Saturday, September 19, 2020

Jewelry comeback-kids

Richard Alan

Richard Alan

It’s no secret that jewelry styles and designs tend to follow ladies’ fashion trends. If it goes out of style, sometimes it is only a matter of time before it will be the rage again. Many of today’s fashion statements are actually statements of the past. Lately that would include name pendants, bracelets and even rings. Talk about retro.

I have created several pieces for my younger customers here on the island. This is definitely a 70’s thing. Forty years ago it was a lot more involved. To create each piece of personal jewelry it had to be engraved on a plate of precious metal and then pierced by saw blade, sanded, and then polished—all by hand. Today jewelry is designed by computer and cut out by lasers or water saws in a fraction of the time it used to take to create. This latest jewelry revival is most noticeable on the east coast of Florida.

Last year ladies’ large colored stone rings (who would have thought?) were hot, the larger the better. The only twist to the original rings of the 50’s and 60’s designs are the variety of the stones’ shapes and colors.

Young couples are now setting engagement diamonds in white antique, retro-style rings that look like Grandma’s rings. (Funny, only a couple of years ago these same kids would ask me to tear grandma’s rings apart and re-style them because they looked too old!)

There was a time I rarely sold sterling jewelry. Today it is a large percentage of my business because it is way more affordable than gold, most ladies love it and men are wearing more of it especially stainless steel and rubber combination bracelets. It is a fact that the younger generation prefers white metal to yellow gold in both fashion and engagement pieces.

Most jewelers can relate that what seems like only a few years ago stocking a large percentage of white gold jewelry was not the smartest business decision; customers were simply not buying it. White gold and platinum was the premiere choice of diamond and engagement rings from the 1920’s through the 50’s. (You might notice that the ring you inherited from grandma is white metal.) Today the reality is that I rarely sell yellow gold engagement rings

Last season I converted dozens of diamonds from yellow mountings to white and the requests to rhodium plate customers’ yellow gold jewelry has increased tenfold. (A process that bonds a layer of platinum-based metal to gold, making it appear white.)

The re-emergence of the precious white metal palladium is a perfect example of a comeback kid. The soaring costs of platinum, the other white metal had the industry looking for alternatives: enter the bright white metal palladium. Widely use in the 1960’s for holding diamonds because of its strength and durability. Palladium keeps its bright white color over time, unlike white gold which tends to show a slight yellowing. Another plus: it’s less expensive than platinum or gold.

Opera-length pearl necklaces thirty inches or longer are enjoying a comeback, something that amazes me because my experiences have shown me that South West Floridians rarely buy or wear pearl necklaces. Also extra long link chains, with or without gemstones, worn in layers is the latest fashion chic. Large Mabe pearls, white or gray, are in demand again, rings and earrings especially. These were big twenty years ago.

Big chains for men are back. Remember the disco era? Some of us may try to forget. My daughter recently tried to embarrass me in front of friends and family with a 70’s photo of me in a leisure suit sporting big hair and platform shoes. I told her that was my younger brother.

It’s my duty to keep you all informed on the newest and the old trends that become new again. So ladies dust off that long strand of pearls and start wearing them, and guy’s don’t take out those mothballed leisure suits just yet!

Like liberty, gold never stays where it is undervalued. (J.S.Morrill)

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith. And welcomes your questions about all that glitters, 239-394-9275.

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