Mia Katrin's monthly syndicated Byline column Jewelry By Design has appreared in multiple magazines and newspapers, including Southern Jewelry News, http://www.southernjewelrynews.com, Mid America Jewelry News, Jewelry Crafts Magazine, Adornment, http://www.bestofartists.com/jewel-couture/ and http://miakatrin.com.
Mix It Up with Fabulous Fall Fashion
An explosion’s going on in fashion and it’s everywhere! The runways are vibrant with a riot of color, pattern and texture. Deep jewel tones—purple, tangerine, emerald—reign in vivid patterns including mirrored prints and blocks of color, layered with a plethora of fabrics from leather and lace to animal prints and faux fir. Sparkle and bling’s ubiquitous, including jeweled and sequined necklines suggesting layers of necklaces. The vintage influence remains strong with its rich detail including ruffles and peplums. A“lady-like” look is emerging, including a retro nod to the polished presence of suits with matching accessories—shoes, bags, evening gloves, but projecting a strong modern confidence. Pick up any fashion magazine or pop into any boutique and the new sensibility is unmistakable.
How does this affect you? Here’s a hot tip—jewelry’s fashion! On the runways, in magazines and stores, the new styles are interwoven with the latest trends in jewelry—bold statement necklaces, layers of chains and bangles, bold cocktail rings in vibrant color. Your customers, especially self-purchasing women, already view jewelry as fashion. They’re picking up the latest trends from TV, magazines, celebrity influences and clothing stores. Merchandise displays often include coordinating jewelry which is also often for sale.
If you’ve not yet tapped into the growing trend of designer jewelry, now’s the time to take the plunge. Confident professional women are accustomed to spending regularly on clothing and accessories such as handbags, shoes and scarves and consider upscale jewelry a fashion accessory. Younger Gen X and Y women are not restricted by taboos of older generations who consider it appropriate to only receive fine jewelry as a gift. Why not tap into this lucrative and expanding market? Some of the hottest jewelry trends reflecting today’s fashion include
· Bold statement necklaces. Add instant drama with oversized pieces featuring large colored gems in striking styles. A form of personal expression—jewelry as art—statement necklaces command attention. Often paired with the little black dress or pants and top, the statement necklace instantly cinches the look.
· Long on layers. Look for chains with charms, multiple bracelet bangles and long necklace chains with stations of gems and pearls which may be doubled or tripled. These versatile fashion favorites may be worn casually, with a suit or for dressy evening wear.
· Bold color. The rich palette of fall’s jewel tones demands striking accessories. Choose cocktail rings with a single large unusual colored gem such as chalcedony or prasiolite. Necklaces, earrings and bracelets with striking colored stones add the perfect accent. They need not match the color of the outfit but should complement it in color and style.
· Mix it up. Multiple textures, forms, colors and mixtures of metals are perfect with today’s opulent fashions. Go organic with the natural look of a touch of on-trend leather, blackened steel or even feathers. Add druzy for sparkle. Look for slices of gems including large thin faceted transparent gems such as rose quartz.
Be the go-to fashion savvy store. Designate a person on staff to be your resident fashion diva, in touch with all the latest trends and celebrity sightings. Encourage staff to wear the latest styles of clothes and jewelry to suggest possibilities. When you show a piece suggest how it could be worn—casual, paired with a suit or dressed up for evening. Encourage clients to bring in the outfit they’ll be wearing for that special occasion to see how pieces work with it.
Display a dramatic new statement necklace in your front window as the hot new trend. Stock the best selling new pieces your vendors recommend. Take advantage of stock balancing and memo opportunities from vendors to always feature something new and exciting.
Educate customers about the difference between fashion jewelry and designer, fine jewelry and the many advantages of fine jewelry—quality, lasting value, pride in ownership. Why settle for a merely trendy piece that will be discarded after a season or two when you can build your jewelry wardrobe with beautiful, distinctive pieces you cherish that will be passed on to future generations?
After period of austerity there’s a new exuberance in the air. Ride the wave into the holidays and beyond. Enjoy and share the fun of fall fashion!
SJTA Atlanta Jewelry Show Sizzles on the Runway
It was all glitz and glamour at the SJTA Atlanta Jewelry Show. The live fashion show Jewelry on the Catwalk opened the show with eight spectacular models previewing many of the top designers from the show. Eager attendees were tantalized with an overview of the many treasures awaiting them just before entering the exhibition area. The fabulous models brought the latest, best selling Collections to life. With necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings styled in ensembles, buyers envisioned how the Collections could be presented from a fashion perspective.
Over a dozen top designers from the show featured their most fashion-forward Collections including Alwand Vahan, Mia Katrin for Jewel Couture LLC, Nina Nguyen, Galatea, Officina Bernardi, Metalsmiths Sterling, Charles Garnier, Honora, Barbara Garwood, Kim International, Sterling Reputation and Sara Blaine.
A Metalsmiths Sterling and sapphire filigree bangle that just appeared on the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards was one of the featured pieces. Mia Katrin for Jewel Couture LLC and Southern Jewelry News columnist styled the show, and along with Cassandra Wilson, noted stylist, commented on the latest trends. Katrin’s bold new Statement Necklaces Collection was launched during the show.
Nina Nguyen’s organic necklaces and earrings including slices of gems and druzy added a natural touch. Barbara Garwood’s colorful necklaces and earrings in vibrant gems and pearls added drama. Charles Garnier’s sculptural pieces, available in rose gold finishes, provided a sleek modern look. Officina Bernardi’s sensuous long necklaces in black rhodium with rose gold accents added a contemporary flair. Galatea’s levitating carved Tahitian pearl necklaces bracelets brought the show to a stunning finale.
Fashion Wrap Up. Trends to watch for the spring include:
Big statement pieces, including necklaces, earrings, bangles and rings. Statement pieces are in...the bigger the better. Larger-than-life necklaces, cascading earrings, bold rings with serious gems. Now’s the time to make a statement!
Metals—silver, gold and mixed metals. All materials are en vogue, from gold and silver to stainless steel and leather. Look for a plethora of finishes, from black rhodium to rose gold.
Color’s everywhere, bold and bright including all the colors of the spectrum often mixed in a single piece or styled together in ensembles. Blue-greens, yellow and orange are strong trends. Black-and-white’s a classic combo winner often in updated materials such as black and white diamonds or crystal doublets.
Organic forms. Green is in. The strong trend from authentically sourced products to organic forms is de rigeur—slices of gems, uncut gems, nuggets. Natural’s a winner.
What’s the newest emerging trend? The sky’s the limit. Consumers are seeking the next big look. Capture their imagination and add drama with all the latest “must-have” fashions.
The Statement Necklace
Liz Taylor’s fabulous La Peregrina pearl necklace sold in December for a record $11 million at Christie’s, reaching the highest price ever for pearl jewelry at auction and far surpassing its $2-3 million estimated price. The Cartier pearl, diamond and ruby necklace given to the actress by her husband Richard Burton features a huge tear-drop natural pearl discovered in the 16th century in the Gulf of Panama. The pearl La Peregrina, meaning “the wanderer,” has a long resplendent history. Owned by kings and queens including King Philip II of Spain, it is immortalized in 17th century Velazquez royal portraits. It’s a statement necklace par excellence.
The statement necklace is clearly a trend to watch. Customers after years of austerity and wariness of conspicuous consumption are ready for something new. The emerging statement piece strikes a balance and seems to hit just the right chord. Featured on fashion runways and adorning red carpet celebrities for the last couple years, it’s now becoming mainstream. Often worn with toned down outfits—a simple black dress or pants and top—a stand-out necklace can make an outfit without the investment in a whole new wardrobe each season. It also allows the wearer to express her individuality, an important trend seen in the ever popular add-on beads bracelets and charms with personalized messages.
Big and bold, statement necklaces are wearable art. Ranging from funky fashion to exquisite haute couture, pieces feature a variety of materials and textures including chunky organic-shaped gems--such as turquoise and slices of gems—pearls, and mixed metals, often combined in a single piece. Multi-strand and layered looks are popular as well as bib and collar styles. Combinations of color, texture, materials and form are prominent—the bigger the better. The statement piece is not for the timid. Edginess is key as people express themselves by pushing the fashion envelope, perhaps a sign of the times.
The statement necklace has a rich history reaching back to ancient Egypt. The Cleopatra necklace is an iconic example, a multi-layered radiating collar style featuring vivid colors such as lapis, carnelian and pure gold. Crown jewels throughout the ages make an unabashed statement of royalty. In the 19th century Cartier’s jewelers fashioned magnificent gems from the rich treasuries of Indian maharajas into elaborate crown jewels proclaiming their princely status. During the Renaissance necklaces featuring sumptuous gems, pearls and gold adorned monarchs including Queen Elizabeth I and her father Henry VIII. Today Hollywood “royalty” mirrors this ultimate fashion statement with their exuberant creations such as Eva Mendes’s stunning Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise and diamond collar worn at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards.
How to best capitalize on this emerging trend? Feature a fabulous statement piece or two in your window. Display pictures of celebrities adorned with spectacular necklaces. Customers after holding back for years may be looking for a way to express themselves more exuberantly. The edginess of the statement piece adds just the right twist to make the trend in step with the times. Help shape this emerging desire. For important clients suggest a unique fabulous statement piece expressing her individuality. For other customers offer more moderately priced alternatives with the same attitude. Make your own statement as you help your clients to express themselves. Remember spring is just around the corner and fashion is fun!
The Self-Purchasing Woman
Like bread and butter, peaches and cream. The connection of women and jewelry is powerful and primal. What makes it tick? Romance, beauty, sentiment, symbolism. All factor into this elemental relationship.
The jewelry industry revolves around women. Although men traditionally gift jewelry to women, and men’s jewelry—from watches to wedding bands—is a constant, women have always been at jewelry’s core.
Today more and more women are purchasing their own jewelry. The self-purchasing woman is an important emergent trend to factor into all your business decisions from marketing to inventory.
Today’s woman tends to be more financially independent. She has disposable income. She’s not restricted by the conventional frameworks of previous generations.
Older generations, brought up traditionally, tended to marry younger. Women were used to getting important jewelry as gifts on all commemorative occasions—birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Such women still may have to cross a threshold to feel comfortable buying important jewelry for themselves. Even today you may encounter women who are not used to making major jewelry buying decisions on their own. They may have disposable income and be interested in jewelry, but by tradition do not buy major pieces for themselves. Sometimes just a suggestion—“Why not treat yourself?” will be enough to break a barrier. Women traditionally have been brought up to always think of others. A hint of encouragement may be enough to make them feel comfortable treating themselves.
Younger generations tend not to have such taboos. Today’s independent, self-supporting woman is interested in important jewelry and comfortable buying it for herself. She’s attuned to fashion and considers jewelry as part of her fashion wardrobe.
When selling women’s jewelry it’s important to focus on who’s making the buying decision. Is a man buying jewelry for a woman? Is a couple together deciding on a gift? Or is it a woman making her own purchase? As you focus on who’s making the decision, you need to adjust accordingly. Selling women’s jewelry to men, to couples and to women requires different approaches. A man may want assurance that his gift is significant, that it will make an impression. A woman may be more interested in fashion, color and beauty. Look for signs she’s emotionally bonding with a piece that moves her.
Do you have the right mix for your clientele? If your focus has been mainly on bridal, consider expanding to designer and fashion jewelry, appealing to the self-purchaser. Many women are shopping through multiple TV channels that target them. If you do not carry new and enticing collections to stir their desire, even your established clients may be shopping elsewhere for such purchases. Be aware of the competition. Tune into shopping networks from time to time to see what’s selling and listen to customers’ feedback. Adding new lines that appeal to the self-purchaser expands your sales possibilities.
Is your marketing approach women-friendly? Women love casual events such as Trunk Shows with a party-like atmosphere where they can try on different pieces in a relaxed and festive environment. Be fashion savvy. Encourage your staff to keep up with the latest trends during the Awards season including the hottest colors and styles. Encourage your clients to bring in outfits to try out what jewelry provides the perfect finishing touch.
Have fun. The self-purchasing woman brings with her a new world of possibilities. If so far you’ve focused primarily on bridal, take advantage of this growing lucrative trend, often with relatively high profit margins and a year-round appeal. Women love jewelry!
At Will and Kate’s engagement announcement event Kate wore a sapphire blue dress mirroring the color of the couple’s prominently displayed engagement ring, arguably the most widely recognizable ring in the world today. You could almost hear a collective gasp. The future king of England explained he chose his mother Diana’s former sapphire and diamond engagement ring so she would be present in spirit with the young couple at the event. The desired effect was created. Such is the power of jewelry.
Diana’s signature ring, seen in so many photos, was ever present as the drama of her life unfolded. Telescoping three decades of rising hopes and dashed dreams, it became a powerful emotional symbol. Before Diana’s tragic death she expanded her role, becoming the “people’s princess,” an ambassador of care and concern world-wide for all those less fortunate including AIDS and land mine victims. She met with Mother Teresa’s “untouchables,” the poorest of the poor, stopping to individually give attention to every patient, some on the verge of death. She connected with people and they felt it. Perhaps the most famous woman alive, she touched many lives, far transcending her role as Princess of Wales. The world’s outpouring of grief at her premature death signaled her star power, her larger-than-life status. She was the queen of hearts.
Will and Kate represent a new generation. Kate is too young to have met Diana. A modern couple, the crown prince and his bride are a good team. Practical and competent, they work well together. They have largely taken control of their own wedding arrangements, keeping costs under control with the current economy in mind. Kate is of course a “commoner.” But the future King of England’s practical wisdom and common sense are due in large part to the influence of his mother. She was determined her sons would have as normal a childhood as possible, never losing touch with common people, never forgetting whom they served. She would take them as young boys out on the street to meet the homeless. She wanted them to know life as it really was. Young Prince William was reputed to have one day run back from grade school announcing excitedly “Mommy, I’m a prince!” to which Diana responded “You’re Will and don’t you forget it.” It’s a lesson he seems to have learned.
In this “Arab Spring,” grass roots democratic revolutions are spreading like wild fire in the Middle East and beyond. It’s thrilling to see the human spirit collectively awaken, shaking age-old shackles of fear, demanding true freedom and dignity. Our democracy—of the people, by the people, for the people—is a relatively new form of government, born in Greece two plus millennia ago. But royal monarchies are older, one of the most ancient forms of government. With democratic reform sweeping the world, are monarchies now outdated?
Many of the rulers currently being challenged—in Egypt, in Libya—are unjust despots, not reflecting the will of their people. The more repressive the regime, the more violent the reaction against the ruler. Egypt was a comparatively peaceful transition. The people demanded their freedom and it was granted. Libya’s proving more recalcitrant.
Diana’s life suggests a different model of royal power—of just, caring leaders responsive to the will of their people. Perhaps whether monarch, constitutional monarch or democratically elected leader, what matters is that the government reflect the will of the people. History shows if it does not, it will be in time thrown off.
Heroic figures who embody our highest ideals pass from time to time across the world stage. They remind us of the better angels of our nature, of what we can aspire to. This spring we’re witnessing the timeless ideals of freedom and justice born anew. Every generation must claim their ideals as their own. As they do so they breathe life into them. Abstract ideals so become living realities. What is old must be born anew. This spring is a season of hope.
To Bee or Not to Bee?
Former Secretary of State Albright’s “Pin Diplomacy”
When Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State, donned a wasp pin before an important meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, he was visibly disturbed. Brooches had become her diplomatic calling card, a way of non-verbally signifying her mood or intentions. Bees or wasps could signal something like a sting. I wore “wasps on days I wanted to do little stinging and deliver a tough message,” she explains (quoted in “Madeleine Albright’s Jewel-Box Diplomacy,” NPR interview, 9/29/2009, NPR.org).
It all started in 1994 when the Iraqi press referred to her as an “unparalleled serpent.” Taking it in stride, she began wearing a gold and diamond serpent pin, a circa 1860 estate piece, as a badge of honor. “And so then I thought, well, this is fun, so I went and I bought a lot of costume jewelry to kind of fit whatever the issue was we were going to be working on. When people would say, 'What are we going to do today?' or 'How do you feel?,' I said, 'Read my pins.'” (quoted in Newsweek, “The Ambassador’s Jewels,” Eleanor Clift interview, 9/28/2009)
Albright’s collection of roughly 300 diplomatic pins are currently on display through January 31, 2010 at the New York Museum of Arts and Design following the publication of her Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box. A self-confessed jewelry lover, the former Secretary of State has spoken at Gemological Institute of America conventions and will be honored at the upcoming Jewelry Information Center’s GEM Gala with its Style award.
According to Holly Hotchner, the NY Museum’s Director, Albright discovered that “what she wore…had a lot of interpretive meaning to those she was with. The pins became an added way that she communicated….” (quoted in Associated Press, “Albright’s brooch collection to be shown in NYC,” Ula Ilnytzky, 4/1/09)
In December 1999 a Russian agent was caught listening to signals from a bug planted in a State Department conference room. In her next meeting with Russian officials, Albright handled the tense situation by wearing a large brooch of amethyst, chalcedony and gold in the shape of a bug. Remaining cordial, she let her pin do the talking. The message was received loud and clear.
When she was negotiating the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, she wore wore an arrow-shaped pin. Albright recounts, “All of a sudden the Russian foreign minister looked at me and said, 'Is that one of your interceptors?' and I said, 'Yes, we make them very small.'” (quoted in Newsweek, “The Ambassador’s Jewels,” Eleanor Clift interview, 9/28/2009)
The former Secretary of State’s “pin diplomacy” became so established that foreign leaders would regularly read her pins to interpret her message. President Putin told President Clinton he would look at her pins to try to figure out how she was feeling or what she was trying to say. Albright recounts one incident. “I was very concerned about what the Russians had been doing in Chechnya and denying everything, so I wore the three monkeys, the ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ monkeys, because they were denying what was going on. I'm not really sure he got the message.” (quoted in Newsweek, “The Ambassador’s Jewels,” Eleanor Clift interview, 9/28/2009)
The pin collection includes all-purpose “good mood” pins such as ladybugs, flowers, butterflies and hot-air balloons as well as a “whole menagerie” of more menacing spiders, bees, wasps and crocodiles. When she met with Nelson Mandela, Albright honored his native Africa by wearing a zebra pin. One of her favorites from the collection is dove pin presented to her by Leah Rubin, the wife of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Throughout history, pins and jewelry have been worn as symbols of power, sending messages. “Interestingly enough, it was mostly men who wore the jewelry in various times, and obviously crowns were part of signals that were being sent throughout history by people of rank,” Albright explains. (quoted in Newsweek, “The Ambassador’s Jewels,” Eleanor Clift interview, 9/28/2009)
“It’s a real icebreaker.” While a man may open a conversation by commenting on a tie or the weather, the first female Secretary of State has discovered a creative use for pins in such situations, taking advantage of her gender. “I love being a woman and I was not one of these women who rose through professional life by wearing men's clothes or looking masculine. I loved wearing bright colors and being who I am.” (quoted in Newsweek, “The Ambassador’s Jewels,” Eleanor Clift interview, 9/28/2009)
Albright has shopped the world for her brooches, including local international bazaars as well as Washington DC’s Tiny Jewel Box, a favorite for her costume pieces. Asked by NY Museum of Arts and Design curators what she would wear now that her collection is unavailable because on display, Albright didn’t miss a beat. “Instead of being concerned, the curators said, she saw it as an opportunity to buy more pins.” (Associated Press, “Albright’s brooch collection to be shown in NYC,” Ula Ilnytzky, 4/1/09)
ABOUT MIA KATRIN
Mia Katrin for JEWEL COUTURE LLC is featured in over 50 top stores internationally. Katrin regularly exhibits at major national shows such as the SJTA Atlanta Jewelry Show where she also presents seminars to the jewelry trade and produces and hosts live fashion shows. A consultant on fashion and style, she is a columnist for Southern Jewelry News. Katrin regularly tours the country presenting her Collections in Trunk Shows. As well as her couture Collections, she offers the best selling affordably priced Jewel Casual Collection and the new, dramatic Statement Necklaces Collection. The Collections are regularly featured in top national media publications, such as Rapaport Report, Jewelers Circular Keystone, Southern Jewelry News, Mid America Jewelry News and Texas Jewelers.
Mia Katrin has a doctorate in aesthetics from the University of Chicago. Having designed jewelry for many years, she has travelled extensively around the world, collecting world-class precious gems, from Columbian emeralds to Sri Lankan sapphires to Tahitian pearls. She has studied metalsmithing from master goldsmiths.