He’s With the Band
Craig Rottenberg, president of Long’s Jewelers, with five stores in Massachusetts, has a tried-and-true technique to help close more sales of platinum jewelry. It came in especially handy at Long’s annual Wedding Band Weekend event, held in late March at the 10,000-square-foot flagship in Burlington, Mass.
Rottenberg calls his technique the drop test: He asks customers to extend their hands, with open palms, toward him; then he drops a gold and platinum band into each. People are surprised by the distinct difference in weight, as well as the negligible difference in price—less than $300 per ounce at press time (one guess which metal is costlier).
“Sometimes the first thought of customers, particularly men, is that they don’t need to put a lot of money into a band,” explains Rottenberg. “But the price difference is not as big as it used to be, so it’s a smaller leap to make from gold to platinum.”
For the store’s 11th annual Wedding Band Weekend, which takes place over three days, staffers pack up all existing merchandise to make way for hundreds of bands. Each manufacturing partner—Frederick Goldman, Memoire, and Ritani, among others—takes over 10 to 20 linear feet of showcase space. Attendance totaled 2,500 at this year’s fete, up slightly over last year.
“Sales were double digits higher than 2009,” says Rottenberg. And sales of platinum units were 10 percent higher. The average ticket price for wedding bands exceeded $1,000, while the average platinum band—“the most popular,” says Rottenberg—sold for $1,500–$2,000. Styles are classic (it is Boston, after all): Five- and seven-stone diamond bands are popular with women; hammered bands tend to be big for men, who like to know rings will retain the same look over time.
Though Long’s has been hosting the Wedding Band Weekend for more than a decade, Rottenberg maintains that it never gets old. “[We’re] always talking to an entirely new crop of people who are not yet married or even engaged,” he says. “And a year from now, the population will be completely different—again.”
John Apel has a thing for flowers. For starters, the designer has 22 rose bushes in his garden. “Anytime I go to the drawing board, I draw a leaf or a flower, and my wife says, ‘Aren’t you going to draw anything else?’ But I love nature,” he says.
One of Apel’s latest creations, shown here, is a daisy ring dusted with rose-cut diamonds and pavé, and accented by a tiny leaf motif. In his 37 years of design, Apel estimates that he’s made “thousands” of flowers—many crafted in platinum, his top choice for any piece featuring colorless diamonds.
“I love platinum,” he tells JCK. “It’s the ‘lady of the metals’—so soft, durable, and easy to work with, if you know how to work with it. If you don’t know how to work with it, it’s like a wild horse; you can never tame it.”
The piece featured here—which won top honors in the fashion ring category at the Platinum Innovation Awards at JCK Las Vegas—already has a home in California. A second, similar style—equally gorgeous, yet still one of a kind thanks to its abundance of rare materials, with one additional platinum leaf accent—is still available. At $23,000, the ring costs considerably more than the fresh blooms in Apel’s personal plot. Then again, it will surely outlast them.