Existential Thoughts From Buckaroo Banzai

The jewelry business is in the midst of a paradigm shift. The old paradigm is gone, and the transition to a new one is still in progress. So, where does that leave you? In the immortal words of Buckaroo Banzai, "No matter where you go, there you are!"

To succeed in today’s hypercompetitive, e-commerce-enabled, flat-earth business environment, you have to constantly reinvent yourself. You must take initiative, not simply react to circumstances. You need to turn challenges into opportunities.

Designers and manufacturers can do more than create variations of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings. They can use their skills to enhance everyday items and create bejeweled objets d’art. Let imaginations run wild. If it can be engraved, etched, enameled, gilded, or embedded with gemstones, let’s do it.

The era of excess for excess’s sake is over, so let the inherent value of the original object determine the elaborateness of the makeover. Don’t put a half-carat diamond on a $50 cell phone, but do put 10k gold charms on a cell-phone holder or key ring. Do work with your local Nissan or VW dealer to create an inlaid amethyst dashboard or peridot-topped shift knobs. We’re not talking about diamond-encrusted hubcaps for Bentleys.

Retailers should tell their most imaginative and creative sources what they think they can sell. Here’s an opportunity to develop a collaborative project that changes the way you buy merchandise.

Understand the risks. A bad job of enhancing will harm both the designer’s image and the store’s persona. It may take several iterations to find a successful formula for remaking merchandise. You’ll have to work hard to develop a new vision of what you want to be and what your customers appreciate. Expect resistance from people who are afraid of change.

On the positive side, if you work with your salespeople to develop a new vision for the store, they’ll buy in and become energized to sell new concepts. If well executed, transforming everyday objects into jewelry art will create huge public relations value and word-of-mouth potential. Consider what Swarovski is doing at retail and what they’ve begun to make sparkle just with fancy crystal beads and prismatic sequins. YouTube has more than 50 pages of videos featuring Swarovski-adorned products.

Bridal jewelry and bridal party jewelry concepts are also open for interpretation. Who says you can’t bejewel a wedding gown or bridesmaids’ perpetually underwhelming dresses?

In today’s boring retail landscape, one way to drive traffic is to surprise and delight your current clientele. Jewelers, and designers with imagination, must lead the trend toward widening the definition of jewelry.