TAGS record breaking Dubai tender to be held from 6 to 12 October

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CIBJO releases precious metals special report

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24 september 2021

iTraceiT to help the diamond and jewelry industry become more transparent

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24 september 2021

Chinese diamond miner apologises to Marange headman – report

Anjin Investment, a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC) and Matt Bronze, an investment vehicle controlled by Zimbabwe’s military, has apologised to Headman Chiadzwa for resuming operations in Marange...

24 september 2021

Catoca denies polluting DRC rivers that killed 12 people

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23 september 2021

Technology bypasses jewelry, but what if it didn't?

25 november 2009

I am always looking through jewelry journals and catalogs, and the breathtaking beauty and creativity of the designers and manufacturers whose pieces are displayed in the photographs frequently overwhelms me, says Jan Brassem in his article posted on www.nationaljewelernetwork.com.

Yet when I shop in department stores and most retail chains, the styling of the jewelry seems - to me, anyway - more basic and classic, he goes on. For some reason, the gorgeous designs that appear in catalogs and other publications don't always end up on the sales floor.

I assume buyers for department and chain stores use computer-driven sales figures to make buying decisions. It is risky for buyers to go out on a limb and use personal and judgment-based decisions about merchandise, no matter how beautiful they might find the styling. The designs they select, of course, might not sell through. It seems that the computer always trumps beauty and appeal.

There is even more illogic here. When I was in the manufacturing business, every so often I would show jewelry buyers a sterling silver ring line and then have them say, "I can't use your line because our competitor has it."

Then I would show the same line to another buyer, who would say, "I can't use your line because my competitor doesn't have it."

What does all this illogical behavior mean? Will these traditional - make that ridiculous - buying habits have an impact on the long-term health of our industry?

I looked out my window recently and imagined seeing a speeding train, one that represented prevailing technology. (Who, now, doesn't have an iPod, BlackBerry, Palm, computer, digital watch, HDTV, cell phone? You get the picture.) In comparison, I was sitting in the stationary - make that catatonic - jewelry industry.

Other than operational and management technology, and maybe some Web marketing, very little - if any - of the latest technology goes into any part of a ring, pendant, earring or whatever. Is it time for the jewelry designers to create something out-of-the-box?

I called a few technologically advanced friends from Microsoft and the University of Hartford, plus a few micro-engineers. I was confident they would shed light on how to blend technology with jewelry, without altering the natural beauty of the latter. After spending a few days thinking about practical technological applications (let's call them PTA), the team presented some very preliminary yet quite innovative concepts.

- Alterations through micro-engineering: It is quite simple to apply micro-engineering principles to jewelry, so that a pendant, earring, ring or brooch can change color, gemstone, look, even character, without anything having to come off. A small movement (much like a watch movement), can be virtually invisible and simple to use. Additional costs are negligible.

- Utilization of iPod technology: The technological advances used in creating iPods has allowed the devices to become smaller and smaller. The largest part of a Nano iPod is, of course, the case. The tech team I spoke to estimates that a medium-sized pendant could be designed to fit a Nano iPod. This concept applies especially to locket-type pendants.

- Tracking belongings with GPS: It is only a matter of time before GPS miniaturization will allow expensive jewelry - especially pieces with laser-engraved diamonds - to be tracked. The small GPS systems are not on the market yet, but the team estimates that they will be in a year or so.

- Carrying cosmetics: It is not unusual for rings, pendants and brooches to contain perfume. The concept has been available for centuries (remember the 'poison' ring?). A locket pendant, for example, could contain a small sponge to hold perfume. Just touch the sponge and then dab your ear.

- Applications that no one has thought of yet: The "PTA" team reported that cameras, speakers, recorders and the like could be integrated into jewelry - if not now, then in the near future. The jewelry designer can simply work with technology-trained innovators to create techno-pioneering designs. Web page technology that will allow jewelers to display designs outside the computer screen is not far off.

- 3-D presentation on computer screens: The application to view jewelry in 3-D formats on a Web page is about six months away. The programs are being developed in Ireland.

- Hologram presentation: More distant, but nevertheless innovative, are Internet-presented holograms. Instead of saying "Beam me up, Scotty," the consumer may say, "Show me style No. 123 in hologram."

All of these technological developments need two important ingredients to succeed. First, any successful and pioneering product needs a strong, forceful and persuasive "rainmaker." When it comes to risk taking, habits (bad or good) always trump innovation. It takes a strong leader to bang the drum loudest and break those old habits.

Secondly, and not surprisingly, launching a new and innovative jewelry category takes unusual and insightful marketing skill. There is a strong risk, for example, that innovative jewelry will be considered a gimmick, overpriced or even useless. One needs only to remember the numerous technological advances of watches to put those concerns to rest.

In a competitive and economically depressed environment, sometimes the greatest risk of all is not trying.