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What's Turning Today?
Buyer's Choice

In a tough economic climate, brands and designs that turn well are the best investment. We talked to jewelers across the country to find out what’s selling and how they are making those sales. We found a lot of silver that’s hotter than ever (even at stores who haven’t been big silver fans in the past) and a few surprising high-end finds that customers can’t resist. Here’s what’s turning today for leading jewelers and their tips on how to sell it.

24k gold necklace with peridot and rose cut diamonds
One-of-a-kind 24k gold necklace debuting for spring 2009 featuring peridot and round brilliant and rose cut diamonds by Gurhan, (877) 447-4692.
diamond bangle and drop earrings in 18k gold

Cathy Eastham, Cathy Eastham Fine Jewelry, Midland, Texas

What’s turning: “We’re a destination store that carries only designer goods. One thing that has been consistent is 24k gold from Gurhan and Yossi Harari. The price points are good and attract women who buy for themselves, especially collectors. We’re doing well with Rudolf Friedmann, their yellow and white gold designs wear nicely without feeling too big. Diamond hoops and charms from Jude Francis are doing well. For people who want one-of-a-kind, we recently sold a larger piece from Erica Courtney that had a beautiful black opal.”

How I sell it: “Purchasing lately has been interesting. We’re seeing a lot of sales at $5,000 and under, but also more at $40,000-plus. Midland is a place with big land and oil, so people continue to purchase, but are being more thoughtful. One thing to encourage interest is to go to our best client list once a year, and offer them 20 percent off any single item they purchase over a five-day period. We keep client wish lists, which about 95 percent of our men customers gladly use.”

Openwork diamond bangle and drop earrings in 18k gold by Rudolf Friedmann, suggested retail $6,400 for the bangle and $3,000 for the earrings, (212) 869-5070.

hoop earrings with smoky quartz

Harris Botnick, Worthmore Jewelers, Atlanta, Georgia

What’s turning: “Zina has been a staple for us for almost 14 years. We’ve been very successful with the ‘Stingray’ collection, which takes a mold of stingray skin and renders it in silver and gold. She knows how to merchandise, and makes sure that there’s a mix and match look to a lot of pieces so that certain looks get repeated, if not duplicated. This Christmas, we expect to do well selling long diamond chains, 36 inches or longer, from Gabriel & Co., worn with shorter necklaces or doubled up.”

How I sell it: “Customers know we like Zina because we’ve got six feet of counter space devoted to her. We also work in-store with wish lists where we can remind a customer what his significant other wants. With Gabriel, we can sell the chains as accessories to the shorter necklaces and vice versa. Selling one item opens the door to selling the other.”

“Snap” hoop earrings with smoky quartz, suggested retail $330, and smoky quartz ring, suggested retail $350, from Zina’s “Stingray” collection in sterling silver and 18k gold, (800) 336-3822.

ring and necklace in sterling silver and 18k and 22k gold with smoky quartz

Susan Benner, Lehigh Jewelers, Allentown, Pennsylvania

What’s turning: “Sterling silver is doing well. Two years ago if you’d asked us would we ever sell sterling, we’d have said no. Since then we’ve done well with it, remarkably so with Pandora. We’ve really come to like Sara Blaine. We’re a custom shop that usually buys a piece here and there, but rarely a whole line. But when we saw Sara’s line at the New York show, we had to have it. It’s all handmade, with a lot of interchangeable elements. People can mix and match. She does wonderful silverwork with gold highlights.”

How I sell it: “People are still into jewelry, and as clothing styles become simplified, they look to jewelry to accessorize, and Sara Blaine’s designs fit the bill. We’re a high-traffic store, so we make sure to point her out. We’re starting to get word of mouth with her, and even repeat fans who buy piece after piece.”

“Aegean Scroll” ring and necklace in sterling silver and 18k and 22k gold with smoky quartz from Sara Blaine, suggested retail $1,050 for the ring and $1,500 for the necklace, (770) 650-0999.

sterling silver and 18k gold plated sterling

Shari Mizrahi, Ice Jewelers, Las Vegas, Nevada

What’s turning: “Artsy, boutique kinds of collections sell well. We’re doing well with Andréa Candela and King Baby/Queen Baby. People are looking for comfort jewelry right now. Alex and Ani’s spiritual line of virgins, saints, and angels is more of a cult line right now that’s not quite yet mainstream, so it has an aura of exclusivity. Another great designer is IDI, which makes very affordable, trendy pieces.”

How I sell it: “We’re all about trend here. In this type of economy, we’re going more for price points in the $300 to $2,500 range. We’re partnering with vendors who can help us, such as Cherie Dori and KC Designs, who offer terms and liberal trade-out programs.”

Star of David signature patented expandable bangles from the “Spiritual Armor” collection in sterling silver and 18k gold plated sterling by Alex and Ani, suggested retail $118, (800) 725-7822.

smoky quartz necklace on 18-inch chain

Sonny Morstein, Morstein’s Jewelers, Baltimore, Maryland

What’s turning: “People haven’t given up on getting married, so our wedding band business hasn’t slacked off. In view of the economy, we’ve gone to silver and gold lighter pieces in the $300 to $600 range. Elle and Hot Diamonds have done well. If you’d told me 10 years ago we’d be doing so well with silver, I would have said you were joking. We’re expecting a normal Christmas in terms of volume. Titanium and palladium are very popular among men. They’re outselling gold wedding bands two to one. ArtCarved and Crown Ring have been good titanium sources.”

How I sell it: “In difficult times, keep your inventory and your spirits up. No customer wants to walk into a half-empty shop or interact with salespeople who look depressed. We’ve increased inventory in those categories that are doing well, which is one of the advantages of being an independent—we can turn on a dime if we have to.”

Custom cut smoky quartz necklace on 18-inch chain from Elle Jewelry, suggested retail $595, (214) 688-0088.

diamond earrings

Larry Gilinski, Bergman Jewelers, Omaha, Nebraska

What’s turning: “We’re not a typical full-service store, we sell mostly diamond-related goods. Although the economy is a little quieter, people are still becoming engaged and getting married, so we’re still selling rings. Our best-selling stone is the Eighty-Eight Cut, an octagonal cut that looks like a round, from Finesse. It has a brilliance and color that sets it apart. Its price range is more like a round, so you don’t get that 15 or 20 percent bump that you do with an ideal cut. People are more educated about what to look for in diamonds, so they appreciate it when we show them the Eighty-Eight.”

How I sell it: “We advertise the Eighty-Eight extensively and have tried to attach it to our store in people’s minds. Because they’re really pretty and fun to sell, we also find that once people are out there wearing them that we’re getting great word of mouth. Customers like both the look and the enjoyment they got buying them.”

Earrings with 3.70 carats of diamonds featuring the Eighty-Eight cut by Finesse, suggested retail $15,000, (212) 391-5445.

Charm bracelet with diamonds, rubies, and pink sapphires

Paul Messerlian, Baxter’s Fine Jewelry, Warwick, Rhode Island

What’s turning: “Pandora is a phenomenal product that’s just flying out the door. People come in looking for it, so it’s not a hard sell. The beads do really well in a down economy, better than other jewelry, and there are repeat sales as women build their charm bracelets. We also brought in Hearts On Fire, which helped give us a reputation for quality that’s worked well.”

How I sell it: “In a down economy, retailers offer either price or quality. You can sell on price for awhile, say, at 80 percent off, but you won’t stay in business too long. We’ve gone for quality, and have seen the Hearts On Fire ring line selling well.”

Charm bracelet with handmade 14k gold charms, some with diamonds, rubies, and pink sapphires, as well as red Murano glass beads by Pandora, suggested retail $5,700, (410) 309-0200.

earrings and pendant with 18k gold with aquamarines, blue and green tourmalines, and diamonds

John Henne, Henne Jewelers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What’s turning: “Engagement rings and bridal are almost recession-proof. If people are in the right place in their relationship, they’re not going to let a downturn put them off. So we keep plugging away in that area, which is a healthy part of our business. We’re doing well with Mark Patterson. His designs offer great color and a broad range of price points, including under $1,000. Pianegonda is number one with us in sterling, we just love it.”

How I sell it: “The best sales aid we have is staff attitude. When the staff loves something, it sells. They’ve all met and gotten to know Mark Patterson, and they love him. He’s a nice guy who knows how to connect. Because they feel that connection, they’re eager to move his goods.”

“Fusion” collection in 18k gold with aquamarines, blue and green tourmalines, and diamonds by Mark Patterson, suggested retail $2,500 for the earrings and $1,580 for the pendant, (866) 221-6593.

14k gold crown necklace with pink sapphire, 14k gold ring with pink sapphire and pearl, and 14k gold crown dangle earrings with pink sapphire

Camile Hannoush, Hannoush Jewelers, West Springfield, Massachusetts

What’s turning: “We manufacture most of our own jewelry, but about a year ago, we began bringing in manufacturers we liked and whose quality matched our own, such as Pandora and Troll Beads. We just partnered with Elle. Even though people are downsizing the scale of their purchases, they still want quality. There’s no one type of jewelry that’s selling measurably better than the rest. People in the market for engagement rings or Journey or anniversary rings are still in the market for them. It hasn’t been one of those years like when DPS would push something, such as tennis bracelets.”

How I sell it: “Our message has always been that we offer great quality for great value.”

From the new “Match” collection by Pandora: 14k gold crown necklace with pink sapphire, 14k gold ring with pink sapphire and pearl, and 14k gold crown dangle earrings with pink sapphire, suggested retail $350 to $550, (410) 309-0200.