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Why Red Carpet Jewelry Matters And How To Translate It To Real Life Sales |  September 22, 2021 (0 comments)


Merrick, NY—For as long as I’ve been writing about fashion or celebrities in the jewelry industry (over 30 years at this point) jewelers have argued, “my customers wouldn’t wear that.” Image: Anya Taylor-Joy in platinum jewelry by Tiffany & Co.: Elsa Peretti® Diamonds by the Yard® necklace, diamond earrings, bracelet with unenhanced yellow sapphire set in platinum and 18k gold, ring with 17+-ct. unenhanced yellow sapphire set in platinum, and Tiffany Victoria® vine bypass ring with diamonds, set in platinum. Photo courtesy PGI.

Yes and no. When it comes to celebrity red carpet fashion, especially major events like the Oscars, Emmys, and so on, unless your clientele is in fact famous celebrities heading for the Oscars, no, your customers are not likely to wear the kind of massive pieces we see on the red carpet. Even at the nation’s top fancy-dress balls—Met Gala notwithstanding—guests typically don’t dress like it’s the Oscars.

So why bother looking at any red-carpet jewelry or putting anything like it in your store if your customers are never going to buy it?

Because what it will do is dictate the general style of jewelry that customers do wear. Just like the Fashion Week runways show extreme examples of trends while the clothes that end up in stores are greatly modified, so is red carpet jewelry an example of macro trends in design.

What did we learn from the Emmys this year and from the 2021 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit (aka Met Gala) the week before that you can translate to real-time sales and merchandising tips? Here are six tips:

1. Earrings are essential. If your customer invests in nothing else, fine jewelry-wise, her first purchase needs to be the best and most flattering earrings she can afford. Almost two years of Zoom drove that lesson home, and this month’s red carpet events merely reinforced it. She’s not always going to be wearing a gown that calls out for a dazzling necklace, but a standout pair of earrings works with everything from a fancy dress to a denim jacket. 

If she’s going to buy diamond studs, make them substantial. If she’s going to buy something other than studs, a good pair of drop earrings will always look right. She can opt for petite drops like Kate Middleton wears or in more substantive styles, depending on her face and personal style. And of course, hoops always work.

Kaley Cuoco in De Beers Jewellers jewelry set in platinum: Drops of Light earrings (4.21 ctw), and Allegria large eternity band with diamonds (2.0 carats). Image courtesy PGI.

Related: Kate Middleton’s Favorite Zoom Earrings Are Universally Flattering

2. When it comes to diamond studs, go big. Very few women would say no to a substantial pair, but budget realities may dictate otherwise. Luckily, there are a few tricks you, the jeweler, can pull out of your sleeve to get the look she wants at a price her wallet is happy with. 

Halo settings aren’t just for engagement rings! The style allows the use of smaller, less-expensive stones to create a big look. A removable halo jacket to go with a simple stud is even better, as it offers more versatility. Or try pie-wedge studs, where a series of smaller, wedge-shaped diamonds are invisibly set to give the appearance of one big stone, or even a cluster of smaller round stones is an option. Both of those are likely to cost less than comparably-sized solitaire stones.

Remember that stud earrings don’t have to match exactly. The client’s head will be between them, so a few points’ difference won’t be noticeable. It’s also an area where some sacrifice in color or clarity—and cost—won’t be obvious, but since cut determines sparkle, try not to skimp there. Finally, if diamond studs are simply not her style, colored gems or pearls are also versatile options. 

3. The teardrop shape was a prominent trend in earrings at the Emmys and Met Gala. It’s almost universally flattering and it can be executed in a variety of ways as we saw on some stars at the Emmys: huge, like Issa Rae wore; doorknocker style, like Elizabeth Olsen wore; or elongated, like Kerry Washington’s. A shorter, more petite take on the style works for everyday but still looks good for fancy dress occasions.

Issa Rae, via Instagram

Elizabeth Olsen. Rich Fury/Getty Images

Kerry Washington. Rich Fury/Getty Images

4. Men’s jewelry is expanding beyond the typical categories. It’s not uncommon to see men wearing brooches or earrings now. Admittedly, most guys aren’t going to splash out for a diamond brooch like the Tiffany sparkler Bowen Yang (below top, image Rich Fury/Getty Images) wore to the Emmys, but a diamond stud is another story. For instance, famed baseball slugger Ryan Howard is known for his love of a good diamond stud (shown below bottom with his wife, Krystle Campbell; image: Grace Ormonde Wedding Style) Since men are more likely than women to wear just one earring, the budget can go toward a substantive size.  

5. Layers of different length necklaces are still popular, but if your client can only afford one, a collar or choker length is the most versatile, as it will work inside a button-down shirt as well as with a strapless gown and is a good base for adding layered pieces later. Or when selling a pendant, make sure the chain has a few jump rings in the back to allow for different length options, and be sure to ask if she’s right- or left-handed and make sure she can operate the clasp with her preferred hand, especially if the pendant can’t be removed from the chain and flipped around. 

6. Awards shows reflect social trends that matter to your customersBy now, jewelers know that consumers care about social and environmental responsibility and expect it from companies they do business with. Beyond that, celebrities often use their platform at awards shows to make a statement about social issues, and viewers—your customers—do notice.

Recently, both the entertainment industry and the jewelry industry have been taken to task for not having enough representation of Black people. Our industry has taken some steps to try and change that with initiatives such as the NDC’s Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative with Lorraine Schwartz, the Diamonds Do Good Diversity Scholarship Grants For GIA’s diamond program, or Schwartz’s partnership with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter to offer a full GIA Scholarship for two Black designers. More recently, RAD x De Beers Group launched the #BlackIsBrilliant Campaign with Kiki Layne in jewelry by KHIRY, using ethically and sustainably sourced natural diamonds from Botswana, at the Met Gala on September 13.

#BlackisBrilliant brings together exceptional Black designers with top stylists to collaboratively create jewelry featuring ethically and sustainably sourced diamonds from Botswana, provided by De Beers Group. 

With #BlackIsBrilliant, De Beers Group provides a platform for Black designers, with an emphasis on the red carpet as a powerful forum for communication and visibility. De Beers teamed with RAD (Red carpet Advocacy), taking RAD’s purpose-driven approach of pairing talent and brands to use their platforms in advocating for causes at global events as a way to promote social progress and positive shifts in culture. 

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