Par for the Course


July 1998

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Par for the Course

The so-called Tin Cup necklace becomes a classic

When the Y necklace fizzled, it really fizzled, leaving in its dust unwanted inventory and speculation about the fashion jewelry item that would take its place.

All eyes landed on the pearl station necklace, better known as the Tin Cup necklace. The style was a smash after actress Rene Russo, to the dismay of her directors, wore designer Wendy Brigode's spaced-pearl necklace in back-to-back starring roles in fall 1996 – in the movie that became the style's namesake and two months later in Ransom.

The original design by Brigode used 7mm to 8mm baroque Japanese cultured pearls strung with even spaces between. Takeoffs abounded at the trade shows that winter: versions used freshwater cultured pearls, dyed pearls, gold and silver chains, even Tahitian black pearls spaced to save on cost.

Now, nearly two years later, the style shows no signs of waning. The Cultured Pearl Information Center predicted to Basel show-goers the station necklace will be a hot seller for the 1998 holiday season. Brides are wearing the style in bridal magazines and Town & Country spreads alongside more traditional-looking strands. CPIC also continues to place the necklace in popular TV shows such as "Seinfeld," "Melrose Place" and "Beverly Hills 90210" – launching pads for the necklace's Y-shaped predecessor.

Bad omen? Not a chance, say some. "I don't think it's ever going to stop being popular," says Brigode. "It looks good on everybody. Somebody in her 60s, who couldn't wear a Y necklace, can wear it and not look like she's trying to look younger in it. People like the modern look, the newness of the stringing."

The pearl station necklace has far exceeded the expectations of Devin Macnow, executive director of CPIC. "It's becoming a classic," he says. "Retailers are continuing to do very well with it." Consumers love to get the popular "pearl look" at a less expensive price but with the same versatility, he says. Designers' and manufacturers' twists on the style have helped boost the look. "At least 150 manufacturers do versions of the pearl station necklace," he says.

Brigode says despite the takeoffs, the original Wendy Brigode brand continues to sell phenomenally well. "Nothing can compare to the heat of last year. That was like the finale of Fourth of July fireworks," she says. "But it's still selling very well." She says her necklace uses superior stringing, more pearls and better-quality cultured pearls than some of the copies she's seen.

Many jewelers also don't know that "Tin Cup necklace," the term used frequently on signs and in conversation, is a protected name, though Brigode is not legally defending it. "Warner Bros. gave me permission to use 'Tin Cup' as a trademark of that movie, so theoretically no one else can use it," she says. The politically correct and legally precise alternative: "cultured pearl station necklace."

– by Stacey King

Wendy Brigode's Tin Cup necklace started the station craze.






Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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