Where did the year ago? And how is tomorrow already Christmas Eve?!
I suspect many of you are as bewildered as I am to find yourselves in the thick of yet another holiday season. But I hope you’re too busy to give it much thought.
We’ll check back in with you at the end of the week to see how the fourth quarter played out (look for JCK’s post-holiday sales report on Friday). In the meantime, I’ll share the top 5 things I’m coveting this season—and why I think they’re indicative of trends you’ll want to keep in mind for 2014.
1. Gold omega chain
In April, I spent a few days in New Orleans, during the French Quarter Festival. At one point, my friends and I wandered into a jewelry store on Royal Street. While they sussed out the engagement ring selection, I loitered around the back of the store and admired the estate jewelry cases. A 14k gold omega chain caught my eye—something about it seemed so classic and yet so retro. I tried it on, fell in love with the gleam of the yellow metal against my neck—and ultimately chickened out of spending $1,400 on the collar-style piece…to my everlasting chagrin. I’m crossing my fingers that Santa reads my mind this week!
With gold predicted to settle as low as $1,050 next year, and the World Gold Council’s savvy LoveGold campaign promoting chic designer styles at a cool online destination, the long-suffering metal (which began the year at $1,693 an ounce) is poised to wrestle silver to the ground once and for all in 2014. That’s good news for buyers—and the sellers who cater to them.
2. Custom-made earrings
My jewelry collection includes a tiny pair of plastic handcuff earrings that I bought for $5 from a jewelry table on the streets of Manhattan’s West Village a few years ago. They reminded me of a long, funny night in 2008 that began at the Farm Aid Concert on Randall’s Island and ended at the NYPD’s Spanish Harlem precinct at 2 a.m. Suffice it to say, I laugh every time I look at the tiny working handcuffs—small enough to subdue Barbie—which is why I would love to have them remade with black diamonds and blackened silver. (Despite my tribute to gold, above, I’m still swayed by silver’s affordability. Plus, don’t expect that oxidized look to go out of fashion anytime soon.)
I tried going the custom route a couple years ago, when a friend directed me to a bench jeweler on 47th Street. But he was busy and a poor communicator, so I abandoned the effort. I’m now thinking about starting it back up through a 3-D printing service like the one offered by Shapeways. And here’s where retail jewelers need to sit up and take notice. Consumers now have the ability to conceive a design, upload it to a website, have it 3-D printed, and delivered within a few weeks’ time (or much sooner). As you contend with this brave new world of jewelry on demand, you should be clear on what it is you offer customers that they can’t provide for themselves.
My $5 plastic handcuff earrings
3. Nike Fuelband
I’ve just come to the realization that I need to supplement my regular yoga practice with some more activity, but I’m not, nor have I ever been, a gym rat. That means I’ve got to start moving—and I’m told that the new wave of wearable health gadgets that track your footsteps and monitor your daily activity level are incredible motivators. Of these, I’m drawn to the Nike Fuelband in the limited rose gold edition because it looks cool and has some great functionality. It makes me wonder if I’d also be drawn to a smartwatch (especially if/when Apple finally introduces its much-hyped iWatch). What I like about the Fuelband is that it is stylish enough to blend in with an armful of jewelry. If Apple, or any of the other contenders to the smartwatch fortune, can manufacture a digital timepiece/camera/app platform that also looks snazzy on my wrist, then traditional watchmakers competing for the attention of millennial buyers with conventional watches priced less than $1,000 may have some ’splaining to do.
The Nike Fuelband that I’m coveting costs $169.
4. Vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
On second thought, smartwatches be damned. I’m still very much obsessed with this vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso spotted at a watch dealer friend’s office a year ago. I don’t recall the exact year of this dual-time men’s model in 18k gold, but I do remember the way it made me feel when I tried it on: that I had something very tasteful and classic on my wrist that belonged to a centuries-old tradition. Unlike a plastic smartwatch that would probably break down in a couple years and find its way to the dustbin, this “dumb” mechanical timepiece would presumably keep on ticking for eternity (provided there are watchmakers in the future capable of servicing it!). There’s something very attractive about longevity. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that technology, by definition, lacks it. Technology has a built-in obsolescence, whereas gorgeous and well-crafted mechanical watches are truly built to last. I know where I’d rather put my money.
It’s been a year since I chanced upon this vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso dual-time model in 18k gold, and I’m still dreaming about it.
5. Something in Radiant Orchid
It’s funny how the moment a new color palette is introduced, the old color palette immediately feels dated. I wouldn’t have thought twice about the purpley-pink color that Pantone selected as its 2014 color of the year, but once Radiant Orchid, as it’s known, was crowned, I knew I had to integrate it into my wardrobe, pushing aside all the emerald-green colors that I had stocked up on in 2013. The color is a little too precious for me to embrace as a wardrobe item, but jewelry feels like the perfect way to showcase the feminine hue. When I head to the Tucson gem shows in February, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for lavender spinels, especially. As if to affirm my taste, I just received an email newsletter from Rachel Zoe with the subject line “Purple Is Powerful.” Precisely.