Market Place

Theo Fabergé Celebrates His 75th

Though he is the only living grandson of master craftsman Peter Carl Fabergé, Theo Fabergé spent much of his life refusing to make the ornate Easter eggs for which his ancestor was famous.

He changed his mind at the request of a 12-year-old boy in 1979, creating a wood-turned egg that launched a legendary career. In celebration of his 75th birthday this year, Theo Fabergé will embark on a fall U.S. speaking tour looking back on the startling personal history that prompted his artistic self-discovery.

Theo was raised as Theo Woodall by an aunt and uncle who posed as his parents. Not until he was 47 years old did a family member reveal to him that his real father was Nicholas Fabergé, one of Carl Fabergé’s four sons, who helped to run the London House of Fabergé in the early 1900s.

Theo was an engineer by trade but had a distracting interest in the fine arts. The revelation of his identity persuaded him to explore his inherent artistic talents, and he took courses to become a registered silversmith. He began to experiment with woodturning and made candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers and other crafts.

Reluctant to capitalize on the Fabergé name, Theo would not make Easter eggs at first. When a boy named Peter, enchanted by the history of Fabergé eggs, pleaded for one of his own, Theo conceded. Suddenly he faced endless demand for the new generation of eggs, which over time became Theo Fabergé’s St. Petersburg Collection. Pieces of the collection have been commissioned by the Russian Orthodox Church and exhibited in museums throughout the world. Theo designs all the pieces and still does much of the work himself.

In anticipation of his 75th birthday, Theo Fabergé gathered the wisdom of his years to make a social statement in the form of The Egg of the Covenant. Made of lead crystal, sterling silver and 24k gold, the egg is a silent appeal for a more lawful and respectful society. A tablet with the Ten Commandments inscribed in Hebrew is hidden inside the egg. In addition, Theo will tour the U.S. beginning in late November 1997 for speaking engagements at museums and retail stores.

Why customers walk away

There are hundreds of things that could potentially stand between the well-heeled customer and the diamond necklace in your case. C. Britt Beemer of America’s Re-search Group has identified some of the peskiest. The consumer survey from Beemer’s book Predatory Marketing, as reprinted in “Research Alert” newsletter, lists the most common reasons consumers cancel or postpone major purchases of $1,000 or more:

  • Owing the IRS $1,500 (52.5% of surveyed shoppers).

  • Parents need special medical care (52.5%).

  • The house has termites and needs repairs (49.3%).

  • Spouse requires tests at the hospital necessitating payment to cover insurance deductible (41.6%).

  • The roof leaks and needs minor repair (40.5%).

  • The car needs new tires (39.8%).

  • Rumored job cuts at work (36.5%).

  • Checkbook error resulting in less money than expected (36.3%).

  • Credit cards are at their limit (36.1%).

  • Major dental work (33.7%).

  • The family pet requires expensive treatment (33.3%).

Today & tomorrow: The wealthiest U.S. cities

WHERE THE OTHER HALF LIVES
Over the next 20 years, wealth will be concentrated in these metropolitan areas:

1997 2017
1. West Palm Beach/Boca Raton, Fla. Naples, Fla.
2. Naples, Fla. West Palm Beach/Boca Raton, Fla.
3. San Francisco, Cal. San Francisco, Cal.
4. New Haven/Bridgeport/ Stamford/Danbury Conn. Middlesex/Somerset/ Hunterdon, N.J.
5. Bergen/Passaic, N.J. Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.
6. Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla. New Haven/Bridgeport/ Stamford/Danbury, Conn.
7. Trenton, N.J. Bergen/Passaic, N.J.
8. Middlesex/Somerset/Hunterdon, N.J. Trenton, N.J.
9. Nassau/Suffolk, N.Y. Nassau/Suffolk, N.Y.
10. Newark, N.J. Boulder/Longmont, Colo.

The concentration of wealth is expected to remain largely in metropolitan coastal areas of the U.S. over the next 20 years, according to a Wealth Index designed by Woods & Poole Economics Inc. of Washington, D.C.

The Wealth Index, as cited in the June issue of American Demographics, measures per-capita income and the source of that income. (The rating is higher in places where income is mostly derived from assets such as stock, savings and property, for instance.)

While cities shift in their projected Wealth Index ratings between 1997 and 2017, few new cities break into the Relatively Wealthy category, which includes cities that scored ratings of 121 or higher. (The average Wealth Index rating is 100.)

According to American Demographics, some cities in the average range – 90 to 110 – will change enough to move into higher or lower categories. Cities that could become average over the next 20 years, according to Woods & Poole, include York, Pa.; Appleton/Oshkosh/Neenah, Wis.; and Grand Rapids/Muskegon/Holland, Mich.

BUYING HABITS ACROSS THE POND

The World Gold Council office in Paris commissioned a study last year of gold jewelry consumption among European women. The results of the study, titled “To Know a Woman in Europe,” were presented at the 1997 Basel Fair.

Findings show interesting parallels between European female gold consumption statistics and those of the U.S. – particularly that women buy two-thirds of all gold jewelry in Europe and in the U.S.

Women comprise 52% of the total population of Europe, and 36% of them receive or purchase at least one piece of gold jewelry per year. WGC interviewed 1,300 women each in France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. to find how they feel about gold. Eighty-two percent of these women said gold jewelry is always fashionable, 73% insisted on quality and 68% proclaimed they “really love gold jewelry.”

Other findings include:

  • Fifty-two percent of all gold jewelry sold in Europe is a gift from a woman to someone else, a figure that’s rising.

  • Over a quarter (26.9%) of all gold jewelry sold in Europe is a gift from a man to a woman, a figure on the decline.

  • Twenty-one percent of gold jewelry sold in Europe is bought by women for themselves.

  • Primary changes in the European marketplace include the growth of a “modern” clientele, a weakening of the traditional consumer base and a rise in hypermarkets and other mass distribution outlets.

WGC created four categories of women who buy gold jewelry: Social Climbers, Guardians of Traditions, Mobile Networkers and Explorers. The climber and guardian groups are considered followers, while networkers and explorers are considered trendsetters.

Social Climbers, about 20% of European women, are avid consumers, driven by materialism, and have a short-term focus. They are attracted by ostentation, celebrity and visibility, and tend to have a pragmatic outlook on life. They view gold jewelry as a status symbol to be acquired. They’re interested in instant gratification and make impulsive purchases. This is a core target for hypermarkets and other mass or discount distribution channels.

Guardians of Traditions, about 23% of European women, center on strong roots, spiritual beliefs and moral codes. Active in social causes, they respect order, authority and social harmony. They give gold jewelry for social and religious rituals, consider it symbolic and everlasting, and prefer classic, basic designs.They are most likely to shop at a family jeweler with an excellent reputation and a Reassuring environment.

Mobile Networkers, about 20% of European women, have a modern pleasure-seeking lifestyle. They see gold jewelry as enhancing the person wearing it, much like a beauty product. They are likely to choose innovative jewelry and they’re drawn to high-karat alloys and new technologies such as electroforming. Theatrical presentations, high product visibility and easy access catch this group’s attention. WGC says this is the heart of the market and a growing segment.

Explorers, about 30% of European women, see gold as pure, true, timeless and universal, and gold jewelry as an authentic and meaningful talisman. They’re likely to buy gold for themselves, they prefer quality over quantity and want styles that are refined but warm and creative. An environment likely to appeal to this customer would be simple, sparse, open and bright. Packaging should be simple, perhaps with natural materials. WGC considers this market segment an opportunity to be developed.

The remaining 7% of the population was not classified.

China promotes kindness to tourists

Business travelers to China this year may find the country’s citizens bending over backward to appease visitors.

In the international spotlight because of the handover of Hong Kong, China has declared 1997 as “Visit China” year, according to The Asian Wall Street Journal. Nowhere in the world is the campaign being promoted as it is in the cities of China itself.

Sources in the AWSJ say China has finally recognized the poor service it gives its 51 million foreign visitors each year. Neon signs and banners remind citizens to be nice to tourists after countless reports of hotel employees, tour guides and customs officials who have mistreated foreigners.

Funded in part by MasterCard Destinations, a division of MasterCard International, the campaign is an attempt to prepare China for an ever-growing number of tourists, who now spend $19 billion in the country each year. While the “Visit China” campaign has resulted in only a handful of ads in Europe and Asia, MasterCard is putting up 800,000 posters to remind the Chinese to “be nice,” AWSJ says.