Platinum Protagonist

April 1998

Precious Metals:News

Platinum Protagonist

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. Among them:

  • 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 in general.

Rudolf Erdel, New York, NY; (212) 633-9333, fax (212) 242-7678.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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