Whew! It’s hot and so is the demand for sea life jewelry with diamonds and colored gemstones. After a quiet May and June things heated up in July, and with it a renewed interest in frolicking creatures of the land, air and sea that are unique to Southwest Florida and especially the Ten Thousand Islands.
Diamond jewelry has seemed to have regained popularity and its overwhelming appeal was heartfelt this past season. I recently started creating solid gold and diamond palm trees again because the inexpensive silver and cubic zirconia designs were not as popular as they were the year before last.
It was all about the money. A couple of years ago I carried less expensive merchandise to satisfy requests, and the very inner fiber of my soul said “Don’t do it,” but I did, and I bent to the will of some my clientele. You know what I found out? Cheap jewelry breeds cheap clients.
If it’s true, you can say it. Besides, it’s no secret that the worst thing I ever ate was a deep-fried soft shell crab sandwich (which I now deplore as much as dealing with really cheap people).
A funny thing happened last season. Many folks, and this included my loyal customers, decided the cheap jewelry thing wasn’t an option anymore because the cheap stuff they bought here, there and everywhere the past years began look awful and fell apart, thus to be rendered un-repairable. It’s near impossible to fix the stuff. I guess it’s true, “Nothing feels like real gold.”
So this summer, my son Andrew and I have been busy designing and creating colorful sea-life and paradise themed pendants and earrings and have acquired many new jewelry lines to present for hopefully another busy holiday and winter season. Sapphire, tanzanite and diamond rings were in more demand last year than emeralds and rubies were; I see that trend continuing. Bright yellow beryl is fun and less expensive. I have a wonderful South American connection that can produce some of the best quality aquamarines that I have seen in years. Also, most of the loose gems I purchase can now be set in silver and gold or combinations of the two. I will be visiting several jewelry manufacturers in Europe next month and hope to find real gold treasures that are affordable to most.
I feel confident that my discerning customers will continue to buy real gold and diamond jewelry next season and beyond, and that’s the horse I will be betting on for future seasons.
I put off my Euro-buying trips these past two years because the previous years were a bit disappointing, both in buying and selling. Many top Italian jewelry manufacturers quite simply quit making new jewelry because they were unable to sell merchandise from the previous years. The high cost of precious metals was certainly a factor. Now Europe is experiencing its own recession and it will be interesting to see what state the European jewelry industry is in presently. The social unrest and terrorism threats are factors that make our Euro-quest a little more difficult. My beloved Venetian Murano glass vases and sculptures that I exclusively sold here on the island years ago are just too expensive to buy and ship to Marco, no one here will pay the price for the very best glass in the world.
I learned the hard way (the result was a dwindling bank account) to now resist many of the latest European fashion trends because they were way too “out there” for both conservative snowbirds and local tastes.
Another losing example is the now highly popular LARGE design men’s and ladies wristwatches that are the rage in all major cities worldwide. I brought them back from Europe to Marco ten years ago, folks looked at them and scratched their heads- “Why would anyone wear a watch that big?” It was like selling hard caramels to the toothless, I couldn’t give them away. Today…Wristwatches are as big as wall clocks, all brands are bigger than ever: Michele, Michael Kors, Armani, Coach, and I recently changed a battery on an man’s Invicta watch that weighed almost a pound…and I still can’t sell them on the rock.
A trendy shop In Miami would probably sell a dozen a day.
All these things, such as trends or fads affect me differently than my cohorts in the jewelry business, say in Boston or New York. It’s all about timing and how many fashion savvy tourists and snowbirds are wandering the island. Recent sightings of Member’s Only jackets, neon colored muumuu’s and my favorite – the sandal and white sock fashion statements – show me that out-of-style is apparently in-style again on Marco Island.
I can’t count how many sure things, such as the latest jewelry trends I invested good money on, only to have them perform in my shop like a lead balloon and immediately fail miserably. The latest leather bracelet and charm jewelry line comes to mind, which seems to sell everywhere but here.
I admit I can’t stop looking for the unusual. I look forward to poking about foreign streets and alleyways visiting little shops and doing business with little businesses in small towns and villages, and discovering things of beauty and excitement.
Going to Europe?! Call me crazy, it’s what I have to do. The European cultures, traditions, the food, art and architecture are always an inspiration to me. You go there once, and you are hooked on Europe.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love America, I was born here. But things have changed too much too quickly here, and not for the better. In most European countries families eat almost every meal together, respect is alive and well, especially towards ones friends, family and most importantly, their grandparents. They eat better, walk and bike more, and most of the elderly are in much better shape physically than most of us baby-boomers. I admit Europeans aren’t perfect in every way, but their pace there is not as hectic as our society. I especially love the concept of siesta, practiced in many countries during the hot weather season that involves closing most businesses for lunch. Lunch can last for three or four hours (or more), then they return to work in the cool early evening for a few hours. To sum it up, People work to live, not live to work.
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith (Marco’s Island Jeweler) located at 680 Bald Eagle Drive. Open Monday through Friday, 9:30 AM- 5:30 PM. Richard welcomes any questions you may have about all that glitters 239-394-9275, www.harborgoldsmith.com. *Please note that the shop will be closed the first three weeks of September.