Professional Jeweler Archive: Alternative Nation

March 2000

Professional Insider/Trend Spotting

Alternative Nation

Once considered part of the lunatic fringe, practices such as meditation, yoga and feng shui have gone mainstream

How’s your chakra? Is your chi in order? Even if you don’t know – and couldn’t care less – many people in the United States have embraced at least some parts of Eastern cultures.

For example, the lure of low-impact exercise that concentrates on strengthening and stretching muscle groups has propelled yoga past aerobics and the Stairmaster to become the trendy workout of the rich and famous. Rather than going for the burn to keep up with Jane Fonda’s buns of steel, Hollywoodites such as Julia Roberts are turning to yoga – “I’m not trying to change my life, just my butt,” she told InStyle magazine.

Banana Republic borrowed yoga’s growing popularity to demonstrate its line of stretch clothing, staging a yoga session in New York City’s Grand Central Station, reports Yoga Journal. It also reports Oxford Health Plan, a major HMO, encourages subscribers to practice yoga, reimbursing them just as it does for subscribers who join a more mainstream gym or exercise club.

Power Bracelets

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama, an unlikely muse, inspired the hot trend of the past holiday season – power beads. Created by Zoe Metro and marketed under the Stella Pace brand name, these gem and crystal bracelets inspired countless knock-offs that blew out of stores from Neiman Marcus to Target.

The ancient spiritual aspects of the stones, such as buying a hematite bracelet for happiness or lapis to heighten senses, tapped into consumers’ consciousnesses. The editors at Jane magazine, targeted at 20- and 30-something women, call the power beads “over.” But count on the bracelets to go strong at least until summer – fashion editors, like cranky three-year-olds on Christmas Day, quickly tire of new toys.


Zen rock gardens and bubbling fountains are next to Chia heads on the shelves at Kmart. Feng shui consultants can help you harmonize your life at home and at work with the proper placement of plants, mirrors and wind chimes.

Even if you see this embrace of Eastern philosophies as bunk, many of your customers doubtless believe in their power. It couldn’t hurt to incorporate some Eastern influences in your store design, jewelry and giftware. Take a cue from the popularity of power bead bracelets and brush up on what properties gemstones and precious metals lend to the wearer. Use this knowledge to sell jewelry and giftware of all kinds.

– by Liz Smutko

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications