Pretty in Pink (Gold)
When the gold price started to skyrocket a few years ago, Mattioli didn’t launch a silver line or scrutinize gram weights; instead, the Italian gold vendor embraced a color that many others hadn’t: rose.
Rose or pink gold, which gets its color from copper—the greater the quantity, the redder the gold—resurfaced in fine jewelry about 10 years ago thanks to its use in watches and its ability to complement ladylike couture. But to distinguish itself from other Italian manufacturers, Mattioli committed to making 90 percent of its line in rose gold. “It’s what really kept us going,” explains U.S. director Danny Bogue.
With a background in watches—Bogue worked as a distributor in the late 1970s and has overseen distribution of Swiss-made Alfex timepieces since 2001—he knew some women would buy rose gold jewelry just to match their wristwatches. But those who didn’t own a rose gold watch would require a different approach. So he began advising accounts to push pink gold earrings as a first purchase.
“With earrings, you won’t see them but others will,” says Bogue. “When you walk out of the store, everyone compliments you—the color looks good on so many people. Then you’re ready to buy more.”
Ecce pink gold–plated silver shepherd’s-hook earrings; $85; Leslie’s, Greenwich, Conn.; 203-869-7071; leslies.com
The strategy worked; 95 percent of Mattioli’s worldwide deliveries are now in rose gold, and the line is carried by approximately 60 doors nationwide. Its best seller? Puzzle earrings with three interchangeable mother-of-pearl discs ($1,695 retail). “When we introduced them in rose gold and champagne diamonds—we had always made them in white—in 2010, sales increased 35 percent,” Bogue says.
One potential sticking point for retailers could be color variation. The metal ranges from a coppery hue (think Chris Aire’s signature Red Gold) to a soft pink, depending on the alloy. “A rose gold display would look awful, because each manufacturer’s color would be different,” says Bogue, adding that Mattioli uses the same soft shade as many watch companies.
Still, other Italian manufacturers have noted the rising use of rose. At Baselworld, Augusto Ungarelli, owner of 53-year-old Vendorafa in Valenza, Italy, dished on a silver line, increased use of the “big three” stones, and, yes, an increased interest in pink. “Retailers in the U.S. are asking for more high-polished rose gold,” says Ungarelli. At January’s VicenzaOro Winter fair in Italy, Greenwich, Conn., importer-manufacturer Leslie’s spotted a number of companies making rose gold rose-motif stud earrings. And is it surprising that in February Tiffany debuted RUBEDO, its own proprietary pinkish-brown alloy?
Customers still spend more for yellow karat gold, but rose gold–plated silver jewelry has piqued interest in the pink look. Two of the best-selling styles in Leslie’s Ecce collection feature pink gold over silver: disc-shape pendants ($159) and shepherd’s-hook earrings ($85). “People are willing to take a chance because silver makes it more affordable,” says Tod Michel, Leslie’s vice president of sales.
Though rose gold still accounts for less than 5 percent of total sales at Leslie’s, the pieces, says Michel, are “big, colorful, dramatic, and younger.” In other words, make way in your showcases—the rose gold category is bound to grow.