What would Faberge have Tweeted?

I took a break from blogging and then wasn’t sure what to write as a big piece to return to. Would it be addressing the past or focus on an industry issue? I had drafted something and left it. Returning to my blog this piece still holds up with a few edits. Please read on as I address both.

After seeing so many from the jewelry community sharing their political preferences over the past 18 months, I took a break from the online writing as I thought about what course I want to take for my blog and future aspirations. Over that time, I had a post pop up in my feed from a designer I follow and whose pieces I liked, it had nothing to do with jewelry and was very divisive. There was no war of words, but I am no longer following or supporting the designer.

 Recently I was curious to see if that designer was having any improvements to their situation. In a word, no. Since the beginning of June, they had 36 posts:

  • 9 Political
  • 13 Jewelry
  • 14 Other (food, costumes, etc)

Barely a third of that jewelry designers Instagram feed was for their craft. It made me realize I should not get so caught up with others social media and most importantly I need to continue to be positive with my media and not alienate those that only wish to enjoy what I enjoy: jewelry.

This was not the only sad tale of a jeweler getting too focused and overwhelmed with current events to realize that if their jewelry outlives them a strange history may follow it. When you look at a piece from the workshop of Faberge what do you see? How does it make you feel? What comes to mind?

I see fine craftsmanship. A feeling of awe and excitement comes over me as I wish I could find out more about its past. The piece above is coming up for auction at Christie’s, so I know some of it’s importance and time period (1913). The mention of Faberge brings to mind a world of grandeur and splendor, many happy moments and the end of an era. I have done several articles on Faberge that you can read here and here if you would like to know more. Honestly, I do not look at it and say, “I wonder if he supported the Bolsheviks” or “Wow how terrible he did business with those Elites”. I’ll never really know his deep political leanings and that is all the better for me. He had many artisans under him whom I’m sure had opinions (some fought in the army), but they just came to work and did a quality job.

What concerns me with the jewelry industry today is that more “designers” are trying to be recognized and bought for their call outs than their craftsmanship, for their conformity to the mainstream versus their creativity. Jewelry should be enjoyed not create disharmony. There is a difference between expressing yourself and shouting at others.

I see the trend reports and social media marketing tips about personalizing your brand. My question for you to think about is, when you buy for yourself do you value how well the product works for the maker or how well it would work for you? How would you feel if a designer recognized the death of a person in another state but ignored their neighbor that died protecting a store near you? (That is a true case for me, I will never look at that designers work the same again after they ignored the death of an innocent person in their own town)

This has also taught me something about the art of jewelry, I need to look at the piece not the person. Do I like it or not? The designer I just referenced has quality items, but it is not something that wows me, I just liked the idea that there was someone near my Midwestern home that was recognized for fine jewelry. That sentiment will be true for others down the road, a piece may be bought for the branding but if it is not a piece that has a timeless quality, it will not thrive long after its purchase.

Now what do you want to focus on, the things you have no control over or the things that you do? What do you want to be associated with? How do you want to live your life? I want to master my analytics skills and take Data in the Rough to a higher level. I can do more and do better, so can you. If any of this resonates reach out on my Instagram. I’d love to connect and see where this year takes us! Thank you for reading this! Please return soon for more Data in the Rough and ignore the haters!

How Jewelry Businesses are Branding Wrong

With more time inside I have been looking at articles about what the future of the jewelry industry and retail will look like. The articles and videos I have seen have almost dreary existence for retail. In an earlier post I mentioned some of the changes stores like Nordstrom were making to adjust to the pandemic. What I have found to be troubling is that these are short term trends and how people are interpreting them and applying them to their brand is misguided. I will look at a prediction from the past and see how you should evaluate it for your brand.

McKinsey published a trend report for the jewelry industry on Feb. 1, 2014 titled, ‘A multifaceted future: The jewelry industry in 2020’. Looking back, it was good about identifying a key trend that I will focus on in this post, branding. Below are the predictions leading up to 2020:

In about 10 years their will be a growth in branded jewelry. Reading the report, you will realize that they are talking about big brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton doing more with jewelry. There is another way to interpret this trend and that is branding will be more important to even smaller businesses. This is evident now with everyone seeming to have an Instagram account and articles telling you how you need to show the ‘personal’ side of your brand for others to relate to.

Current Environment

With recent events the jewelry industry is using their business platform as a political forum and losing sight of the purpose of a business account to share about your business. If you use your account to win a popularity contest or be in with the in crowd you risk diminishing what you built.

People need to see a product not a statement. If you attract only people that agree with you that can work but what happens when you don’t share those same opinions’, or your workers don’t all agree on the subject? Boycotting products or bullying others online to support your cause is not a good way to live; many people work at making those products and may not share those views. It will be hard though to buy from an artisan that is disrespectful as you know who the money is directly going to.

One Direction you can go

In my opinion you should focus on the quality and value your brand embodies. If you can build on that you will be ahead of many small jewelry brands who try and say that ‘I am just like you buy from me!’ There are lots of counter arguments and I have heard many, but it should be the individual that makes the decision not a business dictating their stance. That is where real change will happen treating others kindly that you come across.

If you need help refocusing you brand please reach out to me: data.inthe.rough@gmail.com. Stay safe and I will be writing again next week!

Brand Awareness: 365, A Year of Cartier

Brand Awareness: 365, A Year of Cartier

I have enjoyed the online lectures and Instagram Live talks by designers, but do you look and say I wonder if that will help my business? It might but there are other ways to advertise that can be just as effective with out having to compete in this industry. I like the online videos but came across something from Cartier that I found refreshing an online magazine you could download called 365, A Year of Cartier. Cartier addressed the stay at home order the world was facing and decided to let you read about what is happening in its company at your leisure. Here are some aspects that I liked about the magazine that might be good for you to think about in your advertising.

Their History

Cartier talked about their most famous Creative Director, Jeanne Toussaint. Toussaint was the first female Creative Director for Cartier. The article highlighted her designs and creative process. Even though many of those familiar with the company know those facts seeing more visual aspects and focusing less on long stories entertain while keeping the branding focused for the customer.

The iconic Love collection is also featured in an article as celebrating 50 years. A great way to talk about your product without making it feel like a sale.

Their New Products

Sometimes you need to be less discreet about selling. Cartier highlighted their new bag collection, Guirlande de Cartier. They could have just put it in as an ad but instead they tied it back to their heritage. They talked about the inspiration being their iconic boxes. Ranging from $1,140-$3,150, the price points while still high for some are much lower than a good portion of their jewelry and showcase variety in products.

I wish they had featured their sunglasses as well with summer coming on for the US and as may are walking outdoors it could plant seeds for future sales.

Their Community

I loved the article that focused on some of the clients that owned a piece from their Panther collection. Wording it as a community felt right as this situation has many wanting unity and a sense of belonging. I am hoping to own a Cartier Panther someday and this helps build that strong branding message.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed the magazine. I have more parts to read and reread but I like that the articles are not too long. Some are short blurbs to describe the photos and give a brief background. Making the magazine something you did not have to RSVP for or be at your computer at a certain time was nice too. If you think you’d like to try something over this shelter in but don’t think Instagram broadcasts are for you reach out to me and lets come up with some creative ways to get your brand back in peoples thoughts. Have you seen other ways businesses are reaching out that you’ve like? Did you read 365, A Year of Cartier? Would love to hear your thoughts! Thank you for reading Data in the Rough! I hope you return next week for more!

Tiffany & Co reopens some stores: How will Jewelry Stores adapt over the Summer?

Looking online at jewelry is about all I have been able to do in this state of confusion and uncertainty about the retail environment. There is concern for all aspects of life currently, but I am focusing on the Retail Industry in this post. Even if you want to order online you probably get the notice of delayed shipping. The questions that I see again and again are: When will the stores reopen? When can things return to normal? What will be the new normal? Those answers will vary depending where you are, but we can get an idea of some of it for the retail world by looking at the news and stores that are reopening.

Stores Reopening

 I was intrigued to see Tiffany & Co announce on their website that they were opening some stores.

I naturally had to click to see what was listed. My store was not on the list but those that were made sense.

Michigan and Texas both had protests about wanting to return to work. Seeing stores in those areas reopen makes sense. It will be worth watching to see how those stores fair in sales and adapt to the new norms of retail created from this pandemic.

Returning to Normal

Other retailers are opening some of their stores, a few to mention:

Those are just a few of the major chains looking at reopening.

New Normal

Even though stores are reopening this does not mean it will be business as usual. Nordstrom announced that they plan on providing health screenings for employees and offering face masks for both employees and customers. Macy’s will not be offering ear piercings or makeup samples to try on your own. There were more initiatives listed in the article here, but one stood out, ‘Customers have to use hand sanitizer before trying on jewelry and watches’.

Jewelry stores adapting

For at least the summer I predict a less relaxing retail experience as article I read all talked about continuing social/physical distancing while in the store. The hand sanitizers for jewelry like rings makes sense but what about earrings or necklaces? What are you concerned about as a retailer or consumer? These reports of the new protocol do not excite me as I have been planning to splurge on some items once stores start to reopen. Wearing a mask as I try on some shades or try and smell a perfume does not bring a happy thought for my customer experience.

If you are concerned how you will be able to adapt this to your business send me a message or leave a comment. I would love to collaborate and come up with some ideas that will benefit everyone and not hinder the experience you want your customer to have. Thank you for reading Data in the Rough and I hope you return soon for more!

Why starting a Project because you have the time is a Bad Strategy

It’s hard to avoid the topic of the current events taking place. Many of you reading are probably in the same situation as I am requested to stay in to ‘flatten the curve’. I’ve enjoyed saving time by not commuting to work but I’m not embracing it as much as others. I have noticed several businesses trying to update their Instagram accounts more, email messages of how they are responding to Covid-19 etc. It’s good to see businesses trying to adapt but what will become of these strategies once the quarantine is over?

If you are thinking of starting a new project something to think about; is it because you have the time now? If it deals with your business would you still have pursued this if the extra time had not presented itself? No? Why? Because you did not have the time but didn’t your business still need this? See where I’m getting at. If it is important to your business you need to make the time. It’s easy to do this now that the time is available but unfortunately you are competing with lots of other businesses doing the same as you.

I started a project in November, put it on hold and started up again in March. It’s been harder the second time around but I need to do this for my business. I have a personal Instagram account that I put jewelry on that currently has over 23,000 followers. I started it before Facebook took it over and messed with the algorithm so I had a head start in growing my following versus others that started later. Now I want to get more involved with Instagram strategy and focus more on driving insights in the Jewelry Industry with data. So I am starting a new Instagram business account for my consulting agency and blog : Data in the Rough

My new IG business account

It’s got a few posts and a very small following but it’s an experiment and a way to improve my business. I have already thought of my strategy to maintain a following and increase engagement when I have to resume my commute. It’s important to make good use of this time, don’t be like the articles below:

I did a search for news on jewelry and came across two articles reporting the same issue. There is a lot wrong here but two things that are glaring why are the reports so off on the amount of jewelry licked? Also why is a grocery store even selling jewelry at a time like this? I would use that space to stock sanitizers, those will fly off the shelves quicker than the jewels. Again there is so much more that is wrong with this.

For the lesson to apply don’t try and over due your attempts for attention, big sales and guest speakers are ok but try and connect with your customers who may be suffering financially too. One more thing I saw a new trend of crafting your own jewelry in a Yahoo article some of it’s cute but some of the hand made and sustainable pieces are going too far. To see what I mean head to my Instagram account: Data in the Rough Looking forward to posting again soon!

Why doesn’t the Jewelry Industry put out a Superbowl Ad?

Why doesn’t the Jewelry Industry put out a Superbowl Ad?

Last month roughly 102 million people watched the Super Bowl and 23.6 million tuned in to see the glamour, gowns and winners of the Oscars. Town and Country put out it’s February 2020 edition with the 3rd Annual Jewelry Awards and after the first two events I thought, who is this really reaching, and should the Jewelry Industry think about a different strategy to reach consumers?

I’ve done a more detailed analysis on the last two awards issues here and here last year. This time I’m going to ask some bigger questions that might get you thinking about how you want to market your company. Let’s first look at how Town and Country presented the awards this year.

Town and Country Jewelry Awards

The small mention of the Jewelry Awards on the cover (it gets smaller every year), had the statement: The right way to spend your money.  The first thought I had was investment pieces, but the pages showed off jewels that lacked a proper description of why you should spend for these jewels. I was also hoping for more on future designers but only about a quarter of a page with 4 designers sharing the small spotlight making it feel more like a passing thought.

T&C February Cover

The Editor’s Letter talked about the Dresden Green diamond that was not part of the crown jewels of Saxony that were stolen on November 25. The diamond was loaned to The Metropolitan Museum for the current exhibit, Making Marvels. The editor talked about how the exhibit embodies the, ‘link between technological innovation and social prestige.’ The hope was that the awards would also show some innovative designs. The pieces were nice but if no one really knows what goes into it or how valuable the materials are then there is not much prestige or social admiration for the wearer. Jewelry is a more of personal object but if you didn’t want others to see it you wouldn’t wear it.

Overall, I don’t think the issue did that great of a job educating the reading and putting a proper spotlight on the designer. The issue could have really show cased the process and the person behind the designs. With more people looking to lab diamonds for their engagement rings, show that these designers are responsibly sourcing materials and labor would be a plus in helping diminish the bad reputation the Jewelry Industry gets on mining.

Demographics of different Medias

Looking at other places to advertise the Superbowl 2019 saw 98.2 million viewers 39.95 were between the ages of 18-49. The 2020 age demographics are not in yet, but we can look at this as about 40% of viewers are between 18-49. The Oscars only had 23.6 million viewers and saw a major drop in there 2020 viewership for 18-49-year olds, in 2019 the viewership was 29.6 million. Looking at Town & Country’s media kit, their readership is 638,000 and the median age is 49.7, skewing two-thirds (66%) female.

Why the Jewelry Industry needs to think inside the box

Depending on what you are selling and who you hope to attract, being in Town & Country if you sell jewelry might be great for you but for the industry not so much. The Oscars are still good for exposure but with drops in viewership and the controversy it can bring it doesn’t allow for controlling your brand as much if you are a designer. The emphasis on reaching younger consumers the Jewelry Industry needs to look at ways to get people talking more positively about jewelry and thinking of it more than just a one-off item you buy for marriage. So why not have a Super bowl ad? I know cost is an issue but there are other alternatives; YouTube ads that you need the audience’s opinion on, create a social media campaign that puts couples in the ad or something else that gets people excited! The focus needs to be how to make jewelry a part of the wearer’s life so the over used response of, ‘It’s beautiful but where would I wear it’ comes less into play.

How I can help

If you are looking for ways to reach your audience and need help in seeing how effective it was then please look me up on Instagram and reach out to me. As a business analyst with several years of Retail Industry experience the questions of how to improve reach affect all sizes of businesses. Let me know your thoughts or questions below and thank you for reading Data in the Rough!

What would you do with an extra day?

For some there are not enough hours in the day and others need a day to catch up. So, what would you do with an extra day? On February 29th I went to New York City to see the Dresden Green Diamond at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before the exhibit ended on March 1st. I was cutting it close but I’m glad I went. It gave me time to think about what I love doing.

Dresden Green Diamond at the Met

Walking around New York I was excited and curious to see all the changes that were talking place with some of the stores. Bulgari looks to be expanding, Piaget moved, and Tiffany renovated their flagship store.

Bvlgari Store 5th Avenue

I also walked by De Grisogono who recently fell into scandal and filed bankruptcy. Their store was empty. It is a lesson that can not seemed to be learned. Not too far away from that store was another ruined jeweler, Nirav Modi.

Seeing the changes and challenges facing the jewelry industry I realized that how I spent my extra day reflected my passions more than just a day of fun. I got back and started to work on my social media and creating content for this website. How you spend your free time gives an indication of what takes priority. If you are reading this, you may be interested how analytics and deeper looks at trends can help further your areas of business. I know I am.

Maybe you are trying to see how to start marketing your small business, I’m with you!  Join me as I look at different areas of the jewelry industry for learnings that can apply to different aspects of business. If you want to see how I can help you better understand your industry or business send me an email at : data.inthe.rough@gmail.com. If you have a post, you’d like to see send me a note! Thank you for reading and return soon for more Data in the Rough!

An Unsold item at the Elizabeth Taylor Auction

When I heard over the summer that another auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s possessions was taking place in December I was elated! I remembered her last sale and the fun I have had since see her jewelry reappear on the auction block.

This sale was a little different. It was suppose to show the star’s fun side. So when the catalog appeared on Julien’s Auction website I combed through looking at the history and for the jewelry. There were a few pieces but not to the level of her last sale.

The Piece That Didn’t Sell

I did think that most if not all pieces would sell. So I wasn’t surprised to see a few unsold items but did wonder why a particular item went unsold. The item I am referring to was the first item up for auction. The Cartier belt engraved as a gift to Elizabeth’s mother. The estimate was $10,000-$20,000.

The engraving was written in Elizabeth’s own hand. The inscription reads: “To My ‘Hippy’ / Mom / All my love / Elizabeth” . A sentimental piece that was the first item to be passed over at the auction.

Is the Marketing Wrong?

If you are in the retail business or follow marketing articles, retailers are always being told that a compelling story can set your product and business above the rest. A way to differentiate your self is to have a unique story. You probably have read other articles with the same advice.

Over the next year I am going to look deeper into this auction and the other Elizabeth Taylor auction that was over 8 years ago at Christie’s. I will also be looking at other auction data and seeing if there would have been a better way to have presented this item so it might have sold or is this an indication of something else.

Thank you for reading. I plan to get back to a regular blogging schedule for 2020! Happy Elizabeth Taylor Tuesday!

Summer Jewelry Books- 2019 Edition

As people plan vacations, I look at what interesting books are out that I can read over my summer. I periodically check Amazon to see what books are coming out.  I have 5 picks for summer jewelry books that are coming out this summer or came out less than a month ago.

History is something I have always enjoyed learning about whether it is about a person, place or time period. I have read several books on Faberge and what I love about how people write about the master jeweler is all the techniques and details.

Books focusing on Techniques and History

Looking at Jewelry by Susanne Gänsicke & Yvonne J. Markowitz -June 18, 2019

This offers explanations of jewelry terms. The book is geared toward jewelry makers, students, scholars but for anyone interested in a more in depth look at the methods and materials this is one to check out.

Jewels and Jewelry by Clare Phillips– May 21, 2019

As a fan of tiaras and royal history (mostly British) this is a great introduction to one of the finest jewelry collections at a museum. This book looks at examples from the Victoria and Albert Museum. The contents are divided into three parts: materials, chronology of style, manufacturing and distribution. That last section is of interest to me, I love learning about the supply chain of an industry.

Nubian Gold: Ancient Jewelry from Sudan and Egypt by Peter Lacovara & Yvonne J. Markowitz– July 9, 2019

This is a topic I don’t know as much about. I admire the designs of David Webb and Suzanne Belperron who were inspired by ancient gold techniques. A background and history of the area that these treasures come from would be a new world for me to explore.

Fiction Read

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom: A Novel Paperback by A. E. Hotchner – June 11, 2019

Not everyone likes reference books all the time. This looked like a fun summer read the first line of the description caught my eye, “Twelve-year-old Aaron Broom is protecting his father’s car from repossession when he witnesses a jewelry store robbery gone wrong.” It turns out the father of the boy is accused. Aaron must seek out the real criminal by coming in contact with gangsters, diamond deals and more to clear his dad’s name. The story is set in St. Louis which is near my hometown so another bonus for that!

Book about the Jeweler

The Art of the Jeweler: Excellence and Craftmanship by Guillaume Glorieux– June 10, 2019

This book is put out in partnership with the Lecole des Arts Joailliers, place Vendôme in Paris. I blogged about my experience with the Lecole of Van Cleef & Arpels when they came to New York. The book looks at major design houses like Cartier, Boucheron, etc and the craftsmen behind this beautiful art. It is also under $20!

Bonus Read

Carnet by Michelle Ong by Vivienne Becker & Joel Rosenthal (Forward)– June 11, 2019

I saw this book at Christie’s for an event held around the time of the Spring auctions. The jewelry of Michelle Ong a Chinese designer was breath taking! To have Joel Rosenthal the creator of the famous JAR jewels is a good indication this is a designer to watch.

What did you think of my list? Are any of these summer jewelry books on your reading list? I know I can’t own them all, but I think I will start with the Art of the Jeweler! If you have suggestions, please comment below! If you are an author or distributing of any of these titles and would like to send me a copy email at data.inthe.rough@gmail.com ! Thank you and happy reading!

Cartier Tiara: The Journey from NYC to Beijing Exhibit

One of my favorite activities in NYC is looking at the jewelry store windows. There are so many beautiful objects from different time periods and places that it feels like you are taking a trip to many exotic locations. On one of my trips I came across a window with a beautiful diamond Cartier Tiara. The tiara was stunning with perfect details in platinum and diamonds. What really made this piece special was a note accompanying the tiara. A representative of Cartier had reached out to the store owners asking to borrow the tiara for an exhibit May-July in Beijing.

This exhibit is a follow up to the 2009 ‘Cartier Treasure’ exhibit, the second Cartier exhibit held at the Forbidden City. I read the note and some of the history and thought how fortunate this store (L’etoile Royale) is to get to share a piece they bought in this exhibit. For this post I will look a little at the history of this Cartier Tiara and then talk about partnerships and marketing.

History of Cartier Tiara

The tiara was made in 1908 for Miss Ada Ismay for her wedding to Henry Anthony Chandos Pole in October of that year. Miss Ismay’s father, Thomas Henry Ismay was founder of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (also known as the White Star Line), one of their most famous ships was the RMS Titanic. Ada’s brother Joseph was on the maiden voyage but survived. Both of Ada’s parents had passed before her wedding. She had two children. Her husband was a Brigadier-General that passed away in 1934.

The Cartier Tiara was made by Georges Harnichard in the London workshop. A perfect piece from the Belle Epoque era. It was auctioned at Christie’s London Important Jewelry Auction in November 2003. The estimate was 50,000-70,000 Great British Pounds (GBP) and sold for 103,810 GBP (with buyer’s premium).

Photo courteous of Christie’s

The tiara also made an appearance at the ‘Diamond Divas’ exhibit in Antwerp in 2008. It has made it into the care of L’etoile Royale on Madison Street and will again be seen by thousands of people in Bejing for the summer! The Cartier Tiara can be taken apart to have a piece be made into a stomacher. And comes in its original box!

Marketing and Partnerships

This is a great opportunity for the store. The publicity is one plus and forming relationships with people who can see you as a credible source in the future is important in any business. For those that are not as fortunate to buy a tiara that a major jewelry house wants for its exhibit here are a few ideas to find your own opportunities:

  • Partner with another business to create an event that would serve your customers better than if you were to do it alone.
  • See about loaning you space to a group that would be your ideal client (women entrepreneur’s, bloggers etc.)
  • Offer to customize an item just for that store (look at my post on how Weitzman worked with a boutique to create a shoe that he hoped Jennifer Aniston would buy)

If you are still looking for more ways contact me at data.inthe.rough@gmail.com and we will put or thinking caps ( or tiaras) on and come up with ways to grow your business. Thank you for following and please return soon for more Data in the Rough!