May 2009

Learn Jewelry Techniques Online

I have always wanted to try out traditional jewelry making techniques such as chain mail, riveting and other kinds of cold joins and forging, but time hasn't allowed a lot of play at my work bench recently.  Yesterday,  however I had a serious case of burnout,  and as I lost interest and motivation in my regular collections I decided it was time to put everything away and nourish my muse with some new ideas.  And where better to find new ideas than the internet?

There are hundreds of jewelry classes, tutorials, how-to videos and demonstrations online.  They are usually low cost and in many cases even free.  They are offered by large companies, DIY and craft networks as well as individual artists, sharing their designs and techniques.

How it all began for John Medeiros

I love to see how a designer's journey has shaped their craft and career.  One thing that often surprises me is to learn of the common beginnings that many jewelers share, and have then gone on to carve completely different career paths.  JohnMedeiros is an exceptional artist, and despite his huge success, has never taken a step back from his designs and remains involved in the design and manufacturing process from start to finish.  Here is the story of how he started out on his path to building a successful jewelry brand.

John started his career in jewelry when his family moved to America from Portugal. Rhode Island, where they settled, was once the fashion jewelry capital of the world with over 85% of all fashion jewelry created in that state.

The Value of Magazine Advertising

For most jewelers, having your work seen in the pages of a glossy magazine is a dream come true.  Yet magazine advertising is notoriously expensive, and doesn't offer any guarantees of overnight success, a boom in sales or department stores suddenly knocking at your door.   So is it worth it?  Well,  that largely depends on your goals for your brand, and just how much work and money you are will to commit to reaching them.   Here is my guide to getting the most out of magazine advertising.

First, let's get the bad news out of the way.

Choose a Press Release Style

If you liked the idea of writing a press release to promote your jewelry business,  but still aren't quite sure if you have a news-worthy story,  then try to think of a angle from which to hang a promotional piece.

There are many different approaches to press releases,  but here are a few ideas:

The human interest pitch would cover a story that is interesting to the readers of the publication, and offers a story about family, society or our culture. 

A success story, quite simply charts a story of a rise to success.  Perhaps overcoming adversity,  or providing general inspiration for readers.

Any press release that is relevant to a hot news topic is strong contender to be noticed.  If the recession is forcing you to use unusual materials in your new collection in order to make designs affordable, then that is a topical angle that readers will relate to.

How to Hit the Headlines

This week,  I am talking about how to use the press to build your jewelry business.  While the media can sometimes seem like an unapproachable ogre that just snatches random designers up and shoves them in front of the public, there is actually a well-oiled press machine working in the background, and once you understand how this process works, there is no reason why you can't be a part of it. 

Although it might seem incredible to get your name in print, remember that the media is always hungry for news.  There are millions of square inches of paper and websites to be filled, blog posts to be written and broadcasts to be put together, and journalists love any help they can get!  One of the easiest ways to promote your company to the media is by sending out a press release.

Moo Review

Since I was talking the other day about the importance of business cards ,  I decided that it was time to take my own advice and invest in some new, updated business cards of my own.  I used it as an excuse to finally check out a business card service which many jewelers rave about, and yet still doesn't seem to be widely known:  Moo.

If you still haven't checked out this great service, then allow me to introduce you to some of the key features which make it an ideal place to buy business cards for jewelry artists.

What Does Your Business Card Say About You?

The debate about what should or should not be on your business card is as old as the hills, well, at least as old as mass printing.  Gone are the days when a business card was a simple rectangle of cardstock, printed with your name and telephone number.  Today, the options for your business cards are as varied as the options for your website, and the key is to choose the right options that are best for you .

Your business card might be the first or last impression a customer has with your brand.  It needs to convey information and brand image, as well as be memorable.  Here are a few pointers:

Interview with Shay Stone

Without offending too many established jewelers,  I tend to find that many collections you find in jewelry stores look the same, as successful brands stick to 'safe' designs which will sell.  (Who can blame them?)  I love to rummage around on craft forums and blogs to find jewelers who are experimenting freely with different looks and techniques.  Although the results might have varying degrees of success, jewelers who do not depend on their work for a living often have the freedom to be more daring and bold, and in doing so, are more likely to find their own unique style. Here I speak to one Etsy jeweler whose experimentation with wire work really inspired me step outside my comfort zone in my own creations.

Interview with John Medeiros

John Medeiros is an example of one jeweler who has got it right with the public.  His designs sell like hot cakes, and his branding, website, packaging and marketing details are all spot on.  But behind the company, John is still the driving design force, and every piece is made by hand in Rhode Island under his careful watch.  Here he gives us a few insights into his design and business practices.  If these are the dizzying heights that you aspire to, then you can learn a lot from John.

Is there a particular metal or gemstone that you love to work with?
I do especially like to work with quartz. I tend to be drawn to a piece and then create it—I really can’t say that I have a favorite material overall to work with.

Where do you find inspiration?

Extreme promotional tactics

The internet and social media have revolutionized how we look at advertising.  Adwords, banners, affiliate marketing and business directories are all staples in our world of online selling,  and many of us also have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and blogs to try to get our message across to a wider audience.   But some people go the extra mile to get their name out there.  From flashmobs (T mobile's are probably most famous, but I loved the scuba divers marching through London) to viral campaigns, faking news stories to creating news stories there are any number of publicity stunts which can propel you into fifteen minutes of fame.

Credit Crunching Designs

I know that for most people,  the poor economy is having a negative impact on their bottom line.  People are torn between cutting costs and boosting advertising to try and generate sales; whether to re-train staff, or let them go; whether to take advantage of the sales to stock up on supplies, or run stock levels down as much as possible.  But is the credit crunch affecting jewelry design itself? Not the business, but the actual design? Taking a look around,  I think so.

The world of jewelry design is fueled by creativity,  and since they say the mother of invention is necessity,  then a greater need to be more cost efficient in our designs is definitely playing a part in the inventiveness and ingenuity of jewelry artists around the world.

Interview with Jacqueline Sourvelis (Le Photique)

I love it when concept and art collide into a genius jewelry idea, which is exactly what I can say for Le Photique collection of beautiful silver jewelry with photographic features.  Combining her love of photography with high quality jewelry,  Jaqueline has created a brilliant line of custom jewelry that makes a great gift for just about anyone.  Whether the images used are personal, such as a client's pet or child, or just general artistic images of scenery each piece is unique and eye catching. How did you first get the idea to create photography themed jewelry? I was working as a photographer and retoucher in Chicago. I liked what I was doing but was bored, under whelmed and under challenged, so I started looking for ways to push my photography further.

Interview with Sea Find Designs

I love the ocean, and having always lived beside the sea I have quite a collection of random pebbles and frosted sea glass which I have picked up over the years.  Thanks to Sea Find Designs,  I now have plenty of ideas for how to turn these found objects into jewelry. How did you first get the idea to use sea glass and beach pebbles in your jewelery? I've been collecting sea glass since I was a little girl.  I never thought to do anything with it until I visited my sister in California.  We browsed some Art Shows while there, and my sister bought a gorgeous wrapped piece of turquoise.  When I returned home, I tried my hand at wire wrapping my new sea glass finds... that was about ten years ago.

Blue Diamonds

Although this month's birthstone is Emerald, and I had been planning on making my first post in May a review of some beautiful jewellery designs using the stone, I couldn't ignore the recent news about blue diamonds.  Colored diamonds have been in the jewelry industry headlines for months (years?) for both their beauty and controversy,  but this month sees some extra special romance and glamour attached to blue variations of the stones.

The first blue diamond in the news came from the huge rough stone found in South Africa last year, which has now been cut and polished and set in a suitably simple ring, showcasing the stone in all of it's splendor.  Weighing in at over 7 carats (7.03 to be precise) the stone is expected to break the record price ever paid for a diamond when it is auctioned in Geneva next week. 

High estimates for the winning bid are $8.5 million,  and the winning bidder will also have the honor of naming the rare gem.