Professional Jeweler Archive: Hand in Hand

February 2002

Feature


Hand in Hand

Plain, simple bridal jewelry sells


Since the tragedies of Sept. 11, reports of more engagements and quick weddings have appeared in many news reports. The Diamond Information Center, the Jewelry Information Center and Jewelers of America conducted a survey in which 30% of U.S. jewelers reported increased diamond engagement ring sales in the months following the terrorist attacks. Those increases totaled 19.5% in September and 17% in October vs. the same months of 2000, said jewelers reporting increases. By December, The New York Times continued to report strong diamond sales related to Sept. 11 in New York City’s 47th Street diamond district and other parts of the nation.

But while many consumers want to signify emotional bonds with jewelry purchases – especially engagement and bridal jewelry – the economy has made them cautious about budgets. “I hear retailers are selling more, but it hasn’t translated to the manufacturing level yet,” says Sam Sandberg, president of A. Jaffe, New York City. “I believe retailers are selling what they have on hand instead of investing in new stock. However, special orders and custom orders have increased.”

Selling

During times of distress, connections with loved ones become more important. In advertising, concentrate on the symbolism of your merchandise and promote your role as a “romance counselor.” Lynn Diamond, executive director of the Diamond Promotion Service, New York City, says to ignore price and help customers declare their love. Images of couples, families and other relationships are key. So is promoting the experience of giving and receiving a diamond and the excitement and warmth that moment promises. De Beers’ marketing arm, The Diamond Trading Co., helps with ads depicting couples reaffirming their love.

You can be more explicit in the store than in ads about the events of Sept. 11, says Diamond. “You can actually say things like ‘As this new year begins, what really matters to you?’ or ‘At a time when words seem more difficult than ever, how are you going to tell her?’ We hope the answer will be with a diamond.”

Symbolism is a great motivator also. DTC, with its three-diamond jewelry initiative, has driven home the symbolism of past, present and future of relationships, says Diamond. “The jeweler has never had a customer base so primed for this message,” she says.

The Goods

Platinum is white, pure and the No. 1 choice in bridal jewelry. “The price is good at $430 per ounce, and consumers feel it conveys lasting importance and holds deep meaning,” says Lilly Reilly, production manager at Kimberley Diamond, New York City.

And despite platinum’s prominence, yellow gold has never gone away, says Reilly. Though people like the purity of white metal, 18k yellow gold accents add warmth and interest to a ring shank. If customers choose a colored gemstone next to a center diamond, they can have the best of both worlds by allowing the diamond to glow in platinum while the colored gemstones glow in yellow gold.

During this economic slowdown, people tend to stay with what they know. “Consumers are turning toward clean lines that represent elegance and simplicity. This is what drives bridal styling,” says Luly Erdel, president of Rudolf Erdel, New York City.

But simplicity doesn’t have to be boring. Offer your customers simple three-stone rings, channel-set bands, integrated prongs and rings with low-to-medium profiles. Think of Tiffany’s Lucida setting. It’s a consistent, classic setting with just enough twist to make it interesting. “People are prioritizing and are looking for value, not frivolity,” says Erdel.
The move toward simplicity also means diamonds remain the stone of choice for bridal jewelry. “People are focusing on long-lasting, secure value,” says Reilly.

Cuts Above

The settings may be simple and understated, but many consumers still want to own something distinctive. Emerald, oval and princess cuts can give the desired effect. “People are varying their looks with different diamond shapes,” says Sandberg. These also are the classic shapes that have been promoted heavily – and consumers like what they see.

– by Lorraine M. O’Donnell, A.J.P.

14k three-stone rings from 0.25-ct. to 1.5-ct. total weight range from $299 to $2,899 suggested retail.

Color Merchants, New York City; (800) 356-3851 or (212) 682-4788.

From the XF collection, each ring is tension-set with a 0.25-ct. Trielle diamond. The ring with the straight stripe is platinum and 22k gold. The one with a wavy stripe is platinum and 24k. The one with the gray stripe is 18k gold. U.S. Patent Nos. 5,084,108 and 5,188,679.

Steven Kretchmer Design, Palenville, NY; (518) 678-0304, fax (518) 678-0307.

Photo by Robert Weldon.

Wedding band and engagement ring are from the Wedding collection.

Alfred Levitt for Cordova, Flushing, NY; (800) 223-6705, ext. 926; cordovainc@aol.com.

Platinum ring has a 1.24-ct. Tycoon-cut center diamond and two Tycoon-cut side diamonds totaling 0.50. Retail, $7,600.

Tycoon, Los Angeles, CA; (213) 689-0204, fax (213) 622-2430.

Engagement ring and wedding bands in 950 platinum have diamonds or sapphire accents.

Rudolf Erdel Platinum, New York City; (800) RUDOLF-8 or(917) 493-1086, fax (917) 493-1091, lulyerdel@rudolferdel.com, www.rudolferdel.com.

Platinum band is set with 0.45 carat of diamond baguettes and is $2,185 retail. Platinum mounting has 0.25 carat of baguettes and is $1,975. The center diamond is not included.

Bergio, Totowa, NJ; (888) BERGIO4 or (201) 666-5635, fax (973) 956-1818.

Handmade platinum ring features a square center diamond flanked by two half-moon diamonds.

Adasco Designs, New York City; (800) 632-6685 or (212) 819-0288, fax (212) 768-1041.

18k white gold ring is set with 35 round brilliant-cut diamonds in a floral pattern. Suggested retail, $2,550.

Golden Future Wedding Band Inc., Hackensack, NJ; (866) 678-1190, fax (201) 678-1191.

22k gold Tuscan Garden bands are granulated with platinum edges. Suggested retail, $2,200-$2,425.

Zaffiro, Portland, OR; (503) 236-6735,
zaffiro@earthlink.net.

14k gold bands are crafted with ceramic resin strong enough to be worn daily. These rings come with a lifetime guarantee against chipping or cracking and are available in a variety of colors, 18k gold or platinum, with or without a diamonds in the resin. Suggested retail, $400-$1,500.

B&N Jewelry Inc., Marietta, GA; (800) 358-6223, fax (770) 578-8744.

Platinum and 18k white gold men’s bands are $675 to $2,250 suggested retail.

Novell Design Studio, Roselle, NJ; (877) 445-9400 or (908) 245-0700, ext. 103; fax (908) 245-5090; novelldesignstudio.com.

14k white and yellow gold wedding bands come in a variety of widths.

Hoover & Strong, Richmond, VA; (800) 759-9997 or (804) 794-3700, www.hooverandstrong.com.

Selection from a collection of contemporary and traditional wedding rings available in platinum, 18k or 14k gold.

Samuel Jewels Inc., New York City, NY; (800) 257-3338 or (212) 869-5688, fax (212) 768-3743.

18k white gold solitaire rings from the Torique solitaires collection hold 0.30 to 1.0 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $900-$6,000. Also available in platinum.

Ideal Love Diamonds Inc., New York City; (888) 200-5084, fax (212) 354-5164.

Platinum engagement mounting has 0.75 carat of round and baguette diamonds. Retail, $3,410.

Verragio, New York City; (800) VERRAGIO, fax (212) 244-2960, www.verragio.com.

Complementary 18k white gold five-stone rings are set with round diamonds.

A. Jaffe, New York City; (212) 843-7464 (212) 843-6719.

Photo by David Carlo.

6mm platinum millgrained band features one 2.5mm princess-cut diamond.

Guertin Bros., Roanoke, VA; (800) 225-3141 or (540) 362-4164, fax (540) 362-2160.

Platinum rings feature round brilliant diamonds. Suggested retail, $3,700-$3,950.

Kimberley Diamond Co., New York City; (800) 223-4104, fax (212) 791-7731, www.kimberleydiamond.com.

18k white gold band is set with princess-cut sapphires and 0.80 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $3,300.

OGI, New York City; (212) 840-0935, fax (212) 764-7240.

Platinum and 18k engagement ring has trillion side diamonds.

Galatea, San Dimas, CA; (800) 609-6888 or (909) 592-0877, fax (909) 592-1837, www.galateajewelry.com.

Wedding sets in 10k gold are accented with 12k rose and green gold with diamonds. The set at left is $575 triple keystone; the other set is $740.

Black Hills Gold Jewelry by Coleman, Rapid City, SD; (800) 874-9926, fax (888) 394-5752.

Engagement rings (front to back) are platinum and 18k gold with a 1.0-ct. round center diamond and 0.29 carat of baguettes ($4,770 retail); 14k gold with a 0.50-ct. marquise center and 0.27 carat of round side diamonds ($1,639.50); 14k gold with a 0.75-ct. round center and 0.30 carat of side stones ($2,808); 14k gold with a 1.0-ct. princess-cut center and 0.58 carat of baguettes ($5,069); and platinum with a 1.0-ct. center and 0.35 carat of baguettes ($4,809).

Quality Gold Inc., Fairfield, OH; (800) 354-9833, fax (800) 686-7184.

“Enchantment” ring has a 2.0-ct. center diamond, 0.56 carat of diamond melee and 0.92 carat of princess-cut diamonds. Without the center diamond, $6,182.08 keystone.

Artelle Designs, Minneapolis, MN; (612) 926-8163, fax (612) 926-5420.

14k gold mounting with 0.50 carat of diamonds is $500 keystone. Also available in white gold and platinum.

Camelot, Union, NJ; (800) 279-9943, www.camelotbridal.com.

14k gold and platinum wedding bands are from the Shelter of Your Love collection.

Frederick Goldman Inc., New York City; (800) 833-9870 or (212) 924-6767.

Handwoven ribbons of 14k white gold create rich textures and intricate designs. The engagement ring is $600 (mounting only); matching band is $366.

Wright & Lato, East Orange, NJ; (973) 674-8700, fax (973) 674-6964.

14k white gold rings (from left) feature a Greek key design ($325 suggested retail), matte surface with a polished strip and a 0.12-ct. diamond ($600) and interlocking circles with 0.80 carat of diamonds ($2,200).

Benchmark, Tuscaloosa, AL; (800) 633-5950 or (205) 345-0555, fax (205) 752-8322, info@benchmark.com.

Photo by Robert Weldon.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications