Rudolf Erdel has built a platinum design business using a combination
of German quality standards and American design savvy
Rudolf Erdel recognized in the early 1990s that most German-made platinum
jewelry design was too angular and assymetrical for America's tastes. German-born
and raised in a three-generation jewelry family, the New York City-based
designer began to produce rounder and more symmetrical platinum jewelry
that didn't sacrifice the quality or artistry of German pieces.
Erdel quickly built a following. Each year since 1992, when he began
to promote jewelry bearing his name, sales have doubled.
He has expanded to Latin America and soon will debut back on his native
turf: Europe. He plans to combine his global outlook with a sensitivity
to local custom. In the U.S., however, there are a few strategic concepts
upon which Erdel has built his brand, and they're ones retail jewelers can
learn from as they build more image-conscious businesses in the years ahead.
- Think quality. Erdel chose platinum for his material and uses
his family's high-tech plant in Malaysia with over 1,000 metalsmiths
trained in the rigorous German tradition to ensure superior workmanship.
- Be fashionable but classic. Erdel creates a design style and
sticks with it rather than changing with fads. While his styles have a
hip, up-to-the-minute feel, they're fashionably simple and always recognizable,
like an Armani jacket or Calvin Klein dress. Erdel will admit to only one
design inspiration. "I love '50s designs: big chunky toasters and
trucks. They were masculine, round and powerful."
- Simple messages, powerful images. "When I began, my biggest
reservations were about using my own name and my picture. It looked like
a big ego trip. But the market is driven by names," says Erdel. In
recent years, he has linked his name and his passion for platinum with
creative geniuses whose passions have been celebrated by museum exhibits
and popular movies, including Cezanne and Jane Austen.
- Support your local retailer. Erdel demands a lot of his retailer
clients, but he gives a great deal in return for the showcase space, the
suggested retails and the minimums. To support retailers and bolster demand,
he invests in an increasing amount of local co-op advertising, makes guest
appearances and he and his staff conduct in-store training for sales associates
to help them appreciate and sell his jewelry and platinum jewelry
Rudolf Erdel, New York, NY; (212) 633-9333, fax (212) 242-7678.
by Peggy Jo Donahue Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.