Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jewelry and the Economy

I do not want to make light of our troubled economy, but I had to shake my head when I read in my WWD (Women's Wear Daily, the insider rag for fashion retail) about a scenario reported on by one of the editors of the paper. Apparently, a woman was looking at two sweaters, one very trendy and wildly patterned and one plainer in a neutral colour. According to the editor, because of the economy, the woman chose the plainer, neutral sweater - and this was a bad thing. Now, I fail to see this as a sympton of our problem economy at the moment, and more as evidence of the woman's savvy as a good shopper and possibly a true fashion lover; I would have done this in the money-flowing '80s (and did) , the '90s, and I still do.

What does this have to do with jewelry? Well, first of all, although many people believe that jewelry is generally an impulse buy, I don't think that is often as true with the people who buy handcrafted jewelry, especially those who buy on a regular basis. First, they know the worth of what they are buying, jewelry that is made with sterling silver that will last with real gemstones, not costume jewelry that often sells for the same price but is made with base metals that "turn" making the piece unwearable, made with glass or plastic stones that are glued in, with no intrinsic value to the piece past the season when it is bought. Handcrafted jewelry made with genuine gemstones, artists' lampwork beads, and sometimes goldfill and vermeil (both of which will last a lifetime if cared for properly) is the equivalent of the neutral sweater - only better because it lasts much longer. An added benefit is that you can "go wild" with handcrafted jewelry since unusual colour combinations and designs will change the look of all those neutral outfits that make so much sense to buy. And even if you wear a piece for a few years, then put it away for a while, ten years later, you will pull it out again and it will give a whole new look to whatever clothes are current at the time!

What usually happens during times when the economy is slow is that people don't really stop buying - they stop buying poor quality, they consider purchases more carefully if they are smart, and they will spend more money buying one good thing instead of the same amount (or larger) buying many cheap ones.
Above, the first bracelet made of fluorite is an example of a bracelet that will dress up the neutral outfit - and a piece of jewelry that will last, even though fluorite is a softer gemstone. Below are fluorite earrings with a classic look.
The look of jade never goes out of style, and the jade bracelet has the added appeal of lampwork beads (by Lynn Nurge) as well as some candy jade beads.
Finally, below are chalcedony earrings and a chalcedony bracelet made with my favorite chalcedony smooth nuggets in aqua (called Peruvian chalcedony from the dealer I bought them from). The bracelet has the most marvelous taupe and aqua lampwork beads by Suzette Celestin of Gaslite Lampwork.

Although all the jewelry I've shown today is made with sterling silver (which does occasionally need polishing a bit), the goldfilled and vermeil jewelry on the Cluny Grey Jewelry site will also last. The secrets: keep the jewelry in a plastic baggy when you're not wearing it or inside the pouch that comes with it; do not swim or bathe while wearing it, especially in a chlorinated pool, and you'll find that the gold jewelry stays bright and shiny as well.

P.S. I'm trying the look of white background with black print for those of you who find the black background with light print hard to read. Let me know which you prefer!


Bobbi said...

Greetings....I found your comments very relevant and interesting.

BUT, I could not read the entire blog. The white letters on black background is not friendly to 'mature' eyes....60 - 65 age group.

Wish I could linger and read.....

maryannartist said...

Good advice! I agree with a lot of what you talk about with the economy and quality handmade jewelry. And your advice in the end for taking care of your jewelry is very good advice.

mirwan said...

I find your work really beautiful! Keep up the good work!

Sandra L. said...

Thanks for the encouraging words! I am launching a jewelry business myself on Etsy and trying not to worry about selling, etc.