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Would Lalique sell today?

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. 

That is a very good point, John. I’ve heard that Faberge employed
over a hundred enamelists alone, and one can only imagine how many
more stone setters, metalsmiths, engravers, etc. But there have
been, and there are today, individual craftsman who have been able to
"do it all" and create some fabulous pieces. James Miller, who has
kindly joined this thread! is a masterful example, and there was the
late Robert Whiteside who took on Faberge with unbounded enthusiasm,
and made pieces that were so close to Faberge’s that they were used
in place of the real article. Once Lincoln Automobile company wanted
to use Faberge’s Coronation egg in one of their television ads, and
they approached the Forbes collection with a bid to rent it for a
day. The representatives at Forbes told them they could never afford
the insurance to borrow such a piece, but that there was a jeweler
making copies that were even better than Faberge’s. So Robert’s
version of the Coronation egg was used in the ad. You can see the
range of Robert’s work here. Needless to say, he will always be an
inspiration to me, and I’ll always regret that I lost the chance to
study under him.

http://www.robertwhiteside.com/original-index.html

Larry Heyda

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’m already embarrassed to be taking up so many people’s time with
my conjectures about doing some nice jewelry in the future. Thanks
for all the back pats, folks. Now I’ll shut up and get to work.

Larry

James,

I would say that anyone should try and follow their dreams, 

I’m honored that you took the time to post a reply to this thread…
To receive encouragement from a master of your standard is a gift
undeserved. I’ll try to merit such notice by working more assiduously
at this new artistic discipline.

And in order to be further inspired, I’ll buy your book as soon as
it comes out.!

Larry

I urge you to market them as though they came from two different
people. High-end customers can be scared off by seeing low-end work
in the same display, at an art fair anyway (YMMV). 

I totally agree with you on this, Noel. My wife and I are in full
agreement on this. Separate websites and everything.

But it was also very good to hear your opinion about the low end of
the price range for the percentage of the population who can still
afford creative jewelry. This is of special interest to me. I’m
guessing that if you start out selling very creative jewelry at low
prices, it is hard to raise them significantly later on. Is this
correct? So it is better to ask a pretty respectable price for
creative work in the beginning (if it is good), and get it in front
of the folks with the wherewithall to buy it. I’ve visited a number
of websites of jewelers who ask four figure prices for very nice
pieces that another jeweler, with perhaps less self-esteem? might
only beg a quarter of that price for. Have these people all gotten
to this high level of pricing over time, by building a reputation, or
did they start out doing nice things and asking nice prices for them?

Larry

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 seeing low-end work in the same
display, at an art fair anyway (YMMV). 

OK Noel, I’ll disagree [grin]! Where I am, in rural South Carolina,
I make the majority of my sales in the $25 - $100 range. I have
retail down to $5 - because parents have kids, and kids have their
own little spending money, and I always make sure I have something
they can spend it on. Sort of back to Daniel’s getting them young
thing - why shouldn’t they spend their $5 on a handmade ring, rather
than at Wal- Mart?

My market does understand the difference between imported and hand
made, and they want the hand made - by someone local, whom they
know. That does not mean they can afford expensive - some can, most
can’t. I also have a wide range of prices, so I actively show from
$1,000 retail to the $5 retail - together. And am very willing to
talk about the differences in why - this amethyst earring set is this
price because it is a nice, average quality amethyst - but THIS pair
has top of the line amethyst - here, look at them together, you can
see the difference… “ooohhh - yes, I can!” - excited and now
educated customer.

It has taken me time to figure out “my” market, and I would love to
be able to drop most of the lower end and only do the higher end -
but, the reality is that in “my” market that won’t pay the bills. I’m
always open to the possibility that “my” market will change, but
while I’m waiting for that upward move, I keep making the things that
pay the bills.

I think the key is to genuinely understand whatever “your” market
is. My rural, local market is going to be VERY different from Noel’s
Chicago area market. Not sure where Larry is located, but his market
is going to be different again. And if you have a bricks and mortar
presence, that of course changes everything once more!

So far, for me in “my” market, the presence of the wide price range
has not had any negative effect that I can tell. Actually, I rather
suspect it has the opposite - a sort of "look what I can afford"
mentality.

I will agree with Noel’s YMMV!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


http://bethwicker.ganoksin.com/blogs/

Hi group. Just as an aside to this discussion, I am so new to
jewelry I did not know what Lalique was so I looked it up on the
net.

http://www.addisoncollection.net/lalique-jewelry.html

Beautiful!! It would seem to be selling. :-)!!!

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 

I’m a little surprised to hear James say that - not just usually a
budget but always. Let’s say that I HAVE worked like that - do your
best, make it extraordinary and just send us a bill… There was an
implied budget, still - not a million dollars… That’s not the
point, anyway. A big budget, as in most of the great pieces we all
see from the nouveau and deco periods, gives great freedom in the
choice of materials and the amount of time that can be spent. Trying
to make a nouveau piece at a $500 price point means it can only be
certain things. Doesn’t matter - it’s just the reality that some of
Faberge’s eggs would cost 1/2 million in labor and materials at
today’s prices…

I made a mistake about the Artistic luxury show that I should
correct - the sculptural cup I mentioned was by Faberge, not
Lalique… Also on display, which I’ve never seen in person
before, is Faberge’s Gypsy Woman hardstone carving. My favorite
Faberge piece of all…Yes, more than the eggs… Check it out, if
you can.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

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. 

Has your wife calculated the costs in material, overhead and salary
to produce $20 ($10 wholesale) pieces ??

I charge $20 just to light my torch unless I’m in a really good mood
and working for a friend :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand

Beth,

It has taken me time to figure out "my" market, and I would love
to be able to drop most of the lower end and only do the higher end
- but, the reality is that in "my" market that won't pay the bills.
I'm always open to the possibility that "my" market will change 

I’m sure from our conversations that you have a pretty good handle
of what your perception of the market is locally, but let me suggest
to you that some of that is self generated. Trust me, I’ve been
there. When I first opened a store I too had goods from $15 up and
for a long time I insisted on keeping them, because I, too, thought
that we just couldn’t sell enough of the upper end to survive. But
over the years I made a consistent effort to keep boosting it,
ultimately including dropping silver work and later even 14k gold.
And you know something, it only made business better! Sure maybe you
won’t have quite the volume of sales, but what you make on the sales
you do have will be better. Just something to think about.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com

Where I am, in rural South Carolina, I make the majority of my
sales in the $25 - $100 range. I have retail down to $5 

OK, so, let’s say retail is $20… Wholesale is $10. If it’s silver,
maybe $1 of that is silver cost, which should then be $2 of the
wholesale price. That leaves $8 for profit, overhead and labor. So
let’s just say $5 for labor. Can you shape, solder, polish, package
and log in this piece in 5 minutes? OK, your cost of living may be
way lower there, let’s say 10 minutes. But your gas, electricity, and
health care cost pretty much what everyone’s does. Maybe insurance
and rent are lower, but how much? Now lets talk about those $5
pieces…I just cannot see how anyone can make anything in that
amount of time, especially with competition from overseas labor that
somehow survives in a few dollars a day. But if you can make it work,
then more power to you!

Noel

Just as an aside to this discussion, I am so new to jewelry I did
not know what Lalique was so I looked it up on the net. 

Well you most assuredly are new to the field. Lalique is not a what,
it is a who. Rene Lalique was quite possibly the single best jeweler
in history (IMHO) and certainly the best of the Art Nouveau period.
Lalique is long dead. The website you reference has absolutely
nothing to do with his work. Lalique’s work, if it even comes up for
sale at all, is generally valued in the multi hundreds of thousands
to millions of dollars.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com

I'm guessing that if you start out selling very creative jewelry
at low prices, it is hard to raise them significantly later on. 

I can’t claim any authority on this, but I’d say you can always raise
your prices, if people want the work and can’t buy it elsewhere for
less. A selling price is not a promise! I make some simple titanium
and silver bird earrings. People love them, and I started out selling
them for $18, maybe 14 years ago. I got tired of making them, so I
raised the price. People still bought them, so I raised it some
more… I found that at $82, people pretty much stopped buying them.
I now sell them for $74. Not as many, maybe, but I don’t mind making
them, at that price. You want 'em, you gotta get 'em from me!

Noel

Just as an aside to this discussion, I am so new to jewelry I did
not know what Lalique 

Well, Rhonda, I probably won’t be the only one to say this… You
are in for a treat.

The link you provided is not the Lalique in question, exactly. I
can’t recite his history from memory (dates and all that), but search
for Rene Lalique (some use Renee) and you can find it. He was the
most famous art nouveau jeweler in history - it’s debatable he was
"the best" Georges Fouquet could also be a contender for that title,
IMO. The history of the man is on the Lalique website, heRe:
http://www.cristallalique.fr/v2/english.html If it doesn’t go to the
page, trim it to http://www.cristallalique.fr and then go to the
history page.

Lalique became fascinated with glass in his later years, essentially
abandonded jewelry, and became a glassworks. Lalique figurines were
hood ornaments on Bugattis and Roll Royces of the day, among many
other things. What your link provided was modern production from the
glassworks, not the Lalique of which we speak here - Lalique the
man.

I’d suggest you use Google image search for Rene Lalique or lalique
jewelry. You are in for a treat…Ah, Fresh eyes…!

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

I am so new to jewelry I did not know what Lalique was so I looked
it up on the net.
http://www.addisoncollection.net/lalique-jewelry.html 

Dunno what that is, but it’s NOT Lalique!!! Check here, or better
yet, here or if those don’t come through, just google Rene Lalique
images http://tinyurl.com/cd9w2e

and there was the late Robert Whiteside who took on Faberge with
unbounded enthusiasm, and made pieces that were so close to
Faberge's that they were used in place of the real article 

Yes, Larry, I’m familiar with Mr. Whiteside. I’ll suggest that you
are mistaken in that he made everything himself. Just as Lalique put
his name on everything, so do most modern shops. It’s a bit of a
secret that there’s a machine behind the man. I’m not really saying
that it can’t be done - more that many newbies think that the solo
craftsman is the norm, and that P.K. Faberge sat there grinding away
in his basement workshop making 850,000 pieces (that’s the number I
heard lately out of their inventory books), just because it all had
his name on it. Nope, Nope, Nope… The workshop is the norm - the
man who can and does it all to those kinds of standards, each and
every time, is the anomaly. Yes, many here crank out $1,000 pieces
and make it all (I do), but we’re talking about the finest pieces
ever made - Lalique, Fouquet, Castellani, Faberge and others…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

Hi John,

Yes, Larry, I'm familiar with Mr. Whiteside. I'll suggest that you
are mistaken in that he made everything himself. 

I totally agree with you that Faberge, Lalique, and every other
major contributor in the history of fine jewelry oversaw a huge
factory that created their chosen designs, but I’m pretty sure Robert
worked alone, or at most had some student helping him. What evidence
is there? In an article on enameling that he wrote for Glass on Metal
magazine in August, 2003, he closed the article with these words
while discussing Faberge:

“Order of proceduRe: Eugene Faberge, son of Carl Faberge, spoke of
meetings between the different technicians. They were called ‘Round
Table’ meetings. They would consist of the manager of the enamel
shop, the Goldsmith, the Jeweler (if any stones were to be set), the
designers, and, of course, Mr. Faberge. The most important reason for
the meetings was to determine in what order each craft should be
applied. This order is critical to the successful outcome of any
piece, especially en plein (enameling).”

“Today we have to be all of these skills rolled up into one person,
as the individual specialists have all but vanished. This makes our
job more challenging, but nonetheless rewarding. If you have any
questions, feel free to email me at…”

Robert even built his own engine turning machine in the beginning,
and went to Europe to learn enameling. He describes how he spun the
metal for his eggs on a lathe he adapted for the purpose, and how he
drilled out his guilloche picture frames in order to attach the
acanthus leaf decorations. He was already a skilled jeweler, so he
already knew how to cast, fabricate, plate and polish…

I didn’t want to argue about this point, but I thought it would be
fair to Robert’s memory to let people know that he really did do it
all, as far as I can tell. His studio was small, with only a few
benches in it.

Here are some nice pictures of it…
http://www.robertwhiteside.com/original-workshop.htm

Larry Heyda

Dunno what that is, but it's NOT Lalique!! 

Just a representative quote. Yes it is, technically, Lalique -
Lalique factory glass, that is, set by somebody. As all wrote, it’s
not THE Lalique. We have a piece of modern Lalique glass - a lovely
little blue goldfish. Cost $100 or something…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

hi Larry,

I will reiterate and reinforce what many others have said in response
to your question. Do what you love! Work from your heart, and the
passion that you have for the work that you present will move you
forward to places and in ways that you never will otherwise.

You will be excited to get to work in the morning, and reluctant to
leave the studio at the end of the day. When you speak about your
work to potential clients, your passion will carry through and be a
strong selling point. Buyers want to know what moves the artist to
create a work, and your enthusiasm for your work translates to their
enthusiasm and pride in owning it and wearing it. They will retell
their experiences in buying your work to their family and peers. The
enthusiasm is contagious.

Go for it. Live your dream. Make it your reality.

Karen Olsen Ramsey
http://www.artjeweler.com