Basically, what is the behavior of the consumers towards
jewelry these days?
I'm a wholesale trade shop owner/operator, so I have limited
perspective on the retail end, but I'm absolutely buried in work.
Here's what I'm busy with:
Retailers who can't afford to go to the big trade shows and pick up
lines are going to gem shows, picking out good deals on loose stones,
and I'm making up inventory for them using these stones for cost of
labor plus any materials I add to the project.
Retailers who can't afford competent in-house jewelers are having me
design and make their custom work for customers who have something
they are looking for specifically that they can't find anywhere, or
they have an idea and I flesh it out for them and make it happen in
the form of a personalized article of jeweler.
Two Estate dealers are going through the scrap bins of retailers
picking up basket cases. And they are buying this stuff from other
dealers, everyone in the hopes of finding someone who can fix the
flaws in an otherwise valuable antique. I study these for the
feasibility of "resurrection" and refurbish them when possible and
cost effective. They, in turn, sell them at estate jewelry shows for
huge markups. I have one entire safe full of this stuff.
Endless repairs of sentimentally valued but fairly inexpensive
jewelry, or jewelry that is worn every day and is part of somebody's
habit of getting dressed every morning, including worn bridal
Occasional custom and setting jobs from distant retailers, most of
whom are bench people themselves, usually stuff that's dicey,
difficult, or just generally requiring very high skill level and
experience, and cases where their customers expect exceptional
I've made some very, very attractive production pieces, at price
points of $75-$300, and tried to move these at craft fairs. The
one-of-a-kind pieces sell occasionally, the production stuff sits and
gathers dust or one or two pieces sell over a weekend. I mean, I
thought this stuff was irresistible, especially at the price. Used
to be, I could never keep my own work in the cases, so I'm wondering
if I'm slipping.
I'm busy as hell, and just barely hanging on since I'm trying to
sustain a couple of jobs for some very capable and deserving
employees at wholesale prices. I've also been told, repeatedly, that
my prices are way too low, and this is probably right, but I'm in a
very depressed economy here in Central NY and I need my accounts to
stay in business.
David L. Huffman