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Would Lalique sell today?


#1

I’m just entering the world of jewelry-making and selling. I’ve been
a sculptor for 35 years, but have always been very enchanted by the
gorgeous pieces made by Rene Lalique and Peter Carl Faberge.
Lalique’s pieces particularly appeal to me as a sculptor, and I have
begun designing things along those lines. But, my dear, practical,
woman-savvy wife says, “Dear, those designs are beautiful, but women
today want VALUABLE BLING, not artsy jewelry. You need to learn pave
if you really want to sell what you make.”

Well, now, I’ve read on here that even if you learn pave, you still
aren’t going to compete with the low priced pieces coming from asia
that are covered with tiny diamonds. So, I guess my question is-- can
I make things that I love, that remind one of the art nouveau
jewelers who took Paris by storm in 1900, and still make a living? Or
do I create, at least half the time, pieces that remind one of the
jewelry in JCK?

Larry Heyda


#2
my dear, practical, woman-savvy wife says, "Dear, those designs
are beautiful, but women today want VALUABLE BLING, not artsy
jewelry. You need to learn pave if you really want to sell what
you make." 

I’m sure she’s right-- about some women. But-- why would you make
run-of-the-mill (you’ll forgive me) mall junk if you have the
capability to make anything remotely like Lalique??

I should offer the disclaimer-- it is questionable whether I,
personally, can really be said to “earna living”. But in my opinion,
if you’re not going to make what you love (with some consideration,
admittedly, of the market) then you (I) might as well be a plumber,
because people will always pay the plumber. In other words, I’d
rather re-route s–t (literally) than make anything that could be
described as bling.

YMMV. Noel


#3

Hi Larry,

The good news is that yes, Lalique would sell today as long as he
found the right niche market. Your wife might only be aware of what
the average consumer buys and wears. It’s not her fault. Many of the
cultures represented on this list are inundated with manufactured
jewelry spin. Fortunately, there are many women, whose sense of self
isn’t dictated by billboards and TV ads and who don’t want what
everyone else has.

I’ve been making and earning a living in the U.S. from one-of-a-kind
pieces for 20 years. I won’t sugar coat these present trying times,
but if you’re willing to be as creative about finding and getting
your work in front of people who will love it as you are about
creating the work, then you can do it. I’m proof that artists can
make what they love and find people, who not only appreciate it but
who will buy it.

Best os luck in your new adventure!
Victoria, who’s never had the patience for pave

Victoria Lansford
http://www.victorialansford.com


#4

My customers get artsy jewelry, not just valuable bling, from me. I
have had a modest, full-time business for 17 years, and a very happy
life at the bench. Sure, along the way I have learned to bead-set
diamonds, and I am happy to do so for a custom order or for some
creation of my own. It’s not the technique that makes something
merely bling, it’s the attitude and overall design thought put, or
not put, into the piece. I don’t want to be too critical of your
wife, but I think she could learn to look around more, and find
beautiful things to wear that are not designed just to say “$$$$”.
Color, line, mass, texture, ryhthm…these are the elements that
make for interesting design. Also, remember that if your jewelry is
not interesting and original, then you may be putting yourself in a
market niche where you can only compete on price. Ooooh, not a good
place to be. Thank goodness for my customers, who love more artistic
jewelry!

Good luck with your work, Larry, and follow your heart, I say! Life
is short.

M’lou


#5
Dear, those designs are beautiful, but women today want VALUABLE
BLING, not artsy jewelry. You need to learn pave if you really want
to sell what you make." 

Larry, your wife is wise and not so wise all at the same time. Good
wives (and yes husbands!) are like that.

Tiffany’s sells a million wedding bands a month - it’s what pays the
rent, and we all have to pay the rent. I think some arty jewelers
fail because they are dependant on style, and “stubbornly artistic”

  • customer doesn’t like style, no sale.

It’s funny you should ask, because we were here:

http://www.famsf.org/legion/exhibitions/exhibition.asp?exhibitionkey=977

Just yesterday. There was a whole room of Lalique, and I saw nothing
that wouldn’t sell today - well, there’s the big monster orchid with
ivory petals that most people know of, that’s simply too big for
most people.

There are a multitude of craftspeople making Art Nouveau jewelry in
the under $200 price range and doing quite well with it. The problem
you have with Lalique in particular (let’s disregard his fame for
now- just on merit) is that most of the work you see is quite
expensive. That means somebody has to 1) have the money AND 2) Love
the piece enough to part with the money. It’s much easier to do that
with lowest-common-denominator stuff. I.E. valuable gemstones,
generic pave, etc. That doesn’t mean it won’t sell or you can’t make
a living, just that it’s not so easy.

I have the same problem with some of the pieces I’ve made on spec -
people admire them greatly, little by little they all sell,
eventually. But they don’t really FIT anyplace. They’re too
expensive for gallery jewelers - often not outre’ enough, either.
And they’re too arty for a guild store. That doesn’t mean I don’t do
it anyway - there’s always room for more good craftsmanship and
innovative design.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#6

Larry, I would still say follow your passion as you will do well at
it but keep in mind what the market is buying, put your own stamp on
it, I carve opal and do my own thing but people pay me to do it as
it’s a valuable gemstone and my input enhances an already beautiful
thing. I do try and put my own feeling into each piece but I can only
go so far as the opal will tell me what I have to do.

Take a look at other gemstone artists and jewelers and you will see
their work has a look about it ie Michael Dyber, Glen Lehrer,Steve
Walters, members of GANA and lots of others, Dalan Hargrave is
probably one of the most versatile jewelers and lapidary artist
around today I am sure he could get a rock out of my garden and turn
it into a work of art. Check out their work and you will see that
they follow their passion in some things and are commercial with
other areas of their work, we all have to pay the bills.

I love Rene Lalique’s work also Emile Galle’s glass, I think if I
had endless money I would go on a huge shopping spree and splurge on
them and also go visit James Miller and lure him out of retirement
with copious amounts of filthy money to make beautiful things.

So for me yes if I had the money to buy Lalique or lalique style
pieces I would.

Great class and style never go out of fashion or date.

Christine Roussel in the Ridge


#7

DO WHAT YOU LOVE. If you’re doing work of Lalique’s caliber you won’t
be churning work out, so you won’t need volume, you’ll need the deep
appreciation of clients for your work. If we’re voting, I say go for
it!

Good luck, Marianne
Marianne Hunter
http://www.hunter-studios.com


#8

Larry,

I think your wife is totally wrong. Not everyone wants bling. I have
been selling one of a kind beadwork, silver, and gold work for 20
years now. Most of my customers want something different. They don’t
want see themselves walking down the street with the same jewelry
everyone else has. You have to do what you love and are passionate
about or it will just becomes a job.

Most of us make jewelry because we are artist and need to express
ourselves through our art. So the bottom line is be passionate, do
what you love and you will build a market for your art. If you build
it they will come. If you would like to see some of my beadwork go
to www.designsbyroxan.com . My website has just been up and running.
It is not finished and is a process in the making, but you can see
some of my work.

Good luck,
Roxan O’Brien


#9
In other words, I'd rather re-route s--t (literally) than make
anything that could be described as bling. 

Thank you, Noel. Couldn’t have been said better. But I was really
underestimating the amount of truly creative jewelry that is being
made today. This afternoon I received Alan Revere’s new book,
“Masters:Gemstones” in the mail, and there are so many beautiful
pieces in there that stray far from the diamond encrusted mall
jewelry that you mention. These must be famous jewelers, and I assume
they are selling well in today’s market (they are, aren’t they?), so
I’m quite relieved and, at the same time, very inspired. My wife has
suggested that we need to produce two lines–one that stays in the
$20-80 range, and another that satisfies my need to create. So I’m
going to train her up in what little I know, and we’ll see if we can
survive and even thrive.

Larry Heyda


#10

Hi John,

You got to see the Lalique, Tiffany, Faberge show! Lucky you. I’m
waiting until it comes to Cincinatti leter this year. I saw a similar
show in Boston a few months ago entitled “Imperishable Beauty: Art
Nouveau Jewelry.” It was truly awe-some.

I very much appreciate your encouragement, and your practical wisdom
at the same time. My wife and I are planning to do two lines at
least, and I’ll be training her in casting, wax work and finishing,
so she’ll have ample opportunity to make pieces that will be very
markertable.

I love your range of work–all the way from cool boxes to beautiful
cameos.

Thank you!
Larry Heyda


#11
and find beautiful things to wear that are not designed just to say
"$$$$". 

Larry (and all, at this point), first off I’d suggest searching
Google images for “art nouveau jewelry” - you’ll find page after
page of beautiful, affordable things. When you say “I want to work
LIKE Lalique” that’s an entirely different thing. Here’s a good one
for that: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/fashion/gallery/17nouveau/

Lalique used glass, horn (a lot), copper at times. What he actually
did was use the appropriate materials for the piece. Most often
those materials were gold, diamonds and big fat opals. It’s a
fallacy that one can make gold jewelry in silver or brass. Lalique
only partly used valuable materials for the money - he was a
businessman, after all - he also used the finest materials because
they are the finest materials. Some of us get spoiled that way ;<}

There’s two other aspects that are important to understand. Cartier,
Boucheron, Faberge, Lalique and others all had (and have) their own
stores. If you own the store, you can make and put anything in it,
do shows, etc. When you have an artist/gallery relationship you get
more into moving inventory… The other major factor is budget.
James Miller is a fine example of budget - while many are slaving
away doing ring sizings, he was doing pieces that had a plan but no
real budget… “Whatever it costs…” I don’t know the man,
but his work shows this. When you’re making and Easter egg for the
Tsar’s daughter, it’s a whole different world.

At this point Art Nouveau is simply a design style - much can be
done, and sold. Saying “I want to work like Lalique” is a much
bigger task.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#12
Take a look at other gemstone artists and jewelers and you will see
their work has a look about it ie Michael Dyber, Glen Lehrer,Steve
Walters, members of GANA and lots of others, Dalan Hargrave is
probably one of the most versatile jewelers and lapidary artist
around today I am sure he could get a rock out of my garden and
turn it into a work of art. Check out their work and you will see
that they follow their passion in some things and are commercial
with other areas of their work, we all have to pay the bills. 

Thank you for the encouragement, Christine. A number of Orchid
members have given me a lot of support in this new adventure, and I’m
indebted to all of you. Your opals are beautiful-- I can see why you
are successful. One of my new designs for a bracelet requires a big
white fire opal cabachon 28mm x 16mm x 6mm thick in an oval shape,
but so far I haven’t found anyone who has an opal this size. If you
know of a supplier with such a thin cabachon, please let me know.

Larry Heyda


#13

Well, first off, I hate that five letter word…B***G. I think it
demeans jewelry as a whole.

If you aspire to Lalique-esque quality/style/value, then making
B***G will probably offend your sensibilities too. You’d hate every
minute at the bench if you were forced by circumstance to get your
hands dirty that way.

But its not an either/or situation. Think of yourself as ‘The
jewelry sculpture who eats well’ and you’ll find your profitable
muse. Don’t duplicate Lalique…define Lawrence Heyda.


#14

Hi John,

Thank you Marianne, Roxan, Neil, John, and everyone else for your
encouragement. I feel much more confident now to protect and pursue
my own artistic vision. Artistic enthusiasm is the only thing that
really makes me work anyway. And at my age I can’t afford to waste
any time doing something that doesn’t excite me.

Yes, you stack of unpaid bills piling up on my desk! Cease and
decist in your threatening me! I am a truuuue artist, and soon enough
the world will beat a path to my door and pay all of you off!

Honey, did we rent that video on pave’ yet?

Larry Heyda


#15

I would say that anyone should try and follow their dreams, I have
made many pieces that reflect the influence of past masters such as
Lalique, Castellani, Giuliano and of course Faberge. But not many of
my customers ever bought my work because it was a James Miller
original. Ninety percent of my work over the past 48 years has been
sold as the work of Asprey, Garrard and Kutchinsky. As somebody else
said on orchid, it’s the name of the shop that sells the item that is
usually remembered and sought by the customer. I am often shocked at
the quality of items that are treasured purely because of the makers
name. John Donivan’s response to this thread mentioned my name as
someone who manufactured without a budget in mind, well perhaps my
budgets may be larger than some, but every design that I was
commissioned to make was only ordered after an estimate of final cost
was given and after giving an estimate it would be my loss if the
budget was exceeded. Over the years I have only made a few items
without first having a commission and to be honest all but two items
have sold. The two items that did not sell, I have kept for myself.
They were on a sale or return deal, with one of the Asprey stores in
London and after six months on show in the store I reclaimed them. I
was told that the main reason for the items not selling was of the
financial situation but I think it may have been the four hundred
percent profit mark up that William Asprey had added to my costs that
may have stopped any sales.

Hopefully my book will be published on 29th May if anyone is
interested. Peace and good health to all.

James Miller FIPG


#16

Hello Larry you sound alot like me, Lalique is my hero, I have the
largest Lalique library of anyone I know, I have been workingon a
line of Pate de verre jewelry enhanced with gemstones for the past
several years I have recently shown it to many art jewelry dealers
and they were impressed. My strategy is to offer these more
inexpensive pieces at first, then start to produce the work that
really makes my heart sing later as they understand the direction
and hopefully create a following.

I think that regret is one of the worst feelings to experience (and
we all do). So;I say you Have to make it and get it out there as
soon as you can,no delays, start showing it, because thats how
Lalique developed his following by winning awards and making works
for actresses of the day,etc. therefor creating a demand not too much
has changed. You must create a" body" of work, that is why we know
his name today because he created enough stuff to have a demand for
it, there were probably more skilled designers and artists but they
didn’t “produce” enough work to be seen and known.

I hope to see your work at some very high end shows, and maybe
between the two of us we canrevive the art nouveau/art deco genre in
this new century.

don’t and stop are two negative words but put them together… so
Larry…don’t stop…Frankenstein!


#17
You got to see the Lalique, Tiffany, Faberge show! Lucky you. 

Yes, Larry - pretty spectacular. We’ve seen a good third of the
pieces before - 3 or 4 Imperial eggs, a room full of Lalique, etc.
Two things I was impressed with were monumental: One was a
presentation tankard almost 4 feet (1.2m) by a good 12 inches (.3m)
across. The top and base were ornately sculpted silver - maybe 10
pounds (4.5k) of it. The middle was a whole ivory tusk - this being a
vintage piece - with every inch beautifully carved. That was Tiffany

  • the other was Lalique - a presentation cup that was big enough for
    a baby’s bathtub. It was scultptural, like a Rodin thing - very
    atypical of Lalique. Powerful and beautiful. Great show and big, too.

I’ll take the opportunity to point out something many young jewelers
just don’t understand. I have always understood that Larry doesn’t
want to BE Lalique or likely copy him, he’s just enamored of the
style - it’s ponderous to have to spell that out every time. Larry
or others can make a fine piece, to be sure. To make an actual piece
that is truly comparable to the work in the show or the books is
simply not possible. That’s because Lalique didn’t make it, nor did
Faberge or Cartier - their SHOP did. Again - you can’t be a master
goldsmith AND a master setter AND a master engraver AND a master
lapidary AND a master carver AND - well, you get the idea. Much of
the work even credits the carver or what have you, when they were
well known. Pieces like that and much fine work that you see today
are made by teams of craftspeople, each doing their part. And many
have 100’s of man-hours into them, which would be a decade if one did
it all by themselves.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18
But its not an either/or situation. Think of yourself as 'The
jewelry sculpture who eats well' and you'll find your profitable
muse. Don't duplicate Lalique...define Lawrence Heyda. 

This is the best advice ever given on this forum

Good Form!

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


#19
My wife has suggested that we need to produce two lines--one that
stays in the $20-80 range, and another that satisfies my need to
create. 

Since you didn’t mind my first comment, I’ll make another. Forget
the $20-$80 range. This territory is saturated by the import market,
and you can’t compete with that. Even the $200-$800 range is on the
low side for the demographic that can still afford truly creative
jew= elry. Also, if you decide to have two lines that have very
different looks and price ranges, I urge you to market them as though
they came from two different people. High-end customers can be scared
off by seei= ng low-end work in the same display, at an art fair
anyway (YMMV). I’d be interested to hear whether others agree, but I
think that too wide a price range is a problem. Of course, this
advice is worth every penny you paid for it!

Noel


#20

I would like to extend a sincere apology to any jewelers who might
have felt offended by my portraying standard diamond jewelry as
"unartistic." I’m sure there are a great number of Orchid members who
feed their families and raise their kids by making the beautiful
jewelry that most of the buyers want today. Because I came to jewelry
appreciation through Lalique and the art nouveau, I had a bias in
favor of sculptural pieces using enamels, odd stones, etc. Plus, I
just couldn’t even guess how to set all those tiny diamonds so
perfectly to make a ring glisten from every direction, so I was
driven back to the earlier design styles that were within my
capabilities as a craftsman. Now that I’ve become aware of the work
of modern masters of diamond setting and metalwork like Mark
Schneider, Michael Sugarman, Michael Bondanza, and others, through
pouring over Alan Revere’s new book, I can appreciate that every
style of jewelry can reach incredible heights of beauty in the hands
of a truly skilled goldsmith.

Larry Heyda