The Color of Money

July 1999


The Color of Money

For jewelers who love colored gemstones, pastel pearls, enamels, beads, opaque stones and colored gold, the spirit of the times is with you at last. After an agonizingly long period of white on white in jewelry and neutrals in clothing and store interiors, the consuming world has rediscovered color at last.

Pundits credit a strong economy, which always brings color to the forefront (think '80s Nancy Reagan-red or the smashing '60s colors featured in the new Austin Powers movie). Trend watchers point to newly colorful computers, cell phones and other consumer products that are breaking out of neutral hell and causing people to think about color in a new and different light.

We've all heard rumblings before about a return to color, with little ultimate change in retailers' colored gem sales. But this embrace of color feels different. With other color spurts during the bleached-out '90s, a single color would be cited as the trend, such as red, pink or blue. This time around, there's a veritable rainbow of shades on the horizon, including the above three, but also orange, yellow and purple in pale to saturated shades.

Even the most monochromatic women I know are beginning to take a timid step toward color, with a red scarf, a blue watch strap or a colored gem ring. In fact, most women probably prefer the idea of using color as an accent rather than as the total picture. Black, gray, beige and brown are just too darn easy for busy women, a secret men have been privy to for centuries. Women also increasingly fear looking like walking daffodils or tomatoes, which is why you see relatively few women outside of television and magazines wearing a total color look. This is good news for jewelers, who can show women how colorful jewelry adds a touch of spice to their most sober neutrals.

The lovely rush of color provided by newly popular bead necklaces, shown in a spread in June Vogue,or the warmth of yellow gold, cited as "back in style" in May Elle,is hard to argue with, even for the most colorblind of women. InStyle,the hottest magazine for women right now, has been beating the drum for color in jewelry this whole year, culminating in this month's focus on "semiprecious" gems (all right, we'll forgive the magazine for using the non-approved term).

When it comes to color, don't forget to think about your store's image as well. In this month's cover story, Image Editor Stacey King reports that Asian-influenced reds and yellows, as well as already strong blues and purples, are showing up in store carpeting, wall coverings and displays. A well-chosen vibrant color can define who you are like almost no other design element, as Tiffany, with its blue box, and Cartier, with its red and gold one, well know. So be of good cheer as you prepare for the fall selling season. Buy one new accent piece for your store in a popular color and replenish your gem inventory. The color buyers are coming.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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