Marina B adds E-commerce to their Website

Luxury and e-commerce have always been a little tricky. The brand wants to retain some mystery but still be visible to customers and aspirational buyers. Apparel has done better with adapting to social media and online sales, jewelry again has been slow to adopt new ways of doing business. Last month though Marina B updated their website and added e-commerce! If you follow David Webb, they also updated their website increasing their pieces offered that can be bought online. JCK covered it in an article from late January.

In this post I will look at some of the features on Marina B’s website, the product offerings and where they may move towards in the future with e-commerce.

The Website

The home page draws you in with Marina B’s bright colors a signature of the brand’s design. Scrolling through the page you see some of the three collections that are on the online shop: Trisola, Trisolina, and Luna.

Then you come to the Jewelry for Muses. I like seeing the celebrities that have worn Marina B through the years, but I think that this is one area that the Marina B team may want to reconsider next time. I would like to see those similar pieces when I click on the photo or see a place above devoted to ‘Who Wore It’ or ‘Worn by’. One site to consider is Kenneth Jay Lane (KJL) who has numerous celebrities wear his jewels. An example of how his site incorporates the story and the sale is Elizabeth Taylor and her famous pendant earring bought by Mike Todd. The Adverturine has more on the history, but here is the KJL version.

A photo of the celebrity wearing the jewels and the product for sale on the site.

Marina B could use Elizabeth Taylor as well who was a customer of Marina B. Marina could mention that the Portanova Diamond Ear Pendants brought in $572,500 at the 2011 Christie’s Auction. Then the website can show that variety as well as other variations of this classic showstopping earring.

A feature that I like as you scroll further is some of the Marina B book by Viviane Jutheau de Witt is available online. It is an out of print book that you can look for on Amazon or Ebay. Ebay is where I bought my copy!

You reach the end of the site to see where the Marina B boutique is located and the hours. Was thrilled to see that they are open to the public Monday through Friday! The picture is visually appealing and is making me consider a mini trip to NYC to see the space!

The Products

A quick look at the products online for sale. The table below gives the type and range of prices for the collection and types.

Trisolina is the largest collection ranging from price points of $2,150-$27,500. A few pieces from Trisolina.

The collection ranges from $1,400 to $27,500. The product mix is heavy on rings and bracelets/bangles. I would look at offering more earrings, they are so iconic and show off Marina B’s amazing designs and engineering ability.

Future of Marina B e-commerce

Overall, I like the site, major improvements from the last one. I hope to see more products and more of Marina B’s story come to the site. Also, I think the site should add a high jewelry section to really show the amazing creations that this house is capable of. Have you looked at the site? What do you like or hope to see improved? If you are looking at branching more into e-commerce or want to redo your online strategy give me an email and I’d love to work with you! Thank you for reading Data in the Rough!

The Added Costs of Jewelry at the Oscars: Looking at the Taylor-Burton Diamond

Lots of excitement surrounded Lady Gaga for wearing the Tiffany Yellow Diamond last worn by Audrey Hepburn. Several articles on seeing this stunning piece were covered by JCK, Independent, and Town & Country .   Lady Gaga’s jewelry and performance will be looked backed on for many years but you wonder if it’s worth the cost? Business of Fashion put out an article titled, Does Oscar Fashion Still Matter? (accessible only to BOF Professional subscribers) Drawing attention to some of the numbers a recent poll referenced in the article found 44% of Americans did not watch the awards show red carpet coverage. I was in those numbers. Of the 56% that did only 6% said they watched for the fashion. (This was a sample size of 2,203) So how much does the jewelry matter? And what is the cost to a jewelry house? I can’t get specific numbers of current celebs, but I want to look back at one of the most famous red-carpet jewel and star, Elizabeth Taylor at the 1970 Oscars wearing the famous Taylor-Burton Diamond.

Elizabeth Taylor presenting at 1970 Oscars

Brief Background on Taylor-Burton Diamond

The Taylor-Burton Diamond has been mentioned by Taylor in books and interviews. The cost of the jewel was disclosed at being $1,050,000 in 1969 bought from Cartier. Taylor wore this 69.42 carat pear with diamond set necklace to the 1970 Oscars accompanied by her husband and actor Richard Burton.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at 1970 Oscars, Taylor wearing Taylor-Burton Diamond

Taylor presented that year so many people got to see this piece on display. The cost of insuring it was $1 million by Lloyd’s of London. Taylor could wear the diamond out 30 days of the year, for all others it was locked in a safe. The diamond was sold in 1979 for between $3-$5 million to New York jeweler, Henry Lambert who sold it that same year to jewelry house Mouawad for close to $5 million.

The Added Cost of High Jewelry

Since the numbers are not available for the Tiffany Diamonds cost to be out, I will look at what it cost Elizabeth Taylor to wear that gem out.

I mentioned above the numbers from that time period, but I want to adjust them for inflation, so we see the price in today’s dollars.  You can check out other prices from the CPI calculator I found online here.

Tiffany Diamond Estimate

The Tiffany Diamond is 128 carats and valued at over $30 million by a CBS report. The diamond has not been out since the Audrey Hepburn stills for Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1962. My guess is that Tiffany bought an insurance policy for this event and if Lady Gaga did not already have jeweler’s insurance she likely signed off that she would be financially responsible if something were to happen. I found an article detailing more about celebrity jewelry policies here. This is one of the main reason stars don’t own their jewelry. The cost would likely be much greater than Taylor’s piece.

Tiffany Press

Will this really boost Tiffany’s bottom line? The reason for exposure at an award show is to create brand awareness to sell to those watching these shows. Since Tiffany is a publicly traded company, I will take a peak at their first and second quarter financials when they become available. I would be interested in seeing how the Tiffany Diamond is mentioned and displayed in the store with this new celebrity connection. What I wouldn’t give to see the numbers on the foot traffic over the year in the NYC Fifth Avenue store!

Final Thoughts

So far, the response seems mostly positive following Hepburn is a hard act, but Tiffany is trying to make their industry relevant which benefits more than Tiffany. If you are looking at new ways to market your product and need some guidance on how to measure its effectiveness. Also, if you need help making sure you are accounting for all your costs when launching a campaign or starting a new business venture. Contact me at data.inthe.rough@gmail.com ! Thank you for reading this post and for all the Elizabeth Taylor fans out there I didn’t forget Dame Taylor’s birthday tomorrow!  Return soon for more Data in the Rough!

Jewelry Store Windows on 5th Avenue Welcoming Wealth and Prosperity

In my last post I mentioned that the Valentine Displays were a little lite on 5th Avenue. Several jewelry store windows were decorated for the Chinese New Year that started on February 5th. For this post I will look at a few factors of why that is and see if those were good reasons for the stores visual merchandising strategy. The two factors I am focusing on are spending for these holiday’s and the number of stores present in the USA and China.

Valentine’s versus Chinese New Year spending

Valentine’s is a major retail holiday in the us in terms of spending. The National Retail Federation put out some data on Valentine’s spending. Below are some highlights.

Notice the expected percentage celebrating in 2019 dropped to about 51% but total expected spending ($20.7 billion) increased versus last year. So that means spending per person is up. It’s worth noting that when breaking the data down by gender men outspend women on Valentine gifts.

Spending per person for Valentine’s Day is expected to increase 12.8% versus 2018 which comes to a total of $161.96.

Those are good numbers, but they do not come close to Asian countries celebrating the New Year. An article published this week by CNBC did a survey with several Asian countries to see on average how much they were planning to spend for this year. Below is a table summarizing the findings:

As you can see even the lowest average per person spend (Indonesia) is almost 5 times a US Valentine spender’s budget. China’s numbers were not available, but the total spend estimate was. The article is quoted at estimating China’s total spend at ‘just under $140 billion. in retail and catering services over the week-long holiday’. Above the National Retail Federation listed the US Valentine total expected spend at $20.7 billion.

This is no surprise about China’s spending power, they have over a billion people. But will changing the window displays in the US jewelry stores really make that big of an impact? What is the brand presence of these high-end jewelry brands in China?

Number of US stores vs Chinese stores

Walking down 5th Avenue and noting all the new year decorations in many of the jewelry store windows I decided to go online to get a count of the number of stores that these jewelry brands had in the US versus China. Below is the table with my research:

These numbers were found on the respective brands website and only include salons/boutiques not licensed sellers. Hong Kong (HK) is included with mainland China.

All but 2 companies have more Chinese stores than US locations. Tiffany and Harry Winston have more US than Chinese locations. Harry Winston has chosen to celebrate the Chinese New Year and from my previous post Tiffany went with Valentine’s Day.

Brand Strategy

Even though both Tiffany and Harry Winston are American-based brands, Tiffany has a more iconic American brand, so I think it made sense to decorate the stores for an American holiday. Harry Winston is probably hoping like many other stores that their New Year decorations will welcome in the estimated 6.15 million Chinese traveling abroad for the holiday. Tourism abroad is up for China, but the US has felt a decline, a report describing more of that is here. Tiffany is the only publicly traded company on the list so I won’t be able to compare sales results, but I will be interested in seeing Tiffany’s quarterly report for my own curiosity.

Finishing Remarks

The pig in the Chinese Zodiac signifies wealth and prosperity. Hopefully the Jewelry Industry experiences that this year. If you want to restart your new year and revamp your strategy send me an email at: data.inthe.rough@gmail.com . I wish all my readers lots of luck and prosperity in this new year. To end my post, I want to share some of the Chinese New Year displays I have been talking about. Enjoy the pictures below of my NYC window shopping trip last weekend!

2nd Annual Analysis of Town & Country Jewelry Awards

It’s that time of the year again! The 2nd Annual Town & Country Jewelry Award results are in! I analyzed some pieces of the awards last year and you can read it by clicking the link. I’m not going to go through all those points from last year. I want to only look at one main issue I had with the awards and focus on how the awards have moved forward.

If you are a subscriber to Town & Country magazine you probably got a cover like this with your magazine last week.

Anne Hathaway in a multi-colored dress with a long rose gold earring. The rose gold earrings are by Vhernier, named innovator of the year in the Town & Country Jewelry Awards. A great designer but this earring choice was not a great statement of things to come.

The other cover on newsstands was no different in the jewelry department. This time rose gold and jet earring by the same designer, Vhernier.

There was something missing from the cover that I noticed immediately, compared to last year. Here is the last year cover if you don’t remember or if you haven’t read the post from last year.

See in the right-hand corner in red? It is the call out of the Town & Country Jewelry Awards! When I first saw this magazine, I was concerned that the awards were a one-time thing. For me that would be upsetting since I just renewed so I could receive this issue! I think for the Jewelry Awards Issue the accessories should be a bit bolder.

I was pleased to see a change in the voting. Instead of a small panel like last time (where 2 of the judges also won in the Media Category) this time more than 200 ballots were cast among Jewelry designers, collectors, T&C editors, industry experts and influencers. I was not on that list but the editor’s letter by Stellene Volandes mentioned the voting logistics in the first line. I really think this is better than leaving it to a select few that may have other interests involved. For me this issue got off to a better start.

Emmanuel Tarpin behind the scenes from Instagram account

The Categories

A list of the winners to discuss below:

I like that there are 12 categories, not too many but not too few. I do subscribe for the jewelry so I want to see plenty of it. A nice addition to the magazine was some of the categories also have finalists. For colored stones Chopard won, below is a stunning and colorful pair of earrings. The runners up were Irene Neuwirth and Martin Katz.

Chopard Earrings

Some other categories to highlight:

Bulgari’s Wild Pop Collection: Bulgari is using more color in their creations and channeling the 1980’s. I was fortunate enough to walk by the New York store on 5th Avenue and catch some of their masterpieces.

Bulgari Necklace

Tiffany’s Save the Wild Collection: I have been watching this collection since it launched in 2017. Tiffany has animal themed jewelry like the elephant brooch below from their website, in which Tiffany is donating 100% of the profits to the Wildlife Conservation Network, which includes the Elephant Crisis Fund. You can learn more on their website. What I love about this collection is the price range $250-$35,000, so you do not need a lot of money to own a piece of jewelry that gives back to nature.

Tiffany Diamond Elephant Brooch

One category not listed is for social media influencers. Again, I was glad to see the social media panelists no longer choosing the winners. I think that category was unnecessary given how little is proven on how much influence social media has on branding and shopping.

One more amazing Chopard piece from their website

Let me know your thoughts on the magazine. Is there a category you would like to see? I would like a few emerging designers, Town and Country does a lot with main stream, well known jewelry houses, that I think introducing some new faces would help make the magazine feel like a better source of what is happening in the world of jewelry. If you would like to see how to measure social media and its influence in your business send me an email and we can talk about your strategy and business goals. Return later as I get back into a more regular schedule of blogging on Data in the Rough! Thank you for visiting!

Why is the Jewelry Industry obsessed with one ring?

The wedding season maybe over for some but as you read this someone is looking for a ring for their significant other to propose marriage. A one time event that the jewelry industry focuses on. A little strange so many jewelers chase after one type of customer when there are other segments of consumers that may be a better fit to pursue. I talk about why there is this focus on the wedding industry and see what may need to come and shake up this long standing tradition for the jewelry industry.

It sounds strange coming from a jewelry blogger but here it goes, I don’t like looking at engagement rings. Solitaire, round, halo, or whatever, if it’s in the bridal section I tend to pass by without a second glance. It’s not that I lack an appreciation for the institution or romance. I love a good rom-com as much as the next person. I’ve even caught myself referencing scenes from iconic movies in my posts. I also love to see the rings of friends and read about celebrities’ engagements, but I don’t browse the bridal section on my own.

Could not pass up some Lord of the Rings references!

Recently I attended a wedding of a close friend. The ceremony was beautiful, the couple was happy, and the food was phenomenal, and it got me thinking why is it that so much emphasis is put on one ring? The ring my friend has is a gorgeous halo ring in white gold. It is a beautiful and costly ring, but it is only one ring and that is all you should need in theory. Yet everyone that I see in the jewelry industry has a bridal collection hoping to sell that one-time ring to a couple. Why is that? The simple reason I get is ‘most people get married’, ‘it is the bread and butter of the jewelry industry’. Many designers start out creating engagement rings for friends, so I see that argument. For the next few months I am going to be looking at the trends in weddings and engagement rings to see how much of this obsession is justified and if there are ways to look at this industry differently that can help you own business or brand.

Gollum isn’t the only one obsessed with a ring!

Wedding Industry is a Red Ocean

If you have taken a business strategy course or enjoy books on market strategy you may have come across a book titled Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim. If not, then I would recommend it. The core idea of the book is that a business can be faced with times where they enter an industry that is highly competitive or there is no competition but over time the competition enters, and you find your business struggling to differentiate itself from other similar businesses. If either is the case, you are in a red ocean. The opposite is a blue ocean where you have a unique product with little competition because your brand and product are so unique that few can compete with your way of doing business. You want to get to a blue ocean for your business.

What is it about it an engagement ring?

Or Is it?

An article came out today by JCK looking at reports of Amazon entering the fine jewelry industry with a line called For Keeps. It is another interesting read to see how the jewelry industry reacts to an outside company that is not a traditional jewelry company. You get statements about the need to create an experience versus Amazon’s more basic way of shopping. I think the jewelry industry needs this shake up. If Amazon enters the industry I hope more jewelers will start looking at data gathering and analysis more seriously. What does this have to do with the wedding industry? My guess is that by the name Amazon is trying to enter the wedding industry. Where could they find their blue ocean by doing what they do best. As I have been researching the wedding industry on statistic stood out to me in relation to the Amazon issue. The Engagement Ring Bible pulled some statistics from the Knot on 2017 engagement rings stating, ‘Grooms spend an average of 3.5 months looking for the perfect engagement ring and will look at 26 different rings before purchase’. My follow ups are how much of that is online? I know it would be much easier to compare brands, styles, prices etc. in one place. Know a place online like that for other items? I thought so. I’ll be watching to see if Amazon does launch a collection, right now there is nothing official from the company

Found this online and it was too good to pass up! Expect to see this again as I follow up on Amazon’s possible entry into the jewelry industry.

What’s Next

I will not only look at wedding statistics but also trends and topics for discussion such as traditions and the changes affecting this institution. Please send me an email or leave a comment if there is something that you would be interested in learning more about on this subject. Also prepare for a few more Lord of the Rings references! If weddings aren’t your thing, I’ll be posting other analysis pieces as well, looking at rebranding efforts by companies and auctions that happen. Thank you for reading Data in the Rough and I look forward to posting again next week!

Michele della Valle Online Results: How Sotheby’s Fared in this New Venture

Sotheby’s first online auction dedicated to a single designer, Michele della Valle ended last Monday. In this post I will look at the results of the auction and what can be learned.

Non si può mai attraversare l’oceano se non si ha il coraggio di perdere di vista la riva.

The above saying in English is: You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.  That saying feels right when talking about the recent online fine jewelry auction held by Sotheby’s.  I will look at the sold versus unsold items and their statistics as a whole, then break it down by type and finally look at some individual pieces that did well at the auction. Also read my predictions and thoughts before the results here.

Sold vs. Unsold (All)

Out of the 111 items designed by Michele della Valle for this online auction only 66 sold. The percentage was 59% sold, 41% unsold. So over half meet the reserve and were sold. The items bid on meet reserve, but what were some of the basic statistics like average dollars of the sold item or number of bids? Below is a table answering that. Note dollars in Swiss Francs (CHF).

The average item sold for 7,884 and had about 6 bids. The most frequent price that sold was 7,500 and the lot had only 2 bids.

To get more detailed we need to look at the results by type.

Sold vs. Unsold (by type)

Above is a table with the counts of lots by type. Earrings were the biggest category at 44 out of 111 lots, next were brooches, then rings. Rings did very well, all but one lot were sold. A table below looks at it by percentage.

Only 38% of brooches sold, earrings saw 32% of their lots unsold. I’m looking more closely at types with ten or more lots to get a better feel of the category. I also looked at the min/max dollars for the sold lots.

Earrings had the largest range, going for as low as 3,000 CHF up to 27,500 CHF.

So, what were some of these high priced items?

Lot with the highest bid

That was a pair of earrings, lot 22, that sold for 27,500 CHF

Lot with the most bids

Lot 14 that had 24 bids, a blue topaz ring.

Piece highest above estimate

There are pieces that are unexpected in what they go for. In this auction a few types did better than others. A table with the break out below.

The rings did the best overall, being 1.6 times higher than the estimates. Earrings were next at 1.33 times. The piece that did better than estimated was lot 97, a pair of earrings that sold for 8.2 times above what Sotheby’s estimated. The final price sold was 21,500 CHF. The estimate was between 1800-2600.

Final thoughts

Obviously, the sale could have gone better, more pieces sold, bids higher, etc. Sotheby’s did a lot right in promoting this auction; they put the auction in their emails and had a video highlighting some pieces. What do I think they could have done better? Educating people on who Michele della Valle is and why his work is something that should be collected. Town and Country just put out about designers to collect, giving some context to where the market is going.

 

From my quote above, somethings you take those risks and swim out alone. Sometimes those risks work out and other times you need a life guard to steer you to a better path. If you are looking for some guidance in your small business strategy send me an email (data.inthe.rough@gmail.com). Let me know what you’re thinking of trying or challenges you are facing. Until then thank you for reading and I hope you return soon for more Data in the Rough!

Results of Skinner Important Jewelry: Looking at Signed Pieces

Skinner Important Jewelry Auction results are in! There are many ways to look at the data. In the interest of time I am focusing on how signed pieces did versus the unsigned pieces offered. I will look at my previous observations on Evelyn Clothier and Aldo Cipullo, the top 5 items above their estimate, and overall signed versus unsigned.

 

A look back at my highlights

In my previous post, Evelyn Clothier had the most signed pieces at the Skinner Important Jewelry Auction. So how did her pieces do? Below is a table showing how her pieces sold at auction.  Note results do not include buyer’s premium.

Evelyn’s pieces did well 18 out of 19 pieces sold. The piece that did better than its estimate, Lot 220 the gem-set necklace I highlighted in the other post. This necklace was only expected to bring in around $7,000 it brought in $18,450, 2.6 times better than the high estimate.

Gem-set Necklace, Evelyn Clothier

A little over half exceeded the high estimate. The item that didn’t sell was also the only bracelet offered by the designer. I tried it on and thought it was a sweet piece, so that was a little surprising.

The results of the next designer shocked me, Aldo Cipullo. The monkey and unicorn brooches that I was excited to see, were beautiful in person. A few pictures of them below.

 

Neither of these pieces sold. I really thought the unicorn would with an estimate between $5,000-$7,000, seemed reasonable. The monkey I thought was a bit too high, estimated for $15,000-$20,000. Still the unique design I thought would drive some interest.

Included is a table with designers that had more than 1 piece at auction and what percent sold.

 

There are several designers that either sold 100% or they sold less than half. David Webb had 3 pieces but only 1 sold. Are there other designer’s above that you wonder about the results?

 

Top 5 Lots

What were the top 5 items that did better than estimated? The top item was Lot 24, an Art Nouveau Turquoise Necklace.

Below is the table with the details.

If you notice only one designer made this list. One pair of Opal earrings by Andrew Grima. Andrew Grima has done well at past auctions in London and New York. Seeing his name make it in the top 5 did not surprise me. I was intrigued that a few more signed pieces did not do better than the unsigned ones.

18kt Gold and Opal Earrings, Andrew Grima

Signed versus Unsigned

How important is it that a piece is signed? The best answer is it depends. For example, pieces attributed to a designer, especially a well known designer like David Webb, that are not signed would not be as valuable to a collector. For Skinner the unsigned pieces sold better than the signed ones. I broke the numbers into three parts.

Top: The actual numbers, there were more unsigned pieces than signed. There were also more sold than unsold.

Middle: Percent of Sold and Unsold, overall 80% of the items sold, which is where the number is usually at from previous auctions.

Bottom: Percent of Signed/Unsigned lots sold vs unsold, Of the Sold Items 60% were unsigned, for Unsold the percentage is the same at 59% for unsigned pieces.

Platinum and Diamond Pendant/Brooch, set with old European-, full-, and rose-cut diamonds

So are unsigned pieces better? Skinner has lots of lots that are antique from Edwardian to Art Nouveau at their auctions, these pieces are usually unsigned and highly desirable for their design and beauty. The other side is that the signed pieces are not always as flashy as pieces from Christie’s or Sotheby’s, they are a bit more every day.

 

Conclusion

Storytelling is important. The designer pieces, especially Evelyn Clothier’s could have sold much better if there was a bit of context about the designer and pieces. This 19-piece collection was the perfect opportunity to spotlight the designer and make her story known. This collection was also owned by the same person. A talk or interview from the owner on what their relationship was and why so many pieces were bought, would have been one idea I would have tried to get more interest. I feel Skinner dropped the ball on this unique opportunity to focus on an American woman designer that has won several design awards and had her jewelry used on the red carpet. If you struggle to think of ways to differentiate yourself or your product contact me for ways to break out of the same old gimmicks and try something else.

 

Thank you and I look forward to you reading more from Data in the Rough!

 

Evelyn Clothier heads list for September Important Jewelry at Skinner Auctions

It’s that time again! In a previous post I mention some of auction houses having only online fine jewelry this month. Skinner Auctions in Boston will be having their auction and preview of Important Jewelry this month. Looking through the lots online before going to the preview, I noticed quite a few by Evelyn Clothier. It felt like she was the most listed designer in the 355 lots from this auction. Being an analyst, I had to see if that was right. I did not go through counting all the designers by myself, I used a little help from excel to get a tally. The list below of designers with 2 or more items in the auction:

Looks like this time I was right! Evelyn Clothier has the most pieces at auction in this sale at 19! Next is Cartier at 11. Evelyn Clothier is not the only new name for me I have not recalled much from Arthur King or Barbara Anton. Seeing Evelyn Clothier name so much I had to look again at all her pieces and find out a little more about her.

Evelyn Clothier, Fine Art of Award-Winning Design

That title was not made by me, Evelyn Clothier’s website lists her numerous AGTA Spectrum Awards.  She also had her jewelry sold in Bergdorf Goodman. The website has her pieces listed and a place to contact her. I did not find too much else about her like how long she has been in the business to what inspires her.

I did look to see if she had been sold at Skinner before, she had one piece at the Dec. 2011 auction. A pair of Aquamarine earrings that went unsold. A side note: these earrings were the winners of the 2011 AGTA Spectrum Awards. (All photos courtesy of Skinner Auctions)

A few of Evelyn Clothier’s designed jewels that will be sold on September 25th, that I am excited to see:

18kt Gold and Enamel Brooch, Evelyn Clothier

Gem-set Necklace, Evelyn Clothier

18kt Gold, Plique-a-Jour Enamel, and Diamond Brooch, Evelyn Clothier

18kt Gold and Plique-a-Jour Enamel Dragonfly Brooch, Evelyn Clothier

A few more thoughts on the auction

I’m eager to see how all the pieces do. Two pieces that are on the top of my list to see are both by Aldo Cipullo. They are of a unicorn and monkey made in the 1970s.

18kt Gold, Enamel, and Gem-set Unicorn Brooch, Aldo Cipullo

18kt Gold, Gem-set, and Enamel Brooch, Aldo Cipullo

 

Let me know what you think of the pieces. Have you heard or seen some of Evelyn Clothier’s work? What other designers listed would you like to know more about? Follow my Instagram over the weekend as I go to Skinner Auctions to see these pieces up close! And return to see my analysis of this auction on Data in the Rough!

Instagram changes since my first 1000 followers and what can be learned

Marketing sites and businesses keep talking about how changes to the Instagram algorithm have hurt engagement. In this post I will look at how I got to my first 1000 followers shortly before the changes took place and how my strategy to grow my following has changed since.

Looking back at all my posts it’s hard to believe I have been on Instagram over 2 ½ years! I started in early September of 2015 to help a designer start and grow her Instagram account. I knew I needed my own account to run my own experiments and see what would be best for my client in the interest of time and resources. I have since ended my working relationship with her, but my account has continued growing. I will start by how I got to my first thousand, strategies that can be helpful as you look to improve your brand.

Getting to 1000:

Once I got to 1000 followers it felt like no time at all, but it took me 4 months from the day I started until I finally got to 1000. The amount of posts was 215. It was in January and I was a bit discourage that I wasn’t growing as quickly as I hoped. I was at a little over 700 followers and decided to post on a rainy Sunday afternoon this Tiffany necklace designed by Paloma Picasso in the 1980s.

Tiffany gemstone necklace posted on my IG that got me to 1000 followers, seen at Christie’s in December 2015

One feature Instagram had was a trending hashtag section. I looked at the page where the trending hashtags were and saw #rainysunday was trending, so I worked that into my caption picking out the most bold and colorful piece to chase away those clouds! Posting around three in the afternoon I knew I’d get some likes, but I never anticipated that over the next couple of days I would get over 500 likes and about 300 followers which got me from 700 to 1000 almost overnight! I realized that my post had made it on the explore page which is why the jump in interest!

Paloma Picasso wearing her design for Tiffany, taken in 1980s. photo from Paris Vogue

Strategies to use now:

Since the changes I can no longer like pictures in real time of when they were posted unless I follow them and get notified when they post. Also, some accounts never make it to the top of my feed. So how do I try and improve my odds:

  1. Follow brands because you like their content not because you hope they follow you. I made the mistake when I first started of following accounts of people or brands that I thought would like me. The problem their feed was not always what I enjoyed seeing so I had to eventually unfollow and look at engaging with account that may never follow me but make my account a pleasant place to go to. Also, to note don’t follow them just because they follow you. They may like your posts, but you may not respond to their content as well, it comes down to engaging with accounts that resonate with you.
  2. Look at what your posting and research hashtags to use that are relevant. Mixing up your hashtags is a better way to grow your following and be in front of new people. Using the same ones can be too predictable especially if you are selling online. Look at what your posting and who maybe interested versus trying to advertise it’s for sale.
  3. Make Instagram friends. Too many small businesses and solopreneurs rely on friends, families or groups they belong to for engagement. The best compliments have been from people I have never meet but find my posts beautiful and interesting. I have even been able to meet with some of my new friends who give me inspiration and different ways to better serve my following.
  4. Experiment with different posts and times. I have read and gone to workshops about growing your following. Everything from running an IG contest to posting more about you as a person. Some ideas are helpful others I tried have failed miserably (I’ll share stories and lessons learned in later posts). For posts use the edits IG has with their photos. I try to make sure my photos are sharp, in focus and the colors vibrant to stand out better to my followers.
  5. Do not get too discouraged with slow growth or followers that leave you in the early stages. When first starting I got a lot of account follows and unfollows in hopes of growing their numbers. Instagram is still a game to many and if you worry too much about winning or losing you’ll miss the important reason for this platform to be social. Again, don’t follow just because they follow you, refer to tip #1.

 

There are plenty of other ways you can improve. Here is an article I read on Hootsuite about ways to improve your account with the changes to the Instagram algorithm. I also read an article by Recode posted early this month, that stated that your Facebook friends can play into what accounts are one top when you log in. I do not follow a lot of my Facebook friends on IG since I want to keep more focused on my business with IG.

Even though it feels harder sometimes, I am still having good success on IG growing my followers and engagement. If you would like a more personal session to find ways to improve your IG please send me an email at Data.inthe.Rough@gmail.com Also feel free to make a comment below about something you’d like to understand or an observation about your experiences with Instagram! Thank you for reading my post, I hope you return soon! Also a bonus the matching earrings to that bold Tiffany necklace, because you can’t have a statement necklace without some statement earrings!!

Matching earrings to Tiffany necklace sold at Christie’s in December 2015!

Faberge at Auction: Lessons to Learn from Two Faberge Flowers hidden in a Shoe Box

Two Faberge flowers fell short of achieving a high estimate by Antique Roadshow when they hit the auction block in June. The article below looks at what key analysis were missed and trends that should have been focused on for future consideration.

Study the past if you would define the future. This quote by Confucius sums up my thoughts about what direction I am going and hope to be going. Digging deeper on issues always have ‘why’ questions that follow, why do I like this, why am I doing this and why do I want to continue this? Some of my whys are answered by looking back at what I love and why I loved it then and now. For the focus of this article I am looking at Faberge in the news, my all time favorite jeweler. A few weeks ago Hanson Auction in the United Kingdom sold two Faberge flowers. Not exactly news worthy at first glance but the story of how the pieces came to auction is worth a mention.

 

The two flowers are of a Dwarf Morning Glory and Barberry, that the owner had wrapped in a tea towel and stored in a shoe box! Pieces that sold for 340,000 British pounds ($451,1111) were tucked away in a small box for 40 years! Why did the owner wait until now to bring these pieces to light? The article in the Daily Mail claimed the man came to have the pieces looked at after seeing an Antiques Road Show episode in March where a similar item was valued at over 1 million British pounds.

Dwarf Morning Glory by Faberge sold at Hanson Auction June 11 for 180,000 pounds (hammer price). photo from Hanson Auctions

 

Barberry by Faberge sold at Hanson Auction June 11 for 160,000 pounds (hammer price). photo from Hanson Auctions

Initially these flowers were predicted to bring in 500,000 pounds by the Antique Roadshow but did not make that estimate. Hanson had a better estimate of 100,000-150,000 pounds for each flower. Why did these flowers fall a little short of the Antique Roadshow estimate? My theory: the Antique Roadshow didn’t look at recent trends in the industry and the seller didn’t take a good look at the market. Examples in an article by ArtNet News cite how auctions at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s either had the bids for the Faberge Flowers fall short of the Antique Roadshow estimate or did not sell at all.

Faberge flower estimated at 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) by Antique Roadshow in 2017. photo from ArtNet News

For the seller, besides the trends in selling Faberge flowers he should have explored the auction houses. Hanson auctioned the flowers off, but those two flowers were the only two Faberge items in the entire June Auction. Was that the right auction house for this sale? Should the seller have gone to Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Bonham’s to try and see if they would be better to sell the flowers? Sotheby’s just had an auction of Russian Works of Art, Faberge and Icons on June 5th.

 

There are other questions to be answered but those are the two main ones for me. I enjoy analyzing the jewelry industry and am growing my business to do more consulting on social media, strategy and business investments. For anyone regardless of industry or where you are in your career one piece of advice from the story above is don’t hide some of those treasures or dreams you are holding on to. I have held onto some of my personal goals for too long and need to start making things happen! You can too!

 

Return later as I pursue more wisdom from Faberge and go back to what inspires me so I can build a strong business and help you find ways to improve yours!   As always thank you for reading my posts on Data in the Rough!