The Fashion Effect

June 1998


The Fashion Effect

Most jewelers, I would submit, don't follow the fashion world closely. I don't blame them, in a sense. What do "social X-rays" (to paraphrase Tom Wolfe) modeling impossible and usually outlandish clothes have to do with the mostly conservative customers who buy fine jewelry?

That's why I loved colored gemstone supplier Cynthia Marcusson's presentation at the Northwest Jewelers Conference in April. Marcusson, of Cynthia Renée, Fallbrook, CA, manages to cull the 1% of usefulness out of the fashion world's extravagance and shows how it influences even the most conservative jewelry consumers. Marcusson called our attention to fashion's current fascination with India, for example, noting that fashion magazines, movie stars and auctions have featured Indian-style clothing and opulent Mogul-style jewelry. Oh sure, you can all see your customers donning enormous bracelets encrusted with gigantic gemstones and massive goldwork, can't you? What about 400-row necklaces that cover a woman from neck to waist? I mean not to cast aspersions on this magnificent jewelry style. I only note that casual dressing trends don't suggest women will want such jewelry any time soon.

Just as I could feel the jewelers in the room begin to tune Marcusson out, she showed a marvelous, modern piece of jewelry with a simple paisley motif, noting that even conservative women read the fashion mags and might like a fillip of style in their next earrings. Suddenly, fashion-watching made sense. Marcusson extracted the 1% and showed how jewelers could profit from it.

Marcusson also talked about color-watching. She noted that if jewelers had watched closely, they would have seen the boom in peridot coming as that shade of green slowly swept the fashion world. Her next prediction is yellow, which she's beginning to see in various magazines, in clothing and other consumer products. Sure enough, when I read InStylemagazine's latest issue, I saw the beginning of the yellow wave, in a model's blouse, a socialite's dress and ads for tony purses and a Volkswagen bug! Hey, that Marcusson's good!

This brings to mind an article Robert Weldon wrote in this month's issue about the number of high-profile jewelry advertisers showing amethyst, citrine and blue topaz, as well as peridot. From Lagos and Yurman to Cartier and H. Stern, these gems are being touted in chic ads in magazines that influence your customers. Color experts we quoted in our March story on image, for example, predicted blues and purples were on the rise as favorite consumer colors. So I guess that explains the blue topaz and amethyst.

Jewelers, look around. Even if you don't have time (or the intestinal fortitude) to read fashion magazines, tune in somewhere to fashion's influence. By the way, as you shop the JCK International Jewelry Show this month, read our story in Professional Insider on fall clothing collections (p. 177). And think yellow.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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