Professional Jeweler Archive: Luxury for 2003

June 2003


Luxury for 2003

High-end jewelry and timepieces remain in demand with an emphasis on quality

Jeweler or juggler? You’re called on to be both as consumers become more educated about jewelry and timepieces, more sophisticated in their tastes and more demanding that retailers balance quality and price. You can meet their demands with a simple three-step process focusing on:

  • Product knowledge. To satisfy quality-driven consumers’ quest for information, be able to explain the material, design and craftsmanship of a beautiful piece of jewelry or timepiece. Explain how the cut makes the diamond so brilliant, discuss how the gemstone acquired its deep color, show how the back of the pendant is as interesting as the front and describe the fun and functionality of new higher-end watches.
  • Product appreciation. Customers who appreciate fine jewelry and timepieces won’t be excited about a piece you plop on a display pad and describe in a monotone. If you can’t get excited about a product, they won’t either. Cradle the product like it’s the most precious thing in the world, place it on the display pad or the customer with reverence, vary inflections in your voice as you talk and explain why it looks good on the customer (or why it will look good on the recipient if it’s a gift). And do this with confidence. “I’ve seen sales staff members who absolutely choke when they quote a piece that costs, say, $30,000,” says Babs Albert of JFA Designs, Irvine, CA. “Just say the price and think ‘just buy it, what’s the matter with you?!’ Confidence is essential when dealing with luxury products. If you’re sure a piece is worth the money, the customer will be too.”
  • Product selection. Know what your customers like and when they’re likely to buy. When customers enter your store, don’t merely show them merchandise, engage them in conversation – you want to know what they’re interested in buying now, as well as what they might buy in the future. Write the information on a customer information card, along with name, address, telephone numbers and significant dates such as birthdays and anniversaries of family members. Collect and review these cards before selecting merchandise for coming seasons. Also keep up to date with fashion trends by reading trade and consumer magazines and simply watching what people wear in your market. Before you give in to temptation and stock designs competitors have, ask yourself what incentive that gives a luxury customer to choose you instead. It’s better to know what the luxury trends are this year and stay ahead of your competition by reading on.

Luxury Materials

Diamonds should be a carat or more with a high color grade, especially if the mounting is platinum, says Irene Farber, boutique director for Piaget in New York City. When budget becomes an issue, color, carat weight and cut matter most, even if a bit of clarity is sacrificed. Keep well-proportioned round, princess, heart and Asscher-cut diamonds on hand. Offer colored diamonds to your nontraditional customers.

Colored gems should have saturated color and heft – 6 carats or more, suggests Remy Rotenier, design director at Kabana, Albuquerque, NM. Tailored, classic cuts fare well, including oval, round, trillion, marquise and cushion shapes. Some gemstones to keep on hand for luxury customers include fancy-colored sapphire, all colors of tourmaline, tsavorite, Imperial topaz, red spinel, tanzanite, aquamarine and high-quality opal.

The metals to show these customers are platinum or 18k gold.

Luxury Designs

Overall, fresh designs and perfect execution will attract luxury customers, says Rotenier.

In earrings, diamond studs are always in great demand, but so are many other designs, as long as they’re comfortable and interesting. Double-heart diamond earrings (two small pavé hearts along the ear lobe) are popular in 18k white gold.

Necklaces should be able to move with the wearer; articulation rules in this category.

In rings, medium sizes do better than skinny or bolder ones, but the design must be impeccable. Comfort and flexibility are important, as in self-sizing rings like JFA Designs’ SignatureFit models.

Bracelets popular with luxury customers include hinged cuffs (with decoration across the top), links with inlaid stones and precious metals with diamond stations.

Interestingly, pins with whimsical themes are popular, despite the somber mood of many consumers. But they should be executed beautifully and sized appropriately – small and playful can be sophisticated, but large and whimsical can make a bigger statement than many customers want to make. Especially popular are pins that cluster four to seven pavé hearts in different sizes.

In timepieces, fun and function are the order of the day. See our special luxury timepiece section on pp. 84-85.

– by Lorraine M. O’Donnell, A.J.P., and Michael Thompson

Limited-edition 18k pendant has a 4.04-ct. marquise tanzanite, 1.13 carats of bead-set diamonds and sides inlaid with blue-green Five Star Australian opal. Suggested retail, $23,500.

Kabana, Albuquerque, NM; (888) 324-6284.

14k gold ring features an oval tanzanite center and two side ovals of pavé diamonds.

C.H. Hakimi Inc., New York City; (800) 999-8016.

Limelight Stardust collar is crafted in 18k white gold and set with 27 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. Suggested retail, $117,500.

Piaget, New York City; (800) 359-4538, fax (212) 909-4332.

18k white gold ring has 2.50 carats of emeralds and 2.75 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. Suggested retail, $9,680.

Augusta De Carolis, New York City; (212) 398-9666.

Ring at left features 2.37 carats of diamonds in yellow and white gold and is $2,372 suggested retail. The other ring has 3.50 carats of diamonds and is $3,698.

CMNY, New York City; (877) 398-9666,,

Platinum and diamond rings showcase a variety of diamond shapes and sizes.

Chris Correia, New York City; (212) 695-4711, fax (212) 564-2477.

18k gold necklace features 6.25 carats of white diamonds, 0.38 carat of natural pink diamonds, a pink cultured pearl and a Tahitian cultured pearl. Suggested retail, $33,900.

Bergio, Totowa, NJ; (888) 237-4464 or (973) 956-8000, fax (973) 956-1818.

18k white gold earrings mix blue sapphires, milky aquamarine and diamonds. Suggested retail, $4,065.

Breuning, Lawrenceville, GA; (678) 377-1673, fax (678) 377-1674.

18k gold choker is set with 80 carats of blue sapphires and 16 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $45,000.

Silber’s Inc., Houston, TX; (800) SILBERS or (713) 784-6226, fax (713) 784-0396,

Platinum drop earrings feature Ashoka and pavé diamonds totaling 8.27 carats. Suggested retail, $135,000.

William Goldberg, New York City; (212) 980-4343, fax (212) 980-6120,

4.11 carats of emerald-cut diamonds crown this ring. The center diamond is 2.03 carats. Suggested retail, $20,000.

Kimberley Diamond Co., New York City; (800) 223-4104 or (212) 227-3155, fax (212) 791-7731.

Victoria platinum ring holds a Hearts on Fire dream-cut diamond. The semimount is designed to hold any stone from 0.33 to 1.50 carats. Also available in white gold.

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

18k white gold collar is set with 26.19 carats of round brilliant and baguette diamonds. Collar is 18 inches. Suggested retail, $46,598.

Eugene Biro, New York City; (800) 223-3535 or (212) 997-0146, fax (212) 764-4506,

18k yellow and white gold patented SignatureFit self-sizing ring features an 18.89-ct. cushion-cut Imperial topaz surrounded by 0.75 carat of round brilliant-cut diamonds. Suggested retail, $60,000.

JFA Designs, Irvine, CA; (949) 263-9909, fax (949) 263-9910.

18k gold neckpiece with a pear-shaped green tourmaline is $9,500 suggested retail.

Michael Good Designs Inc., Rockport, ME; (800) 422-9623 or (207) 236-9619, fax (207) 236-8606.

Luxury Timepieces

This new Glissade model from Hermès has 0.86 carat of brilliant-cut diamonds on the mystery cover, which slides to the left to reveal the time on a mother-of-pearl dial. Glissade is sold in 18k yellow, white or rose gold. It comes with an Hermès-made suede calfskin strap (available in several hues) or 18k bracelet.

Hermès, New York City; (212) 835-6438,

Patek Philippe places one of its legendary manual movements in the new Twenty-4 Small model. The 38-hour reserve movement, with its coveted Geneva Seal of quality, is visible from the back. The jeweled edition features 104 diamonds totaling 8.33 carats in white or pink gold.

Patek Philippe, New York City; (212) 218-1240,

Gervil’s 18k pink gold Avenue of the Americas watch has indicators for day, date, month and moonphase. The cambered case is topped with a curved sapphire crystal, and the decorated movement is visible from the caseback. Only 100 will be made in gold. Also available in steel.

Gevril, New York City; (866) 425-9882,

Inspired by the Art Nouveau era, the Vacheron Constantin Egérie (muse) features an 18k bezel with more than 2 carats of pavé diamonds and a handmade guilloche dial with gold hands and markers. A polished version without diamonds and a diamond-paved dial model are available. The buckle glimmers with 0.89 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $19,200.

Vacheron Constantin, New York City; (212) 303-5030,

The Avenue collection by Harry Winston features a cuff bracelet that follows the curves of the 18k case. This Avenue C model is made in white gold with 4.45 carats of diamonds or in yellow gold with 0.71 carat of diamonds on the bezel. The dial is hand-turned guilloche and mother of pearl.

Harry Winston, New York City; (212) 245-2000.

Cartier’s new Tank S features two rows of diamonds in an 18k white gold “Swinging” case. Diamonds also adorn the buckle and crown. Suggested retail, $31,000.

Cartier, New York City; (212) 753-0111,

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications