea life from a barrier reef, all bunched together and then hung around the neck. In a strange way, it gives you a heightened appreciation of the beauty of both crystals and the sea.

   –This dramatic multicolored metallic Swarovski necklace is by haute couture designer Nina Ricci and it is very 3-D!

 

MORE ON THE 3-D CIRCUIT:  Wow!  Consider this fabulous big white agate ring and this stunning quartz ring, both by jewelry designer David Yurman, who has always had a talent for big, bulky, out-of-proportion accessories. Or, check out couture designer Michael Kors’ super big black onyx-looking chain link necklace that sells for a mere $700.  Then, there’s this wild cluster of silver balls making up a big 3-D ring by Robert Lee Morris.  It’s just $450. 

 

                                     Fashion and Fingernails

 

Eddie Borgo also has a very big gold bracelet on the market, as does Frank Gehry for Tiffany & Co., both big bangles, just that Tiffany’s is several times the size of Borgo’s.  Either way, they are both good-looking and bulky, and writing with either one on would be just about impossible. But, hey, who wants to write when you can look this good? 

 –Remember the ancient Chinese sages with their foot-long curving fingernails?  They put their hands out of commission altogether!  As Shakespeare said, “All is vanity.”

 

YOU CAN GET IN ON THIS MODERN VANITY- DRIVE, HAVE FUN, AND STILL NOT SPEND A LOT OF MONEY.  LOOK HERE:   

 

  • This chunky ceramic beaded necklace fans out in a semi-circle of dramatic trapezoid shapes.  In masterfully crafted patterns, it comes in either dark sage or wine for a very sophisticated look.

 

 

 

  • These geometric earrings serve up good taste in a fashion-forward design.  Concentric hoops alternate in gold- and silver-plate and are beautifully hand-polished.  3-D dynamics!

 

                                              Post-Script

 

One more point about 3-D jewelry.  Not only is it out-of-proportion to the clothing it is supposed to be accessorizing, its very size often makes it the subject of primary attention, rather than a charming add-on.  Just look at several top fashion magazines, and see how the jewelry is often what they are featuring, not the clothing. Is this amazing?  It is a very significant change.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, June 25th, 2009

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                                         (IT’S HOT, BABY!)

 Filigree is a basic, a classic of jewelry workmanship.  It has been prized since ancient times for its beauty, fragility, and remarkable design utility. Filigree has been used for almost every type of jewelry item:  rings, pendants, brooches, earrings, bracelets, you name it.  It is constantly renewing itself, repeatedly presenting a fresh, creative, imaginative look and feel.  Right now, it is a top trend mover!

 

There is practically no time in the history of jewelry that filigree hasn’t played an important role.  It just seems to be always there, sometimes in the forefront of an emerging style, sometimes in the background. It’s non-stoppable!

 

 

ALTHOUGH FILIGREE WORK IS USED FOR ITEMS THAT ARE BOTH CASUAL AND FORMAL, IT IS OFTEN MOST APPRECIATED IN VERY ORNATE AND ELEGANT EXECUTIONS:

 

  • Filigree has long been appreciated for Bridal wear.  Here, a delicate filigree-look necklace features 4 mm faux pearls and a lacey filigree drop supporting a teardrop pearl.  This is a gorgeous piece of stunning vitality! 

 

 

 

 

  • A treasured piece for lifelong wearing is this filigree cross necklace on a silver-tone snake chain.  Clear crystals add a hint of sparkle in this unique design.

 

 

Filigree is a jewel work of a delicate nature made by twisting or braiding threads of gold or silver or some other material into intricate forms and designs. It looks like lace, and has been popular in the west for centuries.  It rose to special prominence in France in the late Middle Ages, causing such a stir that it rapidly became the prized cornerstone of French jewelry, holding that position right up to the present.

 

Filigree actually dates back to ancient India and Egypt.  It was made by the Etruscans, who commonly soldered threads of fine metal together for jewelry and other handiworks, such as decorative jars, drinking cups, and religious ornaments. 

 

FILIGREE IS A DYNAMITE BEST-SELLER, SINCE ALMOST EVERYONE WANTS AT LEAST ONE PIECE OF THIS LACEY CLASSIC IN THEIR JEWELRY WARDROBE.  HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING PIECES TO CONSIDER:

 

  • Crystal Angel Pin with Filigree Wings: This is an ideal gift item for any age.  It features pave crystals on the angel design itself, with lovely gold-like filigree wings adding a sense of motion and mystery.

 

 

 

  • Filigree Earrings.  Here, crystal earrings utilize a popular theme with a handsome filigree heart richly embellished with streaming crystals.

 

 

Filigree’s delicate ornamental work is also known as “wire work” or tweezers’ work.”  It is important, however, to distinguish it from another jewelry making technique, ajoure. Ajoure looks a great deal like filigree, causing many items to be mislabeled.  However, don’t think that ajoure is a second-rate technique.  To the contrary, it is used in many very fine jewelry pieces and has a distinctive reputation on its own.  

 

Actually, both ajoure and filigree have extensive open areas, but in ajoure, holes are either punched or drilled, or otherwise cut, through an existing piece of metal, creating the lacey effect. In other words, it is one continuous piece of metal, often very beautiful, but still considerably less complex in execution than filigree.  Look at any jewelry collection of filigree and filigree-like items and you’ll learn to recognize the difference quickly.

 

Filigree work is amazing in its versatility, and the way it easily crosses over from very ornate to very modern designs.  Irish filigree is extremely well-thought out and varied in pattern, and is just one example of the craft’s visual change-ability. It is often used in pieces depicting the beautiful interlaced designs from the Irish Medieval Bible, the Book of Kells.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

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Who doesn’t want to celebrate the Fourth of July with barbecued hot dogs, Boston baked beans, Coca Cola, patriotic music, and – what else? – FIREWORKS!  This is what every small and grown up kid is waiting for, the fabulous Fourth with its equally fabulous fireworks displays.  Are you ready for it?  

 

                                             Some Background

 

FIREWORKS WERE INVENTED IN CHINA back in the 12th Century, actually as an offshoot of its invention of gunpowder. The Chinese originally used fireworks to scare away evil spirits, but later their power, roar, and awesome brilliance made it obvious how ideal fireworks would be for celebrations.

 

To this day, the Chinese use fireworks for all sorts of occasions, most notably their fabulous New Year and Harvest Moon Festivals, when the country really proves its expertise with these incendiary giants. Understandably, China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.

 

                                    Rockets and Bomb Blasts

 

THERE ARE BASICALLY TWO TYPES of fireworks ground and air.  The first usually employs a specially rigged frame — like the shape of an American flag or maybe the bust of George Washington — that sizzles into firey recognition before a mesmerized crowd. The later involves fireworks that are shot into the air with eardrum bursting sound and light and color.  

 

Rockets make fireworks spectacular!  Wow!  That’s what we use in today’s world, mostly:  aerial shells that explode and explode and reverberate and light up the sky in the most glorious, breathtaking fashion. 

 

IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING A FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU MIGHT WEAR.  YOU JUST CAN’T GET TOO NATIONALISTIC ON THIS DAY, AND YOU JUST CAN’T WEAR TOO MUCH RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.  HERE ARE SOME FUN ITEMS TO CONSIDER:

 

  • Rich, silk-feel polyester men’s ties. They boast a blue field with white stars down one side, and waving red and white stripes down the other.  Handsome, and wrinkle-resistant!

 

 

 

 

  • An American apple pendant.  This is really charming!  It features the stars and stripes on a silver-plated apple pendant that can be kept and worn for many years to come.

 

                                     Believed in Our Destiny

 

It’s interesting to think about the optimism of the early American pioneers: They used fireworks long before the Revolutionary War was even fought.  The first Independence Day celebration with fireworks was in 1777 – 6 years before we actually won the war and became a nation.

But we believed in our own destiny and we used fireworks to underscore it. What a dynamite idea!

 

Today, there are so many shapes and forms of fireworks, it is mind boggling.  A Dahlia, for example, is a spherical splash of brilliantly colored fire stars, and few real firework displays are without many of them. A Ring is a rocket that, when shot off, forms a fire-y ring of stars.

 

IN ADDITION TO THESE spectaculars, there is an endless variety of ground fireworks that can be custom made to fit any occasion or locale.  In fact, there are numerous companies in the United States alone that specialize in commercial fireworks displays, complete with just about any size and shape the customer might want.

 

WHILE YOU ARE ENJOYING THIS YEAR’S FIREWORKS, WHY NOT EQUIP YOURSELF WITH SOME REAL AMERICANA TO HEIGHTEN THE FUN?  SOME IDEAS:

 

  • An Americana cuff bracelet.  This can make your Fourth ensemble come to life!  Features pearlized seed beads strung on springy wire and colored red, white, and blue.  It makes a great statement of pride in the USA!

 

 

 

  • American flags on sticks.  This is something to get for your whole family.  And friends.  The inimitable stars and stripes to hold up and wave and feel good about. 

 

                                              Around the World

 

ALL AROUND THE WORLD, fireworks at one time or another are literally lighting up the sky.  Here in the United States, we have many such occasions, but none quite equal the Fourth of July extravaganzas.  Millions of spectators in New York City look to the sky to witness Macy’s annual Independence Day celebration, with fireworks shot off from 6 barges in the East River and the Hudson. 

 

This is when New York literally goes wild, and the sky above rumbles and explodes and lights up with color and light – it is a dazzling display, to the say the least.  Even the many planes that fly over this busy metropolis have to be rerouted for nearly an hour as the fireworks blaze on!

 

At the same time, in Nashville, Tennessee, a fireworks spectacular called Let Freedom Ring explodes along the banks of the Cumberland River, just as fireworks proclaim our national holiday all across the land.

 

NOTHING, HOWEVER, REALLY COMPARES to Washington D.C for a real July Fourth celebration, when over 40,000 shells explode at a rate of 1,500 per minute! With all the splash and splendor of the Day, the real action comes at the end of the Big Show, held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. After we have been entertained by a dazzling collection of the nation’s top stars and celebrities then,

 

                                                    Suddenly!                     

 

— the band strikes up the moving strains of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and the majestically wild fireworks begin, exploding in time to the music, one after the other, after the other…OH! OH !OH! This is the meaning of thrilling!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, June 20th, 2009

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STILETTO SANDALS:  AND CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN.  THE MAGIC MAKER OF THE YEAR! If you aren’t familiar with the name, learn it. This remarkable designer might well be called the man behind the whole new look in women’s shoes.  Sure they are too high.  But oh, they are fantastic. These shoes are brilliantly designed and exquisitely finished.  And just look at how other shoe designers are copying the look! This is a fashion wave, if ever there was one.  Never have shoes been so important a design part of one’s outfit!  Louboutin! 

 

Beyond the wild and sky high stiletto sandals on the market, here are a number of hot story and item trends shaping the look and experience of Summer 2009.

 

PRINTED SCARVES:   all kinds of prints, sporting bright colors and beachy feelings.  Go European and wear them around the neck with everything! Wear them as head wraps and look really chic. — This is a dynamite look for beach or boating but, watch it!  You have to learn how to tie those wraps to make them high fashion!

 

HATS: It’s summer and hats are IN, especially big brimmed hats that look terrific and still keep the sun at bay.  Look for traditional Southern Belle looks in elegant floppy styles, or opt for an offbeat western look with ladies’ cowboy hats in a variety of colors and styles.

 

                                                  Small Pendants

                                

SMALL PENDANTS:  Swing-y, sexy little chains with interesting small pendants.   Many of the pendants are of unexpected materials, like plexiglas, giving the necklace a light, airy feeling, and working as an interesting counterpoint to the huge statement necklaces on the market now. 

 

YOU CAN GET MANY OF THESE VIBRANT SUMMER FASHIONS AND DESIGNS FOR REMARKABLY REASONABLE PRICES.  LOOK HERE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                            Someplace East of Suez

 

EASTERN TOUCHES:  Try some vintage Geisha sandals.  Or do up your hair high on the head, Eurasian-style. Even more stylishly, latch on to one of the wonderful obi belts showing off on the high fashion display circuit now. 

   —Look at one from Michael Kors:  A gold python obi sash with bow-like front closure.  Really fabulous!

 

PRINTS.  Flowers, graphics, kitschy prints…you name it.  Prints with a very spiffy, updated élan.  Black and white prints are especially hot, along with plenty of multi-colored  prints with pops of bright yellow worked through their designs. Appreciate them in totes. Even bracelets and shoes!

 

COLOR BLOCKING:  Is this the 1980s, coming back into fashion, or what? Look for brilliant color blocking designs for the summer fashion scene and, later in the year, for resort wear.  The inimitable designer, Donatella Versace, is featuring prints with block graphics, baroque patterns and florals. Her little sleeveless Polynesian dress is an unexpected combination of graphic design, block stripe print and soft blue, white and yellow colors.  Her little 80s yellow dress with block yellow and blue print is straight out of the 80s. Charming!

 

FUN SUNGLASSES:  Off-beat, big sunglasses.  Dark is big, but equally impressive are glasses sporting the newest pastel or bright colored frames. It’s like couture and geek all rolled in one!

 

 

 

YOU CAN FIND WELL-MADE PRODUCTS TO SUIT YOUR NEEDS WITHOUT PAYING HIGH PRICES.  HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES:

 

  • Satin-plated earrings in silver and gold.  These beautiful shimmering drop earrings are beautifully designed and give the appearance of continuing motion and light refraction.

 

 

 

 

 

                                 Sun Drenched and Sea Splashed

 

GOLD!  Shiny gold.  In hair accessories.  In jewelry.  In belts.  In shoes.  In handbags.   Look for this King Tut-revisited gold standard to show up all over this summer, and to get even more prominent in the cooler months ahead.  Right now, though, shiny gold is as sizzling as the August sun, and looks just as fantastic under it!  No, it’s not replacing silver, it is just glowing richly next to it. 

    —Examples:  Shiny hammered big and long gold bracelet that cuffs over the wrist and runs up the arm.  Worn with shiny gold elongated disc earrings. That’s the look! 

BANGLE BRACELETS:  Bangles, bangles and more bangles.  Almost any style, color, or material will do.  For extra points, though, choose thin silver bangles, worn maybe 6 to 8 at a time, preferably on both arms. Ah…but don’t forget those wild African animal prints.  Or, shimmering gold bracelets for the Midas look. Almost any bracelet will do, just so long as you have plenty of them stacked on the arm, preferably color or metal coordinated.    

 

                                    United Nations Casual

 

WORLD TRAVELER:  Fashion just doesn’t make it to the top without important infusions of international designs.  Island life colors from Polynesia. London-hot (but slightly stiff) 80s designs.  Soft and flowing Caribbean influences for beach and night wear.  Put it all together for a very United Nations casual effect, reflecting easy living here…and there.  

 

SHINE & GLITTER. Look for it in sequins and crystals in jewelry and clothing.  Appreciate it in shiny materials.  This is a look to echo the sun, just right for the beach by day and resort chic living by night.  This is not the glitz of several seasons ago.  It is quieter, more refined, less all-invasive.  The idea is for touches of shine, here and there.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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Now it’s Bulgari’s turn to shine and shimmer in the sunlight of an anniversary age.  Cartier just passed its 100th U.S.Anniversary celebration and now Bulgari is celebrating its 125th anniversary with, among other things, the opening of a fabulous retrospective at Rome’s Palazzo Delle Exposizioni. 

 

Called “Between History and Eternity, 1884-2009”, the show will contain some 500 Bulgari designs, including a number of new “high-jewelry” pieces.  The show follows Bulgari through a tumultuous time frame, with royal clients, impressive expansion and difficult challenges all driving the firm to the pinnacle of the international jewelry and fashion world. It is a breathtaking journey.

 

Greek expatriate Sotirios Boulgaris originally established the company in the late 1800s as a small silverware store in Rome.  Today, the $2.4 billion Bulgari firm operates 270 stores worldwide and has its main business emphasis on jewelry and watches.

 

The Roman exposition will showcase an 18-karat gold necklace owned by Princess Soraya of Iran, created by Bulgari in the Sixties and made of graceful floral designs with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds, in some ways mimicking the exquisite and traditional gemstone glory pieces known for centuries in the Middle East.

 

RICH, GEM -ENCRUSTED JEWELRY DESIGNS FROM INDIA THROUGH THE MIDDLE EAST HAVE MESMERIZED NOT JUST BULGARI BUT ALL OF THE WEST FOR CENTURIES. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, YOU CAN GET THE LOOK WITHOUT THE COST WITH TODAY’S SPECTACULAR FASHION JEWELRY:

 

  • Filigree crystal bow brooch offers an exquisite look that is both trendy and timeless.  With lavish Bulgari-like design features, the brooch boasts luxurious clear and red crystals in vintage gunmetal plate settings.

 

 

 

  • Super sized CZ earrings are simply gorgeous.  Lavish, large oval CZs are framed with a classic abundance of smaller stones, as well.  Spectacular sparkle!

 

                                                Rows of Diamonds

 

Among the marvelous Bulgari classics are a number of exquisite vintage floral brooches, made of white and colored diamonds and emeralds, and heavy vine-like gold bracelets filled with rows of large diamonds.  Sophia Loren made a number of Bulgari pieces particularly famous, including an exquisite diamond necklace with large gemstones circling a choker design, worn with classic drop diamond earrings. 

 

   —And, not to be outdone by such illustrious jewelry mavens, is Elizabeth Taylor.  An entire room will be dedicated to the Bulgari pieces owned or worn by the actress.  Accentuating the jewelry will be a series of watercolor paintings showing the design and crafting of the jewelry pieces themselves.

 

YOU CAN APPRECIATE THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF THIS JEWELRY IN MANY OF TODAY’S FINELY MADE FASHION FAUX GEMSTONE PIECES.  GET THE BULGARI LOOK AT THE SAME TIME!

 

 

 

 

  • Fashion dome ring in heavy gold electroplate with alternating diagonal rows of shimmering pave crystal,

 

                                               On the Web

 

An interesting point made by the firm on its celebratory event is just how radically it has changed over the years.  For example, the company now maintains an imposing presence on the Web, where it sells more than 800 pieces of jewelry, watches, accessory items and even gifts, running from a modest $200 to $38,000. 

 

Person to person sales, however, still lead the firm’s most exclusive business.  As an example, just two years ago, the company opened its most expensive and lavish store ever on the Ginza in Tokyo, the largest market in the world.

 

As for the present economic downturn, Francesco Trapani, Sotirios’ great-grandson, says the firm’s biggest challenge is to cut costs while maintaining the highest quality.  He feels that firms in general must become more competitive by upping service and improving their image.

 

“More than growth,” he contends, “today’s goal is to maintain one’s market share.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

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AS I WRITE THIS BLOG, THE WORLD – and especially France, the United States, Great Britain and Canada – is celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Western Allies storming the beaches at Normandy.  It brings up vivid memories of that Great War, of the sacrifices that were made and victories that were won. 

 

For those who were alive during those years, it forces into clear focus deeply rooted memories of a more personal nature:  loved ones serving in the war itself, air raids, food rationing, victory gardens, and riveting theater films and radio announcements of battles, parallels, and soul-moving speeches from American and Allied leaders. 

 

“We shall never give up.”  “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  “The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor.”  “The President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is dead.”  On the morning of August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima.  Oh, the sadness, the terror, the horror of it all.

 

As one elderly woman said to me, “Unless you heard it yourself, you could never know the power of those statements, how they riled and shook you to the very core of your being.”

 

                                   Costume Jewelry Emerges

 

Nobody talked much about diamonds during those years.  But there was still a fascinating undercurrent of activity going on in the fashion and accessory world, one that prompted new looks and new appreciation for materials and objects formerly overlooked. 

 

For example, costume jewelry, created by fabled designer Coco Chanel in the early 1900s, began coming into its own, giving women the feeling of beauty and luxury they otherwise could not afford at a time they often desperately needed that kind of lift.

 

Costume jewelry was, in no small way, a fantastic morale booster. Designers began experimenting with inexpensive metals and stones, creating brand new looks for their clients.

 

YOU CAN APPRECIATE THE INTERESTING CHARACTER OF THE 1940s WITH SOME OF THESE PRODUCTS:

  • Rhinestone bracelet in small cuff design with center set rhinestone heart.  Very 40s, yet still just right for today’s prom, bridal, or evening wear.

 

 

 

  • Bakelite bracelets.  Color!  Color!  Buy several and wear them all together for a trendy modern take on 40s designs.  Stunning!

 

 

                              New Materials, New Ingenuity

 

Hand crocheted and knitted hats began very popular in the 40s, along with homespun handbags, many of them of extraordinary craftsmanship and character.  Hermes marketed a handsome minimalist clutch handbag made out of panama straw, in place of more expensive materials like silk and leather, which were in short supply during the war years. 

 

A clever editorial in the October, 1943 issue of “Marie Claire” magazine said:

 

       “These days, an ingenious woman is an elegant woman.” 

 

Many added their own embellishments to plain accessories. Many items were re-invented, re-used, revitalized.  The end effect was often startling, even marvelous.

 

The look that evolved in the early Forties was called Retro Modern.  It had many of the elements of the Art Deco styles from the 30s, but was more refined.  Base metals were common, especially brass.  Silver was more commonly used than had been thought, but an item’s silver content was generally not enough to be called Sterling.

 

Dumand’s purple taffeta open-toed sandal, for example, with sling back was designed on a very high platform with swirl wooden design.  Fabulous!  And…just as fitting and timely to today’s market as to the 40s!

 

YOU CAN GIVE CUSTOMERS A FASCINATING BIT OF HISTORY, ALONG WITH GREAT LOOKS AND PRICING.  JUST LOOK AT THESE ITEMS:

 

 

 

 

                                  Tools of the Resistance

 

ACCESSORIES OFTEN PLAYED an unexpected and vital role in the actual fight against Germany.  Many items – from simple, homemade accessories to expensive, elegant ones – were used as stratagems by the Resistance Movement, for such purposes as secret carryalls for drugs, explosives, money, and more.  Beautiful handbags were often designed with false bottoms to conceal propaganda documents.

 

In France, scarves were also designed to outwardly display the owner’s allegiance to the collaborationist Vichy government.  Many were even designed with portraits of the Vichy leader, Marshal Petain.  Such accoutrements often gave the owners freer movement with less surveillance from the Gestapo in occupied France.

 

Whether as “Resistance” tools or beauty gifts to stressed nations, jewelry and fashion accessories were as importance in the War years as they are today. 

 

    —It was a time when the Industry gave special service to the public, in many essential ways. 

 

Recognizing this is a new exhibition in Paris that gives special recognition to the fashion ingenuity during World War II.  The Accessories displays will cover two museums in Paris, both of which are dedicated to the history of the French Resistance and the liberation of France.  It will run through November 15th.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, June 12th, 2009

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If you’re the athletic type, but still lust after the most expensive Louis Vuitton handbags, then your time has come!  As showcased on the Last Look page of Vogue Magazine’s June issue, the ritzy Fendi has put its imprimatur on a spiffy new bicycle meant, they say, for casual city cruising.  We assume that means it doesn’t have all the gears and gear needed for heavy mountain rides, but then, you can always use the Bentley for that. 

 

This bicycle, the Fendi Abici Amante Donna, is unique and signs in at a modest $5,900, not so bad when you realize that it is luxuriously equipped with Fendi’s Selleria leather accessories.  That means a key and bike chain cover and a leather GPS navigation holder (really necessary for getting around our own home town!).  It also boasts a chic detachable Fendi case that can be used for business or personal purposes and which sells, without the bicycle, for a $975.

 

If you’re interested in something a little higher on the status scale, you might opt for what Fendi says is its fully loaded bicycle.  This top-of-the-line version has removable saddlebags and sells for a slightly higher $9,500.  As we understand it, the bicycle was barely introduced when “BAM!” several of them (at both price points) were sold. Fendi might be into a whole new thing here!

 

STILL, PEDALING AROUND TOWN IN SOMETHING THIS SPIFFY DESERVES MORE OF THE BEST.  YOU MIGHT CONSIDER THESE PRODUCTS. THEY AREN’T COSTLY, BUT WHO’LL EVER KNOW IT?

 

  • Polka dot scarf – great for holding hair back and off the face while pedaling.  Brilliant color, trendy, and made of beautiful chiffon and satin polyester.

 

 

 

  • Royal blue sequin visor or dazzling color, sexy glitz, and plenty of high-fashion oomph!  Terrific for all sports.

 

 

 

          ADDING NEW ITEMS TO WIDEN CUSTOMER BASE

 

Retailers shopping the Atelier Designers Trade Show in New York last month indicated they are trying to widen their customer bases, and at the same time appeal to buyers looking for accessories they can wear right now rather than later in the year.  Attendance was admittedly down somewhat, but an air of optimism still prevailed, and some retailers even said they are beginning to see an upturn in business. 

 

Items were high on buyers’ lists.  Some retailers said they were sitting on fairly high inventories, and were just looking for a handful of special items to spruce up their offerings.  Another attendee said that several stores in his area had gone out of business, and he was looking to appeal to their customers with new and exciting products.  He saw the possibility of adding new kinds of customers as an exciting challenge for the rest of the year.

 

                                            Color Drives Sales

                                       

Color was a real accessories’ sales driver.  Red was, overall, the hottest color here, but other hues, like hot pink, green, tan, and (of course) black also moved well. Handbags remained high on buyers’ lists, along with belts, which have soared in importance as they keep showing up in international designer runway shows. Leather and canvas were both material super-stars, as well as various types of exotic furs used for embellishments. 

 

DESIGNER-LOOKING HANDBAGS AND TOTES DON’T HAVE TO COST A FORTUNE.  LOOK AT THESE BEAUTIES:

  • A cute Yorkie with hair curlers is pictured on this cigar box tote/purse. It also has rhinestones sprinkled about.  Talk about frugal creativity.  This is use and reuse at its best!

 

 

 

  • Oversized tote comes in a variety of washed metallic colors and is made of high quality leatherette.  

 

 

                     HOT SILHOUETTES FOR CLASSY PLACES

 

WONDERING WHAT TO WEAR WITH WHAT?  HERE ARE SOME TIMELY SUGGESTIONS: 

 

Short tight skirts on chic little dresses, preferably in dark blue or black, and seen with wild stillettos and luggage-sized leather handbags.   Add some long hair, a watch, and maybe a big, big ring, and you’re ready to roll!

 

Neutral-chic.  Well, it always has been, hasn’t it?  This summer, neutrals get whiter, with even tan taking on a sun-bleached look.  Try some cropped white beach combers, a white t shirt and just a light designer-y long necklace, maybe with a Lucite pendant, and you’re ready to go.

 

                                             Sheen in the Sun

 

Silver sheen makes its way into resort cafes, as well.  Silver t-shirts that would look spectacular in any South Hampton restaurant look terrific paired with black walking shorts and even a shiny leather-like blouse for cooler weather.  Add long drop earrings and a silver bracelet for a real beachy-night look.

 

Sun-drenched color still keeps its status position on vacation wardrobe lists.   Look for plenty of peachy or coral colors, bright but not neon, and light summer green with an algae-look.  Like silver, shimmery materials are very hot.  Put this look together with mini-skirts, sleeveless blouses and light, loose-knit sweaters. Bangle bracelets, clutch bags, and silver hoops complete the outfit with élan!

 

GET WITH IT FOR SUMMER WEAR!  THESE ITEMS ARE JUST RIGHT BESIDE THE SEA:

 

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, June 11th, 2009