Designing an In-Store Line, Part 2: The Design Process

In terms of jewelry, the word “design” can be defined as “the development of beautiful, practical, original, wearable art, according to a plan.” That plan is outlined by the list of key points we reviewed in last month’s article:

  • Identifying demographics and your target customer;

  • Selecting the jewelry categories to be designed;

  • Characteristics of potential materials to be featured in the line;

  • Desired design features of your profiled customer;

  • Price range of the finished product;

  • Manufacturing of the product.

Keep your own list handy for reference, along with a notebook. Organize your workspace with tools that will be helpful in your task.

Application. You will likely have several concepts for the jewelry line. While it’s good to jot down any ideas, you should set the foundation for your design plan before you get carried away with creativity. With your criteria list as a guide, decide on some parameters for your work, such as the materials you will use, the design features to highlight, and the motif (main theme, element, or idea) for the line.

Based on preferences of your target customer, determine the materials that are best suited for the line. If gemstones are to be incorporated, specify the size and shape to be used. Metal type and color have a significant influence in design and should be thoughtfully selected. Depending upon its characteristics, a metal may be used to complement the best qualities of a gem, to enhance a decorative or production technique (e.g., engraving, enameling, stone setting, etc.), or to carry a theme on its own (e.g., two-tone, married metals, colored metal, etc.). Our featured jewel, moissanite, shows well with white metal. The neutral tones of white metal in both setting and body do not compete with moissanite’s fire and brilliance, but rather enhance those qualities.

It’s important to highlight the best qualities—those desired by your customer—of the featured materials in the line. In our sample case, we want to allow the characteristics of moissanite to be a prominent feature in the design. The white metal in the piece should play a supporting role in the jewelry pieces—for example, as a unique setting, to provide a reflective surface, to echo the shape of the jewel with simple lines, etc.

The motif or theme of the line should reflect the tastes of your profile customer and be appropriate to the materials you’ll be using. It also is a key factor in keeping the pieces in the line consistent (in price range, quality, etc.) with the brand of your store. Our “reward yourself” theme, for example, calls for the unique and dramatic presence of moissanite to entice the customer to make a purchase for herself.

Inspiration . The inspiration for your ideas can come from a variety of sources and can take many forms. The form, shape, texture, and pattern of common items can stimulate your imagination to come up with some striking designs.

Often, the more difficult decision is culling your ideas and narrowing the choices. Avoid incorporating too many design elements in any grouping of jewelry; instead, choose the designs that best fit your design motif.

You will be designing a specific number of pieces per category of jewelry (i.e., rings, pendants, earrings, etc.). Consider creating a suite of pieces within that number for a greater potential of add-on sales or “goal” purchasing. A ring design could be adapted to create a complementary pendant and pair of earrings—one design done three ways. Alternatively, all of the pieces in the collection could complement one another, giving your customer the option of creating a very personal collection of jewelry.

There should be a unity among your individual pieces that reflects the overall theme—for example, platinum and diamond pavé, a red-white-and-blue precious gem patriotic theme, or platinum with 18k yellow gold accents.

Innovation . Once your designs are prepared, it’s time for a final review before production. Remember, the pieces you’ve designed must fall within the designated price range, so pay attention to production and preparation costs. Examine the designs with your in-house manufacturer, who may have valuable suggestions that could save production time and cost.

When determining the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of producing a proposed design, figure in time for concept, design, and development, plus the per-piece cost for materials and labor based on the manufacturing estimate.

Innovation means keeping an open mind. You and your manufacturing jeweler should decide where adjustments can be made—possibly in the design itself, the weight of the piece, or in the method of production. All the while, you must maintain the integrity of the piece within your store brand’s established standards of execution and quality.

For information related to the design and working characteristics of moissanite, contact Mark B. Mann at (406) 961-4426 or (800) 210-4367, ext. 251, or e-mail:

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