Monday, April 12, 2021

High Heat Hot Colors



Richard Alan

Whew! It’s hot and so is the demand for colored gemstones, pendants, earrings and rings sporting deep purple or pastel green amethysts with dabs of electric blue or bright yellow topaz to mix or match bold colors. I have made pieces with a rainbow of colors in just a single pair of earrings and created more than one WOW finger ring. After a quiet May and June, last month I enjoyed a renewed interest in colored gems that has been a refreshing awakening in quiet summer months.

Diamond jewelry in my opinion has seemed to have lost its overwhelming appeal. Sales are way down nationwide, like trying to sell plain snow cones to the Eskimos. Small colored diamonds such as chocolate, blue or canary are doing well.

I recently designed a palm tree pendant where I chose to set bright green garnets, known as tsavorite, they are brighter and more colorful than emeralds and look great in the palm leaves. I then placed yellow diamonds in the tree trunk. The contrast was quite dramatic in yellow gold and once completed I placed it in my shop showcase window for all passing by to see. About thirty minutes later my Mother informed me she had just sold the new palm tree.

I will be busy putting together colorful sea-life and paradise themed pendants and earrings to prepare for another unpredictable holiday and winter season. Blue sapphire or tanzanite diamond combination rings are in more demand than emeralds and rubies. The reason is simple. Semi- precious gems such as colored topaz are fun and less expensive that most gems and can now be purchased in silver and gold combinations. I will be visiting several jewelry manufacturers in Florence, Italy next month and hope to find treasures that are affordable to most.

I feel confident that bold and colorful jewelry in metals other than gold will be in demand and it is going to be some time before demand for expensive diamond jewelry will prevail such as diamond tennis bracelets, stud earrings and large important diamond rings.

My wife and I will continue our sojourn to Europe this summer to see what’s new in Dusseldorf, Munich, Paris, Venice, Milan, Florence and Spain. We hope to find merchandise that will appeal to my special clientele who look forward every year to the results of our roving about.

Our Euro buying trips these past four years were to say the least, a bit challenging. 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 is still certainly a factor. I don’t care what the media may tell us even though things seem to be slowly improving , “The Great American Recession” is far from over in the states. Now Europe is having its own recession to worry about. Greece is a fiasco, and as I speak more than a quarter of Spain’s work force is unemployed, and things are not looking too rosy for France’s future. These factors will once again make our quests more difficult. On this trip we will visit Venice but, once again, we will have to pass on re-stocking the world renowned Murano glass that artisans have been making for centuries.

Years ago the elaborate colorful center pieces were appreciated and sold so well in my shops but the demand for expensive things of this nature is non-existent on the island. Due to the darn economy, it’s a cheap wicker basket with plastic fruit in the center of the table.

I sometimes have to pass on the latest fashion trends because they are way too “out there” for conservative tastes. An example is the highly popular LARGE design men’s and ladies’ wrist watches that are the rave in all major cities worldwide. I brought them back from Italy to Marco five years ago. I couldn’t give them away. Today…they are bigger and more popular than ever… I still can’t sell them.

All these things, such as trends or fads affect me differently here than other major cities such as Boston or Los Angeles. It’s all about timing and how many savvy tourists and snowbirds are wandering the island looking for things that are different and affordable.

And something I learned about recently, “the disposable income factor”. You probably remember it before the crash, in fact it helped contribute to the crash! There is no disposable income in the U.S. at this time. Many countries in South West Asia have it, however.

American manufacturers just don’t stock much anymore, especially jewelry makers, because the roller coaster gold and silver markets can surely ruin you in a New York minute. Just this past month silver plunged from over $35 an ounce to under $20. You don’t want to be stuck with a multimillion dollar inventory priced at $35 an ounce at this point in the game. Gold on the other hand is around$1200 – $1300 an ounce, still pricy.

Nevertheless, onward and upward we go, always look forward to poking about and searching in nooks and crannies and out of the way side streets and unpopulated alleys in little towns and villages checking out small boutiques and shops. In Florence and Paris, my wife and I always find new surprises to shock and awe us and we get a preview of what will be hip or in next year.

It never gets old blazing new trails and exploring new countries and cultures, making new contacts and enjoying life- long relationships. Every year we look forward to meeting our Tuscan friends, winemaker, Giuseppe Sala and renowned Chef Claudio Piantini where we indulge in several bottles of the finest Super-Tuscan Chianti and the best Italian cuisine in the world. It can’t get better than this.




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