The pandemic makes everything harder, and one of the many challenges it has thrown at jewelry retailers is the ability to touch and feel a new product line before investing in it, whether it’s the fall collection from one of the designers they carry or one-off pieces from a name they haven’t yet partnered with but think might perform well.
There are a plenty of work-arounds to the live product problem, but when “new” is what a retailer needs now, the Gems Project might be the perfect solution. Founded by two well-established luxury branding consultants, it’s a traveling event concept that brings multi-designer exhibitions and pop-ups, as well as single-designer shows, to retailers who want to inject some life into their display cases and drive traffic to their doors.
A joint venture between Elizabeth “Beth Anne” Bonanno (aka the EAB Project) and Joel Cheatwood (aka @gems_and_tonic), the Gems Project represents some of the most coveted and recognizable names in the jewelry world—including Pamela Huizenga, Buddha Mama, Victor Velyan, and Jorge Adeler—and works closely with stores to develop compelling event concepts that showcase a thoughtfully curated assortment of jewels from their designer roster.
Bonanno and Cheatwood recently produced such an event with Belle Cose in Jackson Hole, Wy. While the store has several area locations, the Gems Project decided with Belle Cose owner Jane Carter-Getz that the multi-designer pop-up was ideally suited for the King Street clothing boutique.
Cheatwood was in attendance, assuring the show was merchandised according to the vision developed with Carter-Getz and her team. They went big—with 25–30 pieces each from participating designers Bondeye, Buddha Mama, Moksh, Leigh Maxwell, and Pamela Huizenga. All jewels were chosen with the tastes of the Belle Cose client in mind (i.e., many tourists, plus year-round repeat collectors with an eye for distinctive designs that evoke a vibe of casual, everyday luxury).
“With Belle Cose we have an understanding of the market,” says Bonanno. “We were delighted with our sales, and they far exceeded our expectations. Every designer from the show sold very well, and three of them had never shown in the market.” (Some of the pieces that sold at the event are highlighted here.)
Bonanno says that two to three months’ lead time is ideal for staging a pop-up or a more formal in-store exhibition to ensure product availability and ample time for the store and the Gems Project to work in tandem to develop a concept, create marketing collateral, and promote the event.
“We will always create branded digital invites and social media posts and help with marketing copy and photography—we partner with our retailers on all aspects of our events,” says Bonanno. “We always suggest that stores get behind the event with marketing, as this always helps bring attention to what’s happening in their world on a local level and ultimately makes a huge difference in the success of any event.”
“We show up,” says Bonanno. “We show up in a big way.”
Top: One-of-a-kind ring with 22.77 ct. dendritic agate and 0.56 ct. t.w diamonds in 18k yellow gold, $12,000; Pamela Huizenga. To inquire about a possible event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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