Trendy & Timeless Jewelry
Jewelry is timeless, yet trendy. Gift Shop spoke with makers who source materials in the U.S. to discuss where they find inspiration, what’s trending and best display options for retailers.
ORIGINS AND INSPIRATION
Lotus Jewelry provides a myriad of options to wholesalers and retailers. Courtney Legenhausen and husband, Erik, founded Lotus and consider customers during the creation process. “We consider who the end buyer is and we take into account several things: purchase price, fashion- forward designs, and more high-end options,” said Legenhausen. Lotus also includes various price points and takes into account all its customers during the product development process. Legenhausen’s inspiration comes organically — she writes down ideas and things she personally likes and she finds inspiration in nature. Once she creates designs, her team collaboratively determines audience and “all attributes” for the product line.
Beth Lawrence, owner of Freshie & Zero, developed a passion for jewelry in the third grade. Her artistic pursuits led to a Fine Arts degree, but after she spent time painting and working in galleries, she found her way back to her first love — jewelry. Inspiration comes from both physical and emotional connections to elements used in her creations. “I see what colors draw me in and I’m always trying to see what shapes work,” said Lawrence. “I create with a mix of basic shapes — all with a delicate design.” Lawrence incorporates “meaning in each piece” she develops.
Bella Vita Jewelry was founded by Brandy Thomason McNair. She created jewelry before becoming an interior designer and decided to dust off her “tool box” in 2008 to launch Bella Vita when she realized sitting behind a desk was not for her. “I’m inspired by everything in the world around me; I draw inspiration from nature, travel, conversations, antiques, patterns, textures, and colors,” she said.
Smart Glass Jewelry, founded by Kathleen Plate, is a wholesale business focused on eco-friendly artisan products — using recycled glass from bottles and other other discarded objects. Plate sources her material from various locations: bars, restaurants, friends, and dumpsters near her studio. She transforms broken pieces of glass into creative earrings, necklaces and rings.
Plate, a professional artist, said travel assists her with ideas. “Inspiration is subtle for me; keeping my mind open and seeing new and different things really inspires me. Sometimes I’ll be working on something and realize in hindsight, this [design] came from the color of that door I saw in Peru,” she said.
TRENDS & TOP SELLERS
This season, makers identified trends and design elements that are capturing consumers attention. “I see a strong trend for big, chunky jewelry such as hoops, chains, and stacking bangles — all bigger and bolder,” said Legenhausen. Lotus will launch its new line favoring this look and will also include popular hammered pieces.
The top-seller (for years) for Lotus is its Trinket stone necklace that was launched about eight years ago. “This dainty chain design I actually made as a gift for a friend and wound up adding it to a line. To this day it is our best-seller; we sell a few hundred per week,” said Legenhausen. She feels its success stems from design, affordability and presentation.
Freshie & Zero’s Balance Earrings an Half Moon Hoops are its best-sellers and Lawrence’s personal favorites. Other popular products include Love, Storied, Cluster, Antique Stone, and Sister necklaces. Minimal Half Moon Hoops, Minimal Hoops Large Circles and Sparky Bar earrings are also popular.
“I find people like items to have meaning behind them,” said Lawrence. She noted materials trends as well: “Mixed metals — silver and gold, black and silver, black and gold combinations. The gold and silver mix is most popular.”
Bella Vita shared its focus is on “timeless jewelry that can be handed down from generation to generation.” McNair said, “We are all about classic and effortless style.” She did mention she watches color trends, especially the Pantone Color Forecast: “I try to pick a few colors we can relate to gemstones and add those to our seasonal collection.”
Plate from Smart Glass Jewelry said sea glass with a matte-style finish is consistently a best-seller. “Our mosaic line, made from crushing scraps of glass left from production and sprinkling it into clear glass to create a cool mosaic effect, has been popular this spring,” she shared. “Trends run the gamut in size and style, but I am noticing a renewed interest in the origin of how things are made, the story of where they came from.” Plate is not focused on trends, but disclosed her artisan pieces are classic and timeless — her design strengths.
“We make things easy for wholesalers. The Trinket Stone (our top-seller) is offered in a package (40 necklaces on a tree), making it easy for retailers to display,” said Legenhausen. She suggested merchandise pricing and placement should be considered as well as countertop displays — near a register, are “great for add-on sales.”
Freshie & Zero noted it is best to display jewelry using natural colors. “I’ve never had success setting jewelry on anything other than beige or linen — neutral colors,” said Lawrence. She also suggested creating a “touch-friendly and accessible” display for customers.
“Pre-assorted bundles take away guesswork and gives a nice foundation to start from,” said Plate from Smart Glass Jewelry. For retailers highlighting glass and color she suggested a light background: “Black will show off metal work, but white shows off the glass work.” McNair from Bella Vita said displays should tell a story — in style or color. She also suggested retailers buy in multiples, not single, so stock is available when sales occur.
“Buy deeper in to one or two lines versus a little bit from several lines. And a full display of one artist/company’s jewelry is going to sell so much better than a piece here and there from multiple artists/companies. As far as display goes, get creative, go to the antique store or the junk yard and try to up-cycle something in to a display,” said McNair.