IDazzle, Monica Stephenson.

Two years ago I met Monica on Twitter, and again briefly last year during the Couture show. Although I was acquainted with her blog and read it on a regular basis, I eventually found out that she was familiar with our brand having worked at Fox’s Gem Shop in her hometown of Seattle. Interesting how social media has changed the fabric of life….

When I wrote my post on Jewelry blogs, I reached out to Monica who graciously helped me. Thank you again Monica. This post is dedicated to you!

1-Having worked in jewelry stores, you bring designers and consumers together. You have perfected your knowledge by studying gems and traveling as far as Africa, while blogging about an industry that can be archaic and luxurious at the same time. You have been through quite a journey that has lead you to finally owning your own showroom. Can you tell us how you got started and what inspired you?

I have been in love with jewelry for as long as I can remember.  While I was in college, I worked in a gallery that focused on jewelry as art, and as a Fine Arts and Art History major, I was officially hooked. I’ve worked in fine jewelry ever since, first in independent guild stores and then bridging technology and jewelry—which is as challenging as it sounds!

I started the blog www.idazzle.com about six years ago, when my children were very young.  I thought it would be a way for me to stay connected to the industry I love, in a way that would be more flexible than a retail or tech job.  I found that writing really resonated with me, and I love to tell the stories of jewelry and the talented artisans who make it.

Now I’m exploring new ways to work with jewelry and designers.  I have a beautiful showroom in Seattle where I can connect consumers with my favorite designers.  I am also inspired by my recent travel to the gemstone mines of East Africa with the upcoming jewelry documentary Sharing the Rough (http://www.sharingtherough.com).  I am working on a way that we can get the beautiful, fair-mined gemstones of Kenya and Tanzania into the hands of designers in the US and put that money back into education and the gem trade in Africa.

2-You write in-depth articles about various subjects. There is a lot of feeling in your writing and I get the sense that you want to bring the consumer closer to the product. How do you choose your subjects?

Thank you for the kind words!  I’m not sure I really choose subjects to write about—they choose me!  I have the luxury of being totally independent, so no one tells me what I have to write about.

Of course, I love to tell the stories of jewelry designers, so I mainly write about designers I have seen somewhere and admired.  I am also struck sometimes by trends that I see, or an idea will come to me as I read about fashion, the jewelry industry, or news in general.  For instance, an idea hit me when I read an article in JCK online (http://www.jckonline.com) about a survey that found most Americans do not want to pay more than $2000 for an engagement ring.  I thought it would be a good idea to write an article featuring truly beautiful, hand-made designer engagement rings that are under $2000 (http://idazzle.com/2014/03/24/engagement-ring-trends-beautiful-designer-engagement-rings-under-2000) .  I try to choose subjects that I hope readers will connect with, and that will add value to their lives somehow.

3-How did the name idazzle.com come about?

Ah, the name came about a long time ago.  I bought the domain name idazzle.com back in the late 1990’s just as the Internet was taking off.  It was relatively short, memorable, and could be protected with a Registered Trademark.  I loved the idea of dazzle regarding jewelry, since I feel dazzled by it, and the “i” was for the internet, since I envisioned an online business.  This was before the iMac, iPhone, etc.  I sometimes joke that it’s probably the most valuable part of my brand!

Thank you, Josette!  I can’t wait to see you and say hello at Couture!

And thank you Monica! I look forward to catching up to you at Couture!

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Severine Ferrari of Engagement 101

Last week’s post was the first of a series in which I will be focusing on bloggers, editors and consultants in our industry. Severine Ferrari, editor in chief and associate publisher of Engagement 101 is the subject of today’s post. I met Severine a few years ago at the Couture show and we instantly clicked over our shared native language, French. As a result, a great friendship developed and I’m pleased to introduce you to her!

1-You’ve had a long journey. What brought you to New York from Paris, and how did you get started?

Though my parents are both French, they met in New York. My mother was a model and my father just out of Harvard. They eventually moved back to Paris but American culture and speaking English fluently was part of my education. Which is why I got my first job for Mariee Magazine and then was offered the opportunity to develop the US branch of the company and Wedding Dresses Magazine.

2-We are in a technology driven society and you have 372,000 plus followers on Facebook. In which direction do you see your publications going?

Yes, we have a very engaged community of online subscribers and fans of over 500,000 and growing .1 million unique visitors a year on our site. You do have to adapt to new ways of doing business when tools change and find a way to benefit from progress. While newsstands magazine sales will be a thing of the past in a few years, the internet and social media are offering editors a unique opportunity to develop content and connect with our audience. Though I have a lot of respect for some wonderful blogs and sites who focus on upscale inspirational content and expert advice, I think sometimes it can be intimidating and out of touch with real girls. We want all our audience to feel welcome in the Engagement 101 community. We want them to contribute and find real ideas and product they can identify to. We want them to be Engagement 101 as much as we are. They give us the direction. Whether they are rich or still striving, sophisticated, classic beauties or unique, size 2 or size 24, from major cities or Middle America, straight or gay ….

3-We have been exhibiting at trade shows for almost 20 years and while we have met a lot of editors, there are many we haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting. I have always admired your sense of collaboration, your understanding of the business and your persistence of wanting to be part of it all without excluding anyone. What do you think is the key to your success in bringing people together?

It feels awkward to answer this question, you should tell me! If I had to say something…First, work is my life. Editing and publishing is how I channel my creativity and my business acumen. Connecting with a niche consumer audience is my game but building loyal and life long  relationships with people who excel in this niche is what is making me get to work everyday. I have no interest in Engagement 101 just making profits with an advertising formula. I want to help jewelers solve their bridal consumer marketing problems and work on customized solutions and creating an environment that will make our audience understand what sets this designer apart. I won’t give up until we find what works. Whether you are a boutique designer or a major manufacturer in the field. This relationship is key to make sure a growing number of girls can access the best in design and quality for their budget and dreams.

Thank you Severine, always a pleasure to see you!

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Michelle Orman.

Two years ago I received an email from Michelle Orman asking Mark Patterson to enter the AGTA spectrum award.

I had never met Michelle but I had read her blog “Couture Musings” . I loved her writing, subjects, stories and her choice of words.

At last year’s Couture show I finally met her in person. This past January I was in New York for business and was able to meet with her. I decided it was my turn to ask the questions and turn the focus on the best communicator our industry ever had.

Josette: You are a great communicator, you have a lot of charisma and you bring a lot of wit to an old industry, what do you like the most about your job?

Michelle: First of all, thank you for the compliment, I’m flattered! I like so much what I do but I think the thing I love the most about my job, is the people, both the designers and retailers who attend Couture, and the team I get to work with at Couture. I just love being around all of that creative energy; it keeps me happy and enthusiastic!

Josette:  You have brought together retailers and designers, you are the bridge that makes it happen, what is the most memorable experience you had?

Michelle: I’have never seen myself as a direct bridge between designers and retailers however, I do always try to bring good people together! I think the most memorable experience happened last year when a retailer I’ve been trying to connect with a designer for several years (because I knew they’d love each other) finally met in person at Couture, they just clicked! This happened off the show floor by the way, during a networking event and they are now working together. I get giddy every time that happens!

Josette: It is your email that we received one day out of the blue that challenged us to enter the AGTA Spectrum Awards. Do you understand the  strength that you have in challenging people?

Michelle: Again, I’m flattered! And again, I always try to bring good people together or, in this case, introduce people to opportunities I think would benefit them. I think by being selective in encouraging people to challenge themselves or try something new I earn people’s trust. Whether it’s pitching a product or a show to an editor, asking a designer or an editor to judge the Couture Design Awards, encouraging a designer to participate in the Couture Press Preview or suggesting someone enter a competition, I am always 100 percent authentic in my intention.

Thank you so much Michelle for letting the designer interview the interviewer!

Jewelry Blogs

Blogs in general have been popping up a lot lately! We have a blog on our website but we only post once or twice a month. I find it challenging to write a post, especially one that can  keep my readers engaged.

I have always liked to research the subjects of my interests. I decided to dive into the many jewelry blogs on the internet so I can understand their differences and what makes them successful.  I came up with 6 categories of jewelry blogs and have provided links to some of my favorites:

1-Business jewelry blogs are blogs that designers, retail stores, manufacturers all use to promote their products and write about all kinds of experiences they had related to the industry or their lives.

2-Jewelry industry blogs are written to promote industry news, new trends, new designers and general information.

Couture Musings is a more personal blog than others. You get to meet the subject more closely and Michelle has a great sense of humor. http://blog.thecoutureshow.com/

JCK has a few blogs that cover general news, fashion, celebrity news, retailers news, and the diamond and colored stone industry. http://www.jckonline.com/jewelry-blogs

Robyn Hawk covers specific gemological news and a wide range of topics, from technical issues to trends http://dailyjewel.blogspot.com/

Anthony DeMarco has a different approach on industry news; he blogs about the finest timepieces and high-end jewelry news whether it’s the house of Cartier or a rare pink diamond for sale at Christie’s or Sotheby’s. http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/

3-Consumer Blogs are more about informing consumers about jewelry, introducing them to jewelry designers, trends and sometimes about gemstones.

Monica from Idazzle always has some interesting posts on a variety of jewelry news that she shares with her own unique take.  She blogs about trends, designers, fine jewelry, fashion jewelry and her love of gemstones. http://idazzle.com/

Gemgossip is a cross blog between antique and contemporary jewelry. Danielle shares a love for antique jewelry but I think she loves all things jewelry. She is mostly famous for the hashtag #showmeyourrings.  http://gemgossip.com/

Adornmentality http://adornmentality.com/ Julersrow http://www.julersrow.blogspot.com/  Gemnerd http://gemnerd.com/ The polished vault http://thepolishedvault.blogspot.com/ and B-jeweled  http://www.beth-bernstein.com/blog/   are all consumer blogs with lots of information.

4-Antique jewelry blogs can also be divided into sections. Some are off shoots of antique jewelry businesses like Isadora’s in Seattle http://www.isadorasblog.com/ and some are more educational with a bit of history behind it.

I predict that Jewels du Jour will climb up to the top of the list and will be number one on the best antique jewelry blogs for a long time. Natalie has brought a bit of history  to her blog, which is as beautiful and informative as an auction house catalogue. http://www.jewelsdujour.com/

Diamonds in the Library is another antique blog with some crossover into contemporary designers http://diamondsinthelibrary.com/

5- International jewelry blogs, tend to be more fashion-oriented.

In Details is a blog dedicated to the world of jewelry from both a fashion street point of view and trade point of view. http://indtl.com/

Adorn is a trend forecasting and market intelligence blog to the jewelry industry. https://www.adorninsight.com

Gem a Porter is a multicultural blog of a worldly collection of fine and contemporary jewelry http://gem-a-porter.com/

The Jewellery editor is a more serious industry blog that writes in depth news about the jewelry and watch industry. http://www.thejewelleryeditor.com/

6-Jewelry making blogs are hands on blogs that show you, through videos, how to make fine jewelry. If anything from the blogosphere about jewelry is missing it is this. Any designer / manufacturer can post videos on line. They are missing a consolidated blogger who can disseminate this most important information. I hope that someone fills this important gap in the future.

I have to say, researching jewelry blogs was a big eye opener to me. There is so much information today online and we can learn so much about trends and brands but I still feel that as a consumer one still has to go and look at a piece- touch it and feel it.  I hope these blog suggestions will help you in your research to find the jewels you love!

Pearls….

I have always been around women wearing pearls ever since I was a little girl. My mom always wore beautiful long strands of Japanese cultured pearls that my dad had bought during one of his business trips to Japan at Mikimoto back in the early sixties. My sisters who were much older then me received a pearl strand each when they were 18. By the time I finally turned 18, I received my long awaited pearl strand. It was mine, I could hold it, stare at it, wear it and keep it close to my heart. A few years later I became a jewelry designer and I designed a lot of clasps that would hold multi strands of pearls. I would mix different sizes of cultured japanese pearls in every strand. My passion for pearls just grew with time, I became picky, I only wanted to work with the best quality. A few years later I started to fall in love with south sea pearls, especially baroque, and lately Tahitian. When I have to purchase pearls I look at the shape, the color, and the luster almost like a diamond. Purchasing Tahitian pearl is a big challenge, the range of color is pretty wide and my favorite ones are silver, beige, light blue and light grey. Colors that can go with your jeans and can make you look as glamorous as the women who wore Japanese cultured pearls in the fifties.

3007688_f260I love this picture of Jackie Kennedy wearing one of her iconic 3 strand pearl necklace.

Business and pleasure in New York City

It’s always nice to come back to New York a city I left almost 7 years ago to Southern California.

It was all work from the minute I landed to the minute I left. I was able to squeeze 2 shows that I enjoyed very much the first one was the exhibition of the Jewels by JAR or Joel Allen Rosenthal at the Metropolitan Museum. Jar is a native New Yorker who went to France and became a famous bespoke jewelers making objects of Art and stretching the boundaries of the art of making jewelry. As soon as you walk into the room you feel like you are walking into a jewelry box, the lighting, the fabric on which the pieces are displayed and the intensity that emanates from each piece. You almost forget that you are at the Met.

The second exhibition, at the Brooklyn Museum, entitled “From the sidewalk to the catwalk” shows some of the work of famous French designer Jean Paul Gaultier who made the men skirt and the corset famous. Do you remember Madonna touring with costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier featuring a Corset and large conical breasts? Over the years he has succeeded in challenging us in the way we think of fashion.

My next blog will be about the art of buying multi-colored Tahitian pearls.

jar-jewelry-retrospective-at-the-metropolitan-L-CAvEIk JAR-Pansy-Rings

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The men’s band, as important as hers.

It all starts with getting engaged. Once the proposal had been accepted, it’s time to plan your dream wedding! Amid all of the excitement, it’s easy to forget about your wedding bands. But you shouldn’t leave this purchase to the last minute, you need to give it some consideration.

Women often know what type of band they desire once they see their engagement ring, but for most men their wedding band will be their first (and maybe their last) jewelry purchase for themselves!  It can be a difficult decision for men since most have never worn a ring before…  One of the most important things to consider when selecting the right men’s band is to find one with the best width for your finger.  A ring that you feel most comfortable wearing will be the best choice.  Once you settle on a width, you can chose the metal color, yellow, pink or white, gold, palladium or platinum, maybe a mix of two colors, the texture, hammered, engraved, satin, florentine etc…. Your lifestyle might influence your choice of color and possibly even the addition of diamonds to your wedding band. If your completely lost, consider your favorite watch and find elements of it’s style to match up with your band selection.

Men, always remember the wedding band you select is a symbol of your marriage, so make sure to fall in love with the one you choose!

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