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White gold, boom or bubble?


#1

All,

Back in November we bought a nice line of white gold jewelry. It sold
rather well during the Christmas season then a few pieces during
valentine and since has been dead in the water. On the other hand,
there has been a resurgence of interest in yellow gold. Could it be
that white gold was a flash in the pan? Many of our customers are
retirees and they seem to want to match up their selections with the
old standby yellow gold. And, of course, the younger clients still
SEEM to prefer white…the problem is that the younger clientele
don’t have the disposable income and/or are spending less money on
luxuries and more on tech-toys. And then, of course, all this has to
be laid against a background of generally slow business.
Furthermore, I have seen a much greater demand for custom pieces;
when you have time to make them up, they seem to fly out the door !
Slogging along in sloppy California…

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#2

As a wholesaler of designer wedding bands I am casting at least 80%
white metal (mostly 14k), with the yellow pretty even between 14k
and 18k, but some of the other people I am casting for seem to be
doing a decent amount of 22k. But back to the white, I would say for
the last 5 years at least it has been this way with no signs of
change. All of a sudden rose seems to be creeping into the mix more
than usual, but for us white is still the strongest. When I do custom
pieces for family and friends, all age groups, white is also the
preferred color. And platinum, as high as it goes, people are still
buying. I must have at least 2 dozen platinum pieces in the works at
the moment.

Eric McCafferty
Studio311.com


#3

Eric,

Thanks for your concise breakdown on metals usage vis a vis white
vs. yellow. It might have been even more telling if you had injected
some geography into the equation… Rose gold may be the
comer…I know through experience that it has always had appeal
in the antique pieces that I have carried. In a market where people
are actively looking for something distinctive and/or different, it
may fill the bill.

Day before yesterday the Stuller magazine came in the mail and I
noticed that they had a two page spread illustrating some designs
for the Spring season. It was noteworthy that none of the items was
pure white, about half were two tone and the rest were yellow. Maybe
they know something we don’t know, or maybe they are just
fishing…who knows ? I DO know that Stuller began charging a
slight surcharge for some of its’ white gold products. I surmise that
this is a reflection of the fact that white gold is a bit more
difficult to work than yellow and they are recovering their labor
costs.

Another completely different aspect of the metal color consideration
is the rumour that I have heard about the possibility of making
nickel white gold illegal because of the presumed toxicity of
nickel. I have had a problem with this inasmuch as nickel is a common
ingredient of stainless steel in cookware and, presumably, in
surgical steel. My take on this matter is that the Europeans don’t
permit the use of white gold for the aforementioned reason. Does
anyone have a better insight into this consideration ?

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.

(where we had an April frost this morning ! Climate change anybody
?..we are located at sea level and, as everyone KNOWS, it never
freezes in California…yeah, sure!)


#4
Another completely different aspect of the metal color
consideration is the rumour that I have heard about the possibility
of making nickel white gold illegal because of the presumed
toxicity of nickel. I have had a problem with this inasmuch as
nickel is a common ingredient of stainless steel in cookware and,
presumably, in surgical steel. My take on this matter is that the
Europeans don't permit the use of white gold for the aforementioned
reason. Does anyone have a better insight into this consideration ? 

I have not heard about any push to make nickel white gold illegal
here in the US. In the EU countries it is not just jewelry that is
affected it is anything that comes in contact with the body like
eyeglass frames and buttons. The law does not make nickel illegal it
does specify the amount of nickel that may be released from the
product. If the release rate is less than the specified amount then
there is no problem. I don’t know if cookware and eating utensils
are

covered by this law. But the component in stainless that makes it
stainless is chromium and it forms a hard transparent oxide layer on
properly passivated stainless steel that effectively seals its
surface. This is what makes it rust resistant and also limits its
nickel release.

Nickel and its compounds are not just presumed toxic they are toxic,
also they are listed either as known carcinogen or suspected
carcinogens and are toxic by all routes of exposure (breathing, skin
contact and ingestion).

These are from some nickel MSDS’s

  Nickel (Ni) Exposure Limits: TLV 1.50 mg/m3 (as metal,
  inhalable Fraction) PEL 1.00 mg/m3 (metal and insoluble
  compounds as Ni) CAS No.: 7440-02-0 The U.S. Toxicology
  Program has listed nickel and seven nickel compounds as
  carcinogens. The IARC lists nickel compounds as carcinogenic to
  humans and metallic nickel as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
  Nickel may produce allergic reactions. 

  Nickel is the essential alloying element. Nickel is classified
  in EC Directive 67/548/EEC as a suspect carcinogen (category 3
  R40) and as a skin sensitiser (R43). 

  The classification rules of EC Directive 99/45/EC dictate that
  any preparations with equal to or more than 1% content of
  nickel must automatically be classified as suspect carcinogens
  (R40) and skin sensitisers (R43). 

  Description of hazards 

  Prolonged skin contact with nickel alloys may result in an
  allergic dermatological reaction. If prolonged skin contact is
  involved in the processing of this product, please contact the
  supplier for advice. There are normally no hazards to man or
  the environment from preparations in the massive form they are
  supplied. Dust and fume may be generated during processing
  e.g. in welding, cutting and grinding. If airborne
  concentrations of dust and fume are excessive, inhalation over
  long periods may affect workers' health, primarily of the
  lungs. 

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#5

Hypodermic needles are traditionally 302-304 stainless, while
surgical knives and saws are mostly 440-C. Are the peanut haters on
the war path?

Dr. Mac


#6

Good Morning,

As for location, I am up in Sonoma County, but we are wholesale, so
as far as geography, it doesn’t seem to matter. I have a stronger
presence on the coasts, less in the Midwest, some in the south.
Really the only thing I have noticed, my galleries tend to sell more
of the high carat yellow, with the traditional stores selling more in
the 14k when it is yellow. When the rose is purchased its seems
pretty even across the board, gallery or traditional, east or west
coast.

Two tones, which is a trend that always seems to come and go. Our
rings can be done as a two tone upon request. When we first started
doing them that way (ten years ago) huge demand, then after a few
years it died down. Seems for the last 18 months or so we were maybe
doing two or three a month as a two tone, now over the last two
months we are doing four or five a week.

As for the nickel being outlawed, I hadn’t heard that one. But when
you consider the push Stuller has been making with there x1 white,
which has high nickel content, and the fact that neither snag or any
of the trade mags have started the propaganda machine of the evil of
nickel, I wouldn’t be worried about that one yet.

Thank You,
Eric McCafferty
Studio311.com


#7

Eric,

I agree completely. I work for PMWest, one of the few major alloy
makers. White has been a huge factor, and the rise of pink is coming
at the expense of yellow, not the white. Two tone is coming on
strong, which raises other issues. Like we need the public to
understand where each color comes from, (pink and white gold mines
LOL)

Related point-We need an act of congress on this one, literally.
Platinum gold two tone, palladium gold two tone, mokume gane, woven
gold with silver or platinum, all need a more expressive and fair
stamping option.

As part of the Palladium awareness work that is underway it is being
pointed out that only certain metal are naturally white and the rest
NOT.

As a guy who makes his living selling and developing these alloys,
partnering the right metal to the right gal or guy with the right
gear at the right time… I just love the fact that we have all these
options. I have no favorites except those that have ease of use and
durability on the street. That’s the best trend of all.

Daniel Ballard
PMWest


#8

Hi Everybody:

Really the only thing I have noticed, my galleries tend to sell
more of the high carat yellow, Two tones, which is a trend that
always seems to come and go. Our rings can be done as a two tone
upon request. When we first started doing them that way (ten years
ago) huge demand, then after a few years it died down. 

These are 2 points I am curious about.

I would like to ask how you guys would go about marketing a high
carat yellow gold ring to me. I am seeing more and more of them out
there and I like to wear jewelry as well as make it. I got married
almost exactly 10 years ago and I never take off my wedding and
engagement rings. They are as you say, two toned. I wear them every
day. How would you go about getting me to buy a high carat yellow
ring when it does not match the color of my wedding set? Just
curious…oh, btw I am also a bit type “A”.

Thanks
Kim Starbard


#9

Hi, Kim,

How would you go about getting me to buy a high carat yellow ring
when it does not match the color of my wedding set?

If you aren’t wearing another ring on the same finger-- maybe even
the same hand-- it doesn’t need to relate to your wedding ring, just
as you would wear any color or style of clothes with jeans, not just
blue.

Noel


#10
How would you go about getting me to buy a high carat yellow ring
when it does not match the color of my wedding set? Just
curious....oh, btw I am also a bit type "A". 

I think you’ve got the process wrong. No one should be selling you
anything.

The maker (jeweler) designs and creates, say, a ring; then presents
it at perhaps an art fair. Someone, perhaps like you, comes along
sees the ring, is struck by its beauty, design, whatever and has to
have it.

No offense but your statement sounds like you’re thinking of used
cars. Frequently I hear a person say “I didn’t come here intending to
buy a ring”.

The bottom line is you have to create something that someone wants.
It’s not selling; it’s presentation.

Kevin Kelly


#11

Well I am going to do something that I almost never do, pass the buck
and take the cop-out answer. As a wholesaler I wouldn’t try and sell
it to you. Like the response from Mr. Kelly, I have tried to create
something pleasing to the eye, and have been fortunate enough that
the buyers, and then consumers have agreed with my taste. So really
it is the gallery salespeople I have to thank for marketing and
selling my ring to the general public. Actually I take a little of
that back, marketing, that I do try and do, to the general public
thru advertising, hoping to create an interest in my product. Since
most of what we do are wedding bands, I have a feeling that I also
should thank places like the Shane Co., with their right hand ring
campaign, and all the other large retailers who have helped push the
marketing at the female demographic, getting them to realize there
buying power. Most of my high carat pieces are defiantly being done
a little more artsy, and being sold as accessories, not as a
replacement for someone’s existing band, mostly. Hopefully that
isn’t too much of a rambling answer, and on a side note, I agree with
your post, the cheese isn’t going to show up on your doorstep, and
you have no one to blame but yourself if you’re hungry.

Thank You,
Eric McCafferty
Studio311.com


#12

Hi Kevin:

No offense but your statement sounds like you're thinking of used
cars. Frequently I hear a person say "I didn't come here intending
to buy a ring". The bottom line is you have to create something that
someone wants. It's not selling; it's presentation. 

None taken. You’re right, sometimes I do sound really detached from
the pieces that I make. I think sometimes it’s the accounting/finance
mentality coming out and sometimes it’s the fact that my abilities
to create jewelry don’t live up to my standards yet. You don’t mean
to imply that it’s all happenstance though, do you? I mean, there is
some sales-oriented interaction with the customer at some point,
right?

Sorry, but you are making me think of the post the other day about
CraftBoston. I think it read something like…“you’re not going to
make any sales while you are standing outside your booth, talking on
your cell phone”

Best Regards
Kim Starbard


#13

Hi Kim

I just returned from San Francisco and am just catching up on Orchid
posts.

There is some “sales-oriented interaction” that takes place once you
realize that the person wants what they see that has attracted their
attention. But you’ll have to excuse me from expanding on that topic.
You might check out Baker’s CD presentation. I’m sorry I can’t recall
his first name but he has done presentations at lots of venues and
his name has been mentioned on this forum previously.

I just wanted to make the point that the presenter is not trying to
convince the viewer; as in “what will it take to have you drive this
beauty off the lot today?”

I just remembered it’s Bruce Baker. One Bruceism is “don’t say thank
you until money has changed hands” preferably from the other person’s
hand to your hand. A person will walk up look at your work and may
say something like " your work is so beautiful". Your conditioned
response would be “Thank you”. Don’t! Instead, ask is there something
here that especially interests you? Keep the interaction going; a
"Thank you" ends the interaction.

Kevin Kelly