Platinum Stars at Fall Parties

Connecticut’s Lux, Bond & Green, based in West Hartford, marked its 100th year in business by hosting a platinum celebration. The event was cohosted by Platinum Guild International USA. Store president and CEO John Green invited the best customers from the firm’s Glastonbury and West Hartford stores to view a special collection of platinum jewelry, modeled by dancers from the Hartford Ballet. Featured designers included Paul Klecka, Suna Bros., Jewels by Star, Mikimoto, Jean Vitau, Patek Philippe, and Rolex.

“The event gave people a chance to see attractive models wearing beautiful platinum jewelry and to introduce platinum to our customers,” says Green. He says the event attracted notice because there aren’t many fashion shows in the West Hartford area.

To let customers know that platinum is both luxurious and affordable, Green offered a special purchase: a pair of platinum hoop earrings for $100, which he advertised in the Hartford Current. He says he hopes the event and the special-purchase ad will help propel platinum sales beyond the bridal category, which is its strongest category in the store.

Farther south – on Madison Avenue in New York City – the Works Gallery hosted a month-long platinum affair, also in conjunction with PGI. Opening night featured personal appearances by platinum jewelry designers Michael Bondanza, Whitney Boin, Jane Bohan, and Lee Marraccini. Guests mingled with the designers, and some discussed the possibility of ordering custom designs.

“This was the first time we featured platinum artists,” reports John Scerbo, manager of the Works Gallery. The event was so successful, he says, that the gallery will be holding more platinum affairs, at least once or twice a year. Since the opening night, customers have come in regularly, invitation in hand, to see platinum jewelry.

San Francisco jeweler Sidney Mobell, creator of gifts for the person who has everything, offers his latest bejeweled treat: a kaleidoscope with 3.60 cts. of diamonds, 8.60 cts. of sapphires, and 9.25 cts. of rubies set in 24k gold.

Each year, Mobell designs a new “ultimate gift.” Prior creations include the “million-dollar Monopoly game,” the Royal Throne toilet seat, a solid gold mousetrap, and a solid gold domino game. The kaleidoscope, one of his more affordable treats at a mere $150,000, is on display at Shreve & Co., San Francisco.

Designers Take the Wrap

It’s no secret that the best jewelry designers are all wrapped up in their work, but many of them are taking it literally. For example, don’t be surprised to find diamonds and gemstones served up in gold and platinum wrappings or rings and earrings sporting tendrils of metal that overlap each other and encircle the finger and the ear. Even designs created to lie flat on the body, such as those in bracelets and pendants, are given a little extra touch of sculptural appeal with woven, braided, and interlocking motifs.

It could be a trend borrowed from the world of clothing. The Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress is making a big comeback, the wrapped-and-tied creations of Japanese designers are gaining broader acceptance, and the must-have accessory of the winter is a long shawl or fur stole. Or it simply could be the next step toward creating jewelry that is body-friendly, sinuous, and comfortable to wear.

Whatever the reason, several top designers have created original versions of the wrapped look, each giving it her own unique twist. Here are a few standouts.

Cashing in on the Collectible Craze

People love to collect things, so why not encourage your customers to start a collection of sterling silver pill boxes or home accessories? In addition to being functional, these charming items can contribute to a lifetime of elegance and pleasure and then be passed on as heirlooms to the next generation.

Silver accessories are a targeted product category for fine jewelers and upscale department and specialty stores, and sales of accessories are riding a crest. In fact, more than $10 billion of these items were sold last year in the United States, according to Unity Marketing, publisher of the annual Collectibles Industry Report. When starting a silver giftware assortment, retailers are advised to include miniature pill boxes, men’s pocket accessories, desk accessories, servers, cocktail picks and napkin rings, vanity tools, and candlesticks.

Kallima: Swept Away

Designer Kathryn Pearce, known for her sculpted jewelry of bundled precious-metal wires, began studying jewelry design at the age of 11. At first, she recalls, she was an unwilling student, having little interest in jewelry. After discovering the sculptural, three-dimensional aspect of the medium, however, she was hooked. Pearce’s academic studies began with Boston University’s Program of Artistry, included both associate and bachelor of arts degrees, and culminated with the university’s Alumni Award for Academic Excellence. She helped fund her college studies with sales of earrings to friends.

What sealed Pearce’s fate was a stint as artist-in-residence at Millersville University near Lancaster, Pa., in 1985 and 1986. Falling in love with the rustic countryside of Pennsylvania, Pearce and her husband and partner, Michael Keppel, bought an old Lancaster brownstone and opened Kallima.

The company, founded a dozen years ago, takes its name from the Greek for “rare.” Her signature wire-bundling technique is intended to foster inspection and conversation, the designer says. “Interesting jewelry really invites discussion, which can lay the foundation for networking and friendship.”

Despite their hard-edged materials, Pearce softens the shape and mood of her wire-bound designs by gently curving the strands to resemble shooting stars or dotting selected stems with beads and freshwater pearls. A recently introduced collection of rings, bracelets, earrings, pins, and necklaces combines solid pieces of gold with wrapped wire bundles and colored gemstones. Retail prices range from less than $100 for silver up to $2,000 for more complicated gold and gemstone designs. Kallima jewelry can be found in fine galleries and stores around the United States and Canada. Pearce exhibits her work at craft fairs such as the ACC shows and Buyers Market of American Crafts in Philadelphia, where she was the winner of the 1997 Niche Award for design.

Kallima, P.O. Box 8554, Lancaster, PA 17604; (800) 835-3331 or (717) 299-9507.