Professional Jeweler Archive: Jewelry Is a Symbol We Need

November 2001


Jewelry Is a Symbol We Need

The tremendous symbolic power of jewelry was on display when President Bush, in a dramatic speech on Capitol Hill, declared war against terrorism in the aftermath of the brutal attacks on our country on Sept. 11, 2001. In a quiet but proud message of patriotism, there was a flag pin on the president’s lapel, first lady Laura Bush’s collar, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s jacket and the jackets of nearly every other person in the packed legislative chamber.

There’s something enduring about the sturdiness of a pin, forged of metal, impervious to damage, that suited the moment. Jewelry wrought from metal has survived wars, plagues and other calamities, just as our country will survive its current challenge. It’s no surprise patriotic jewelry sales are soaring, as the story on page 121 notes.

President Bush’s flag pin also brought to mind another president, Woodrow Wilson, and a flag pin the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York gave him right after America entered World War I. I’ve just written the history of the club, so I was honored to hold in my hand the thank-you letter Wilson wrote to the club in April 1917, only 10 days after war was declared. His signature still looks clear and determined.

But it isn’t just patriotic jewelry that should sell at times like this. The jewelry industry has another important role to play. The jewels you make and sell are mostly gifts of love. At a time when so many Americans are reeling from the hatred demonstrated by the terrorist attacks, they need the comfort of these symbols. My jeweler, Sam Yampell of Haddonfield, NJ, told me two stories that illustrate the point. A rescue worker on his way to New York City to help in the disaster recovery effort visited Sam to pick up his wedding ring, which was in the store for repairs. He said he simply couldn’t go into the danger zone without that symbol of his wife’s love. Later, an engaged couple who looked at rings previously came in to buy two days after the attacks. They told Sam they needed the lift that buying their rings gave them and to prove love still matters and that life goes on. I’m optimistic more people will become engaged and more couples will want to show their appreciation for each other in the tough times ahead.

Social psychologist Abraham Maslow said people have different levels of needs, with the primary being food and water, then safety and security, belonging and affiliation, recognition and fulfillment. Several experts have noted people’s need for belonging and affiliation increases during unsettling times, while the need for recognition of their achievements decreases. In your ads, maybe it’s time to deemphasize professionals rewarding themselves and focus instead on Americans’ need for family and friends. This isn’t mercenary – even our president has called upon all of us to make purchases to help the economy. And what could be better than encouraging your customers to buy the gift that says “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

– Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications