Holiday Help: The Time is Now

If the frosty mornings and hearty food cravings haven’t set in quite yet in your area, they will soon: it’s officially the holidays! For jewelers, this time of year brings busy store days and long nights full of hopeful shoppers, many of whom are just beginning their quest for the perfect gift.

This is also the height of engagement season, with a reported 40% of engagement rings purchased (and given) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. As family and friends travel in an effort to gather for seasonal celebrations, it’s no wonder this is a popular time to think about forming new families and lasting bonds. (I won’t even mention the influence of cuffing season, but we all know it’s there).

What does this mean for folks looking for beautiful, meaningful jewelry? In a word, timing.

On the one hand, this is an excellent opportunity to engage your trusted independent jeweler in a conversation about your needs, as he or she will likely be carrying the largest total stocked merchandise of the year in anticipation of holiday sales. Business will be brisk and the best items will sell quickly, so don’t count on that perfect piece sitting in the case long enough for you to regret it as it makes someone else’s day. But if he or she says “I have just the thing!” it’s probably because right now (and perhaps only right now), that’s actually true.

If your ideal jewel can only be created through the custom design process, your approach should be a little different. Many jewelers with on-site bench workers and designers can meet special deadlines with enough notice, but the custom process can rarely be rushed. As the Big Three** approach, early birds will see their orders filled while late starters must scramble or settle — and neither are good options when you’re considering a major expenditure for a very important purchase.

So while I advise all of my clients to think carefully and plan accordingly all year round, this becomes especially important during this festive, fete-filled season. Do not wait until the last possible moment to begin your hunt for the perfect treasure, and your jeweler will certainly thank you.

Have a burning question or special request? Submit now for inclusion in an upcoming post!

**Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day/Eve. Yes, I’m well aware that many more holidays are celebrated during this time, but these are the primary US dates (and closures!) to keep in mind when planning a special moment.

Media Moment: Girls and Pearls

Particular. Meticulous. Finicky. Fussy. Picky. Persnickety. I’m difficult to please, okay?

I suppose it makes me a good gemologist and jeweler — detail-oriented, and all — but high standards often lead to high expectations, which can sometimes lead to… disappointment.

But I’ve learned to manage those expectations over the years, especially mitigating my hopes for anything related to industry media, PR, or advertising. This is not to say that we don’t have some superlative examples of journalism around, but it’s the cheesy crap from big box retailers that has become the common diner-coffee-consumption we anticipate every holiday season.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw this article, discussing Mikimoto’s new approach to their iconic jewel (not to mention a top-ten jewelry standard): pearls. Please take a moment to peruse the short piece, and definitely watch the ad, which will air only on social media.

While many of us in the fashion world wouldn’t exactly call “wear your pearls with your leather pencil skirt” a groundbreaking idea, the ad itself resonates because of its tone and underlying message. Pearls can be sexy, pearls can be mysterious, pearls can be worn outside the boardroom or your sister’s wedding.

My perfectionist self finds plenty of faults with the add, primarily the missed opportunity to show off the fantastically cool clasps available in today’s market. But nonetheless, I rarely see a jewelry-specific spot that gets the tone so absolutely dead on — it’s almost hard to believe that it comes from so unexpected a source, but I’m not complaining.

What did you think of the ad? And more importantly, how did that model get perfectly-winged eyeliner without the apparent use of a mirror?





Civilian Shopper 

If the temperatures quoted by my local weather lady are correct, it’s beginning to feel a lot like autumn (by day), and winter is peeking out in the evening hours.

This has always been my favorite time of year, as a New Englander who feels at her very best when wrapped in multiple layers of cashmere or fleece, sipping hot cider and daydreaming about holiday decor.

But for most of my working life, the holidays have meant a serious uptick in stress levels and a calendar with very little room on it for all the fun events that seem to pop up when the mercury dips below 40. Working in a retail environment means longer hours, more consecutive days, and a generally pervasive feeling of not enough time. Latkes on a weeknight? Christmas party on a Saturday? You want me to join your choir and sing when? Don’t make me laugh. 

But this year, for the first time in forever, I won’t be working on Black Friday. I can go to Holiday Pops — a family tradition for well over 20 years — on a weekend. And I can smile with angelic patience and goodwill while participating in enthusiastic consumerism, tinny Musaq blending with the incessant of beeping of snowplows as background accompaniment.

Poetic descriptions aside, I will miss certain things about holiday retail — namely, the looks on my clients’ faces when they discover the perfect gift, that glow of happiness at finding a shiny new treasure to present to a friend or loved one. Those are the moments that got me through the season; I’m sure for many jewelers, they’re the main reason we stay open late, buy the expensive wrapping paper, and hand-deliver diamond rings at midnight.

So retailers, I promise not to mess up that perfectly- folded table of sweaters, ask you to “check again” for my size, or complain that the music’s too loud and temperature is too hot and line was too long and the box is the wrong color and the holidays are just sooo exhausting, y’know ? 

Now it’s just about time to dust off the family recipes, write up my Nice list, and start enjoying the season. 

The Anatomy of a Present

As the countdown to the largest gift-giving holiday in the US continues (I’ve got my eye on you, countdown widget, and your cheery “53 Days!” message), I’d like to conduct a totally unscientific analysis of the item known as the present.

We all know it’s what’s inside that counts, so it’s time to go shopping. Whether from the comfort of your footie pajamas in bed or while out on the town, enjoy hunting for that perfect something for your special someone. I have some suggestions for this part, but they belong in a different post.

And now, we wrap!

You never get a second chance at a first impression, so make the presentation count. I would say the percentage of joy from anticipation alone goes up at least 25% for a beautifully-wrapped gift; add another 10-15% if that bow looks professionally tied. (Source: family and friends’ ooh-and-aah volume levels the year I spent three hours perfecting the multi-loop bow).

Roll out your lovely paper, grab the nearest pie plate or toddler to keep the ends from curling back up, and try to cut a semi-straight line. Measure twice and cut once — or, if you’re my father, don’t measure and cut once too many times and start again. Cursing under your breath is optional.

Now that your gift is swathed in its outer coverings, take your preferred rustic twine/shiny ribbon/string from the cat’s toy and wind it around the box a few times. Tie a simple bow if you really like the recipient, or tie increasingly difficult knots if you want some entertainment later (thanks, mom).

Bonus points for coordinating wrapping colors to the tissue paper, ribbon, and tags. Extra bonus for heavy, metallic foil wrapping paper, just because it’s my favorite.

Now that we’ve torn through our beautiful and thoughtful outer layers in frustration and thrown them to the floor in a heap for the cat to play with, let’s consider the box.

Some boxes come with their own predetermined meaning — little blue boxes, I’m talking to you — and need little else to build anticipation. Other cardboard constructions need all the help they can get. Loosely pre-folded along crooked, perforated lines, these department store packages take a whole lot of love to make them attractive trappings for what’s inside. I strongly suggest heavy usage of clear sticky substances.

If you’ve managed to fold, cut, tape, and tie your way to this point, congratulations. Take a step back and admire your handiwork, noting any crooked seams and errant ribbon curls (“Six. Inches.”). If your package looks like it belongs under Martha Stewart’s tree in her latest December issue, you’re good to go.

If not, you’re faced with two options.

Option one: gather up all of your gifts, make a list of which person is supposed to get what, and truck them all down to your local mall where a troop of friendly Scouts will happily wrap them all in reindeer-themed paper with matching stick-on bow for the low, low donation cost of whatever you have left in your wallet.

Option two: remove all attempted wrappings. Place item(s) in cute, holiday-themed bags. Shove fistfulls of tissue paper on top. Pour a glass of your favorite adult version of eggnogg, and pat yourself on the back for surviving another round of holiday gifting.

Happy National Chocolate Day

Nine out of ten people love chocolate. The tenth person… is lying.

I’m a chocoholic in the first degree, but these days I find myself lusting after a different form of everyone’s favorite treat: chocolate gold.

Yep, you read that correctly. Unlike certain other candy-flavored jewelry items I may have mentioned in the past, chocolate gold is the real deal — it’s colored using similar compounds to rose or red gold.