Thursday, October 30, 2008

Calling all Jewelry Designers

One of favorite jewelry business website is the Jewelers Resource Bureau, (JRB) As described by one of the JRB's founders, the "timely information for every design'preneur" includes marketing, selling tips, success tips, trend information, PR, events. To view all the information thats available on site, there is an annual membership fee of $187, plus a $99 set up fee, but it that's too steep for you, there is a free weekly email newsletter.

This week's newsletter is about the next Lark Publication's 500 Series book, "500 GEMSTONE JEWELS" The publisher,

Lark Books seeks high-quality images of jewelry featuring gems and stones to publish in an international juried collection. Diverse materials, from rough, natural stones to fully faceted precious gems, are desired. All design and setting styles are welcome. All jewelry forms, such as rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and brooches will be considered.
There is no entry fee.
Ms. Cindy Edelstein, one of JRB's founders, is participating as a juror for this event.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 - Christmas Book

It's that time of the year again. If have haven't completed or worse started preparing for the Holiday Season, then arrival of Neiman Marcus' Annual Edition of their Christmas Book should be enough to jump you into action. Truly a designer's dream come true is to find your products listed in this lovely book. Check out the David Yurman - Black Diamond Dog Tag & Chain on page 90, priced to sell at $4,510.00. To view the Christmas Book, click here:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thriving in Troubled Times

Well, its been an interesting week on Wall Street with all the the ups and downs which will probably continued well pass this year's upcoming election. Coupled with this month's posting of disappointing September sales by US retailers, it appears we ar in store for gloomly holiday sales. In an article by the International Herald Tribune,
...hurt by a global financial crisis that prompted shoppers to turn frugal and raised concerns of an even weaker holiday shopping season. Looking ahead, October sales are expected to rise 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent, with tough economic conditions persisting, the International Council of Shopping Centres said. The gloomiest forecasts have forecast holiday sales could be the weakest in up to 17 years.
So the economy and holiday sales have been on my mind lately, and working in Retail as I do in real life, I started wondering what things I can do now with hmmills as I ride this Cycle. I found the following: Thriving in Troubled Times: 'You're Not Just Selling Jewelry' An Interview With Brook Ellis and Mink Stavenga that I thought would be beneficial even though its geared for a jewelry store, there are some items that you can incorporate into any business:

Two savvy jewelry business experts from GIA offer 10 tips for business success during an economic downturn.

By William George Shuster, Senior Editor

Circular Keystone, 9/1/2008

Running a successful business is always challenging, more so when soaring costs and increased competition affect jewelry store sales and operations. For its series “Thriving in Tough Times,” JCK asked Brook Ellis, now vice president of special projects for the emological Institute of America, and Dr. Mink Stavenga, dean of the GIA School of Business, what independent jewelers must do now to operate successfully. Here are their 10 back-to-basics suggestions.

1. Learn about running a business. Attend as many business seminars and workshops as possible at trade shows and association meetings and take business courses online. GIA, for example, offers online business courses and its Jewelry Business Management diploma program. Fall courses (beginning Oct. 13) include marketing management, current issues in the jewelry industry, and visual merchandising.

2. Use an annual business plan. Many small-business owners think they're too small to need one, but to succeed in today's competitive environment you must have a well-developed business plan. It's like a road map for your business goals and objectives, which must be measurable if you want to track them through the year and make changes to your operations. In difficult times, focus on objectives that produce the best results for your business. For example, don't add a marginal line that may or may not work. Take such risks when profit
margins are higher.A business plan's detail depends on the size of the business, but any plan must include a financial plan, income statement, cash flow analysis, year-end balance sheet, merchandise budget, merchandise plan, and sales by department. (Sales can be further broken down, depending on your merchandise operating system.)A business plan also needs a marketing plan, advertising budget, public relations budget (and other marketing efforts),
business development plan, expansion plans (if applicable), new product categories, new lines (like national brands), and any other measurable changes. For more information, see the Small Business Administration Web site,

3. Manage your inventory investment. Use an open-to-buy plan, which is a budget for planned merchandise purchases during a certain time period. Open-to-buys are particularly appropriate in the retail jewelry industry because
of its seasonal nature. An OTB helps you determine how much inventory to buy before a season starts, how much you should have each month, how to adjust monthly merchandise flow to maintain inventory levels, and what those levels should be at season's end. Managed properly, OTB is a powerful tool to help jewelers increase sales, reduce overstocks and markdowns, and keep inventories at correct levels.Plan, too, for special orders and repeat orders for best sellers. Otherwise, you might allot too much of your merchandise budget to other categories and run out of funds for best sellers when needed. On the other hand,
overbuying best sellers can result in cash flow problems.

4. Reacting to recession. When the national economy slows, your business is affected. So, adjust your budgets—financial, cash flow, and merchandise—accordingly. For example, if analysis indicates you won't meet sales projections, adjust your merchandising budget by reducing or changing your assortment, so you won't have too much capital tied up in inventory. Consider stocking inventory with a wider range of price points to accommodate customers with newly reduced budgets. Develop a good working relationship with your bank
before you need its help. If you must borrow, be sure your business plan is current and available for review.

5. Improve profit margins. Jewelers' profits are being squeezed by rising costs of materials (especially gold and platinum) and online competitors' lower prices. To stay profitable, closely track trends in product supply and customer demand (to maintain and improve inventory turnover), revenues, and profit margins.Improve turnover with a strong focus on your best sellers; always keep them in stock. Negotiate better terms from suppliers, and don't carry much fringe merchandise that doesn't fit your store image. With slow-moving merchandise, discount it, return it if possible, or off-load it to dealers in distressed merchandise.Find a niche in your market and products that differentiates you from competitors. Do that by analyzing your customer profiles and what they buy in your market and its demographics, and your
competitors'.Cater to repeat customers, who might pay a little more because you've developed a relationship with them. Remember, people return to stores where they've had a good shopping experience. That includes a knowledgeable, trained sales staff; return and exchange policies that favor customers; and services like repairs, enhancements, and free cleanings. Value-added services keep customers coming back and create good word-of-mouth advertising.

6. Improve cash flow. Some jewelers mistakenly think profitability takes care of cash flow. It doesn't, especially in difficult times. So, have a cash flow budget, which is a projection of cash coming in and out for a specific time period, up to 12 months ahead. This is an essential part of your business plan, one you must carefully and consistently manage. That means a realistic cash flow and adjusting your sales strategy if and when you identify problems. Again, keep
a good relationship with the bank, to fill cash flow gaps if they occur.

7. Keep employees motivated. Start with a strong orientation program for new employees. When employees clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, it enhances their job satisfaction and motivates them. Satisfied employees who enjoy their jobs are more likely to develop relationships with customers, resulting in a better shopping experience and more
sales for the store. The more your employees succeed, the better they should be compensated. The more you pay them, the longer they'll stay, and the more they sell, the more you earn.

8. Promote your store. Brand your store. Consumers have many businesses to choose from for their purchases. So, your store needs an attractive image, or brand, that they recognize and respond to. They need a reason to choose you over your competitors. Having a brand also helps them envision your store's services and products, making it more likely they'll visit.Store design and marketing give consumers a good idea of the shopping experience to expect when they walk in, as does merchandise. (Remember, consider your image when choosing inventory.) Advertise in media reaching the most prospects in your target market. Use offers and “call to action” ads, which bring customers in to buy a specific item. In your ads and marketing, focus on your niche. If you're a dealer of Rolex watches or Yurman jewelry in your market, promote that. It differentiates you from competitors and strengthens your niche.

9. Focus on best sellers. Always keep best sellers in stock. If customers come in for one, and you don't have it, they won't wait for you to order it. They want it now.A computer inventory management system (IMS) helps you identify and track inventory by type (e.g., diamond earrings) and price, and project inventory levels for coming months. (This includes not only best sellers, of course, but all merchandise.) If you don't have an IMS, review your monthly
sales receipts and manually create such reports.Focusing on best sellers increases turnover and profitability. One example is bridal sales, a big part of many jewelers' business—and one to pay attention to, if you don't already. “Bridal” includes more than engagement and wedding rings. Gifts for the bride and groom, wedding party, and parents and children of the couple are
opportunities for added business, as are services like jewelry repairs, enhancements, and designing. Selling bridal jewelry also is an excellent opportunity to start an ongoing relationship with a client, supported by customer service, anniversary or birthday gift suggestions, and maintenance of the piece.

10. Focus on business. You're not just selling jewelry. You're running a business with many components. Having a passion for jewelry is great, but that alone doesn't create a profitable operation. So, in running your retail business, focus on both “big things,” like profit margins and balance sheets, and “little things,” like customer service, value-added services, and a
knowledgeable staff.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall 2008 Jewelry Trends

Last winter, South Florida was unseasonable warm which led without much ado to the transition into another warm summer. Ducky (my pool temperature gauge) marked the start of swimming weather at the end of April (normally the end of May) through today (so far) (the water is a mild 80 degrees) and will probably run through the end of October. I didn't realize it was Fall until I saw the CBS Early Morning Show folks shivering as they stood outside of the studio. It dawn on me that I have done nothing as far so for to 1) review the fall fashion lines, 2) download the Fall 2008 Pantone Color Chart 3) reviewed Fall 2008 Jewelry Trends.

Net-A-Porter, one of my favorite shopping/trend guides had their top 10 accessories listed on their website:

According to the PANTONE® Fashioncolor Report Fall 2008:

A Season of Change
Best described as a season of change, fall ’08 is defined by rich, elegant hues that offer a vibrant selection. New York’s fashion designers emphasize cooler blues, greens and purples in the top five tones used in their collections, followed by variations of warm red, orange and yellow. “Fall is traditionally a time for subdued, quiet colors, but this season we are seeing a shift toward cool hues with bright, exciting undertones,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Conventional tones such as warm autumn hues, chocolate browns and steel grays are also among the fall color choices. Blue and purple tones have become staples, as illustrated by Blue Iris, one of the top 10 colors chosen by designers this season, and Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2008.” Blue Iris, a beautifully balanced blue with an undertone of purple, is a favorite among designers, as it combines the calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple. Dramatic Royal Lilac brings purple to the forefront of fashion, and generates a bit of heat with its exciting red undertones. Serene, sophisticated Caribbean Blue is another popular hue this fall, especially in jewelry and accessories. But it can add a colorful intensity wherever it is used in the wardrobe. Twilight Blue, a twist on a classic navy, shows the transitional aspect of spring segueing into fall. Serving as a wonderful base color, Shady Glade delivers a natural elegance to the fall palette. Taking green in an interesting direction with its true green characteristics, this hue is a departure from greens of seasons past, which have had distinctively yellow undertones. Reds are a steadfast favorite for fall and Aurora Red is no exception. Versatile and universally appealing, this true red adds a splash of energy to the palette. Soft, dusky Withered Rose, with its pinkish qualities and brown undertones, is a versatile hue that blends with every shade. Ochre, a beautifully mellow yellow with a hint of mustard, adds a touch of lightness and spice. Orange has had a long run, and now, more than ever, consumers are gravitating toward intense shades like Burnt Orange, bringing this once steady background color to the foreground. The complex yet modest Shitake is an intriguingly understated shade, especially when teamed with the robust colors of fall ‘08.
Blue Iris PANTONE® 18-3943
Royal Lilac PANTONE 18-3531
Shady Glade PANTONE 18-5624
Caribbean Sea PANTONE 18-4525
Aurora Red PANTONE 18-1550
Shitake PANTONE 18-1015
Withered Rose PANTONE 18-1435
Twilight Blue PANTONE 19-3938
Burnt Orange PANTONE 16-1448
Ochre PANTONE 14-1036

In the article: The Fall/Winter 2008 Fashion and Color Forecast for Jewelry Artists, they list the following as trends for Jewelry this fall and winter:
Jewelry is big this season – literally! Big necklaces, big rings, big collections of bangles… Read on and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s an overview of the most important trends in jewelry for Fall/Winter 2008:
Make a statement! – Over and over, research on this season’s trends keeps revealing that the “statement necklace” is the defining piece to own this season. And it’s just the thing to help you shine amidst a sea of boots and sweaters! Fortunately, there’s more than one way to make a statement with your neckwear. You can do it with multi-strand necklaces, bib necklaces or something long, bold and decidedly asymmetrical!
Arm candy – Whether you prefer cuffs, bangles, charm bracelets, woven metal, beadwork, fiber or chain maille, (whew!) bracelets continue to be a sweet treat, especially when stacked! Cuffs really take the cake – or rather, the sweet spot on the wrist – this year, though. Make sure you whip up at least one!
Lay it on thick! – In addition to sporting a stack of bangles, necklace layering is still in vogue. The latest variation on this theme is the layering of chains with beaded necklaces. Pendant layering is still hot, as well. For the sequential folks among us, that might mean wearing several similar pieces (all hearts, for example) or complementary ones, such as a group of all silver pendants of a similar size, or even pieces on a theme, like a grouping of suns, moons and stars. For the more abstract souls, layering means anything goes! Knock yourself out!
In one a-cord – Speaking of pendants, cords are still the hot way to wear your pretty dangles. Create your favorite version dangling from leather, silk, ribbon, microfiber, suede, rubber or waxed linen.
Knuckle busters – Big bold rings are everywhere this season. Reeeeeally big
rings! Some sport a single giant stone and others are covered with a pavé of itty bitty gemstones or crystals.
Metal mania – Silver is back this season, but so are bronze, copper, gold and even chocolate gold! Textured metals are hot, as are those with a smooth matte finish. You’ll also find blackened metals in every hue, as well as pieces polished to a bright shine.
Feminine filigree – Girly girls, rejoice! Filigree is hanging in there again this winter, along with delicate dangles of crystals and gemstones. If you’re a confirmed romantic, chances are you’ll love these feminine trends!
One-of-a-kind keepsakes – A return to artisan-crafted jewelry has been happening for several years now and shows no signs of slowing down. Jewelry has become a mode of self-expression for many and there’s no better way to express yourself than by wearing a one-of-a-kind, handcrafted piece that you created yourself!