Nothing says I love you, Happy Birthday or You’re Special like jewelry, but jewelry items that have been personalized with a name, date, message or photo of a loved one can make these gifts even more special to the recipient. From a locket or pendant for Mother’s Day to cufflinks for the groom, jewelry can serve as a welcomed gift for virtually any
As an upsell or an add-on to the dog tag purchase, Your Supply Depot’s Tom Stewart suggests that retailers offer rubber covers that wrap around the edges of the dog tags. These are especially popular in the colors of local schools. He’s also found that corporate buyers are interested in dog tags for sales meetings. For example, Stewart says each piece can be personalized with an employee’s name along with the date and name of the meeting.
Stewart cautions not to limit personalization options to just names and dates. These items make great medical ID tags for those who may need to carry emergency information on their person. And if you have customers who are dog lovers, suggest a dog tag for Fido to wear.
Stuller, Lafayette, LA, offers fine engravable jewelry choices from stainless steel and sterling silver to 14kt and 18kt gold and platinum. They also offer engraving services so they’re able to see nationwide trends in the industry.
Michael Clarke, Vice President of Finished Jewelry for Stuller, says he is noticing that monograms are back in style with a not-too-flowery script being more popular than block. Messages are also changing with the times, he says, adding things like “BFF” (Best Friends Forever) and other E-mail, instant messaging and text messaging lingo might be engraved on jewelry and gift items.
Clarke says they too have seen a growing interest in dog tags, which is why Stuller offers a new version in sterling silver and 14kt white and yellow gold with a peace symbol punched out on it. He suggests adding a private message on the back of the dog tag or other piece of jewelry, which is only known by the wearer. Not only does this add a more personal touch to the gift, but it also offers retailers an opportunity to add to a sale.
A fairly new and different trend in the personalized jewelry market involves leather. While leather items have always been available, they have become more popular in recent years. This is likely due to the fact that leather is an affordably priced material for laser engraving and comes in many shapes and sizes.
Gravograph, Duluth, GA, offers leather dog tags in colors such as dusty rose/natural, aquamarine/natural and natural/natural. Similar to laminated plastic engraving stock, the first layer is cut through to expose the second. They also have what Richard Altonaga, Gravograph’s New England Territory Manager, calls a “specially formulated leather product” in other pendants and bracelets. Color combinations for the bracelets include tan/blue, brickbrown/blue, pink/aqua and black/red.
LaserSketch, Lemont, IL, a supplier of laser engravable products and supplies, carries a line of leather products as well. “We found that all leather is not the same and does not engrave equally well,” says Judy McCreary, President and CEO of LaserSketch. “We have our leather products made for us with a special tanning process.” Jewelry items include wrist bands in four shades of leather as well as a slimline money clip.
Money clips, cuff links and tie tacks or bars are items that seemed destined to go the way of the dinosaur in years past, but many suppliers say they have made a comeback in recent years. Cuff links are a surprisingly good seller and are sometimes worn in a French cuffed shirt without a tie or jacket.
John E. Lepper, Attleboro, MA, has popular models of cuff links that are rhodium or gold plated. LaserBits has added a new line of coated, anodized jewelry and accessory items for laser engraving, many of which are suitable for groomsmen’s gifts. They offer money clips in blue, black, red and gold. The company’s website even has “Tech Tips” that offer helpful information for engravers when it comes to personalizing these and many other items.
Classic Medallics, Mt. Vernon, NY, is doing well with personalized saints medals, crosses and crucifixes in sterling silver. The steady popularity of these items has led to a new line of stainless steel crosses that will debut this month (Sept. 09). According to Jerry Singer, President of Classic Medallics, stainless steel can be diamond engraved like pewter items, leaving a beautiful cut with a nice, bright cut in contrast.
It’s no secret that many of today’s consumers like to stand out from the crowd. They want something uniquely different from what everyone else is wearing or carrying. That’s one of the main reasons why there has been such a huge growth in the personalized products market. Whether they achieve individuality from carrying a cell phone, iPod or laptop with a one-of-a-kind tech tatt (a laser engraved design, photo or text) or from wearing a T-shirt with their name spelled out on the front with glittering rhinestones, people like to see their name on things or their own designs or pictures of loved ones. It is no different when it comes to the jewelry they wear.
That’s why retailers should be creative when it comes to the items they offer as well as how to personalize those items. When it comes to jewelry and gift ideas, consider something as simple as engraving a blank circle, oval or square and hanging it on a string or chain. This may seem very plain, but once engraved with a special message or photo of a loved one, it can be transformed into a beautiful piece of jewelry your customer will treasure for years to come.
LaserSketch offers various sizes, shapes and colors of laser engravable onyx, including some simple rectangles, some mounted in sterling silver and some two-sided pieces with different color combinations like light blue and mother of pearl. At this year’s awards show in Las Vegas, LaserSketch introduced black onyx lapel pins and pocket charms in five new shapes, which have become new, hot selling items for them.
While the lapel pins come packaged with lapel pin backs, LaserSketch’s McCreary said she is finding that customers are also using them as pocket charms. For example, for a new father, she said “Dad” can be lasered on one side and the baby’s picture on the other side, giving the new dad an easy and convenient way to show everyone he meets the new addition to his family.
A black or red onyx cross can make a nice gift for Christmas or Easter, especially when a special message is added to it. These items can be laser engraved and turned into a pendant, key chain or even a purse charm, another new and popular trend that has developed among women in the last couple of years. John E. Lepper also carries round and rectangular pewter disks that retailers can engrave with initials, names or other information to create a custom piece of jewelry.
Customization and sublimation go hand in hand to create beautiful jewelry. For those who want colorful, personalized items, especially when it comes to the use of photographs, sublimated jewelry items is the only way to go. Sublimation has come a long way in the last decade and with today’s technology, retailers can provide excellent photo reproduction through sublimation.
In March 2009, Laser Reproductions, Inc. (LRI), Skokie, IL, introduced a line of crystal and mother of pearl pendants and earrings that have become good sellers. “Unlike many crystal pieces, LRI’s jewelry items are frosted instead of white backed so the image shows beautifully,” says Co-owner Carol Gibson. The drop earrings are being used as smaller pendants, making them great for a child’s gift, or several together can be worn by an adult.
Gibson has also found that this inexpensive line of jewelry is helping to sell some of their boxes, making the sale even bigger for her customers. In addition to the crystal, LRI also carries a line of shell jewelry and the pearlescent shimmer of the shell shows through the image. As for personalizing these items, her tips begin with the old adage, “measure twice, cut once.”
“The shell has a bit of an irregular surface. It’s not straight and flat like aluminum,” says Gibson. “You have to make sure you have the right press pads and read through the directions before you start so you’re not wasting product as you learn.”
One of the latest personalized jewelry items at Condé is its sublimatable wristbands. Like the dog tag necklaces, these items are great for kids though they come in both small and large sizes. Made of a neoprene-like material similar to that used in wet suits, Gross says it sublimates beautifully.
Italian charms continue to be a popular sublimation item for Condé. While the area available for personalization is quite small, Gross assures people that these items are not difficult to work with. His tip for sublimating these items: “Remove the background and the photograph comes alive!” He suggests using Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint to create your layout first.
“People are very excited about digital images these days,” says Gross. “Sublimation is an awesome way to offer people a very unique way to use their digital images.” But he says in order to make the sales, retailers have to show people what they can do. “That means having a good display so people know what’s available to them.”
Making It Yours
Mindy Sommers, owner of Color Bakery, Poultney, VT, is one such retailer who takes the message of creativity to heart. Sommers uses LRI jewelry products to create colorful art through the use of a computer. “I used to paint items with brushes but I didn’t have anywhere near the freedom,” she says. Today, Sommers designs custom sublimated items from scratch, whether it be her own design ideas or working with customers to turn their ideas into reality.
If a customer wants a tile to match bed sheets, she can put the image into the computer and digitally alter it. Being open to meeting the customer’s needs can open the door to many more jobs. “I had a male customer recently who wanted me to take Michelangelo’s Creation of Man, the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and turn the angels into cats,” says Sommers. The cat lover is purring now because Sommers was able to complete the job as asked.
While Sommers’ story is not necessarily related to a jewelry item, retailers can still learn from that experience by not limiting themselves to the basic products available. Use your imagination and your creativity to add value to those items. As another example, Sommers turns a crystal pendant purchased from LRI into a higher-end piece of jewelry by selecting beads that match the artwork and stringing a necklace for it. Keeping all customers in mind, though, she also uses cord on some pieces to keep the price down for those who want a lower price point.
One particular customer wanted to have her three children on one pendant using separate photos of each of the children. He said he was able to remove the backgrounds from two of the photos, then use the background from the third photo to make it look like all three were in one image. The customer enjoyed her preview so much that he included a free 8 x 10 print of the image when she picked up her order. “Our philosophy is basically that there’s nothing we can’t do for our customers,” he says.
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