Can an Indie Jeweler Survive in a Big-Brand World?

With deep-pocketed fashion houses moving in and luxury labels becoming their own conglomerates, independent jewelers must choose their destinies carefully.In last month’s JCK, Market Intelligence columnists Tony and Leanne Argyle cautioned retailers about a growing superpower within many of their own stores: the brand. “Beware the double-edged sword of carrying high-profile brands,” they wrote.Their discussion of “the dominance of brands” couldn’t have been timelier. Consider the recent onslaught of fresh competition from fashion houses alone: Louis Vuitton just announced plans to open jewelry-only stores worldwide; Versace (long a licensee of its name to fashion watches) launched a fine jewelry line this summer; Ferra­gamo did the same in February; Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, and Badgley Mischka ventured into fine jewelry in 2011 (plus, Mischka created a bridal colle

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