Silver Lining For Jewelry Artists in Current Crisis?

Recent news about the jewelry industry has been grim. Rapaport News reported a 19% decrease in attendance at the prestigious American Gem Trade Association show in February. Tiffany announced it will close its sixteen Iridesse Pearl Stores, opened in 2004. And from the UK is the news that Diamonds and Pearls, a large retailer, is in “administration.”

What does all this mean for the jewelry industry? JCK, an industry publication, recently concluded a series of roundtables with leading manufacturers and retailers. Their conclusions: the industry will consolidate; the credit crunch will continue to be a problem keeping inventories on both the manufacturing and retail levels low; the high price of gold continues to be a problem for manufacturers and retailers; and, both industry sectors will have to find new methods of working together.

But despite low inventory levels and the credit squeeze, retailers will have to keep their shelves stocked. Nothing scares off a potential client quicker than empty showcases. So, it is highly likely that these retailers will be far more open to accepting goods on consignment than in the past.

This is an opportunity for jewelry artists, artists who create one-of-a-kind highly collectible jewelry and who may have previously confined their sales and marketing efforts to art and craft galleries. The opportunity is to educate the consumer about the wonderful work being created by studio artists, a term that originated after WWII and refers to an artist working alone in his studio.

Although many of these artists work in high karat gold and use gemstones, a number of them use lower cost materials. And it is likely that artists who use both expensive and less expensive materials in their work are highly interested in moving their jewelry in this economic climate. So, prices which would be high in good times are probably lower.

The opportunity for artists is to expose their work to a new audience, but one that is also interested in collectible jewelry. The opportunity for jewelers is to display new work. And, the opportunity for consumers is to acquire one-of-a-kind work from artists they may be previously unaware of.

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