Jewelry and Gifts

Copyright © 2003 by Davis Multimedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
As Printed in October 2003, Volume 29, No. 4 of The Engravers Journal.
By Jill N. Hamilton
EJ Staff Writer

     Imagine that a potential customer is wandering aimlessly during the holiday season. This customer is tired and frustrated because he’s been looking all day for the perfect gift. It has to be something special and personal, and he’ll know it when he sees it. He notices a sign in your window advertising that you do engraving and this intrigues him. He wanders into your shop and approaches the counter. “I’m looking for a gift for my wife” he says, “I want it to be special and something she’ll cherish for years to come.”
    You scramble around looking for something to sell to this new customer and finally come back with a miniature trophy and eagerly tell him that you can engrave a plate for the base that reads World’s Greatest Wife! There’s a moment of silence, he looks at you with tired and sunken eyes, his shoulders slump and he turns on one foot and shuffles out the door.
    Okay, let’s rewind and try that again. A new customer wanders into your shop and wearily approaches the counter. “I’m looking for a gift to give my wife” he says, “I want it to be special and something she’ll cherish for years to come.”
    “I have just the right thing!” you exclaim, “Actually I have many different jewelry and gift items to choose from and all of them can be personalized. I’m sure that we can find the perfect gift for your wife, something that she will treasure for years to come. How about personalized jewelry or a teddy bear with your child’s photo printed on it? Or maybe a rich wooden picture frame, a stylish watch or a gold pendant. Step right this way and I can show you lots of ideas!”
    Your new customer looks at you and you notice his shoulders begin to rise, he stands a little straighter, color returns to his face, his eyes light up and a smile spreads across his face. Oh, the joy of satisfying a customer and the elation of a gratifying sale!
    More and more people want to put meaning into the gifts they give. The days of toasters and ties (unless the tie is sublimated with a family photo, for example) are over. If a new customer or one of your best customers walks into your shop this holiday season, will you be able to sell him or her the perfect personalized gift? If your answer is “no” or at best “maybe” then don’t worry, EJ has some exciting new ideas for this gift giving season!
    Read on about traditional jewelry and gift items sure to please and some not-so-traditional, creative gifts that are guaranteed to receive a lot of attention. Almost anything can be personalized and given as a gift – as you are soon to find out!
Traditional Engraved Jewelry
    There are many different types of traditional engravable gifts available this holiday season, the most popular being jewelry. Personalized jewelry for women includes bracelets, anklets, pendants, lockets, rings, watches, crosses and more. Engravable jewelry is made out of many different metals like pewter, brass, titanium, sterling silver, silver plate, gold, gold filled or gold plate.
    Christine Brassil of Signature Engraving Systems, Inc. realizes that personalization is very important. “Personalization is heart-warming and touches people’s lives. It makes the gift last forever.” Brassil says that their line of pewter heart-shaped lockets and sterling silver charm bracelets are steady best sellers.
    Barry Glucksman of AColor, Warwick, RI, says that traditional gold or silver plated jewelry is consistently popular from year-to-year, but that he is also seeing a trend develop with their new stretch bracelets. These beaded bracelets are available in three different themes: sports, inspirational and animals.
    Another item that is gaining popularity, Glucksman states, is their new memory bracelet. This bracelet is similar to a charm-style bracelet but has six miniature frames where the customer’s personal photographs can be inserted. An option that is available for the memory bracelet is an engravable disc that slides into the frame. Not only can the bracelet be personalized with photographs but it can also feature a special engraved date or saying.
    Men are not to be left out of the personalized jewelry market. Popular gifts for “the guys” include tie bars, belt buckles, cufflinks, watches, rings, and probably the most popular item – the money clip.
    John E. Lepper, Inc., Attleboro, MA, offers a full line of traditional engravable jewelry for both men and women. Bob Lepper of John E. Lepper, Inc. says “Money clips are the most popular item for men. We have over 50 different patterns in 1" and 3/4" sizes and 99% of them are engravable. For women, the best sellers are pewter cuff bracelets and oval or heart shaped lockets with engravable inserts. These items have been standards for years.”
    A growing trend in men’s jewelry is engravable military-style dog tag necklaces. The recent rise in patriotism has most likely contributed to the popularity of dog tags. The tags, especially when worn on a beaded metal chain, are very masculine in appearance. Personalizing the tag with a favorite phrase, name, special date or as a remembrance of a loved one can make these popular identification tags a wonderful gift.

Photo frame memory bracelets, available from AColor, Warwick, RI, are part of the newest craze. Money clips and cuff bracelets are best sellers for John E. Lepper, Inc., Attleboro, MA.

Traditional Engraved Gift Items
    Jewelry isn’t the only gift idea this holiday season. Almost anything can be personalized, including picture frames, desk clocks, wine glasses, tankards, key rings, business card holders, trinket boxes, pens, door knockers and more.
    Most of these items can be given at the holiday season but enjoyed year-round. For example, a picture frame personalized with a name or date can be placed on the mantle at home or displayed at the office. Personalized glasses or tankards can be used throughout the year for special occasions or during a special dinner. Trinket boxes, key rings and business card holders are also very functional year-round gifts. Brassil of Signature Engraving Systems, Inc. adds that they also offer functional items that can be personalized such as contact lens cases, lipstick cases and travel portfolios.
    Various silver items are new this year for TSI Gifts of Recognition, Huntsville, AL. These items include bookmarks with a star or cross design, key tags with a heart shape or puppy design or a money clip or coaster, both in a horseshoe shape.
    New silver photo frames are also available in sizes ranging from 21/2" x 3" to 8" x 10". TSI’s Rick Rainey says that he sees an increasing interest in laserable products. He is now offering new natural wood picture frames that can be laser engraved.
    According to Diane Clancy of Gravograph-New Hermes Inc., Duluth, GA, “As for the best selling engravables, we always do well with desk sets. The mahogany desk clock, walnut desk bar and the stainless steel or leather flask are hot items. Even luggage tags make nice gift items.”
    Creative Gifts International, Canton, MA, introduces about one hundred new gift items every six months. Lou McNeil, President of Creative Gifts, told us about their new items. “Wood items are a big growth area. This year we are introducing five new wooden jewelry boxes and six new wooden clocks. These items can be laser engraved or an engraved plate can be added to them.”
    McNeil also reports that Austrian crystal is popular this year and has been added as a decorative flair to items such as picture frames and key rings. For example, silver-plated key rings are available in round or heart shapes with the crystal beads embedded in the metal. Both styles have an area for engraving.
    McNeil also reports that their most popular item is a stainless steel flask. “Flasks are available in many different sizes and finishes. Because of their popularity, we are also offering a small stainless steel flask key chain. Another gift item that is always popular is the 12 oz. drink shaker. Customers requested larger sizes so 20 oz. and 24 oz. sizes are now available.”
Creative Gifts with Sublimation
    What do you give to the person who has everything? Sublimated gifts are the answer! Jewelry and gift items can be personalized with more than just a name. Personalization can also be accomplished with photographs!
    Condé Systems, Mobile, AL, offers a very wide range of sublimatable gift items. Some are traditional such as jewelry, mugs, and photo frames whereas others are very unique and creative. David Gross, President of Condé Systems, says that they are constantly adding new sublimatable items to their line of imprintables.
    The personalized keepsake dolls and teddy bears for sublimation imprinting are probably the most unique and unusual items available. These dolls are available in many styles with either a sublimatable miniature tee-shirt or an area on the doll’s face where a photograph can be imprinted, essentially creating a “portrait doll.” Each portrait doll comes with a piece of fabric cut to size with an adhesive backing. Just sublimate the fabric, peel the backing off to expose the adhesive, press onto the face of the doll and heat set. Gross reports that these are excellent sellers because the technique makes them so fast and easy to do.
    Another creative gift idea that Gross suggests is combining the sublimatable puzzles and the sublimatable candy tin box into one gift. For example, sublimate a puzzle with a family photo and then sublimate the same photo onto the candy tin box top. The candy tins and puzzles come in a variety of shapes and sizes so the perfect combination can be achieved.
    An alternative Condé gift idea, and one of the newest items offered, is the SubliCoin. Each SubliCoin is a genuine United States Silver Eagle Dollar that is produced by the United States Mint and is made of .9993 pure silver. By sublimating a favorite photograph onto the coin, a unique gift is created.
    Jewelry doesn’t have to just be traditional… it can also be sublimated! Imagine sporting earrings with photographs of your pets or wearing your child’s picture on a pendant around your neck. Johnson Plastics, Minneapolis, MN, is one company that offers aluminum sublimatable jewelry. Heart, round and oval shapes are available in two different sizes. Each piece features a polished scalloped edge and can be sublimated on one side.
    Just remember, not every object can be sublimated. The item must have a sublimation receptive coating. The good news is, as the sublimation market grows, more and more sublimatable items are being offered. Work closely with your suppliers to assure that the new holiday items you are planning to sublimate are sublimation receptive.

These identification tags from Gravograph-New Hermes, Duluth, GA, make a great modern day gift. These various silver items are new this year from TSI Gifts of Recognition, Huntsville, AL.

Personalized Holiday Gifts
    Since the holiday season is fast approaching, it is only fitting (and profitable) to stock holiday themed merchandise… that can be personalized of course! Don’t forget that the holiday season doesn’t mean just Christmas – Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are also celebrated at the same time of the year.
    Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights which lasts for eight nights. Although Hanukkah is not traditionally a gift-giving holiday, more and more people are including the exchanging of gifts into their celebration. Kwanzaa is a newer holiday based on age-old African celebrations. These celebrations traditionally took place near the end of one year and the beginning of a new year. Research your area to determine if merchandise with these themes is appropriate for your clientele.
    Holiday ornaments are the most popular engravable holiday-themed gift item. Ornaments of many different styles and materials are available in Santa shapes, wreaths, bells, angels, stars and more. Standard shapes can also be decorated with a Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa image or saying.
    Gravograph-New Hermes Inc. is one such supplier of engravable ornaments for the holidays. They offer many holiday favorites such as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a rocking horse, candy cane, church scene, “Baby’s First Christmas” and “Peace Around The World.” These ornaments are brass with inlayed enamel in bright holiday colors. They also offer gold-tone “puffed” designs including a teddy bear, an angel and a bell shape as well as various glass ornaments including a stocking, bell, a circular shape and a star shape. Other styles include ornaments made of pewter or bronze, photo ornaments and designs using faux jewels.
    Gloria Duchin Inc., E. Providence, RI, offers an extensive line of engravable holiday and themed ornaments. Robyn G. Smalletz, President of Gloria Duchin, says their company characterizes their ornaments as “jewelry for your tree.” The company carefully watches the trends in jewelry and home decor in order to anticipate what will be popular for their line of ornaments. Smalletz states, “Matte gold and champagne gold continue to be popular. Silver is currently popular in jewelry and is now popular for ornaments too. Also, polished silver with matte tone accents and Swarovski crystals are very trendy.”
    Recently introduced is a new ornament line of fun and funky designs geared toward the “Generation X” market. These silver tone ornaments are silk screen printed and include stunning Swarovski crystals and various colors of chiffon ribbon. Some of the new design themes include a pink crown with the word “Princess,” a high heel shoe with the word “Girlfriends” and a funky girl with the word “Diva.”
    The company also has new ornaments made of genuine pewter with glittered epoxy accents. All the pewter designs are hand-crafted through a very artistic process. The new ornaments include an electric guitar, butterfly and the peace sign.
    Ornament “accessories” have also been very popular. Smalletz states, “The great use of color accents keep the ornaments very fresh and on trend.” The new accessories include appliqués such as “googly eyes” on a purple and lime green cow with a “Baby’s 1st” theme and a yellow pompon used on a chicken ornament. Beads of peridot or amethyst in colors such as burgundy and dark green are also being used. Smalletz concludes, “The new ornament designs continue to compliment the traditional line, but we still see strengths in angels, Santas, snowmen and Christmas bulb designs.”
    And don’t forget about sublimating ornaments to give as gifts! Johnson Plastics offers sublimatable holiday ornaments. These ornaments are available in ball, tree, bell and star shapes with a hole at the top for a hook or ribbon. The ornaments have a gloss finish and are sublimatable on both sides.
    One suggestion, given by Mike Johnson of Johnson Plastics, is to sublimate a photo on one side of the ornament and a special message on the other. The ornament will look attractive no matter which direction it faces while hanging on the tree.
    There are many other holiday themed gifts available. McNeil of Creative Gifts International says their holiday theme spreader sets (used to spread cheeses and dips onto crackers, bread, etc.) have been wonderful sellers. One of their most popular styles is a set of four spreaders depicting Santa, a snowman, a candy cane and a toy soldier. The blades are stainless steel and the toppers are made from pewter. New this year is a set of spreaders with three snowmen, each in a different pose and each having inlayed Austrian crystals.
    As you can see, almost any item makes a great holiday gift when engraved with a holiday saying or theme. For example, a picture frame (whether it be silver, gold, wood, etc.) makes a great present when engraved with “Peace on Earth – Christmas 2003” or a rich wooden box engraved with the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. A silver bookmark engraved with the name of a family member or friend and “Hanukkah 2003” would surely be appreciated.

Gravograph-New Hermes offers these stainless steel and leather flasks as their new "hot items." New wooden jewelry boxes from Creative Gifts International, Canton, MA.

Marketing All This Really Neat Stuff
    Okay, so now you have all the really neat merchandise that’s sure to boost your sales this holiday season. There’s the sublimatable jewelry and teddy bears, engravable picture frames, bright shiny lockets, money clips and holiday theme items… the problem is, it’s all in boxes in the back room and none of your customers know you even have it. Now what? Well, if you just pull it out from the backroom it should sell, right? Or do we need to create special holiday displays?
Holiday Displays
    Displays are the key to informing and educateing your customers about the holiday products and services you have available. Not only does a display show off the merchandise in an aesthetic and pleasing way, but samples of the personalized holiday merchandise will help your customers see the potential for personalization. Your customer may not know what sublimation or laser engraving is but with a finished sample to look at, they can see the visual appeal of the different processes.
    Retailer Annette Tuck of Tuck Everlasting Gifts, Akron, OH, says that in her shop she displays an engraved sample of at least one of every holiday item she sells. “If the customer can’t see it, they can’t envision it.” She also adds that she ends up selling a lot of the pre-engraved sample items.
    A well-thought-out display, or grouping of displays, can really accent a new product or draw some much needed attention to your holiday products. Keep displays interesting and exciting without creating a cluttered and chaotic mess. This can be accomplished by setting aside one or more areas for your holiday display.
    For example, if you would like to highlight your new line of silver giftware items with a special holiday display, use a clean piece of fabric (velvet works very well) that is free of marks, lint or stains. A deep color such as a forest green or deep red will provide a nice contrast of colors with the silver items and will make a great holiday display.
    Place a few small sturdy boxes or risers on the shelf or countertop at varying heights and drape the fabric over them. Place the new silver items on top and around the boxes, making sure that the merchandise is clean and void of fingerprints. Then add a well devised, professional looking sign to draw some attention to the display.



The SubliCoin from Condé Systems is a genuine United States Silver Dollar with one sublimation-receptive side. Screen printed ornaments with Swarovski cystals from Gloria Duchin Inc., E. Providence, RI.

    A well designed display is great but can your customer see it? Lighting is important when it comes to displays. If your exquisite holiday display is tucked away in a dark corner or in an area of your shop that doesn’t receive much light, then it isn’t doing its job. Shine a little light on the display and you will be amazed at the difference it creates! Track lighting is a wonderful way to spotlight your displays. Many different styles of track lights are available at your local home improvement store.
Front Windows & Entry Ways
    Front windows or an enticing entrance can grab a potential customer’s attention and draw him or her into the store. Tuck says that she is fortunate to have a store front and utilizes the front window to its fullest potential by constantly decorating and rotating the display area. She states that bright holiday displays really draw the customers in.
Wearable Displays
    Tuck Everlasting Gifts staff members are encouraged to wear samples of the holiday pieces of jewelry while working. Tuck states that customers will undoubtedly ask about the jewelry and then the pieces can be brought out and shown to the customer.
Other Holiday Display Ideas
    Retailer Annette Tuck’s shop also offers embroidery. During the holiday season Tuck will monogram Christmas stockings to hang next to a tree decorated with engraved ornaments. She suggests engraved ornaments for the people that may be overlooked at the holiday season such as a teacher or the babysitter. These pre-engraved ornaments are great impulse items because they remind people that they need to purchase a gift for that person.
    Tuck also wraps gifts to display under the tree and uses engraved ornaments as gifts tags. “Ornaments as gifts tags are great sellers all year-round,” exclaims Tuck. She also offers gift themed suggestions such as a baby shoe for showers, bells and doves for weddings, trains for a boy’s birthday and crosses for communions and other religious celebrations.

Snowmen, angels and Santa ornaments are always popular sellers during the holidays. Photo courtesy of Gloria Duchin, Inc. Sublimation receptive ornaments from Johnson Plastics, Minneapolis, MN, can be decorated on both sides.

Bag Stuffers
    Bag stuffers can be a valuable marketing tool. A holiday coupon, promotion or just a simple thank you can easily be designed on your computer and printed out. You can make the bag stuffer any size from a quarter, to a half or full-page size. Be sure to include your company contact information and possibly hours, and let them know you have many holiday gift giving ideas Print a quantity that would be suitable for your business and place one in each bag ahead of time. When your customer makes a purchase, the bag stuffer is already in their bag and they will think of you at holiday shopping time.
    If your customer list includes an e-mail address, why not tell your regular customers all about the new, exciting holiday items you have to choose from this year. Imbed a photo of one of your newest items in the e-mail so they can see what you have to offer. Or if your website contains photos of holiday items, include a link to your website.
Holiday Signage
    A large sign or banner out in front of your shop can also draw the attention of potential customers passing by. Signs can announce “Holiday Gift Items Now Available!” or promote a special holiday sale. They can also draw more attention to the services your business offers such as “Personalized Holiday Gifts While You Wait.”
    Tuck shares that word-of-mouth has been her best promoter. Her philosophy of customer service is simple: “I will work with you to make sure you get the everlasting gift.” Referrals have been phenomenal and she now has customers spanning from Maine to Florida and elsewhere.
    Good customer service and a friendly attitude are probably the most valuable sales tools. They don’t cost a thing but can generate multitudes of sales. People like to feel confident about where they spend their money and will often ask friends and family for advice on where to go to make their purchase.
    Think about the last time you had a bad experience at a restaurant or store. You probably told a number of people about your bad experience and advised them not to frequent that certain establishment.
    And what about the last time you had a really good experience, one where the salesperson went out of his or her way to make sure that you were happy with your purchase and with your experience in their store. You probably told a lot of people about your experience and have most likely recommended that business to others.
    Word-of-mouth can be very powerful, so make sure that the “buzz” about your business is as positive as it can be.
The Holidays Are Fast Approaching!
    Now you’re ready… you ordered new merchandise, it is neatly displayed, your store is well lit, a new sign is hanging out front telling passersby of your new holiday merchandise and you have sent out holiday promotions to all your customers. You are ready for the holiday rush!
    Of course we have only touched on a fraction of the jewelry and gift items that are available this holiday season. With a little engraving and sublimation imagination and a touch of marketing creativity (not to mention quality samples on display) anything can become a holiday hit! You can find more information about jewelry and gift items and suppliers by using the R&I Directory on-line at
    Ah oh! Here comes that new rush of customers. It’s a good thing that you are prepared to sell them the perfect personalized gift this holiday season!