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October 1999

Gemstones & Pearls News

Carve a Niche with Cameos

Tradition with a twist offers an opportunity for year– round sales

T echnology triumphs again, this time in the form of laser– engraved agate cameos that suit a wide range of tastes and age groups at affordable prices.

"It's an incredibly versatile product with a timeless appeal," says Patricia Sherwood, president of Designs by the Sea, Colorado Springs, CO. Her company carries more than 500 styles – including wildlife, women's profiles, religious themes and hobbies – in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes from the world's major producers.

In fact, Designs by the Sea is the exclusive North American distributor of Erwin Pauly's Fantasy Collection, featuring limited– edition and boutique lines. "It's a very avant– garde collection – a mix of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styling," Sherwood says of the German master carver's laser– engraved line. Pauly's limited– edition line has 20 designs produced in no more than 200 pieces each. Ranging from $250– $425 retail, each cameo is signed, numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. The boutique line, with pieces ranging from $75– $150, has fewer designs, is not limited in edition and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

OTC International of Long Island City, NY, carries an extensive line of unique copyright blue agate cameo designs, often depicting mother and child. OTC also makes cameos of animals and recently launched an inspirational collection geared to the millennium that incorporates inscribed personal expressions and affirmations. Prices start at $50 retail.

"While they are heirlooms, they're not like your grandmother's cameo," explains George Yulis, director of new market development for OTC. "Historically, the conch shell relief motifs of Victorian ladies come to mind. The cameo business has changed in the past 10 years, however, from 90% conch shell and 10% color enhanced agate to the complete reverse. It's a fresher, more contemporary look. Cameos are a very strong part of our jewelry business."

Growth Market
The cameo business in general has blossomed in the past decade, says Sherwood. As confirmation, Designs by the Sea launched a panda, horse and women's profile agate cameo in its jewelry line a decade ago and has since converted its entire business to cameos.

The market reaches anyone from teens to grandmas for a multitude of occasions, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, the birth of a child, Mother's Day and Christmas.
Cameos are available in pendants, earrings, brooches and bracelets. Both companies offer special– order services with rapid turnaround, from one to several weeks depending on the project.

To help jewelers market cameos, OTC offers a catalog of styles, prospecting postcards and showcase display units. As a bonus, the company has a corporate partnership with the Save the Children Foundation, donating $1 per cameo sold at wholesale, pledging a minimum of $50,000 a year.

Designs by the Sea also offers displays and a catalog. It also plans to launch a virtual boutique on the Internet that will include a jeweler referral service.

  • Designs by the Sea, Colorado Springs, CO; (800) 392– 9938 or (719) 527– 6808, fax (719) 527– 9195.
  • OTC International, Long Island City, NY; (718) 391– 7400, fax (718) 391– 7575.

by Deborah Yonick

Family scenes are familiar themes for laser– engraved cameos from OTC International, Long Island City, NY.
Master gem carver Erwin Pauly's limited– edition cameos are signed, numbered and packaged with a certificate of authenticity. Available in North America from Designs by the Sea, Colorado Springs, CO.



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.



 

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