Editor’s Letter, September–October 2016: Small Wonders

Back in July, as I made my way to the LUXURY Privé show taking place in the ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf Astoria, I veered off course to pop by the Cellini watch and jewelry boutique inside the hotel. I wanted to check out the mechanical and bejeweled wonders in its cases.

After about 10 minutes of admiring timepieces by some of the world’s finest makers, from A. Lange & Söhne to Zenith, owner Leon Adams came over to say hi and we got into an impromptu discussion about pricing, products, and the essence of luxury (“exclusivity,” he declared).

“Right now, the biggest draws are smaller production companies,” Adams said, referring to wristwatches by independent watchmakers such as the Geneva-based Laurent Ferrier. “The bigger, mass-produced brands are really hurting. They’re charging luxury prices for product produced in commodity quantities.”

As we barrel toward the holidays, it’s worth considering his remarks when you stock your own cases for the season. Even if your business has built a reputation on big-time brands like David Yurman or Alex and Ani—whose sweet little Hand of Fatima thread bracelet has taken up permanent residence on my right wrist—I’d urge you to consider offering at least a few original pieces by promising independent makers.

A majority of the designers whose work appears in our annual Holiday Survival Guide, a product-packed ode to the fall’s hottest trends, are just that. Take Nichole McIver, founder of Acanthus Jewelry in St. Cloud, Minn. She uses a fascinating Korean gilding technique called keum-boo in her collection; you can see its signature, 24k gold fused with silver, in the mismatched Lunar Gazing stud earrings—and in the memento mori–themed set of stacking rings I bought from her at the summer JA New York show.

I’m now the proud owner of Acanthus Jewelry’s stacking ring set, made using an ancient Korean gilding technique known as keum-boo.

Before you commence your holiday buying, be sure to consult “Ace the Case,” senior editor Emili Vesilind’s informative, point-by-point breakdown of how to make your displays holiday-worthy. 

But there’s more to this photo-rich issue of JCK than beautiful, stock-up-on-’em-now products. In contributor Mark E. Battersby’s provocative piece about the outlook for cash (hint: not good), we tackle a future-oriented topic that should matter to any business owner who hopes to stay relevant.

It may yet be some time before cash goes the way of the dodo (and the huge numbers of unbanked American citizens make me wonder if it will ever truly disappear), but understanding the forces that are shaping the way people pay for goods and services is critical to a robust understanding of our economy, and your place in it.

We close out this month’s features with “Akoya Ride,” a deep dive into the suddenly booming market for Japan’s classic cultured gem, and “Pearl Jam,” a rockin’ still life that pairs pearl jewelry with classic guitars. See—small things come in good packages!

Top: The JCK team at the WJA Awards for Excellence on July 25. See more pics from the gala here.

(Gomelsky photograph by Steven Simko)

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