JCK covered the impending release of celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger’s capsule collection for Forevermark back in May, and now it’s officially here.
A lot has changed in four months, and yet not much has changed at all. Most of the country is still in some form of quarantine, but we’re more experienced now than we were in the beginning of the summer. Customers—and many stores—have gotten very comfortable with conducting business virtually, some even finding it preferable to in-person meetings. How long this will last, no one knows, but the effects it has had on how we shop may last for quite some time to come.
I spoke with Micaela Erlanger earlier this month, just a day after the official launch of the new collection. The bride-to-be, who has postponed her own wedding in response to COVID, also seemed to be getting into a groove with working virtually, though perhaps she was always in that groove: As a celebrity stylist working with some of the biggest stars in the world, conducting business virtually is nothing new.
This experience lends a refreshing perspective to retailers just getting acquainted with connecting with their customers full-time, so Erlanger’s advice couldn’t be more appreciated. Below, JCK talks with Micaela Erlanger on the new bridal capsule collection with Forevermark, tips for hosting virtual consultations with clients, and more.
Congratulations on the debut of your new line of engagement rings with Forevermark! Can you talk a little about the journey and what inspired your design choices?
This is such a dream come true, I have been working on this collection for over a year. The inspiration was really organic: I am engaged myself, a bride-to-be, and was so at the time of the start of this collaboration. I have always had an extraordinary relationship with Forevermark from my years of dressing movie stars for the red carpet and counting on their jewelry to be the most brilliant, amazing jewelry, and so when I decided to expand my business to include luxury bridal styling services, the idea of finding a partner to create a line of engagement rings with, to provide that same level of glamour, was really important. I actually visited the Orapa mine in Botswana back in October—it was really important for me to learn how the diamonds are sourced. Forevermark is very responsible in their ethics and the way they source natural diamonds, and so I made that trip and after that it was just abundantly clear that they were the right partner for me.
I really sort of drew inspiration upon my work as a stylist and what it is that I believe speaks to a modern woman and modern couples, and looking at, to me, what is classic and timeless and beautiful. And so I relied really heavily on the settings. I think the settings have made the collection so special: It’s exclusively set in platinum, and for me platinum is so brilliant and enhances the natural shine and brilliance of a natural diamond, and so it was important to me that we refined our settings to have these incredibly delicate but strong settings, full of surprises and hidden embellishments, sparkle at every angle. I sat down and sketched every ring we produced along with the design team really from concept to creation, so I’m just so excited that it’s here.
Do you have a favorite style from your new line?
I can’t really pick a favorite. I love the bezel, I love the east-west cushion shape. We introduced fancy shape stones, which I thought was really important. I think that you can still have an incredibly elegant timeless ring with a little bit of a modern twist with your stone shape. The hidden halos and the hidden diamonds and the really skinny bands and the pavé, all of this was really meant to enhance the main stone’s presence and allow it to really float on your hand and appear larger.
You have a flair for classic, timeless style. What are your thoughts on some of the trendier styles to hit the wedding jewelry market as of late (alternative engagement rings, colored gemstones, etc.)?
I also wanted to speak to that customer, and I believe that choosing a ring, when a couple chooses a ring or when a partner chooses a ring for their significant other it is so personal. And speaking to a variety of brides and couples was really important to me in making sure there was something for everyone in this collection. So I actually designed some more unique settings also set in platinum—an X ring, a split-shank ring, the three-stone ring, an east-west setting—they feel more like you want to wear them every day, you can layer them and make them your own, so we have something for everyone, for sure.
It has been a rough year for those who had been planning to hold weddings. Tell us about the work you’ve been doing with brides-to-be and how the pandemic has changed how you handle consultations.
People are still getting married, and people are still getting engaged, and people are still celebrating love, and I think the one thing that has remained true and constant despite the time that we’re in is that love conquers all. I am a bride-to-be, I am postponing my own wedding, and that’s not really changing anything for me about what a commitment or a marriage is about. I think that what’s happening with brides and with couples in terms of how they’re approaching planning their weddings is changing: Lots of people are observing a smaller ceremony now with a bigger party later.
Since the start of COVID, in exchange for charitable donations to one of four select charities in the dollar amount of their choice, couples can have a FaceTime or Zoom consultation with me where I’m happy to answer any questions about wedding dresses or wedding bands or engagement rings or beyond. That has been extraordinary, I’ve worked with over 50 brides internationally to date, everywhere from Brazil to Russia to India, all over Europe, the U.S. And then I have expanded my business to include luxury bridal styling services, and, honestly, I have been busier than ever! I think one of the reasons I was so drawn to the world of weddings is because no matter the time, people still want to celebrate love, and pandemic or not, that’s going to happen.
What can jewelry retailers working with engagement ring customers learn from your experience with virtual consultations?
One thing I will say is, the idea of a FaceTime or Zoom consultation is not a new idea. As a stylist with some of the biggest celebrity clients in Hollywood, I have been doing Zoom fittings and Zoom consultations for like the last decade. So if a celebrity is comfortable doing that for an awards show, then brides can be trusting in their teams for an important appointment like this! It’s really important to be speaking the same visual language and make sure you have a really strong internet connection so that you can get clear picture, but I wouldn’t just rely on video quality, I would rely on still photos as well. Oftentimes side-by-side comparisons if customers are choosing between one setting or carat size over another, that side-by-side comparison is incredibly helpful. Because again, visualizing something when it’s not on your body, that’s where the challenge comes in.
We’re approaching awards season, which will certainly be like no other before it. What can you tell me about it?
Brittany, I don’t know what it’s going to be like either! Everyone wants to know the answer to this question, and I’m coming up dry. [The Emmy Awards are] going to be virtual this year, that was already announced, so I don’t know if that means it’s going to be waist-up Zoom style or it’s just going to be through a computer lens. That’s unclear. I do think to the point of jewelry though, assuming this is all virtual, what frames your face and what highlights your neckline is going to be so important, because other than that, it’s your Zoom top!
The holiday season will be here soon. What is one important piece of advice for jewelry retailers looking to make their customers’ dreams come true, just as you do with your clients?
I think it’s really important to consider the fact that many people can’t go into stores right now. Communication with the customer is really important whether that’s through social media, one on one, via text message. Getting people excited for the holidays—this is a year when excitement means different things to different people, but if you can help your customers and clients want to celebrate and to bring that energy to this experience for them, that to me would be the biggest win. I think this idea of family and what’s important to people, and keeping value top of mind, is really important and letting that personal choice speak for every individual is really great, so get to know your customer. Don’t lose that human touch.Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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