March 2009

Trend Watch: Colored stones for summer!

After the gems which were worn on the red carpets at the Oscars, and the gem colors that were splashed up and down the runways at London Fashion Week there can be no doubt that colored stones are the look for the summer. Vibrant ruby reds, shocking emerald greens and electric blues are all brightening the doom and gloom that seems to have taken up permanent residence in the media lately. Fred Leighton was the buzz-name in jewelry at the Oscars, with his giant necklace worn by Amy Adams stealing the show.  While at London Fashion week designers harked back (dangerously close) to the neon colors of the eighties, withWestwood and Ruiz inspi

Deconstructing Barbie

I love it when jewelry design collides with another media head on. What usually results is a form of expression that makes a statement about our society, our priorities, our concerns, our hopes and our woes. This is never more true than when a jewelry designer picks up on something topical in popular culture and incorporates it into their work. Enter the new collection from jewelry designer Margaux Lange, who has created several pieces of 'wearable art' (when did that phrase become so widely used?) using pieces of Barbie dolls. The collection celebrate's Barbie's 50th birthday which falls in this year, albeit in a strangely destructive way. Each piece features parts of the iconic doll in necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Marguax was commissioned by not one, but two galleries, to create a collection commemorating the popular doll.

Do You Yahoo?

If not, now may be a great time to start,  with the company offering a sign up bonus of $50 when you open an account with $20. $70 of advertising for $20?  Sounds good to me. Many people overlook Yahoo advertising in the face of the almighty Adwords campaign from Google, and while it is true that they do command the lion's share of search engine traffic on the internet these days,  it doesn't mean that you should shun the underdog.  As one of the top five search engines,  there are still millions of people who use Yahoo every day to find what they are looking for. Commons sense would also say that you might get more value for money in a less competitive market, although I haven't done a price comparison so I couldn't quote that as gospel. Certainly though, this latest offer makes it worth at least a dipping a toe in the water to see if any customers nibble. The idea behind pay per impression (where you pay each time your ad is shown) and pay per click (where you pay only if someone clicks on your a

The Bright Side of the Credit Crisis

If you are watching in despair as the financial crisis credit crunches it's way through your profit figures, it is time to take action. Now, I am not going to say that surviving the coming months (or years) will be easy, nor am I going to give a Pollyanna speech about how you have to keep 'soldiering on' or just 'keep your chin up' and suggest that the sun will come out tomorrow. That said, I am, at heart, an optimist, and I firmly believe in finding a silver lining. And (don't hate me) but I think that for jewelers especially, there are actually two bright sides to this economic slump. 1. Only the strongest will survive. It's not pretty. It's not particularly nice or graceful, and maybe Karma will get me in the end, but I can't help feel that perhaps the overcrowded jewelry market needed a little of the fat cut away anyway. While it is sad to see any small business close its doors, the cold hard fact is that their loss might be your gain.

Jeweler Profile: Anne Choi

Anne Choi is the designer/maker of exquisite silver beads.  Her work has been featured in many magazines and exhibitions.  Here I give her The Jewelry Report interview, and find out what inspires and motivates her. What made you focus on creating beads, rather finished jewelry? It was really an accident. I made [the beads] to use as a vocabulary in my finished pieces. There was so much interest in the beads themselves that I decided to try selling a few, just to see how they went. The response was very enthusiastic, and I soon realized that I could make a living selling just my beads.
One thing that I do love about making beads is a bead doesn't just stay static - it becomes part of another person's creative process, and goes on to another life.
Where do you find your inspiration? Pretty much anywhere! When my sisters and I were very young, my mother took us on daily "nature walks" to see what we could discover - she taught us to really use our eyes and see, and to try to understand things.

Anne Choi Gallery

Here are some highlights from Anne's collection of silver beads.  Her attention to detail is awesome, and her ecclectic choice of subjects is fascinating and made all the more so by her revelations of the inspiration behind them.
Blake beach pennywort One of Anne's older beads, it features the quote "To see a world in a grain of sand" by William Blake.
The leaf on this bead is a from a beach pennywort - a small creeping vine that grows in the sand at the beach.

Site Review: Nina Designs

Somewhere between the massive impersonal wholesale suppliers and independent boutique bead makers lies Nina Designs.  The company was created by Nina Cooper, a jewelry designer who is very much still driving and shaping the company.  She created the company to fill her own needs for intricate and unusual components, but quickly found that other designers also had a need for these special findings. Nina explains the roots of her business on her website.

Recent Jewelry News

As the price of gold soars, are you buying scraps and jewelry from your customers?  Are you offering them a fair price?  In this interesting article, Donald Miller looks at the pros, cons and ethics of buying second hand gold for bullion. Still on the topic of gold,a cache of ancient gold jewelry has been found in a Pharoe's tomb.  The gold earrings and rings are said to be over 3,500 years old.  Sadly, the tomb had already been looted,  so scientists believe that this small cache is only a fraction of the jewelry that would have originally have been buried with the Egyptian dignitary. The latest Tiffany Blue Book named after the DH Lawrence collection of poems entitled, "Birds, Beasts and Flowers" has been ahead of it's time in predicting fashion trends.  The catalog is packed with the colored gems already so popular in 2009 fashions and which decorated some of Hollywood's finest leading ladies as they

Jeweler Profile: Mountain Robbins (Part 2)

In the second part of my interview with the artists behind Mountain Robbins,  I talk more to Judie and explore how she and Wayne work together, and discover why working side by side works so well for them.  She also shares her dedication to sticking to her artistic 'guns' and firmly taking responsibility for carving out time in her schedule for open ended creativity. Have you always enjoyed a social creative process? Years ago I had a small gallery and one of my greatest joys was to display and sell other artists work. It felt so rewarding to be part of presenting creativity to the world no matter who created it. Now I am finding that I am really inspired by collaboration with other artists. It is like dancing with someone......and it's so wonderful when it comes off smoothly.

Jeweler Profile: Mountain Robbins (Part 1)

Mountain and Robbins is a partnership between glasswork artists Judie Mountain and Wayne Robbins.   It is multi-faceted in the way that they are romantic partners, as well as a creative team.  While both create glass beads, Wayne focuses more on sculptural arts while Judie incorporates glass into finished jewelry. Often, successful jewelers have come to the craft as a means of escape from their daily lives - a hobby that has blossomed into an art, and it is refreshing to see how jewelry making has allowed this couple to share their interests and enjoy the creative process together.  In this two part interview, they share what influences and motivates them to keep creating. Most jewelers tend to be solitary creatures.  How do you find sharing a studio affects your work process? Wayne and I each have our own st

Customer Service and Beyond

With so many jewelry suppliers to choose from, how do you pick the best one?  Well, I have already touched on how having more than one jewelry supplier is vital, but I should also add that most jewelers that I know (myself included) are pretty loyal creatures, ordering mostly from one or two core suppliers.  So what criteria do you use to pick the best supplier?  I have a few main points:
  • Choice of materials.  I love it when I can find everything in one place!
  • Cost.

Jewelry Contests

Regardless of medium or skill level, there is a jewelry design contest for you.  From small, local, or blog run contests with 'kudos' as prizes to international competitions that offer the winners thousands of dollars of cash or products and an untold level of publicity and acclaim.  Jewelry contests are great for a wide number of reasons:
  1. They challenge you to create only the very best work.
  2. They make you study your work critically compare to other artists
  3. They offer you are great way to get feedback and publicity for your work
  4. The rewards can be great.  Money, free products, gift vouchers, publicity in magazines and catalogs, recognition, and pride are all benefits of winning.
  5. Even if not chosen as the winner,  you can still use the title of 'runner up' or 'finalist' as appropriate in your marketing materials.  This shows that not only do others appreciate your work but that you are serious about your designs and active within your industry.
So how should you approach entering?
  1. Make a calendar of events so that you can enter as many as possible.  Many competitions are free so you have nothing to lose, and

Jewelry Contests

Rings and Things Annual Jewelry Design Contest Entry Dates: February 1st - 28th http://www.rings-things.com/contest/2009/index.html Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America "The MJSA Vision Awards Design Competition annually recognizes the talent and innovation of designers whose work will have a profound influence on the future of jewelry design. In addition to the overall Professional and Student Awards, the competition features special Distinction Awards that allow us to recognize designers using specific materials or technologies in new and creative ways." Entry Deadline: January http://www.mjsa.org/about_ava.php American Jewelry Design Council "AJDC holds an annual contest to select an outstanding new talent in fine jewelry.

Put your wallpaper to good use

Art Jewelry Mag announced recently that they have even more free jewelry wallpapers available for your computer.  These are some truly beautiful images of some stunning jewelry designs, and are bound to inspire you take your work to new heights.  However while this is great for your computer at home, they illustrate a few ways that you can use computer wallpapers andscreensavers to promote your own work. Wallpapers and screensavers using your own images can be very easy to make, and once made, they can be distributed and downloaded for free.  And we all know how much people love free stuff. Take advantage of this and add your name, website or other contact details to remind customers to revisit your store and complete a purchase.  Here are some tips to using this medium to increase sales. 1.  A simple, stat