A MATTER OF DESIGN: WE’VE COME A LONG WAY
When our fashion editor, Hedda Schupak, went to Hong Kong last fall to find out just what is going on there with jewelry design, her quick reaction was really very little. Most of the manufacturers who aren’t trying to imitate American or European design are turning out attractive, well-made, but largely unexciting pieces. However, as her story in this issue shows, there are signs that is changing.
The change is coming because such bodies as the Diamond Promotion Service and the World Gold Council have launched design competitions. In Hedda’s story this month, you’ll see, the contests have uncovered quite a lot of talent.
When you compare what’s happening on the other side of the Pacific with what’s happening here in the U.S., it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come in the past 10 to 15 years. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the term “designer jewelry” was almost unknown. Yet today, design has become such an important element in the industry’s everyday life that we have well over 100 companies in our Designers’ Center at the JCK Las Vegas Show – and many, many more that want to be there but for which there is no space.
Consider, too, that quality design certainly isn’t an exclusive of the Designers’ Center. Throughout the show are literally hundreds of firms displaying jewelry innovation and creativity. We’ve come a long, long way from the shows of 20 or more years ago where bread-and-butter design dominated. We must credit Mort Abelson for playing an important role in bringing about change. His introduction of young people with fresh design ideas to the JA shows had a major influence on our whole business.
One very rewarding byproduct of this activity is the recognition it has built for the U.S. industry in other world markets. At one time, the American jewelry business had to play second design fiddle to other countries, particularly Italy and Germany. But that’s no longer true. The best of American design stands fully on its own merits in any comparison with overseas product.
At JCK, we like to believe we play our part – and have played it in the past – to encourage the best in design and to encourage jewelers to embrace it as something that can make their inventory stand out from the competition. Over the years, we’ve run special reports on the designers of Maine and Philadelphia, of Colorado and San Francisco and, of course, of New York. All these creative centers continue to thrive, and their strength gives American jewelry design the marvelous diversity that is perhaps its best trademark.