Professional Jeweler Archive: Indulgence

March 2001



More shapes, more color and the highest qualities mark the jewelry that interests today's most affluent consumers

Consumers who can afford the most luxurious jewelry tend to look beyond mere accessory to pieces that reflect their personalities and lifestyles. They may choose a gold necklace, for example, but it will be higher-karat, more exquisitely designed and extraordinarily well-crafted than a chain that satisfies customers with smaller budgets or less sophistication.

These affluent customers come in two main varieties, says Lisa Christopolulos, vice president and treasurer of Barnett Robinson, New York City:

  • Baby Boomers, who already have a significant jewelry wardrobe and look for unusual or fine pieces with color and exceptional quality.
  • The professional in his or her 30s, who is usually flush with cash for the first time and wants to celebrate with understated but high-quality jewelry, often in platinum with diamonds.

Once you know who you’re dealing with and know what merchandise to show, your goal is to give your customer an experience. Be sure all dust and fingerprints are wiped away. Show the piece on a fabric-covered pad and then gently place it in the customer’s hand like the treasure it truly is.

Explain what materials are used, where they came from and the workmanship that went into the design and creation of the piece. In fact, this type of education is your biggest selling tool for affluent customers. “Luxury customers want to know about quality and where the value lies,” says Kent Raible of Kent Raible Jewelry, Nevada City, CA.

Tie it all to the benefits of owning such a magnificent and interesting piece of the earth’s treasures. “Imagine explaining to friends how this one-of-a-kind gem made its way from Madagascar to a goldsmith’s shop in Vicenza before journeying to the United States,” you might say to your customer. Or explain how the simple but substantial platinum band represents precious metal’s highest purity and that the high-quality diamonds it contains perfectly represent the achievements of the giver and recipient.

What They Want

So what, specifically, will attract affluent customers today? Generally, platinum, 18k and higher gold, rings with center diamonds over 2 carats and classic cuts (round, emerald, princess, modified square and rectangle, in that order), say our experts.

While platinum and white diamonds have long been the domain of the most luxurious jewelry, don’t underestimate affluent customers’ growing interest in color. In diamonds, fancy vivid yellow, blue and pink diamonds are very popular. “People who know about colored diamonds have to own them,” says Anjanette Clisura, director of marketing for The Vivid Collection, New York City. “And remember these consumers are traveling up the quality chain, so cut and quality are very important in colored diamonds.”

Colored gemstones also play a bigger role than ever in the highest-end jewelry. But not the garden-variety colored gems found at department store jewelry counters. Emerald and cushion cuts are popular with affluent customers, as are handcarved and unusually faceted gems, including checkerboard cuts. The most popular colored gems for the most affluent continue to be sapphire, ruby and emerald, though high-quality tourmaline, garnet, aquamarine and pearls pique their interest also.

Our experts share their thoughts on what will be most popular among the affluent this year in each of the following jewelry categories:

Earrings. On-the-ear platinum designs covered with diamonds or diamonds with white South Sea, black Tahitian or fine akoya cultured pearls ... three-prong platinum studs flush to the ear, giving the appearance the diamond sits right on the ear ... diamond drop earrings.

Necklaces. Delicate, lacy designs with diamonds in platinum ... diamond solitaire pendants (0.50 carat or more).

Rings. Pavé diamond bands and semimounts ... anniversary bands, five-stone platinum rings, three-stone rings with mixed shapes (such as radiants with trilliants).

Bracelets. Pavé bangles ... single-, double- or triple-row line bracelets channel-set with square, radiant or princess-cut yellow or white diamonds ... oval bangles in 18k rose, white, yellow or green gold with a side hinge and 0.50-ct. diamond in the middle.

Brooches. Flower, leaf and wreath-with-ribbon motifs.

The Future

Because even the wealthy have their limits, more will ask for 18k white gold bracelets and necklaces if platinum prices remain high. Because rings use less metal, however, platinum will continue to reign in that category.

Necklaces and bracelets will become more feminine and airy, classic stud earrings will get bigger and line bracelets will grow even more popular, as will colored pearls, colored diamonds and colored gemstones.

– Lorraine M. O’Donnell, A.J.P.

Grape Vine brooch in 18k gold and platinum features white diamonds, canary yellow diamonds and garnet beads. Suggested retail, $63,000.

Oscar Heyman & Bros., New York City; (212) 593-0400, fax (212) 759-8612.

Trellis necklace contains 8.49 carats of diamonds in 18k white or yellow gold. Suggested retail, $26,000.

Judith Ripka, New York City; (212) 355-0033, fax (212) 355-8757.

Platinum and 18k white gold necklace is adorned with a 16mm black pearl and sapphire inlay with 1.37 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $43,728. Platinum earrings each feature a 10mm black pearl and sapphire inlay with 2.32 carats of diamonds ($10,738). Platinum ring has sapphire inlay and 0.53 carat of diamonds ($3,028).

Nagalle Designs Inc., Wilsonville, OR; (503) 685-5044, fax (503) 685-9743.

“Sea Goddess” neckpiece features a handwoven chain and pendant with 30.7 carats of aquamarine, 5.16 carats of tanzanite, 2.4 carats of Burmese ruby and a black South Sea pearl. Suggested retail, $70,000.

Kent Raible Jewelry, Nevada City, CA; (530) 477-6966, fax (530) 477-7551.

Platinum necklace is set with 2.80 carats of round diamonds. Suggested retail, $42,900. Also available in 18k white gold for $20,350.

Primavera, New York City; (212) 966-5386.

18k white gold pin and earrings feature pink sapphires and diamonds. The pin is $20,397.50 retail, the earrings are $23,447.50.

LeVian® Corp., New York City; (212) 575-0318, fax (212) 944-7734,

Platinum ring at top has a 2.02-ct. oval diamond, 0.28 carat of half-moon diamonds, 0.62 carat of half-moon sapphires and 0.12 carat of full-cut diamonds. Suggested retail, $25,000. Platinum ring features a 2.10-ct. center diamond and 0.65 carat of full-cut diamond accents. Suggested retail, $26,000.

Fusaro, New York City; (212) 869-0151, fax (212) 869-0155.

Red spinel pendant, yellow sapphire ring, tanzanite earrings and star-faceted ruby three-stone ring are all platinum. Suggested retail, $25,000-$65,000.

Cynthia Renée Co., Fallbrook, CA; (760) 728-5150, fax (760) 728-0978.

Photo by John Parrish.

Diamond bracelet holds eight fancy intense yellow diamonds surrounded by white marquise, pear and brilliant diamonds in platinum and 18k yellow gold. Hanging cluster earrings have four fancy intense yellow diamonds surrounded by white marquise, pear and brilliant diamonds in platinum and 18k.

The Vivid Collection, New York City; (877) 538-4843 or (212) 688-3088, fax (212) 688-3106,

Platinum necklace has 6.75 carats of white diamonds, 0.85 carat of natural yellow diamonds and black and gold cultured pearls. Suggested retail, $35,500.

Bergio, Totowa, NJ; (973) 956-8000, fax (973) 956-1818.

Rectangular aquamarine (43.29 carats) and diamond (8.20 carats) earrings set in platinum retail for $180,000.

Henry Dunay, New York City; (800) 888-2525 or (212) 768-9700, fax (212) 944-0308.

22 10mm-16mm white South Sea and 18 12.5mm-16mm black Tahitian cultured pearls are set in an 18k white gold necklace accented with 20.26 carats of ruby cabochon beads. The clasp contains 474 round diamonds (7.12 carats). Suggested retail, $42,000.

Barnett Robinson Inc., New York City; (800) 223-0240 or (212) 682-1086, fax (212) 682-1848.

Crafted in 18k white gold, this Riviera necklace is set with over 13 carats of Sabrina diamonds. Suggested retail, $31,000.

Hearts On Fire Co., Boston, MA; (800) 343-1224 or (617) 523-5588, fax (617) 523-1437,

Platinum bracelet is set with 3.51 carats of round diamonds and 2.50 carats of fancy yellow diamonds. Suggested retail, $40,000.

Jack Kelege & Co., Los Angeles, CA; (213) 622-1290, fax (213) 622-0363.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications