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!

Sotheby’s holds First Online-Only Auction of Michele della Valle Jewelry

If you follow my Instagram you probably have noticed I skew a little to the Italian designers. When I saw this auction of one of my favorite Italian jewelry designers, Michele della Valle I knew I would need to share it on my blog. I’m going to focus on what is being offered and what this type of auction means for the future of online auctions.

The Designer

Michele della Valle, opened his first shop in 1978 located in Rome. He work some with Bulgari before moving to Geneva in 1987. His work is frequently found in auction houses. I learned about him from seeing his work first hand at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. His work is not only inspired by nature but he likes to feature modern icons and pop culture references, like the Facebook ‘like’ pin below.

Lapis lazuli, enamel and diamond brooch, ‘I Like’

His jewelry is fun and bright. I imagine the designer as fun and not taking himself or his jewelry too seriously. Below are a few pieces from the auction that caught my eye. All photos from Sothebys.

Pair of cultured pearl, tsavorite garnet and ruby ear clips
Pair of tsavorite garnet and ruby ear clips, ‘Frogs’
Ruby and diamond ring
Pair of gem set and diamond pendent ear clips, ‘Fragoline’

The Auction

This is not only the first online-auction of Michele della Valle at Sotheby’s but I can not recall an auction dedicated to one designer. There are auctions of celebrities and personal collections of prominent people but not of a lone designer. Not only is this the first one dedicated to a designer, the auction house collaborated with him to create pieces to sell in this online auction.  I find that interesting. Sotheby’s has really been trying new ideas to get more interest in auctions. They even have had auctions with no buyer’s premium, which I love that idea. I’m not sure what the process was for picking Michele della Valle for this trial run in the online market, but I am excited to see how the auction turns out.

Gem set and diamond pendant, ‘Cat’

I have done a little analysis on what is being offered. I am only looking at lots and estimates, the auction does not close until October 1. Below is a table with the type of jewelry, number of lots, and minimum/maximum estimates. As you see earrings top the number of lots at 44 of 111 offered. I think this makes sense earrings are easier to fit than a ring. The prices range from $630-$21,000.  The currency is actually in Swiss Francs (CHF) but I converted to USD for this post.

 

 

Future Trends for Auctions

This auction I think will be the beginning of more collaborations between designers and auction houses. What does this mean to a designer that wishes to be involved in something like this? One, branding will be more important to a designer and an auction house wanting to entice collectors. Designers will need a strong social media presence and clearer branding to stand out from this saturated industry. Second, a better understanding of the customer in mind. I don’t know what went into creating and designing these pieces for the auction, but I guess that Sotheby’s and Michele della Valle had a sense of who they were designing for. If you do not know who your customer is selling to them will be very difficult and many resources will be wasted.

Opal, tsavorite and diamond brooch, ‘Koala’

If you need a better social media strategy or content to present, then send me an email to talk about ways to improve your business. I will follow up on this auction to see how these pieces fared. Have you heard of this designer? Has anyone read the book that came out in 2014 on his jewelry? If you are interested in bidding or seeing more Lots click here. Until then thank you for reading Data in the Rough!

Joseff of Hollywood: Jeweler to the Stars

princess-queen-belle

When choosing what you want to be for Halloween, the costume is the first start but what about the jewelry and accessories? Have you dressed up as a princess, Egyptian Queen or Southern Belle? If you have dressed up as your favorite movie character I’m sure you put some thought into the accessories. Well the jewelry about from the movies The Little Princess, Cleopatra, and Gone with the Wind all had the same company supplying and creating the jewelry, Joseff of Hollywood.

joseff-ad

I had known of the company for quite some time, the office that houses these Hollywood treasures is still running and located in California. You can read more on that in this article but I am reviewing the book Jewelry of the Stars: Creations from Joseff of Hollywood by Joanne Dubbs Ball. It was published in 1991. Which has now been 25 years but still a great book because Joseff’s wife was involved in the making of this book, otherwise the stories and extenstive photos of the jewelry created would not have been so in depth. The book is an easy read, divided into 8 ‘scenes’. Starting with the movie production beginnings and ending with the present state of the company. I will briefly cover some main points but not go too detailed so those interested in buying or borrowing the book can do so and not have all the interesting facts given away.

joseff-of-hollywood-book-cover

So in the beginning…

Movies produced had costume designers but a lot of the jewelry was real and belonged to the actress. This does not seem like a big issue but if a period piece on the early 1800’s is being made and an actress in the 1920’s has on trend jewelry the scene does not feel as authentic. You could try and buy period jewelry but again it may not suit the character and role being portrayed. This can also get expensive and hard to find.

 

Joseff’s full name was Eugene Joseff but many thought Joseff was his first name so he answered to that as well. Joseff was born in 1905 to Austrian parents in Chicago, Illinois. We he started out on his own his first attempt at business failed largely due to the Great Depression so Joseff headed to California to try it again at the jewelry business. His younger brother also went with him to be a part of the business.

 

In 1934, Joseff saw a movie starring Lucille Ball as a lady-in-waiting set in the 16th century he was distracted by her 20th century jewels. He knew the costume designer and went to complain about. The costumers’ response, ‘Well, if you’re so smart, let’s see what you can do.’ Well Joseph did and soon he was designing jewelry for most of the Hollywood movies.  Joseff had studied jewelry and its history so he had an idea of what a piece should look like. He also did a lot of research to get the jewelry historically accurate.

 

What I loved most about the book besides the beautiful photos was that it talked about the business side of the business and the strategy. Joseff was great at creating jewelry but he had so areas that he needed to improve, I will touch on 3 important ones.

 

1: The Manufacturing: Joseff had to use outside artisans to create his jewelry, this worked if they could fulfill Joseff’s artistic vision on a piece. There were a few times that the manufacturer claimed the request could not be done. So Joseff knew he needed to spend the money to create his own in-house manufacturing. So, that he could work on those denied requests and he could achieve the designs he created. So, that was one problem solved.

Would not want to attempt to recreate this!
Would not want to attempt                 to recreate this!

2: Selling his Jewelry: The time and effort going into this historically accurate jewelry was costly and time consuming, especially considering the early times when Joseff did not have the jewelry manufactured in house. So Joseff reached a deal with the production team. He would rent the jewelry to them. This was a win/win for both parties. For Hollywood, the cost was reduced by not paying full price and the headache of storing and finding it again was eliminated. For Joseff his creations would not need to be recreated and he would insure they would not get tossed out or forgotten in his archives. I loved this aspect of the story of Joseff. You can some of his jewels reused in several movies. Below is a movie that starred Angela Lansbury (left) the middle photo is Vivian Leigh and on both is the stunning necklace on the right.

scarlett-angela-amethyst-necklace

3: The bookkeeping/other business matters: Joseff did have some good business sense. However, he was not great at bookkeeping and other business related tasks. He recognized that and called a local business college to send over their best and brightest to help. For the University of California Los Angeles that student was Joan Castle. She quickly assessed that the design part of his business was consuming every moment which is why other business aspects were causing some troubles in his business that would grow worse without any one to fix them. Joan and Joseff worked long hours to get the business on the right track and somewhere in all of that they fell in love. Joan described Joseff as handsome and charming, it was love at first sight for her.

 

The story of them getting together is one you should read from this book. It was romantic, funny and filled with some twists. A perfect script for a Hollywood movie!

Joseff and Joan
Joseff and Joan

 

Movies was not to be Joseff of Hollywood’s only revenue stream. Since Joseff’s work was becoming so well-known he decided to go into the retail business. He sold creations seen on the stars he accessorized and made copies to sell in boutiques across the country. He was selective in who sold his jewelry and it was a major success and is still highly collectible. Some of the stars and the retail jewelry below.

joseff-retail-collection

Unfortunately, Joseff’s success was short lived. On September 18th, 1948 Eugene Joseff died in a plane crash. Joan was scheduled to fly with Joseff but had to cancel when some unexpected circumstances came up. The other part to make this more tragic was Joan and Joseff had an 11-month-old baby boy who would never know his father. Joan was inconsolable for weeks but with her resolve to be both mother and father to their son and continue with the business Joseff started she did get back into a routine. She even designed jewelry going forward but with lots of research and photos/paintings from that period to reference.

 

I loved the book and hope another is made maybe with the story on the manufacturing and suppling Hollywood in the modern day. Let me know if you have read this book. If you have any Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry, I’d love to know how you like it! Have a safe and Happy Halloween! Check back later for more Data in the Rough!