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Jewellery Materials: Why It's Not Thought To Be Significant What Your Jewelery Is Constructed From

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Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 Time: 6:37 PM

Fashion jewelry has been taken to newer dimensions by high-end catwalk designers who charge a lot of money for base metals and crystals. Why do consumers pay so much for so very little? David Jones is a pretty trendy location, and its primary shop in Melbourne is the peak of luxury for well-heeled citizens trying to find a bit of luxury retail therapy. Obviously, the accessories department reads like a who’s who of international designers, with brands which include Jimmy Choo and Miu Miu fighting it out against Christian Louboutin’s popular killer heels.

The jewelry counters are not less spectacular in their label adulation, with brands such as Gucci and Emporio Armani taking centre stage. However unlike the fashion department, where superior tailoring and materials are de rigueur on the designer rails, couture brands seem to prefer base metals and precious metal plating when it comes to their jewelry collections. If a Chanel jacket is the fashion comparative of a diamond ring regarding quality, isn’t it curious that a piece of Chanel jewellery is the equivalent of, say, a Sports Girl blazer?

In Australia, consumers are swooping on these so-called designer jewelry pieces with an enthusiasm that seems recently lacking in the fine jewelry shop. Those in the jewellery industry may be understood for asking what the interest is – after all, the pricing of this designer jewellery is eerily comparable to what one might need to fork out for a piece of jewelry using precious metals and precious gems, yet the ‘designer’ materials are nowhere near as outstanding. Find out more: Jewellery Design

Take luxurious e-tailer Net-a-Porter’s jewelry section (which delivers to Australia), for example. A plexiglass crystal necklace from Miu Miu will set you back £250 ($380), while customers can get a “gold-tone” and crystal Lanvin cuff for £451 ($684). Why is it these brands can get away with charging so much, I hear you question?

In David Jones, the helper on the jewelry counter of the Bourke Street Mall store one weekday evening is a adept sales representative. She has a skillful sales approach and is keen to help you, yet ask her which items in her jewelry cabinet are manufactured from gold and sterling silver and her sales pitch falters. She does not know. The only brand she knows without a doubt is Gucci, which has both a superior 18ct gold jewelry offering that grows into thousands of dollars, along with a more sensibly priced fashion jewellery collection created of silver and base metals, which retails for hundreds of pounds. David Jones stocks the upscale series. The concept that this department store sales assistant doesn’t know just what materials are used in these designer jewellery lines indicates a quite disturbing move in buyer attitudes to jewelry.

As Pam Danziger, US-based luxury retail expert and president of Unity Marketing, mentions – designer costume jewellery is nothing new: “Didn’t Coco Chanel start the whole trend toward costume jewellery?” But what is new is this increase of couture labels in the jewellery industry and clients’ awareness of it. As an example, did you know Roberto Cavalli, Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Guess and DKNY all have jewellery lines? Although these fashion houses specialise in top-notch apparel, none have been down the upscale jewellery path. Danziger says fashion, as opposed to materials, is what’s critical for these brands: “Designers are really returning to their roots, offering fashion and style to their customers rather than venturing into the true high-ticket jewellery world. If fashion is key, look rather than material matter most.”
Danziger explains that in the US, costume jewellery sales elevated drastically during 2006 to 2008, as the country spiralled into economic slump. Fresh research from Unity Marketing indicates that fine jewellery sales recovered reasonably between 2008 to 2010, but she believes this is a manifestation of boosting prices rather than demand. For that matter, one of the leading trends Danziger has witnessed is an increase in the use of precious metal plating – a process lots of designer fashion brands have applied in present-day jewellery collections. “From 2008 to 2010 expenditures on women’s plated jewellery, either gold plate or platinum plate, more than doubled, while expenditure on fine gold jewellery was down some 18 per cent. I think the rapid increase in prices on these metals is certainly driving the jewellery shopper to alternatives, plated metals being an excellent choice,” she explains.

So far as Australian jewellery marketing consultant Ciara Fulcher is concerned, consumers are now making purchasing decisions founded on perception as opposed to any conventional concept of real value. She says, “As a young woman, I have friends who think nothing of spending an inordinate amount of money on costume pieces yet baulk at the idea of spending less on a sterling silver alternative. One friend purchases several items from a well-known (pricey!) Australian fashion brand on a regular basis and handles her base metal bangles with such great care one would assume they were made of solid gold!”

It’s quite evident, therefore, that the issue isn’t one of cost. Possibly, as Danziger implies, it is a question of fashion? When catwalk models are viewed strutting down the runway in not just a label’s clothing but also draped in its latest jewelry offering, the message is conspicuous: this label can supply the cutting edge of fashion – and not just in garments, but additionally jewellery.

As reported by Melissa Hoyer, style commentator and Grazia contributing editor, this jewellery’s popularity is linked to age, and an developing fashion recognition. “Younger people don’t care if they spend $500 on Chanel earrings and it doesn’t have a real pearl in it. The ‘Baby Boomer’ wants a real pearl because they seek more quality than prestige,” she says. “Younger consumers aren’t as snobby about materials. They want a pair of earrings because they love it to death.”

At DKNY, which has a strong existence in the Australian fashion jewellery market, its designs are a blend of conventional and fashion-focused pieces predominantly created using stainless steel. “Every season we inject an amount of new product that takes its inspiration from DKNY’s point of view for the season or emerging jewellery trends from around the world,” says Ives Palmer, MD of Fossil Australia, which maintains the licence for DKNY jewellery in Australia.

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