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Archive for August, 2009...

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JEWELERS AT THE JA NY SUMMER SHOW held a couple of weeks ago at the Javits Center in New York City took a no-holds-barred marketing stance on improving sales in this sluggish recessionary economy, with surprising and beneficial results. 

   —The overall modus operandi was to think creatively, outside of the box, and not get caught up in traditional habits and common-place design methods. 

 

According to one retailer, “The designers have realized that we are in a completely new era and they are changing their ways.”  How? By using new, less expensive materials.  By designing items that use mixed metals, to reduce the price from an all-gold venue.  By reevaluating semi-precious stones, and finding new ways of working with them. . 

 

EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANTLY, designers are taking another look – we might say a long look – at costume jewelry, to see what they might learn from this important jewelry segment. The costume jewelry field has long been highly imaginative in its use of materials, working with everything from feathers to rough stones, plastics, and the like.  Now, fine jewelry makers are discovering that these methods can produce high quality products at much lower prices than they’ve been used to, and they are literally digging into them with gusto. 

 

TAKE A LOOK AT COSTUME JEWELRY IN A NEW WAY.  YOU CAN GET FABULOUS QUALITY AND DESIGN HERE AT A FRACTION OF THE COST OF FINE JEWELRY:

 

 

 

 

 

                                               A New Era

 

“The designers have realized that we’re in a completely new era and they are changing their ways,” declared Marie Helene Morrow, a retailer from Puerto Rico.  Supporting her point of view is jewelry designer Todd Reid from Colorado, who is offering darkened silver bangles inlaid with rough diamonds and gold. 

   –The lower cost materials allow Reid to sell the bangles for $1,000, compared to the $15,000 cost of his typical fine jewelry bangles. 

 

The Tiny Jewel Box in Washington has been very successful retailing less costly mixed metal jewelry pieces made of silver and gold.  The store is also experimenting with new, essentially unknown designers who have yet to make their mark on the jewelry field.  These designers produce jewelry at lower costs, and often boost the store’s design status by giving it looks that are creative, new, and anything but “ho-hum.” 

 

A number of exciting design pieces were on view at the JA exposition, among them gold-plated crystal shoulder duster earrings.  These earrings retail for just $40 to $60, and sold very well.  We should point out here, however, that the JA Show has traditionally been a fine jewelry exposition, but now we are talking gold-plating, which is costume jewelry.  This cross-over is something to pay attention to!

 

GOOD COSTUME JEWELRY HAS ALWAYS LED THE FASHION INDUSTRY IN DESIGN INNOVATION AND PRICE CONSCIOUSNESS.  YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM IT NOW WITH SOME OF THESE WELL-PRICED ITEMS:

  • High fashion necklace fringed with clusters of well-arranged beads on gunmetal chain.

 

 

 

 

                      

                                                    Bold Cocktail Rings

 

Also important is the fact that many retailers, who formerly sold only fine jewelry, are now selling good costume jewelry as well, and doing so quite successfully.

 

Bold cocktail rings, semi-precious gemstone pendants, colorful earrings in modified chandelier styles and long teardrop designs all sold well.  Pave diamonds were very popular.  Circle shapes and floral designs also did very well.

 

Morrow noted that her clients are willing to spend money if it’s something creative and unique.  “They’re not splurging,” she said, “but if they see something that is different, they will buy it.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, August 31st, 2009

Filed under Crystal Jewelry
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YOU’LL REMEMBER THAT RECENTLY, when we discussed diamonds, we said that we would soon take a closer look at some of the fabulous faux diamonds enriching the costume jewelry field.  So…let’s now look at crystal, an extraordinary form of glass which, when cut and polished, can become a faux gemstone of amazing, diamond-like qualities. 

—You see the flash and shine throwing light waves across the room with drama and intensity?  Yes, it may be a diamond.  It may also be crystal and, if you think you would always know the difference, well…don’t be so sure!

 

When we speak of crystal, the name Swarovski almost automatically comes to mind. 

The firm was founded in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski, an expert glass cutter born in North Bohemia.  Swarovski, whose father was also a master glass cutter, started his company after inventing a machine that literally revolutionized the cutting of crystal glass. 

 

Over the ensuing years, Swarovski’s creative impact on the glass industry was immense. 

Specifically, his role in developing crystals for the jewelry and home industry was remarkable.  Swarovski developed crystals to mimic diamonds in all their majestic beauty.  Colors were developed that were inspirational, allowing the company to create jewelry-ready crystals almost indistinguishable from natural stones.  Blue diamond-like crystals.  Yellow-tinged crystals.  One after the other, these fabulous faux diamonds entered onto the jewelry stage with glamour and fascination. 

 

YOU CAN ENJOY SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS IN MANY DISTINGUISHED JEWELRY FORMS AT SURPRISINGLY AFFORDABLE PRICES.  HERE ARE JUST SOME:

  • Large round Swarovski crystals create three-row dangling earrings of spectacular fire and beauty.  Crafted in the USA, these exquisite earrings offer a piece of jewelry history that is no longer produced.  Understandably, supply is limited.

 

 

 

                                           Historic Breakthrough

 

IN THE 1950s, TOGETHER WITH the famed French couturier Christian Dior, and inspired by the display of color at the North Pole, Swarovski created a special Aurora Borealis crystal effect, one of the firm’s most sought-after crystal products, which remains extremely important in the jewelry field.. 

 

The firm has also made numerous historical steps forward in the field.  In 1976, for example, Swarovski introduced its famous Silver Crystal Mouse, in honor of the Winter Olympics being held that year in Innsbruck.  The loveable little creature represented the first time ever that any figurine had been made from crystal chandelier parts. It was also the start of the company’s Silver Crystal Collection.  Crystal Paradise is another famed Swarovski collection representing objects from nature, from flora to fauna.

   –Collections are big with Swarovski and include many special jewelry groupings.  They are invariably sought after with gusto by customers, world-wide.

 

 

                                             A Little Background

 

THE VERY WORD CRYSTAL IS confusing because it stands for so many different things, from sugar, to salt, to ice, to jewelry.  This simple word, derived from the Greek, means a hard, solid substance made of molecules that bond together in patterns to form a shape with straight edges and flat surfaces.  That may seem very specific but actually, within that form, there are many, many different shapes and kinds of crystal.

 

Diamonds, sapphires, amethysts and rubies are all types of crystals that, when cut and polished, become gemstones.

   –But did you know that many cultures see these stones and their basic crystal forms as having healing qualities?  Quartz crystal, for example, is thought by many to clear the body of negative energy and to realign the chakras, or energy centers, of the body.  What New Age Spas could exist without crystals?   They are central to their very essence.

 

In the United States, unlike many other countries, any glass that is perfectly clear is considered crystal.  Of course, lead oxide is essential to that clarity.  Fine crystal is a glass mixture with 6-to-10 percent lead oxide content.  Lead crystal is 10-to-24 percent lead oxide. And full lead crystal is 24 percent lead oxide or more.  Crystal used for jewelry is full lead oxide.

 

The highest quality crystal, which is used by Swarovski, has a 30 percent lead oxide content.

 

                                      The Color Palette

 

COLOR IS AN IMPORTANT characteristic of crystals used in jewelry.  Swarovski crystals come in an amazingly large variety of colors, one more mesmerizing than the next.  Think Amethyst, Bermuda blue, Black Diamond, and Citrine, just for starters.  Spectacular Swarovski beads have exquisite coatings and are called Hematite, Satin, Heliotrope, among so many, many others.  Crystals are made in cubes, rounds, hearts, and dozens of other popular shapes, reflecting the enormous demand that has existed for these beautiful stones since they were first used in jewelry. 

 

The marketing of crystal jewelry has also been exceptionally imaginative and useful.  Retailers can make use of many basic concepts associated with real and faux gemstones, helping to boost sales and increase profits.  Take the Anniversary and Birthday Month connections to these stones; the designations help to sell faux and real gemstone jewelry all year long as a special, highly personalized gift product. 

 

Here are some quick examples of the Stone-Anniversary/Birth month connections:  February is Amethyst.  April is Diamond.  July is Ruby.  Real or faux, these stones mark the date with a special kind of light-intensity and importance!

 

YOU CAN MATCH THE MONTH WITH ITS STONE COLOR FOR A HIGHLY-SALABLE ANNIVERSARY/BIRTH MONTH REMEMBRANCE.  CONSIDER:

 

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LOOK rich, famous, and elegant, then the Smithsonian Museum in Washington has just the information you need.  The permanent exhibition First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image, at the museum’s National Museum of American History, Behring Center, features all of the spectacular women who have graced the White House over the years and the fabulous clothing and jewelry they wore.     —Most of the time, the jewelry was real, admittedly.  But not always! 

 

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy was perhaps the most fashionable of America’s First Ladies and was known for her flawless style. Among her beloved jewelry pieces was a large brooch that she frequently wore to State Dinners. Crafted in a star-burst design and set with 156 diamonds, she is said to have sold off several smaller pins in order to cover the $50,000 price tag of this one piece of jewelry.  Mrs. Kennedy wore the brooch almost everywhere, even putting it in her hair on special occasions.

 

                                        The Kennedy Mystique

 

IN ALL FAIRNESS TO OTHER FIRST LADIES, we have to point out that Jacqueline Kennedy had a mystique about her that automatically threw light waves of intensity on everything she wore, everything she did.  A simple ring became bigger than life.  Her ability to speak French not only enthralled the French President and his people, but raised her admiration to a remarkably high point here in the United States.  John Kennedy said:

                   “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.” 

Everyone was amused, but he was saying something so true, it became historically famous.

 

Always furthering her exquisite political manners were the clothes and jewelry Jacqueline Kennedy wore.  To many, she became more than high fashion.  She was perfect!  But she was never extravagant.  She spent far less on her clothing than Mrs. Ronald Reagan, for example, and owned far fewer pieces of jewelry. What she did own, however, was special.

 

                               A Fabulous Engagement Present

 

JACQUELINE KENNEDY HAD a lovely wardrobe of earrings, among them a pair of elegant  diamond waterfall earrings cleverly designed so that the dangle could be removed, allowing her to wear the charming demi-flower studs alone. 

   –And, of course, we can’t forget that John Kennedy gave her a beautiful diamond bangle bracelet as an engagement present; she reportedly liked it so much, she wore it all her life.

 

MEANWHILE, WHY NOT GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF TIMELESS FASHION AND BEAUTY INSPIRED BY JACQUELINE KENNEDY?

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    A Fashion Conservative

 

IN MANY WAYS, JACQUELINE KENNEDY was conservative in her fashion appearance.  She loved and lived in big dark sunglasses and the story goes she had a basket of them at the door to her home and would grab one of them each time she went out the door! 

 

This elegant first lady also had many different watches, but perhaps the best known was a small leather strap watch that she was photographed in while mourning President Kennedy.  The simple face with gold setting was flanked by 32 diamonds. The strap was plain black alligator.

 

                                             Strands of Pearls

 

ONE OF MRS. KENNEDY’S most famous jewelry pieces was a triple strand faux pearl necklace.  Yes!  Faux pearl!  The exquisite necklace featured 158 hand-painted European glass pearls on hand-knotted silk cords.  Not unlike the equally faux pearls made famous by a later first lady, Barbara Bush, these pearls were essentially indistinguishable from the real thing.  Mrs. Bush’s pearls, also multi-strand and close to the neck, were by Kenneth Jay Lane, a fashion jewelry designer who was literally made super-famous by his Washington association with Mrs. Bush!

 

   –If you are interested in learning more about Jacqueline Kennedy and her impeccable fashion sense, you might pick up In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House.  It is one of many books covering the unforgettable social events of the Kennedy Administration, including a luncheon with Princess Grace.  It was written by Letitia Baldridge, White House Social Secretary at the time, and is literally filled with fascinating facts, fashion, and photographs.

 

HERE ARE MORE KENNEDY-INSPIRED FASHION ACCESSORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE TO OWN, YOURSELF.  CONSIDER:

 

 

 

 

  • Shields aviators feature cool look of designer sunglasses.  Order with smoke lenses for updated Kennedy effect.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry Trends
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CALENDAR CHECK:  We’re just a few days away from Labor Day and then, coming right on top of it, Patriot Day dawns, commemorating the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Buildings in New York City.  This is a great time to show your national love and loyalty, so why not bring out all your Americana for display?  For example:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accessories and apparel designers are recently expressing tri-color patriotism year ‘round, so why not join them? 

 

         A RUNDOWN ON HOT FASHION ACCESSORIES FOR AUTUMN

 

Trends:  They are always exciting, always sought out by designers, manufacturers, retalers and their customers.  They answer the big questions on every fashionista’s mind:  What is important now? What is big now? What is happening in the world of fashion?

 

Several years ago, a reader of a magazine I edited asked me if fringe was up-trending.  It wasn’t. He was unhappy about that, because he liked fringe and wanted to use it in his products but he didn’t want to go contrary to the “trends” of the moment.  A couple of years later, fringe roared in and quickly became a major factor in fashion, especially in accessories.  Then, just a few months later, it was again out.  Gone, in a lightning flash. 

 

That’s how it often is with trends, you’ve got to get in at the beginning, ride them hard and fast, and then, just as rapidly, get out.  Trends aren’t known to have a sustainable lifespan.

 

Of course, there are some trends that do last, and others that never seem to go out.  We call them classics.  But no self-respecting list of trends-of-the-moment would think of leaving them out.  Like hearts.  They’re a lot like Everlast batteries.  They just go on and on and on…

 

YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE A COMFORTABLE CACHE OF HEARTS ON HAND FOR WEDDINGS, ANNIVERSARIES, BIRTHDAYS, VALENTINES DAY, AND MORE!  HERE ARE SOME YOU’LL LOVE!

  • Elegant brooch with simulated heart-shaped stone crowned with silver plated lacy filigree.  Choice of colors.

 

 

 

 

 

                           Fringe Leads List of Trendy Items

 

RIGHT NOW, HOWEVER, THERE ARE some important trends washing across the fashion field.  This is just a beginning list; we’ll continue it in the near future.  Here, then, are some hot subjects to pay close attention to as we enter the Autumn season:

 

Fringe. Ummhmm. It’s back! And it is hot! Look for it on handbags, especially as good looking hang-off pieces to match the bag itself. Fringe is also showing up strongly on scarves, on bracelets, and in pins. Much of the fringe is material, some is metal.  It is all very handsome! 

 

Glass beads.  They make everything look richer!  Particularly popular are different colored or sized glass beads braided together. A really gorgeous example of trendy glass beads comes from Roxanne Assoulin for Lee Angel in the form of blue and gold, and white and gold clustery-beaded bracelets.

 

Gentrified Glitz.  See it in shiny silver and gold handbags … and almost everything and anything else. These metallic-washed bags take on a remarkably expensive look, very Egyptian, very Tutankhamen-inspired!  A metallic goatskin bag from Chloe is a perfect example of this exquisite, gentrified glitz. It is quieter, less in your face.  But still with plenty of impact.

 

                                       Keys to Sales Action

 

Keys.  Mostly old fashioned, long keys.  Check out the new Tiffany & Co key collection and you’ll be right there!  You can wear them as pins, let them dangle from a charm bracelet, or put them on a chain around your neck along with a few other pendants.

 

Classic Charms:  We mentioned these before, but what we didn’t say is that while they are always IN, they sometimes spike up to become Super-Trends-of-the-Moment.  That’s the case right now with hearts and stars.  Stars are just about everywhere, as handbag appliqués, hanging off chains as pendants, etched into metal bracelets, you name it.  Hearts are just as pandemic.  Use either one and you’re automatically on top of the trend mobile!

 

YOU CAN ADD SOME TERRIFIC TREND ITEMS TO YOUR JEWELRY COLLECTION WITH THESE “RIGHT-NOW” PRODUCTS:    

  • Heart and stars hematite bracelet.  Charming!
  • Rhinestone earrings with graduated dangling stars.

 

 

                                                 Storytime

 

THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS ALWAYS awash with stories, overall subjects into which a whole category of products can fit.  Romantic stories are among the most common, and the most popular. All sorts of girlie, pretty, sweet, and gentle accessories come under this category. It’s a rare Spring season that doesn’t have a Romantic story ringing clear on the fashion accessories stage.

 

This Autumn, we have a bundle of stories to relish, some expected, some surprising: 

 

A Nautical and Ships-Ahoy Story is one hot idea for the season, but it is unusual for this time of year.  Still, it is here, and it looks good.  Designer Tommy Hilfiger is big on the subject, with some dynamite red/black/white striped Tees, along with ship-worthy boys caps, and red leather banded watches.

   — Look also for some wonderful black and white stories here:  beaded necklaces and bracelets in very trendy colors that effectively blend warm-temperature products with cool climes. 

 

The big Hardware Story in jewelry now gives an industrial design allure to jewelry of all sorts.  Think of hammered dull-silver bracelets.  And big metallic necklaces.  And pieces that might, in another time and place, be used by a construction crew in the middle of Manhattan.  Some of these pieces look like outsized screws from the hardware store –where else?  Other pieces look like standard products from the same shop.  The pieces are generally cleaned up, polished up, jazzed up. Some have a 1930s mystique  But they still look like hardware and they are really going strong. 

   —Ben Amun has a great looking deep Sea-of-Galilee blue bracelet with gold and silver triangular forms embedded. Burberry is hot for super-long (we mean wayyy below the waist) dark gray chain necklaces.

 

A whole new Material Girl Story breaks on the fashion scene with eighties jewel tones, biker jackets, and wild, fetish boots.  Purple and black are the big colors here.  Add to it great-looking biker jackets fitted out with plenty of grommets and zippers and shine.  In the Accessories arena, add some hot metal circle bracelets (preferably silver or gold-plated), and pendants rich in color and attitude.

   —You don’t want to be too nice here.  In many instances, this is an angry-girl story, with plenty of punk attachments.

      –The story is also open to spikey shapes and, if it’s your thing, a sprinkling of black cords and rope and chain for a bondage effect.  Eeeeks!

 

STORIES KEEP EVERYTHING IN HARMONY, WHATEVER THE STATEMENTS.  LOOK AT THESE PRODUCTS FOR SOME STORY-EFFECTIVE ACCESSORIES THIS YEAR:

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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A FRIEND RECENTLY TOLD ME about a charming store she came across in the wilds of Utah, dedicated solely to “heads.”  The shop is on a fun, western-themed boutique street filled with museums and other fashion emporiums, but it is apparently the most creative and successful of them all!

 

The owner of Heads says she got the idea for her store during a seminar on portrait photography.  As everybody knows, most portraits involve only “the head.” That clicked, and as a result, she dedicated her store to heads, all sorts of heads, with all sorts of interesting “head” products.

 

Unlike the “head” stores of the 1960s, where you could purchase all kinds of drug paraphernalia, this new-form “Heads” store specializes in carefully chosen fashion accessories for the sophisticated customer – a big step upwards!

 

She has a huge selection of hats, from cozy winter caps to brimmed Sunday chapeaux.  A wonderful collection of scarves runs from little neckerchiefs to big silk and polyester headwraps.  She has head bands, tiaras, gem-studded hair pins, velvet and satin pony holders, and clips and combs galore. 

 

AMONG THE BEST OF THE STORE’S SELECTIONS IS AN ENTIRE SECTION FILLED WITH HATS FOR ALL SEASONS.  THE BEST SELLING VARIETIES ARE A LOT LIKE THESE:

 

 

 

 

  • Ladies’ houndstooth fedora in choice of colors – great for all seasons!

 

 

Of course, the real subject of the “Heads” store is human, but the design and decoration takes the idea a lot further. She has a large moose head on one wall and a giant picture of a beer with a bountiful “head” on the other. She has coins showing “heads up” and seminar ads on getting “a-head.”  She even offers a $25 reward to anyone who comes up with a new “heads” idea that she can use. How’s that for innovation?

 

                                               “Heads” Stand

                               

THE STORE REPORTEDLY CARRIES a phenomenal selection of earrings, from the most casual to the most bridal-worthy. And, it has chokers.  All kinds of chokers on a special stand called… you got it! … The “Heads” Stand.  Sunglasses and reading glasses are another big product category at Heads, which carries a wide variety of glasses, from inexpensive shades for kids to classy designer wear. 

 

Since the owner is a photography buff, she has another smart merchandising idea.  Using one of those do-everything-perfectly the first time cameras, she takes a picture of each of her customers wearing the particular items they are buying, set against a Utah-glorious landscape travel poster. A computer and printer complete the picture (we should say “portrait”), in just a matter of minutes. 

 

                                           Souvenir Smarts

 

Including the photo in the package with the purchase is pretty much a guarantee of a happy buyer.  It’s really an unbeatable souvenir. It’s also great for store display, because the owner puts copies of the photos up all over the shop! Just more “heads” in the making!

 

   —Even little heads make for great retailing. Children’s accessories in this category are really adorable.  Monalisa, for example, has a charming 3-dimensional hair wrap made of pretty pastel blossoms in a soft, cuddly material.  And what about kids jewelry?   

 

LIKE THE IDEA?  HERE ARE SOME GREAT PRODUCTS TO GET YOU STARTED ON A “HEADS” PROGRAM ALL YOUR OWN:

 

 

 

 

                                            Postscript

 

Oh, yes, and before we end:  If you think focusing on heads is weird, think again.  The National Museum in London is dedicated almost exclusively to heads.  Heads of Kings and Queens have graced gold coins almost since coins came into existence. And, where would the American dollar be without the head of George Washington? Heads tell us almost all we need to know about a person.

 

WE GET THE ESSENCE of our news everyday by reading or listening to the “head-lines.” We describe people as being “head-strong,” cars have “head-lights,” fighters and debaters go “head-to-head,” we often feel like leaving when things start getting “head-y” and everybody knows that “heads, you win!”

 

Right now, Halloween is coming up, and that’s when all sorts of heads can really reign, from devilish headgear to death masks.  You can have great fun with the category by stocking up on these exceptional “head” decorations:

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, August 21st, 2009

Filed under Costume Jewelry
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“Creativity combined with attention to detail defines luxury,” says Australian designer Samantha Wills. “Fashion jewelry,” she asserts, “can evoke the same confidence in the wearer as fine jewelry.  Costume jewelry does not have to be cheap!”  

 

               WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO IS HAVING A LOOK.

 

“Even if you are going to a big gala, it doesn’t mean you have to wear diamonds,” declares Melinda Spigel, designer.  You can still look fabulous in fashion jewelry pieces that mimic the real thing in everything thing but price.

   —Don’t forget:  Costume jewelry was the brain child of Coco Chanel, perhaps the premiere European haute couture designer of the Twentieth Century.  She knew how to make a woman look marvelous!

 

With the economy on the skids, money tight, and fine gemstone jewelry outrageously expensive, costume jewelry is again coming to the fore in fashion.  Yes, smaller pieces of real jewelry can reduce costs for those who want to take that route.  But nobody really wants to look like less than they did last year, and last year was a time for major-sized jewelry pieces. 

                      

                                             Drama and Presence

 

“Big pieces add drama and just show up more,” explains accessories designer, Ashley Dodgen-McCormick. To keep the large size momentum going, the shift is to costume jewelry.  And…it looks great!

 

HERE ARE SOME EXTRAORDINARY COSTUME JEWELRY PIECES TO GIVE YOU A SOCIETY LOOK EVEN WITH A PEASANT’S BUDGET:

 

 

 

 

  • 15-strand beaded choker/necklace features tiny Bohemian glass beads in rich colors.  Strands are twisted for high fashion impact!

 

“You can achieve a lot of drama for not a lot of money with good costume jewelry,” says stylist Rachel Zoe, who has been collecting vintage costume jewelry for 20 years. And drama, let’s face it, is really where much of fashion – especially haute couture – is at. 

 

Just look at the runway shows in Paris, Milan, New York, and elsewhere, and you are often overwhelmed with the phenomenal theatrics orchestrating the latest in women’s and men’s apparel and accessories.   

 

                                    Mastering Your Own Stuff

 

PERHAPS THE REAL ATTRACTION to costume jewelry now goes a lot deeper than price, more toward a democratization of experience.  Not many people can afford real gemstone jewelry collections, and even here, a revolution is taking place, as fine jewelers turn to less expensive metals and stones in order to still keep the “look” demanded by today’s fashion. With these changes, costume jewelry is rising in stature and demand! 

 

Writing on the same subject is Matthew B.Crawford, author of Shop Class As Soulcraft.  With a PhD in political philosophy, Crawford has had more than his share of elitist jobs — including a stint at a high-paying job at a Washington think tank – but he left it all to open a motorcycle repair shop in Virginia.

    —“Any job that has to be done on-site is relatively safe from the logic of outsourcing,” he says.

 

Following in the steps of America’s leading philosopher, Emerson, (and his extraordinary book, Self Reliance), Crawford promotes working at jobs where you take responsibility for your work and where you can use your own judgment instead of blindly following a set of rules and procedures. His focus is on quality and creativity. And that, frequently, puts costume jewelry on the same level as fine jewelry.  Done well, both can incorporate vision and meaning, Crawford says. It’s not just a matter of price.

 

                                    A New American Movement

 

Many top designers agree with verve, along with retailers and even fashion editors, who are spearheading a new American movement toward a broader recognition of what constitutes beauty and value in fashion. 

 

The latest fall handbag collection from Alexander McQueen, for example, is on magazine display with a great looking, heavy medieval-looking brass necklace of chain and cross pendants.  The combination is not even startling; it all just goes together marvelously. In another example, gunmetal-plated brass earrings and a hematite metal spike necklace are brilliant accessories for a rich, Alexander Wang black leather jacket.

 

YOU CAN FIND HIGH AESTHETICS IN HEMATITE JEWELRY WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE, TOO.  HERE ARE SOME PIECES TO LOOK AT:

 

 

 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Filed under Handbags
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EXOTIC SKINS ARE STILL exciting major handbag sales, despite the recessionary mode of the economy.  Reptiles are number one for popularity, especially rich, iridescent, luminescent snake skins of all sorts. Ring up alligator and crocodile skins for top honors, as well.  Jungle cat themes are also hot.  Think Africana, Asian, even some Australian-exotica.   If it looks different, and once was alive, it’s got a buyer out there, recession or not.

 

   — Still, this is a contradictory market, where some prices have been dropped to help excite better sales, at the same time that some pricey bags continue to move relatively well.  And, with all the positives in line, the bad news is that the market has still been hit by the general hard times.  Overall sales are down, and you can see the effect of the slow-down in the design and marketing of many exclusive lines, much less in moderate to inexpensive bag collections.

 

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?  Handbags with less embellishment.  Less glitz.  Less over-the-top look-at-me designs.  Sizes have come down.  The huge bag of just yesterday has shrunken down to a more manageable, more useable size.  These new bags aren’t small by any means, but they aren’t wild and out-of-balance, either.

 

                                           New Expressions

 

NEW, LESS EXPENSIVE TECHNIQUES for finishing handbags and making them stand out in a crowd include ruffles, embossing, outside pockets, small but handsome hardware, and many different antique finishes. Ruffles, especially those worked into bows and flowers, add a girlie dimension to many lines, especially to evening bags.

Neutrals are hot.  So are browns and yellows. Several manufacturers reported berry as the outstanding color for fall. 

 

LEATHER IS THE HOT MATERIAL coming off the summer months. Some of the popular styles include convertibles, messenger bags, and multi-straps.  Cross body shoulder strap bags and mini messenger bags are also big.  Smooth, British-equestrian-looking leathers give an aristocratic finish to many handbags. 

 

HERE ARE SOME DELIGHTFUL HANDBAGS STAMPED WITH THE TRENDY

DESIGN FEATURES OF THE IMMEDIATE MOMENT!

 

 

 

 

                                           Smooth and Polished

 

Handbags with a cleaned-up, polished look are among the newest and best looking of the season’s picks.  Moderately priced bags from firms like Dooney & Bourke and Michael Kors (totes at $198 and hobos at $235) are uptrending in the Better Bags market.  Earthy tones are top movers in this style-leading grouping as well.

 

Elongated bags, such as a grey-white leather bag from Salvatore Ferragamo, boasts a short handle and a longer shoulder strap.  Fringe plays an important part in a dark brown suede handle bag from Samantha Thavasa.  A big black satiny bow covers the entire front of a shoulder bag from Moschino. 

 

                                         Hobos, Totes Coming on Strong

 

HOBOS ARE especially popular this season.  Diane von Furstenberg offers a lovely crocheted hobo in multiple shades of blue and green.  Burberry has a travel-bag hobo in brown suede cloth.  Totes are another fast-moving category.  Look for fun prints and colorful designs in many different sizes.

 

Size innovation is strong.  Marc Jacobs swings a little orange square envelope bag from a chain and leather shoulder strap.  And Jessica Simpson gives evening bags a very sophisticated look in her long red ruffled rectangular bag of very moderate size.

 

Customers are looking for fashion at a great price, practically all manufacturers and retailers agree.  Customers want bags that can do double duty, going from day into evening, for example. They want quality detailing. They also want handbags that are distinctive, and individualized.   

 

                                                    Make-Believe

 

MOVING UP FAST in the field is faux leather.  One retailer noted that the reason this category is so hot is not just because of price economy, but because manufacture is so advanced, the looks that can be produced are “just amazing.” 

   —Take a faux leather handbag stenciled in alligator print and — WOW – you’ve got the look of a $1,000 bag for under $50.  And that’s real quality for the dollar!

 

The clutch is a non-stop winner in the shape category.  It has been a sales leader for several seasons now, and it is still holds the blue ribbon.  Katherine Kwei’s water snake clutch is about as trendy as you can get, while Serpui Marie’s elaborately appliquéd taupe creation with 3-dimensional material blossoms covering the entire bag surface certainly takes high honors as a delightfully feminine evening bag or afternoon tea clutch.

 

YOU CAN ENJOY THE HIGH FASHION STATUS OF DESIGNER-Y CLUTCH BAGS, ECONOMICALLY PRICED TO APPEAL TO EVERYONE.  HERE ARE SOME TO LOOK AT:

  • Faux croc evening clutch in choice of beautiful fashion colors.

 

 

 

  • Wholesale evening bag with ruched design in rich leatherette. Wear it any time of day or evening!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Filed under Cubic Zirconia Jewelry
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FEW THINGS ARE SO CAPTIVATING to both men and women as diamonds! Way back in the roaring twenties, New York’s famous Mayor Diamond Jim Brady entranced his supporters with his lavish display of diamond jewelry; he could have been a modern-day Las Vegas high-roller!  Today, celebrities compete with one another to see who can snarl the biggest, most fabulous diamond, from black to yellow to pure, clear white.  Diamonds are all lusted after enthusiastically. 

 

Major jewelers outfit top entertainers with the most lavish of diamonds for televised events such as the Oscars; everything and everyone glistens and glitters, and the diamond merchants enjoy the free publicity!

 

On the other side of the globe, the Taj Mahal is studded with magnificent diamonds, along with other spectacular gemstones, adding to its fascination, beauty and allure. Everywhere on the planet, diamonds are rare, expensive, gorgeous. Whether huge or tiny, they are prized by their owners, jealously admired by others.

 

                                 Up from the Center of the Earth

 

DIAMONDS ARE INCREDIBLE ROCKS, carbon in its most concentrated form.  They are the hardest natural gems on earth, formed deep inside our planet at dizzying depths of 90 miles, or more, over millions and often billions of years and at white hot temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1100 Celsius). 

 

   —If it weren’t for magma (molten rock) upsurges that bring the diamonds to the surface, we wouldn’t even know they exist! But the magma roars upwards in volcanic-like action, raising diamonds with them, and the rocks formed by the magma (called kimberlite) indicate that diamonds might (note we said might) be present. It’s enough to start the mining process going, at any rate.

 

DIAMONDS HAVE ALSO BEEN found in glaciers. And some extremely small diamonds (of no real value) are sometimes formed when meteors strike the earth. Actually, the connection between diamonds and outer space is compelling. For example, there are indications that diamonds exist under the moon’s surface, and scientific evidence suggests that diamonds may exist in abundance on Neptune and Uranus.  

   —Surprised?  It’s all really fascinating, and proves there is nothing commonplace about these wonder-stones!

 

The bulk of diamonds are mined in South and Central Africa by the DeBeers Group, a company that has had a stranglehold on the market since its inception in the late 1800s.  The DeBeers African cartel controls about 40 percent of the diamonds marketed worldwide, although mining is also done in Brazil, Canada, Australia, and Siberia. In recent years, however, it is African mining that has hit the headlines and caused much international concern.

 

                                               Conflict Diamonds

 

THE ROUGH DIAMOND TRADE in Sierra Leone is a story of tragedy and despair, of slave labor, torture and murder in the mining of diamonds in rebel-held areas along the Ivory Coast.  The stones so mined are called conflict diamonds, and have caused a global outcry whereby reputable buyers are (after much delay) finally demanding to know where diamonds come from, and under what conditions they are mined. The recent moves have helped lessen the trade in conflict diamonds, but haven’t stopped it. The human toll in diamond mining goes on.   

 

A MAJOR BENEFIT OF SIMULATED DIAMONDS IS THAT THEY TAKE NO TOLL IN HUMAN LIVES.  AND JUST LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFULLY THEY MIMIC THE REAL THING AT A FRACTION OF THE PRICE:

 

 

 

 

 

                               Simulated versus Synthetic Diamonds

 

BRIDES LOVE DIAMONDS, and the stone, set elegantly as an engagement ring, has become a symbol of lifelong love and fidelity. Elizabeth Taylor was given a 69.42 carat diamond engagement ring by Richard Burton, although the ring lasted longer than the marriage. Following Burton’s death, she sold the diamond for charity; it was last seen in Saudi Arabia. 

 

Of course, not everybody chooses an engagement diamond.  Princess Diana was one of the first modern brides to choose a sapphire ring.  The choice was interesting but it didn’t really catch on.  Diamonds seem impervious to competition!  Besides, as all women know, Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.   –Diamonds, my friend, diamonds!

 

                                          Technically “Real”

 

There are all sorts of “diamonds.”  Artificial or synthetic diamonds are technically “real” diamonds.  They are another phenomenal story!  Made from the same crystalline carbon structure as real diamonds, the only difference is how they are formed.  Instead of incubating in the earth for millennia, they are made in laboratories that reproduce the deep earth conditions to create real diamonds in a matter of days! These man-made diamonds may be priced anywhere from 20% to 90% of naturally occurring diamonds.

 

FAUX DIAMONDS ARE SOMETHING ELSE AGAIN.  Often awe-inspiring, they are not at all real, although they may mimic diamonds superbly. Faux diamonds run the gamut from rhinestones to CZs, and include almost anything that catches light and fire and reminds people of the exquisite natural stones.  Each of these remarkable categories has its own story, and we’ll talk about them in more length in upcoming weeks.                                               

 

                                                       Diamond Qualities

 

Oh, there is so much to say about diamonds! This is truly a magical geological world!  But for now, we’ll just include a few more important details.  Like how the value of a diamond is determined, based on four major points, often referred to as the four “Cs”

 

–CARAT refers to the weight of the diamond, or how large it is.

 

-COLOR is determined by impurities in the stone.  Grays and blues are the result of boron impurities.  Nitrogen causes the stone to appear yellow or brown.  Irradiated diamonds have green hues. A totally colorless diamond is graded “D” and is extremely valuable. On the other hand, intense color also raises the diamond’s value. The Hope Diamond, for example, is a very valuable blue diamond.

 

–CLARITY refers to the diamond’s flawlessness.

 

–CUT is perhaps the most critical of all the diamond’s characteristics.  Diamond cutting is a very fine art and refers to the shaping and polishing of the stone itself.  A diamond must be carefully cut and shaped in order to produce its characteristic fire and brilliance.

 

MANY DIAMOND PRETENDERS HAVE A HIGH LEVEL OF FIRE AND FLASH,

OFTEN MAKING THEM INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM REAL DIAMONDS.  HERE ARE SOME GLISTENING CLEAR FAUX DIAMOND PIECES TO PRIZE:

 

 

 

 

  • Charming CZ butterfly and flower necklace set.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, August 17th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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TREND CHECK:  Resort 2010 is shaping up to be soft and feminine with plenty of gentle, neutral colors, see-through materials, vintage laces, girlie minis and shiny short-shorts.  A fun bracelet for resort by Sequin features a circle cluster of tan and brown beads, very simple yet strongly present.  Look for lots of airy, lightweight clothes and accessories to fill in this look beautifully. 

 

WHAT’S A POP-UP STORE?   Rachel Roy will open a pop-up store in New York’s trendy Soho, timed to correspond with the start of New York’s Fashion Week.  It will feature the entire Rachel Roy collection, from clothes to accessories, including handbags, footwear, and jewelry.  Just in case you don’t know what a pop-up store is:  It’s a temporary retail enterprise (this one is almost 2,000 square feet and is expected to remain open for only 10 days or so) aimed at giving customers a quick but complete idea of what a brand is all about.. 

   Roy says she expects to be in the store to react with customers regularly.  “What’s special about pop-up stores is that due to the short-lived nature, I am able to fully devote myself and interact with my customers on a daily basis.”  Roy plans to open pop-ups in other cities after New York; for now, a percentage of sales from the Soho store will go to the charity, New Yorkers for Children.

 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — A REAL GEM!  The famed and fabulous jeweler Harry Winston plans on doing a brand new jewelry collection called Made in New York, and inspired by the city’s landmarks such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s modernistic Guggenheim Museum and the “vintage” art-deco Chrysler Building.  The pieces will be anything but recession-worthy, expressing the power and savoir faire of New York City in diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies.

    Apparently the idea came from the firm’s design vice president, Sandrine de Laage, who is headquartered in Paris, following a number of intercontinental trips to New York.  “All the energy and creativity inspired me,” de Laage says. The Guggenheim piece is a pendant design with a swirl of pave diamonds. The New York Sunset series contains a necklace of graduated sapphires divided by diamond baguettes. 

    —You might call the Winston collection a sophisticated play on souvenir jewelry, which has been a source of thriving sales for retailers for many years.    

 

YOU CAN TAP INTO THE POPULARITY OF CITY-INSPIRED ACCESSORIES WITH SPECIAL SOUVENIR PIECES. HERE ARE SOME FROM LOUISIANA:

 

 

 

 

 

DARK FLORALS:  Coming on for Autumn, a fabulous look in deep florals set against a dark and intense background.  The story takes it from jaunty, British-looking tops down to blossoming skirts and even shoes done in black-background floral prints.  Handbags look particularly handsome in the floral patterns!  Adding to the non-stop blossoming binge: Statement necklaces of pretty flowers, some enameled, some in gold- or silver-plate.  Dynamite!

 

SKY-APPEAL:  Like to fly off to a South Sea island paradise?  Well, whether for real or in fantasy, the latest aviation story making its way through the fashion world is sure to help you along.  Think of aviator sunglasses.  Pilot-smart wrist watches.  And, maybe best of all, airplane themes in jewelry.  We’re silly for a miniature plane dangling at maximum altitude (– or around your neck!) taking you to magical places.  Don’t forget that skinny white pilot scarf…very Amelia Earhart.

 

MODERN HARDWARE:  Get into the Industrial Age!  We still call it modern, but these beauties really bespeak of shapes and designs of 100 years ago or more, just now making their way into the jewelry field.  They are sleek, hard, handsome, and they fit the present day design mystique wonderfully.  Cuff bracelets that are smooth metal-plated fit the bill perfectly.  So do big, circular or squared-off bands, preferably in silver-plate.  

 

YOU CAN FIND HANDSOME, MODERN HARDWARE AT REMARKABLY REASONABLE PRICES.  LOOK HERE:

 

 

 

 

 

OUTER-SPACE ADDICTION:  You can’t get too much of the latest space-craze in fashion accessories. The looks are hot, exciting, very into-the-blue in a rocket-fast sort of way. Robert Lee Morris has a wonderful chunky silver-bead choker that would give space-station élan to any outfit.  Then, there’s a terrific Swarovski crystal, rhodium, and Lucite bangle by Bittar, literally pulsating with moon-beam vibes. Outfits like those from Calvin Klein for Spring of this year are only missing that big glassy space helmet to make them moon-ready.  Add Tom Binn’s sterling silver necklace, some rhodium-plated rings, and you’re ready to blast off.  The look couldn’t be more exciting!

 

 

TEEN POWER:  A new survey of teen buying habits shows that they are still buying, especially in malls, but they are more quality conscious and expect more for their money.  A report by New York-based Scarborough Research and Arbitron, a media and marketing firm, showed that in the 12 to 17 year age category, all the teens had visited a mall within the previous 30 days.  Fifty-six percent spent more than $50 on their last visit, while 29 percent spent $100 or more. A Scarborough executive said that for teens:

     “It’s socially important for them to be at the mall.  Looking good is important to them.  Looking attractive is important to them. While buying an accessory or item of clothing might be frivolous to an adult right now, to a teen it is still socially important to have those items. “                  

    

Financial reports from teen stores like Aeropostale prove out the survey.  The specialty store chain reported a climb in sales of nearly 19 percent last year.  This year, sales rose 19 percent in May and 20 percent in April.

 

Some important points for retailers to note: nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they go to the mall to shop. Over half go to eat.  About half go to socialize.  And some 40 percent go for entertainment, in the form of movies and video games.  Adding some of those elements to a free-standing store might boost teen sales, as well!

 

The study also looked at the power of mall marketing on teenagers.  95 percent of teens said they noticed any form of mall marketing.   68 percent spent more than 2 hours at the mall per visit.  And 75 percent visited the Web sites of mall stores.  And, on a further UP note, 61 percent said they’ll spend more when the economy improves!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Filed under Bridal Accessories
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SALES OF BRIDAL GOWNS and accessories held fairly strong in the first half of the year, racking up a record far better than general street fashion.  Still, the recession has had an effect on this usually robust market segment, as seen at many top runway shows internationally.  Basically, bridal wear has gotten simpler.  Very lavish, expensive gowns have given way to more modestly designed dresses.  Much of the luxury-look fashion characteristic of bridal wear has been taken over by accessories. 

 

   –Beautiful pearl and crystal gloves, stunning statement necklaces, highly embellished handbags, and bracelets studded with (usually faux) gemstones are giving today’s bride all the glitz and glamour she needs!

 

 

A key example of this trend could be seen at the latest Barcelona runway show by the well-known Spanish manufacturer Pronovias, as the company put forth its newest bridal collections for 2010.

      —Several fashion reporters referred to the dresses as “conservative” or “sober,” both of which were actually true. 

 

At the same time, however, the collection was still a statement of fabulous, fashion forward creations. Beautiful ivory creations were plentiful, and the modern look of straighter, simpler lines came through strongly.  This was a different, but beautiful, exposition. 

 

                                          Slimmer, Pared Down Shapes

 

Overall, the silhouettes were slimmer, shapes were essentially pared down.  There was admittedly an absence of glitz, reflecting the quieter look spreading across the entire fashion field. Traditional beading was replaced by fabric used as design, as one retailer put it, not embellishment.

 

                                                     Older Brides

 

Huge, big bridal skirts were generally absent.  “The caught up ball skirt are fine for the early to mid 20 year olds, but we have more demand for slimmer silhouettes for destination weddings and outdoor bridal events,” said  Karen Jones, owner of Gowns by Design in Pennsylvania.

 “We’re seeing a lot of older, over-30 brides,” she added, “and they’re beyond the big skirts.”

 

There were more than 250 designs in the collection.  A poufy, hitched-up ballgown was particularly handsome, but seen more as a classic than a new, demanded style. A number of skinny, body conscious dresses with heavy draping, and other trendy features such as ruching, ruffles, and strapless necklines were style leaders.  

 

The influence of First Lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural dress was present in several very beautiful one-shoulder gowns.

 

MORE THAN EVER, BRIDAL DESIGN GAIN SOMETHING AND SOMETHING FROM RICH AND CLASSIC ACCESSORIES.  HERE ARE SOME TO CONSIDER:

 

 

 

  • Classic faux pearl bridal bracelets with sparkling crystals are stunning wedding day jewelry pieces.

 

                                                Valentino Brilliance

 

EMPIRE BRIDAL STYLING IS HOT!  Plus, the classic design is invariably being decorated with plenty of bows, lace, and fabric flowers to emphasize a standing feminine mystique, especially now, in the wake of less elaborate bridal gowns. The lush beading, pearls, crystals and embroideries of former, richer seasons, however, are gone. But, as we said before, that doesn’t mean these dresses lack for design magnificence.

 

    –For example, look at this stunning dress by Valentino:  It features small cap sleeves and a boat neckline, a straight skirt and a conservative, Queenly train. It is elegant!  A strapless bridal dress from Costura had a deep pink ribbon under the boson, with a straight skirt and filmy chiffon over-skirt. Again, elegant! 

 

Most of the models wore their hair pulled tightly back in fashionable buns with small but ornate bridal hair accessories.

 

One Danish retailer said that she was buying more than usual because a number of competing stores in her community had closed their doors as a result of the economic turndown.  However, she said:

            “Customers with money still exist – there are just less of them.”

Among her purchases were several slim and straight bridal styles.

 

                                                  Sales Are Up

 

Pronovias reports an increase in bridal sales of about $ 7 million (at the current exchange rate) over a year ago. And, these figures are more or less the same at other international bridal sources. Keith Lurie, Pronovias’ national sales manager for the United States and Canada said, “Crisis or no, girls are still getting married and more of them are wearing my gowns.”

 

STILL, SIMPLER DRESSES RARELY STAND ON THEIR OWN.  MOST DEMAND MORE INTRICATE, ELEGANT ACCESSORIES TO ESTABLISH THE OVERALL BRIDAL LOOK. THE GOOD NEWS IS: YOU CAN FIND THESE PRODUCTS AT REMARKABLE PRICES!  LOOK AT THESE:

 

  • Ivory faux pearl necklace in gold plating with crystal studded four-leaf clover design. Matching earrings are also available.

 

 

 

 

  • Glass hand-knotted pearl necklace and earrings set has the weight and feel of costly, real pearls.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, August 8th, 2009