Author Archives: ryanblair

Lasting Value To Mark An Occasion

Why do people buy diamond rings?  Of course there’s the obvious tradition of engagement and wedding rings, and this time of year,  a lot of people are purchasing anniversary rings.  Why is this?  According to Gary Long, a jeweler in Stockton, California, “diamonds are considered something of lasting value to mark an occasion”.  That means that we, as consumers, feel that a diamond will endure, not just because it’s a very durable stone, but also because of the sentiment attached to a diamond ring.

Millennials are getting older now and the average gentleman that purchases a diamond engagement ring is 26.  Consumers have become more informed, shopping online and researching what type of ring they want, which means less time spent looking over a hundred rings, but also means that the customer knows exactly what they want and they are sure to get it.  The internet has revolutionized the shopping process in the sense that buyer can look on the internet and comparatively shop as opposed to going to multiple jewelers as they had to in the past.

At the end of the day, a purchase is for love of the diamond and for love of the relationship.  A diamond rings is really just a metaphor for the bond between two people.  It’s something that lasts and endures trials, tribulations, hardships, and love through generations.  It’s a keepsake that will last forever and whatever ring you have, we want it to be uniquely yours; a ring like no other.  Stop in and see us and let us help you find your forever ring that’s uniquely you.

A Token Of Your Love

Some people wonder why the standard rule exists that a man should spend at least two month’s salary on his bride-to-be’s ring.  Consider for a moment that, not only are you going to be with this person for the rest of your life, but she will ALWAYS have this ring on her finger.  Her ring is as forever as the two of you are.  It is for this reason that your engagement/wedding ring or even bridal set should be considered a symbol.  It’s a token of your love, dedication, and one of mutual sacrifice and selflessness for one another.
In fact many rings that are presented are family heirlooms, passed down for generations.  Some rings are modified or enhanced to reflect the tastes of the one who possesses the ring at that time and is passed down again to only be further modified, maybe with a more high-quality stone or maybe baguettes are added.  The fact is, you’re creating an eternal bond with someone with a timeless keepsake and heirloom that will hold its meaning for generations to come.  Make your ring shine as bright as your love for one another.

The Landscape Of Diamond Consumption

It’s no secret that the United States is the world’s largest diamond consuming market with a global demand hovering just below 40 billion dollars in 2014.  However, did you know that China is the second largest diamond market even though they buy a little more than 25% of what the United States buys?  After 2008 saw a dip in the U.S. diamond retail market, it rebounded nicely with approximately 2 percent growth year over year through 2014.  While the United States usually purchases diamonds for weddings and for gift-giving, the bulk of our domestic market is based upon the bridal market.  China buys less bridal jewelry and the men have a less significant role in the selecting of the jewelry, however, Hong Kong does exhibit highly westernized diamond purchasing behavior and often associate diamonds with long-lasting love.

An Unexpected Source Of Diamonds?

If you’ve ever seen the movie Blood Diamond, you may be under the impression that Western Africa is the leading producer of diamonds in the world.  In fact, we asked our intern today who she thought the leading diamond producer was, and she immediately said “Sierra Leone”.  As of the end of 2014, Africa has been surpassed by a country that most people wouldn’t think of when speculating where a diamond comes from.  Russia is actually the leading producer of diamonds in the world both by volume and by value, beating out number two producer, Botswana, according to KPCS.  Over the past year the global output of diamonds grew by 4 percent as the average price jumped 8 percent to $116.17 per carat.  Despite these numbers, overall global diamond production, in terms of volume, fell to 124.8 million carats.  

 

Like any number of other things, the price of diamonds is controlled by the market and the principle of scarcity.  There are a finite number of diamonds and a lot of people that want diamonds.  A number of additional factors are attributed to the final cost like cut, clarity, and so on, but everything begins with that one raw stone.  The next time you see light dancing off of that multi-faceted diamond, remember that every diamond has a story to tell and the most important one is yours.  Right now, you can take advantage of Hemming Plaza Jewelers’ Summer Savings Diamond Blowout and start telling a story that endures for generations.

Who Knew?! Earrings And Little Plastic Discs.

From INSTOREMAG.COM

A Twitter user is burning up the internet with the astonishing news that the little plastic discs on the back of inexpensive earrings can be – wait for it – removed. “After my nineteen years of living I have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off,” she reported breathlessly, and nearly 40,000 people have shared the news. “But not everyone was on the same page,” reports Woman’s Day, among several media outlets that have picked up on the issue. “Apparently the plastic part keeps the earring in place, especially if it’s one that tends to tip forward and is a little heavier than regular studs.” Indeed, some sources maintain that the discs not only hold the earrings in place nut can also prevent droopy lobes.

 

Three Trends

From instoremag.com:

Turquoise

Ask any retailer and they’ll exclaim that blue is the all-time bestselling gemstone color. For the benefit of those who haven’t gotten around to the trend report in this month’s INDESIGN, I’ll clue you in that turquoise is the variation on the color that’s getting the most attention lately. It’s a stone that’s usually thought of as a favorite of patchouli-wearing bohemians, but it’s appearing in jewelry of every discernable style, from hippie inflected to vintage-inspired, and in collections that haven’t used the stone much in the past. For stores that want to feature the stone, but with a shimmering effect, look for doublets made with turquoise.

 

Long Necks

By now, no one needs to repeat the refrain that the 1970s is the decade that’s most influential on the fashion front. With fashion designers looking back four decades for inspiration, plunging necklines are becoming just as popular as they were during the days of disco. Look for jewelry that complements the newly exposed swathe of skin. Lariats, y-necklaces and tiered pieces that rest on naked sternums will be plentiful at the Vegas shows, and they’re easier to wear than structured collar necklaces.

 

Linked In

No category of jewelry is more enduring than pieces featuring links. Customers are gravitating to jewelry with the classic elements because they’re easy to wear and are workhorses in a jewelry wardrobe. In bracelets and necklaces, they’re updated with unusual shapes and accents like touches of gemstones. But look for them to appear in pieces that less commonly use link elements, like earrings and rings, too.

Men Are Becoming Jewelry Collectors

From the New York Times—When Tom Fitzgerald proposed to his boyfriend Jamie Holloway in March 2014, he unveiled a ring that was a far cry from the traditional diamond solitaire. The piece, created by the London jewelry designer Hannah Martin, is a modern interpretation of a signet ring, with an octagonal-cut sapphire surrounded by emeralds in white gold.

“Hannah was able to present our own version of an engagement ring,” said Mr. Holloway, a fashion public relations director. The couple, who now live in Los Angeles but who will marry in Somerset this August, will be among the first to take advantage of Britain’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage. And, as such, “we are making our own new traditions,” said Mr. Holloway, engagement ring and all.

Ms. Martin, who describes her collection as men’s jewelry that girlfriends want to steal, said orders for gay wedding and engagement rings are the fastest-growing sector of her business.

While she does not expect most men, gay or straight, to start sporting engagement rings any time soon, she has seen significant growth in the men’s jewelry category as a whole since establishing her business 10 years ago. “It’s become much more acceptable for the average man to use beauty products, wear jewelry and spend money on their appearance,” she said.

Statistics prove her point. There are no jewelry-specific studies but, according to Euromonitor, the global men’s wear market grew 4.5 percent last year, outpacing women’s at 3.7. And the research company predicts men’s wear sales will grow another $40 billion, to $480 billion, by 2019.

Stores are extending their men’s offerings accordingly, and that includes jewelry. Mr Porter, the male counterpart of the Net-a-Porter online store, has offered jewelry for several years, initially selling entry price point pieces from fashion houses including Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta. It has since expanded the category, in response to customer demand, to include fine jewelry from independent designers.

“Wearing jewelry made a specific statement not so long ago. But with time, it’s become more acceptable,” said Simon Spiteri, Mr Porter’s accessories buyer. “We’re seeing a lot of people wearing a bracelet with a Rolex watch and a three-piece suit. In fact, we’ve seen huge growth in bracelets across the board, from understated Le Gramme gold cuffs to something a little more flamboyant, like colorful beaded bracelets from Luis Morais.”

Mr. Spiteri added that the company planned to continue expanding its collection of what he described as “subtle, grown-up jewelry,” emphatically not the rock ’n’ roll or bling-laden male jewelry of yesteryear: “We are planning a lot more entry price point pieces for a younger market,” he said. “We’re also looking to increase our fine jewelry offering.”

Dickon Bowden, vice president of Dover Street Market, the high-concept fashion store with locations in London, New York and Tokyo, echoes the observations. “It’s becoming far more apparent that men are interested in purchasing jewelry from us,” he said.

The store, which last month became one of the few outlets selected to introduce the Apple Watch, offers an eclectic mix that ranges from the gothic-inspired jewels of Chrome Hearts to the clean lines of the Japanese brand HUM.

Mr. Bowden said that, of the patrons in the store’s three locations, Japanese men are the most daring: “In Japan, men are far more open to wearing jewelry than in London or New York.”

Stephen Webster, the London-based jeweler who introduced his first men’s collection, Rayman, 17 years ago, agreed that the Japanese market is large. And, in South Korea, “they’ll even buy jewelry we make for women. They are completely comfortable buying something, if they like it,” he added.

Russian men on the whole are conservative but, Mr. Webster noted, they are the biggest spenders among his clients, favoring his custom-made, bejeweled Russian crosses, which sell for as much as $50,000. “The men are so macho, but a flamboyant cross is acceptable,” he said. “And like all men, they love the bespoke service. It’s like choosing the finish of a new car.”

Different cultures

Notions about jewelry’s being effeminate still prevail among many in Europe and the United States. But in India, male appreciation for jewelry is nothing new: “If you see pictures from the past, the Mughals and maharajas wore more jewelry than the women did,” said Tarang Arora, chief executive and creative director of the Jaipur-based brand Amrapali.

Mr. Arora said men’s jewelry continues to do well in his home market as it is gaining traction elsewhere. The company recently added men’s pieces, including bracelets, rings and cufflinks, to its Dark Maharajah collection. At Harrods’ fine jewelry boutique in London, Amrapali’s largest market outside India, its men’s headpieces, cufflinks, bracelets and necklaces are displayed alongside women’s jewels.

Regardless of in-store locations, Mr. Webster believes that selling jewelry to men is about putting it into the context of their world. “You want to connect with the way they look at a watch,” he said, explaining that this love of mechanism and function was part of the inspiration for his new Ceramic Link bracelets, which come with detailed, interchangeable clasps inspired by classic cigar cutters.

Todd Reed, a Colorado-based designer, has experienced firsthand the growth in the men’s jewelry market. While he has always made men’s jewelry, last June he introduced a formal collection including dog tags, bracelets, rings and belt buckles that already has grown to account for 14 percent of his company’s total sales.

Mr. Reed said there is no typical male customer, a love of jewelry being less about someone’s age or particular style and more about an appreciation for design, whether it be for clothing, architecture or cars: “I have sold a $20,000 belt buckle to a 20-year-old kid and the same one to a 62-year-old executive out on the golf course.”

Mr. Bowden at Dover Street Market believes this eclecticism reflects men’s growing sartorial confidence and a wider shift to a more individualistic approach to fashion: “Things aren’t trend-driven so much these days. People are creating their own styles.”

Confidence is crucial, however, if you want to wear jewelry as a man, said the private London jeweler Harry Fane, who recently made his first men’s piece, a snake bracelet of carved horn with emerald eyes: “You have to have a bit of flair to carry it off.”

Even for a dedicated gem lover, it’s all about wearing the right jewelry on the right occasion. For example, Levi Higgs, who works for David Webb, the New York jewelry brand, has a collection of brooches. “I wear them regularly on a lapel to a museum event or party, but nowhere too casual,” he said. “I don’t want to overdo it.” And his most valuable, opulent piece, a large zebra brooch designed by his employer? “I’d only wear it if I wanted to make a larger statement.”

Mr. Spiteri hit a similarly cautious note during a discussion about the possibility of selling men’s necklaces on Mr Porter: “It’s more of a statement to wear a necklace. You can always hide a bracelet if needed.”

But Ms. Martin believes that the male psyche already has produced a change. Once a man becomes comfortable wearing jewelry, he becomes a loyal client, she said. “The male collecting syndrome kicks in — and jewelry becomes an extension of that.”

Are Body Chains The New Trend?

From the L.A. Times:

 

There is no denying the staying power of a $4,950 pair of diamond-bedecked hoop earrings by Louis Vuitton — even when they are mismatched by design. And while a pearl necklace may sound like a safe investment, we are not talking that timeless strand of cultured pearls from Tiffany & Co. or Mikimoto, but rather a sculptural, fashion-forward $15,200 pearl-embellished collar necklace by Brazilian designer Ana Khouri, whose jewels are worn by the likes of Madonna and Jennifer Lawrence.

Even body chains have been elevated to elegance since Jennifer Aniston stepped out at the SAG Awards in January in black tie attire and a $5,200 black diamond body chain by Los Angeles-based Amrit Jewelry. Diane Kruger wore a version by local jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche to Coachella last month.

Newer fine jewelry brands are showcasing an array of harmonious styles — particularly ear cuffs, jackets, climbers, studs, hoops and bars — meant to be collected and worn singly, mixed or mismatched. Aiche has built her brand on this layered look and says that her earring category has grown more than 100% in the last two years since she introduced ear jackets, worn as a decorative backing with any stud earring.

Those mismatched Louis Vuitton Monogram Idylle hoops, worn singly or with the French fashion brand’s coordinating $1,030 single ear studs, can create a wardrobe of looks — and are arguably as versatile as diamond stud earrings.

“We are seeing more people embrace asymmetry and multiple lobe piercings,” says New York-based jewelry designer and body piercing veteran Maria Tash, who has been selling upscale, Indian-inspired single earrings for more than 20 years under the label Venus by Maria Tash.

“People do not feel like they have to have matching first hole studs or matching first lobe rings. [They are] treating each earlobe piercing as its own autonomous vehicle to adorn.”

High-End Jewelry Is Big Business For Celebs

From Fashionista:

New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman kicked off a panel discussion at the Savannah College of Art and Design on Thursday about red carpet dressing by listing some sensational, but nonetheless true, facts. In 2006, actress Charlize Theron was paid $50,000 for wearing two pieces of Chopard to the BAFTAs, $200,000 for wearing Chopard to the Oscars and $50,000 worth of jewelry in gifts for wearing Cartier to the Golden Globes. Not bad work if you can get it.

The red carpet is a big business, where luxury brands are willing to spend a lot of money for the priceless visibility and press that comes from having a certain celebrity wear their gowns, jewelry and accessories. So how do smaller designers — like Juan Carlos Obando, Irene Neuwirth and Brett Heyman of Edie Parker  — compete for coveted celebrity placement if they can’t afford, or aren’t willing, to pay a fee?

It still costs them, but in other ways. Heyman says she will produce bespoke bags for special events, with the hope that a celebrity will be excited to wear something custom-made, even though there’s no guarantee she’ll wear it. It costs the price of production — anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand — but she said that the biggest sacrifice is time.

Neuwirth’s fine jewelry price point is so high that gifting is almost out of the question. “For me to give something away would cost me upwards of $10,000, so if we ever gift anything, it’s a very personal thing,” she said. “And in return we haven’t been able to dress certain people.” But just because someone is willing to borrow something for free doesn’t mean Neuwirth is interested in having them associated with her brand. “At the beginning someone would pull something and say, ‘I’m pulling for Angelina Jolie but Lisa Rinna may end up wearing it.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not, we’ll just hold the pieces.'” She admitted she’s also actively prevented Kim Kardashian from buying her jewelry. “I know the power of the celebrity and if it’s going to be important, I’m going to be really picky about it.” She knows her customers would be turned off by the association.

Women And The Artistry Of Jewelry

From the Chicago Tribune:

While a bandeau-style silver crown festooned with lilacs is lovely, its creation also reflects the struggle of women to be recognized as artists.

The crown, owned by the Lombard Historical Society, was transported this week to Chicago where it will go on display this year at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum.

Elyse Zorn Karlin, curator of the exhibit, said the artistry that went into making the crown makes it noteworthy.

“It’s a frieze of lilacs. It’s three dimensional. It’s very sculptural,” Karlin said. “It’s very charming.”

The simple headdress, which was made in 1930, will be missing from this year’s May Lilac Time festival in Lombard, but that’s OK with representatives of the historical society. They say the crown’s creator, Christia Maria Reade, like many women artists of yesteryear, deserves wider recognition.

The crown will be on display starting April 7 as part of the Driehaus Museum’s “Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry” exhibit. There are 50 artists and 250 pieces in the exhibit.

The decorative items include cloak clasps, hair ornaments, pins, brooches, rings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces and several tiaras. They were made by both female and male jewelers, but all have motifs or functions that relate to women.

“It focuses on art jewelry of the early 20th century,” Karlin said. “Women became jewelers in their own right for the first time during this period.”

Before that, making jewelry was not considered a proper occupation for women, she said.

“Eventually society came around and said this is something women can do in their own homes,” Karlin said. “It’s all right.”

The exhibit also represents the arts and crafts movement that emphasized items hand wrought and inspired by nature.

“It was a desire to go back to handmade things,” Karlin said. “It was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution.”

Reade was commissioned to create the repousse piece that features a design hammered out from the back.

“Reade petitioned the ladies of Lombard to donate spoons so she could make the crown,” said Nicole Louis, director of education and exhibits at the Lombard Historical Museum.

Reade is listed as an artist of note in the Illinois Women’s Art Project, which keeps a database of 450 female artists who were active in Illinois between 1840 and 1960 and whose work was exhibited in public.

“We do what we can to familiarize people with these artists because they weren’t written up in history books,” said Channy Lyons, executive director of the project.

Reade is profiled in the book “Hand Wrought Arts & Crafts Metal Work and Jewelry, 1890-1940” by arts and crafts historian Darcy Evon.
“She’s one of the most significant artists in her time in the Chicago arts and crafts movement,” Evon said.

Reade was born in Lombard and lived from 1868 to 1939. She was the daughter of Lombard’s third Village President Josiah Reade. She studied decorative arts at The Art Institute of Chicago under Louis Millet, who was famed for designing and making stained-glass panels for Adler and Sullivan buildings. Millet hired Reade to work for his firm, Healy & Millet.

Karlin said she learned about the lilac crown from a contact at the Chicago Historical Museum.

The silver crown was used to adorn the queen of the Lilac Festival Court who is named during Lombard’s annual celebration of the flower. The village became known for lilacs about 100 years ago when founder Col. William Plum and his wife, Helen, brought two lilac specimens back with them from a visit to Nancy, France. Today, Lilacia Park, which was created from the Plums’ estate, has 700 lilac bushes, 200 different cultivars, which are created by cross breeding, and 10 species.

Through the years, other crowns replaced the Reade creation, including one made from cardboard and another fashioned from tin. The Reade crown even was missing for a time.

“We think they either forgot about it or someone took it away,” Louis said. “Something went wrong because clearly you’d want to use it.”

More recently, the crown has been on display at the Lombard Historical Museum during Lilac Time, this year from May 2 through 17. The queen and her court are allowed to try it on for photos before it’s returned to safekeeping to the museum’s archive. The court now receives rhinestone crowns.

As pretty as the lilac crown is, Karlin said it also represents a time when women fought simply to be allowed to practice and earn a living from their artistic endeavors.

“It was a struggle for rights, just like all the other struggles women had,” she said.

The exhibit continues through Jan. 3 at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., Chicago. Call 312-482-8933.

Lilac Time will include concerts, a wine tasting, an arts and crafts fair and a parade. The queen will be crowned May 2. Learn more at lombardlilactime.com.

21st Century Style Sees Men Wearing More Jewelry

From the New York Post:

Rich and famous men have long been fond of flaunting small flashes of jewelry. A Rolex here, a ring there (a gold chain if you were in Miami). But fashion-savvy guys in Hollywood are now seriously stepping up their game — sporting delicate pieces, layering up, and co-opting styling techniques from the ladies.

“I think a confident man can step out in [jewelry] that fits his sense of style in a way that is unique, fashionable and masculine,” says Greg Kwiat, CEO of Fred Leighton, the renowned red-carpet jeweler. “Johnny Depp is a great example. For years he’s been very comfortable wearing all sorts of jewelry — big rings, long medallion necklaces, brooches.”

Indeed, Depp is a seasoned pro at the piled-on approach that’s coached on women’s-style blogs. And last March, he began flashing a diamond bauble that he’d originally purchased for his then-fiancée, Amber Heard: “I have a female engagement ring,” Depp told David Letterman. “It was too big for my girl.”

But Depp is no lone ranger in the realm of dude adornment. Pharrell Williams, the CFDA’s 2015 Fashion Icon Award winner, pairs tees with custom, ladies-who-lunch Chanel necklaces; Harry Styles, who nabbed his own style prize at the British Fashion Awards in 2013, is seldom snapped without heaps of Saint Laurent trinkets around his neck, fingers and wrists; and at the Oscars this year, no fewer than five A-list men garnished their lapels with brooches, including Jared Leto and Common, who both wore Fred Leighton.

“Common wore the brooch in a way that was completely masculine and interesting from a style perspective,” Kwiat says of the hip-hop star’s 19th century, sapphire-and-diamond clover-shaped piece.

“When you’re a man dressing for the red carpet you have a more-limited amount of choices than the women who walk the same red carpet,” he adds. “For someone who is interested in style and fashion and wants to make that statement of individuality — going beyond the tux and actually wearing a small brooch as a lapel pin is cool, it’s current, it’s fun.”

For A Mother’s Day She’ll Never Forget

Mother’s Day has been an official holiday here in the United States for over 100 years.  It started with Anna Jarvis and her 500 carnations in 1908 and quickly grew to become the global celebration we know today.  All over the world, mothers are recognized and celebrated in annual fetes and showered with gifts and adoration.

Here in the United States, the annual tradition generally involves taking mom out for dinner and presenting her with a card telling her just how exquisite she is in a way that is often more poetic than your own creative process would ever allow you to be.  And while mom is sure to be appreciative of any celebration in her honor, only doing it once a year isn’t really celebrating her, it’s remembering her.

This year, do your mom a favor by presenting her with more than a token nod to her many years of love and patience.  Find her something that is as timeless as her love and affection for you is.  Hemming Plaza Jewelers is the place to discover that special something for the one-of-a-kind woman who has helped shape you into the person she is always so proudly telling everyone she runs into about.  We have a vast palette of visually stunning pieces to choose from.  Come in and find her something that will match perfectly with the smile she gets on her face every time she sees yours.  Earrings, bracelets, necklaces or rings, whichever of these are her favorite things, we’ve got it here in the store.

There is just no excuse not to make the extra effort this year to get your mother something that will celebrate her all year long.  You can still take her out for a nice dinner, and you can still get her a really sweet card, but if you get her a treasure from Hemming Plaza Jewelers this year, she’ll have something she can show off to all those people…and chances are because it came from you, she’ll have it for the rest of her life.  

Butterflies as a prevailing theme?

2015 might be the Year of the Goat, but in jewelry, fashion, and home décor, it’s the butterfly that has wings. Beginning in early January at the Vicenza fair and continuing through the winter shows, butterfly collections have been the motif of the season.

In fashion, we’ve seen butterflies winging their way in for awhile. Last week Stacy London (host of the TLC network’s Love, Lust or Run), mentioned, “They’re part of the prevailing Seventies look—the accessories go very nicely with all the new flare pants.”

Naturally, edgy isn’t always how we, in jewelry, see butterflies interpreted—well, not when we think of some of those winged wonders in the archives of legends like Buccellati, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mauboussin, for example.

Nonetheless, when you begin to see some of the newest modern butterfly interpretations in precious metal and gems . . .  well, let’s just say that, in typical butterfly form, you really see that transcendence.

Admittedly, I didn’t realize that butterflies are about to swarm in on home fashions, too. Not until two months ago, when I read a blog by color expert, Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, who emphatically stated: “The butterfly theme will be very much in evidence in home furnishings for 2015,” after pointing to several tabletop and home goods brands that have already embraced the motif.

And look, for the record, I have no problems with goats—Pandora (and, I assume, other bead companies) has developed a series of handcrafted goat charms to commemorate the horned mammal as the animal of the year in the Chinese zodiac. But when it comes to fine jewelry—and fashion and home, too, for that matter—butterflies have more legs than goats. Er, wings . . . . you know what I mean.