Rainbow Redux

In fashion, color has always been a matter of regional preference, based on climate and lifestyle. As New Yorkers warily consider a bright accessory to wear with their traditional black, women in Dallas, Atlanta, and Santa Fe are saying, “Color is back? When did it go away?”

Sociologists have observed that clothes become darker and more subdued as one heads north and brighter and sexier as one progresses south. The stereotype of New York as a city clad in black has become almost humorous in fashion circles, but there’s a practical reason for it: Most New Yorkers don’t own cars—they walk or rely on not-so-clean buses and subways. Light colors don’t cut it, especially in sloppy weather. Bostonians don’t wear quite as much black as New Yorkers, but their clothes still tend toward muted, weather-resistant hues.

In a warmer climate, one instinctively reaches for light colors that reflect the sun rather than absorb it. Additionally, America’s Sun Belt cities are newer, cleaner, brighter, and less congested than cities in the older, industrial Northeast, and most of their residents don’t live downtown. They live in the suburbs, and they all own cars. It’s easier to keep your clothes clean when you go from home to car to office, rarely stepping onto a street.

In jewelry, several forces are driving the renewed popularity of color. First, trends are cyclical. After several years of all-white jewelry, both retailers and customers are ready for a change.

Second, television shopping and the rapid growth of the Internet have expanded public awareness of jewelry trends and spurred demand for a wider variety of gemstones. Even a decade ago, most consumers had scant knowledge of colored gemstones other than birthstones.

Third, designer jewelry—which in many cases pioneered the use of unusual colored gemstones—has become widely accepted by both retailers and consumers, and the use of stones such as tanzanite and citrine has filtered down to mainstream jewelry manufacturing.

The final point is this: When your customers come looking for something new, it’s a good idea to have a rainbow selection of colored gemstone jewelry to show them. Pictured on these pages are some of the newest designs available.

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